In one form or another, the family owned and loosely evolving Drift Record Shop has lived on the Totnes high street since the mid-nineties. Currently driven by “Indie Champion” (2015 AIM Awards) Rupert Morrison, the whole operation is approached with just the right amount of revery… after all, would you really expect one of the country’s most critically-acclaimed outlets smack in the middle of an 8000 person farming town? Well, quite.
Much of what they do is through gut reaction and personal gratification. Rupert explains “I think to run a record shop well there has to be quite a lot of vanity about it you know? I used to always explain that it’s ‘hardly a real job’ running a record shop… I was always implying that it’s just too much fun, self-managing, playing music all day, hanging out and talking shop… but I think although what I said still holds true, it’s evolved. Running a record shop is about playing the long game and really finding moments of good along the way as it really is a slog. Between listening to records, restocking stuff, balancing books, packing stuff, unpacking stuff, pontificating, ordering, more listening… it’s increasingly hard to fit it all in.”
But they do manage. Running the office from phones, checking the social sites at all hours, late night ‘packing parties’ on high profile mail-order releases. Although still based in the footprint of their humble origins, Drift is very much the 24/7, 365 modern shop that is always on and always on the hunt for something new.
“now that is the ‘hardly a real job’ part of the quote that I stick to the most” Rupert continues, “I think listening to music started to become habitual, then through necessity, weird sleeping habits (young kids) and a really obsessive personality, it just formed the structure to pretty much everything I do. I listen to music all day, literally… but that’s a tremendous privilege. Not just getting hold of stuff early, but getting sent things that weren’t on my radar… being in a position to champion that stuff and tell other people. We’re a small cog in a much bigger machine, but I think we’re an important cog – all indie shops are – and our ability to turn people on to something new – or not new – is really clear to our friends in bands, those who manage them, the labels, the agents and the distributors.”
A shop, a meeting place, publishers of a magazine – Deluxe, a quarterly journal about other record shops – and now a festival with their Sea Change festival returning this August after a sell-out-debut in 2016. Nominated as the Music Week Best Independent Retailer for the last five years straight, maybe 2017 will be there year?
A few things we’re excited about in the next few weeks. The new Shadow Band album – Wilderness of Love – on Mexican Summer is a real joy. It could easily have been recorded on the San Franciscan shores forty years ago, there is a really beautiful wistfulness about it. Mexican Summer are one of those labels you’re always going to want to check out. Summer Moon’s debut ‘With You Tonight’ is really good. The band is lead by Strokes’ Nikolai Fraiture and there is a lot going on across the album. Some of it is straight up NYC pop, but there are some really nice changes of pace. I think the one that is hard to ignore also is the returning Laura Marling. She has such an immaculate back catalog that it comes as no surprise to anyone that her new LP – Semper Femina – is exquisitely delivered. It’s amazing that she is still only 27, I think she can truly keep progressing to be one of the most important voices this country has ever produced.