In-Store: An Interview with Speakers Korner Records
One of the more recent additions to the growing list of small independent record stores in Copenhagen is the basement wax specialist on Blågåardsgade, Speakers Korner. With a wide genre selection and little to go by in terms of ordering and labelling, flicking through records here transports you to sunny sonic shores that you didn’t know existed with owner Vlada as your personal tour guide. We sat down on the doorstep above the shop for a coffee and several marzipan based pastries to hear more about the place and what he’s up to.
Interview, text and photos: Markus Kilsgaard
How’s it going? What’s going on in your life
Things are going well! The store is getting busier with events, in-store sessions and just people hanging out and discovering new music.
I wanna get straight into it and ask you about the name Speakers Korner. You seem like the kind of person who would put effort into naming things.
Haha yeah. I guess some thought went into it. In my years of going out a lot I tended to hang out a lot right next to the speakers, which again tended to be in a corner. So it made sense to name the place accordingly. And then there’s the obvious reference to speakers corner and London and everything that that stands for.
When I think of Speakers Corner (in Hyde Park, London—ed.) I think of political agitators and crazy proselytisers. Care to comment?
There’s definitely a democratic and political aspect to it. Music is culture and culture is politics. And without getting on my high horse too much I think record stores exist to expose people to different cultures through music.
One thing you notice quite quickly when stepping into the store is the lack of labelling, systematised layout and listening posts that many other record stores tend to adopt. Is that also by design?
Well there might be a listening post in the future when the budget allows for it. But I do like the confrontational and interactive aspect of running a record store. And the lack of labelling and listening posts definitely facilitates that. Down here it’s difficult to just grab something in silence and head out the door. And for me that’s an opportunity to open peoples’ ears to something they might not have expected to hear, which I think is a rare opportunity, especially today, when so much of what we consume is served to us through digital filters and recommendations.
You also carry quite a lot of re-issues and compilations of otherwise hard to find/pay for records. I guess that also taps into the democratic aspect you’re talking about.
Yeah for sure - Of course there are some people and especially DJs and collectors who insist on only owning original pressings. Personally I don’t really care that much - the music is the music and today there are so many labels that do fantastic jobs in lowering the barrier of entry to music that would otherwise only be enjoyed by wealthy collectors or DJs. And if you add all the work that goes into restoring and remastering you often end up with records that sound better than the originals.
To me, work like that is important to maintain the relevance of analogue and physical music as an alternative to digital. A lot more people can get involved if a record is 200 kr. (25 eur red.) rather than 1000 kr.
Judging from what’s on the shelves down here it seems you have an extremely broad taste in music, although with a clear spike towards UK centric and bass music genres.
To be honest a lot of what is on the shelves is dictated by what I can get my hands on both financially and also practically. Brexit means that it’s not feasible to buy from some of the distributors and labels that I used to. That being said, my taste is definitely influenced by my early days of DJ’ing electronic music and the exposure I got to bass music during my time in London. I was there studying just as dubstep took off and I got very inspired by the genre-fluidity in places like Plastic People. I think there’s also a side of me that really likes to provoke and piss people off. And playing bass music in clubs and bars in Copenhagen in the early 2000s was an easy way to do it.
These days I don’t play out as much as I used to but I’m still drawn to quick UK style mixing rather than long blends. I’m drawn to the imperfection that comes with mixing genres and tempo especially when it’s done on vinyl.
Talking about playing out, what's your read of the music and club scene in Copenhagen? Anything you’d like to see more of?
Well in my perspective there isn’t really a club or rave scene in Copenhagen. Yes you have clubs (and good ones) but because of all the regulation and the general issues around gentrification and rent prices it’s really hard to get something new off the ground which means that most of the activity happens in the established venues which tend to experiment less and take fewer chances.
What sort of hobbies do you have outside of music?
What do you mean outside of music? Haha. No, but honestly music basically takes up all my time that I’m not spending with my daughter and my family.
And finally, if you could recommend one record in your store right now which one would it be?
This one - Stab Breaks by Ugly Mac Beer (yep…) - it’s a record full of beat loops, screams of terror, sound effects and other voices with clear references to the 90s Scream Saga.
It’s limited to 500 hand numbered copies including stickers and posters. Don’t sleep!
Speakers Korner Records is located on Blågårdsgade 14 in Copenhagen's Nørrebro district.