We caught up with Tom ‘Unlikely’ Stiedl, who’s part of the team behind Rye Wax – the record store that’s set to open in the basement of Peckham’s Bussey Building/CLF Art Café.
Whisper it quietly but something’s afoot down in Peckham. Recent years have seen the once unfairly maligned South East London neighbourhood develop an enviable local scene based around the simple principles of good music and zero pretension. Thanks to nights such as Bradley Zero’s Rhythm Section and the various parties at the multi-story Bussey Building venue – as well as the fine residents of Peckham themselves, the area has been a fixture on ‘coolest places in London’ lists for some time.
The newest addition to the musical community arrives imminently on July 1st in the form of a much needed local record store. Set to be located in the basement of Bussey, Rye Wax will cater to a local market that hitherto has had to deal with a severe paucity of options. An all day launch party on 28th June will precede the opening, with representatives from nights and labels such as Hyperdub, Tief and Wah Wah 45s all making an appearance alongside special guests Reginald Omas Mamode IV and Sean P – you can find out more about that event here.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about Rye Wax. For those who haven’t caught wind of the details so far, just explain briefly what your going for with the store?
Basically, we’re opening a shop in the basement of the Bussey Building / CLF Art Café in Peckham which will not only be selling records, but also comics, prints, books, pastries and coffee and is also a small venue space and bar.
Why have you chosen to open up the store and why in Peckham?
It’s been a dream of ours to open a record shop in Peckham for quite a while now. Everyone involved lives in the Camberwell/Peckham area and has done for some time, and there is a thriving musical community down here which has for a long time been focussed on vinyl as the preferred means of playing music out. It seemed like a logical step to provide somewhere local for DJs, collectors and home listeners to buy their wares.
How long has the idea for Rye Wax been in process? Has it been difficult to get it up and running?
Its been something I’ve considered doing for a good 4 years or so, but it’s been in the past year since teaming up with the CLF Art Café on the project that things have really gotten moving, and it felt like there was enough of a market to take the risk. It’s certainly been quite laborious but I wouldn’t say it’s been difficult. It’s such a dream project so motivation has been really high and great ideas are being thrown around all the time. Mostly it’s been pretty fun!
Talks us through the team behind the store, who’s involved?
Currently the team is Mickey Smith of the CLF Art Café who’s basically making all this happen and providing us with the space, and my friend Christopher Coupe (who works for First Word records) and I who’ve been putting together the ins and outs of the shop. We’ve also had a lot of help from close friends like Letty Fox with design, Ned Pegler with ideas and contacts, Lucca Joy who is Mickey’s PA and Saija Kamarainen who manages the CLF Art Café as well as countless others. We’re currently in the final stages of putting together our shop team too who are a really great bunch of seriously talented locals.
What do you hope to bring to the community? How long have you been living in Peckham for?
I’ve lived here for about 4 or 5 years now but my long-suffering better half has been a resident for about 10 years so quite a while now. We’re hoping this project can provide a kind of hub for the growth of the musical community in Peckham and also help tie that community up with the outside world. Somewhere you can meet likeminded people, discover new things, forge new ties and create great work. Also we hope to sell them records.
I don’t want to spur on chat about the ‘hipsterification’ of Peckham but I think its fair to say that including yourselves there’s a lot of exciting things happening musically there at the moment such as Rhythm Section and all the goings on at Bussey Building-how aligned are you personally with these events and will the store be associated with them?
In terms of the Bussey Building we are very aligned indeed as Mickey Smith from the CLF Art Café is the person who’s helped make this all happen! I’ve also worked with the CLF Art Café/Bussey Building in various guises for about 4 years now. It’s a pretty great place and fairly unique in its scale combined with its degree of independence. I’ve seen it grow from a warehouse with the odd rave being thrown to a bonafide Peckham Barbican (that still throws some pretty crazy raves) and it’s done so entirely on its own terms, so hats off to them.
Rhythm Section don’t have any direct involvement in the store but Bradley and I are friends and have played at each others nights quite a few times. I have a lot of respect for what they’ve achieved and as a night it’s really helped to define the no-nonsense-good-times scene Peckham is known for now.
What kind of music are you going to focus on stocking?
We’re aiming to be as broad as our market will allow really! Obviously there will be a focus on up-to-the-minute dance vinyl as it’s an area not catered for at all locally at the moment but we are also stocking a large second hand collection, albums, oddities and rarities. There is already talk of an imprint or two also…
You’re launching the shop with a day of in stores and DJ sets-are you hoping this is going to be a regular occurrence in the shop?
Yes! We’re really fortunate to have a pretty great space that allows us to be a small venue effectively as well as a shop, with quite a lot of options in dividing it up too. There’s already plans underway for workshops, art events and label takeovers. We’re also really looking forward to doing some smaller scale live music shows and showing off some more esoteric talents than the large spaces in the Bussey would allow.
What’s your background in music personally?
I’ve run various club nights and labels, most recently Wavey Tones with my friends Danny Lynn and Letty Fox, as well as being a DJ and sometime producer for about 12 years now. I’m also a member of oddball disco trio Tony and the Waves alongside Chris and Ned (Medlar).
What record stores did you frequent in the past-did any of them inspire you for Rye Wax?
Wow, this could easily be a very long answer if I get carried away! I guess the first store I was a proper regular at was Blackmarket Records in the early days of Dubstep and Grime, as well as the now defunct Uptown Records opposite. Going record shopping was always a really exciting thing, especially when you’re young, as it was a chance to connect with all this stuff you were into in a real and physical way, and I guess all the record shops I’ve frequented over the years collectively inspired me really. Currently my regular haunts are Phonica and Sounds of the Universe in Soho, both legendary stores with great people working in them where you can discover amazing stuff every time you go in, and the excellent Rat Records in Camberwell which is pretty much the best second-hand store ever.
Finally – if you were only allowed to drop one tune on the Rye Wax system-what would it be?
Rye Wax’s launch party is Saturday 28th June. Its officially for business as of Tuesday 1st July. Stay up to date with the latest goings on via their official Facebook page.