We’re not short of places to dig in the crates here in Notts; with Forever Records and Plates, and vinyl stalwarts Rough Trade even choosing us as the only British city beside London to host a store. However, the latest outlet to come from the city is of no fixed abode, and takes on a more nomadic approach. Where-Wax is a pop-up record store and music event dedicated to providing and showcasing underground electronic music. Set up in 2016, it’s the brainchild of Where You At frontman Dec Shutts...
By now, the resurgence in popularity for vinyl records can’t be argued, and the hard figures back up the cultural observations. In 2016, The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) found that sales of vinyl albums surpassed that of digital downloads, earning the industry £2.4 million in a week compared to the £2.1 million that digital made. While the end-of-year figures for 2017 are yet to be released, it’s clear that love for the wax has made a comeback, with music fans far and wide once again investing in some slabs of sound.
Right here in Nottingham, Where-Wax founder Dec Shutts delves deeper into where his love affair with wax began: “It’s only really been over the past three or four years that I’ve been collecting records, I started to get more and more into it, but I didn’t have anything to play them on at home. I would always use CDJs when I was playing out, until I found an old set of [Technics] 1210s in the office of a bar I was resident DJ at. I decided to hook them up and start learning how to mix vinyl and it went from there. I started spending all my DJ wages on new records to play at the bar the following week, and haven’t really stopped since.
“Vinyl quickly became a hobby and a passion. But I found that when I was crate digging around the city, the music I wanted just wasn’t there, so the next logical step for me was to put this music into my city for myself and for others alike.”
Like most great ideas, the inception of the pop-up was the result of an idle mind and subliminal external influences. “Where-Wax was the brainchild of an Ibiza hangover. Last year while sitting at my villa after DC10 or Underground, I’m not 100% sure which club it was, I uploaded a photo onto Instagram; the photo was taken at a Where You At event, and it was of a record spinning with a needle on it. The tagline I used was ‘Where-Wax’. The idea was born there and then."
Where-Wax’s first pop-up took place at Spanky Van Dykes in 2016. Since then, Where-Wax has set up camp at Broadway Cinema, proudly part of the Nottingham Label Market event, selling its wares alongside local names such as Forever Records, I’m Not From London, Dealmaker Records, Plates and Leftback Records.
Existing under the same group as the Where You At nights, it makes sense that the waxy sideline dips its toes into evening escapades, as it did in April, hosting the afterparty at Red Bar for Where You At’s third birthday celebrations.
Dec continues: “We’ve also been at Surface Gallery in Sneinton for an unofficial Record Store Day event, Orange Tree as part of Dot to Dot festival and, most recently, we headed over to Leicester where we joined up with photographer Swehttam as he showcased his latest collection of prints.”
In September, Where-Wax hosted a day-to-night affair at the Lacehouse: “We had a couple of local DJs coming to spin some records and showcase their own style. I decided to make it more of an event to showcase what Nottingham has to offer in regards to local DJs. It’s the reason I started WYA, and something I feel strongly about is pushing the local scene.”
When we headed down to get our fingers dusty, our eyes skimmed past a Nick Curly EP, a Laura Jones release on Burnski and Jon Woodall’s Constant Sound label, and Wigflex crew Metaphi and Metski housed in-between party classics such as Kenny Dope and The Bucketheads’ The Bomb!, as well as an intriguing-looking white label from Ralph Lawson’s 2020 Vision imprint.
“We stock music from all genres: house, techno, grime, bass, hip hop, minimal, ambient and more. Operating as a pop-up store, quality is everything to us. Because we can only take a certain amount of vinyl to each event, you can expect timeless, high-quality stock as standard.
“We have loads of pre-loved wax that ranges from nineties house all the way to UK hip hop, and everything in-between. A special shout out goes to [Nottingham based record trading Facebook community] 4TheWax; I found a dude called Joey on there and have slowly been taking his record collection from him over the course of 2017.”
For Where-Wax, the concept of taking its pop-up shop and combining it with DJ acts late into the night was a first, but we’re sure it won’t be the last. When asked if he’s planning any more late night “shopping” opportunities in the future, Dec responded: “I’d like to think so. But for those that can’t make it down to each event in Nottingham, Where-Wax also operates digitally. Our online store is up and running, as it has been since we started. All our stock is available to browse and listen to, and we do offer free drops to Notts because we know postage can be a killer sometimes. The end goal is to one day have a fixed location but for now we are enjoying the pop-up way of life for sure.
“We did manage to reach Leeds at the start of the year; that was a good day. The venue was an old petrol station converted into a cafe-bar with a small space out the back where they held a record fair. We sold some good stock, met some cool people and also bought some killer wax in the process, we would definitely go back.”
Finally, conversation turned to Dec’s other favourite haunts for topping up his personal collection. Rather than digging into his own supply, he has a long list of other respected vinyl dealers.
“I found a really cool shop in Birmingham that was stocking the sort of stuff I was looking for; Manchester record shops always have some wicked records and really cool staff. I try to go to Phonica Records in London whenever I can; Dacha records in Ibiza Town is amazing, hard to get to for a quick dig, though. I’ve bought loads of good stuff from Rough Trade. Also, when I’m putting an order in for Where-Wax, if I like the record I’ll always order myself an extra copy. Kinda dangerous, but f**k it!”
Where-Wax on Facebook