With there being so many Christmas special events planned for next weekend I decided to pass on this weeks top 5 club nights and use the time to catch up with one of Manchester’s biggest vinyl pushers Jim Spratling at Eastern Bloc Records.
Hi Jim, How’s life treating you in Stephenson’s Square at the moment?
Good thanks. There is a good vibe in the square, lots of new businesses, new cafes, bars & restaurants, Christmas shoppers, lumberjacks and pissed up people out on their staff do.
Business booming? The man got you working overtime?
Yes indeed, we have been busy in the last month or so. We are selling a much wider range of music these days and people are coming in looking for Hip Hop, Reggae, Funk, Soul, Jazz, Reggae and World Music. The website is also getting bigger and more popular. Most days I stay late to try and attempt to get all the new releases up on our website. There is so much stock arriving each week that it is difficult to upload it all. The music never stops coming.
Have you got a tree up?
Not in the shop but we are rocking some gangsta fairy lights and some unique tinsel formations.
This year’s stats claim there has been a massive increase in vinyl sales nationwide. Is this something that you have noticed at Eastern Bloc or are things still firmly heading down the digital route?
I think this claim is mainly based on rock, indie & pop music sales. We did see an initial decline a few years ago when a lot of people jumped ship to pursue digital djing techniques but a large percentage of those people have come back to vinyl as they felt it was more fulfilling and more fun. Our vinyl sales have been steady for the last few years and if anything increased due to us having more of an online presence and wider range of music styles in stock. At this point we have no plans to head down any digital route. The closest we get is the occasional free download code with a vinyl release.
Are any particular genres more popular than others for vinyl?
Traditionally we have always been rooted around dancefloor electronic music styles such as D&B / Jungle, House & Techno and these genres have been our best sellers over the years. But recent ventures into Funk, Hip Hop, Soul, Jazz & World music have proved very successful for us.
I’ve noticed a number of Eastern Bloc events throughout this year. How have these gone and is it something you are looking to build on in the future?
Yes, we are looking to do more events this year. We don’t do anything regular really, we just do events as and when we find a venue or a space we feel works for us. We were a bit quiet on the party front after running the “Function Room” parties a couple of years ago but now we are back in party mode. Next year Eastern Bloc is 30 years old so we will be having a do with special guests. Watch this space.
What about the podcast, any plans to push that more in 2015? any guests planned?
Yeah we have quite a relaxed attitude to the EBR Podcast, there is no strict timetable for when we release each one. We speak to people within the industry who we rate and respect and ask them to do us a podcast. A good example is Blocks from Metalheadz and Narratives Music, he played at an in-store event about 6 months ago as a pre-Soul:ution type thing, that was recorded and he wanted to put it out as a podcast. Sometimes it takes months for people to get back to us but we have a few in the pipeline. The best way to stay in touch with what we do is sign up to our Facebook page, Twitter and mailing list on the website, you will then be the first to know when we have a new EBR Podcast out there.
Check out the Podcast here.
What are the top three singles sold at Eastern Bloc this year?
That is difficult one, but off the top of my head…
(in no particular order)
Pitched Black – D Town / Desert Negroes (Something In The Water)
Dillinger, Trinity, Al Campbell, Wayne Wade, Junior Tamlin – Five Man Army (King Spinna)
Blocks & Escher – Moods / Razor (Metalheadz)
What are the biggest selling Manchester acts?
Pitched Black, Something In The Water, The Mouse Outfit, Dub Phizix, Strategy, Chimpo,DJ Response, DJ Release, Synkro, Indigo, Akkord, Acre, Biome, AnD, Szare, WHODEMSOUND, Dayse & Aver, TNC, Oli Furness (Music Is Love) and a few more…
So, what should people be asking from Santa?
Where do I start, there is so much good music in stock at the moment…
DIGITAL – Red Tape / The Pain / Downtown
G.H.O.S.T. – Syrup EP (incl. Download Code)
INFAMY – Flying Swords / Perplexed (Picture Disc incl. full Download)
OM UNIT – Inversion LP
VARIOUS – Hardcore Traxx: Dance Mania Records 1986-1997 (2 x LP + 2 x CD)
TIN MAN – Ode LP
LUKE VIBERT – Ridmik (2 x LP)
STEFFI – Power of Anonymity (2 x LP)
DIAMOND D & THE PSYCHOTIC NEUROTICS – Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop (2 x LP)
COLDCUT & DJ FOOD – Cold Krush Cuts Mix (2 x LP)
MF DOOM – Mm… Food (2 x LP)
THE UPSETTERS – The Good, The Bad & The Upsetters LP
DUB CLUB – Meaning of Dub LP
What can people expect from Eastern Bloc in 2015?
More of the same really, quality music from around the world on vinyl & CD, our 30th bday (more info soon), more podcasts from DJs & selectors you can trust, (maybe a Nanny Banton podcast if he is not too busy flossin’ his ice grill), more in-store sessions and more one-off special parties.