Roozbeh Showleh might be the face you’ve seen on billboards around the city, but Bullfrog Insurance isn’t the only thing supporting his passion for music. After the last few months of incubation at 121 Studios, Runout Records is stepping out onto its own feet! You’ll find Roozbeh in his shop on 122 Dundas, opening January 21 and you can bet his smile will be as big as it is on that billboard.
So, why didn’t you call your business Roozbeh’s Records? Has a nice sound to it, no?
The pronunciation of my first name is a challenge for some. I’ve been able to incorporate it as a joke and have been able to engage many people with the tag “Rhymes With Tuesday”.
When did you get into the record sales business?
2002. I was a frequent shopper at Kops Records on Queen St. West in Toronto and eventually was offered a job as the Hip Hop buyer.
What’s changed since you started?
When DJ software Serato Scratch Live was introduced around 2004, a lot of hip hop vinyl enthusiasts made the switch and stopped buying vinyl on a regular basis. Combined with the release of Apple’s iPod, the way people consumed music was totally overhauled.
Who shops at Runout Records?
At Runout Records? In its first incarnation inside 121 Studios, I had a real diverse group of people coming through with an emphasis on people who wanted to access more hip hop on vinyl.
Although everyone has an effortless access to a bank of music digitally, vinyl record sales have actually grown. Why do you think this is happening, or why do you think it’s important?
The tangibility is a big part of it. The instant access of information of all kinds via the internet has provided a convenience and immediacy that has never been available. There are those who still enjoy reading the Sunday edition of a newspaper vs. reading articles online. There will always be those who want to make shopping lists on stationary vs. using a shopping list app.
This immediacy of information successfully resonated with teenagers and young adults who were the first generation to be exposed to this phenomenon, but the risk was the expendability of all of this information. Listening to unique songs instead of full-length albums affected the way the music industry marketed their artists and sought to promote new ones.
Do you think with this demand, there is more pressure on the artist and the record producer to create the object, as opposed to just focus on the music? Is the album art, the colour of the vinyl, the type of sleeve it’s in etc. more important than it used to be?
It depends on who the artist and record producer are employed by. If it’s major corporate labels, yes there is a mandate that needs to be met to achieve sales levels. Sales levels need to be achieved by smaller independent labels as well, but the creativity and process of creating music and a full-length album might not be hindered by the same mandates created by major label music groups.
Most records released now also come with a digital download. Do you think that’s a mistake in terms of preserving the tradition?
Naw, it’s thoughtful. The same way I would dub my records onto cassette so I could listen to them on the bus ride to and from school, the digital download allows for those to have the music with them on their mobile music device.
What’s the difference in experience when listening to a record on vinyl versus a digital form?
I will always remember how much more bass was audible on vinyl. Digital could be harsh to the trained ear that is familiar with the warmth of music on vinyl. My father always championed analog vs. digital by describing analog sound as being a straight line and digital being a perforated line of information that was spliced together. This notion has stuck with me in the way I take in music on different formats.
Do certain genres do better at Runout Records?
Simply because the majority of my stock was hip-hop, it sold best.
What’s your advice to someone starting a record collection?
I’ve never looked at it as collecting records. Vinyl is the format I’ve always preferred so as a music enthusiast, I amassed it. As a result, I have a collection.
I try to remind people to purchase music they have never heard before. When shoppers come in and can’t decide between two titles, I always ask: “Which one are you more familiar with?” and advise them not to purchase that one.
How will this new space be different for you from 121 Studios besides not having to unpack and pack every day?
No Chuck, Pam, Nicki, Harina, Luis, Shawn, Kathleen, Andy, Andrew, Titus, Savannah, or Julie. I felt like the news stand/bartender in 121 Studios. There were plenty of sounding boards within that space that I will no longer have immediate access to. My new space will really test my ability to maintain a personality and warmth that I think I nurtured at 121 Studios. And No Chuck. Really gonna miss Chuck.
How has London responded to your shop and passion?
What’s the best record for a rainy Sunday morning?
I would make a mixtape with the following songs:
The Velvet Underground – New Age
Aretha Franklin – All The King’s Horses
Curtis Mayfield – Billy Jack
Gang Starr – The Planet
Buck D.D. Black – Only A Fool
Nohelani Cypriano – Lihue
Tha Alkaholiks – DAAM (Buckwild Remix)
Pavement – Grounded
And when I finally need to leave the house to do shit, these songs will give me a good kick:
PJ Harvey – Rid Of Me
Patti Jo – Make Me Believe In You (Tom Moulton Mix)
All photos by Leah Krisak