In amongst the newly gentrified streets of Dalston, where burnt leeks and duck gizzard can now be ordered by the bucket load, there still lies a little shop that is of interest to the most discerning of record collectors. Behind the unassuming storefront on Bradbury Street, where retro trinkets compete with slightly dog eared seven inches for space in the big front window, there’s wooden rack space a plenty filled to the brim with newly unearthed vinyl covering the golden period of black music.
In an area where it’s now perhaps more important to be seen than to be heard, Eldica stands out with little pretence as a small record shop with a big heart, while its proprietor Andrew Westbury is more than happy to share his knowledge and engage in lengthy discourse about your genre of choice (just don’t mention house music!). Open six days a week (the shop is closed on Mondays), the store is a regular haunt for both local music aficionados and crate diggers further afield, while a cursory look at Eldica’s photo albums on their Facebook page show it’s also a hit for the many international DJs who pass through London on their travels.
Away from the shop, Andy loves to get involved in other music ventures. He’s a regular guest at the monthly Digger’s Dozen sessions held locally at The Alibi in Dalston, while you will also find him manning the occasional stall at the growing number of pop up record fairs that happen in and around the capital, including the prestigious London Record Fair.
With all that being said, we are pleased to announce that Andy will be bringing a selection of Eldica goodies to the Forest Tavern this Saturday as one of our guest sellers. As well as residing over his sale crates, he will also be getting involved on the DJ front, dropping some of his current faves on the decks during the day. As a little pre-cursor to Saturday’s event, check out this killer mix of Caribbean tunes he did for the Sofrito website and then read on to learn a little more about Andy and the shop!
Q. Hi Andy, for those of us who have perhaps yet to make it to the shop, can you give us a little insight to what your record shop has to offer?
Eldica is a small family run shop that specialises in most aspects of black music.We are mostly second-hand and have a high turnover of Funk, Soul, Reggae, Calypso, Jazz, Boogie on all vinyl formats. We also sell retro items from old amps and record decks to Levi’s jeans, Incense and small gifts. Eldica was actually my wife Annie’s grandmother who came to London from Fyzabad in Trinidad in 1948. She was married to a musician, also from Trinidad, who played trumpet on a lot of Calypso sessions recorded in London in the 50’s and which were released on Melodisc.
Q. And what about yourself… how did you first get into music? Do you remember the first record you picked up and where it came from?
I was born in 1969 and my first musical passion was electro and rap around 1983, which I discovered through my older cousin and Tim Westwood on LWR – I still have tapes of all the shows and still listen to them now. We used to go up to town from Harrow and buy a couple of import rap 12s from Groove Records in Soho, and occasionally Hitman if Groove didn’t have what we wanted.
I remember Westwood playing ‘Get on the Good Foot’ by James Brown and stating that this started Hip Hop which fuelled an interest in JB plus other funky tracks. He also at the time was playing old rap tapes from New York with the baddest breaks, all of which contained the classics which I had to try and track down.
I eventually saw James Brown live in 1985 and from then on I was really looking for all types of records, anything funky, anything with a drum break and all the latest Rap tunes.
Q. So it’s pretty fair to say the store has been been a underground favourite for years, even going as far as being a secret spot that perhaps some people would have preferred to keep to themselves! Can you share with us some of the past guests that might have dropped in for a quick dig while in Dalston?
You would be surprised at who has come through the door, from top DJs known worldwide to guys and girls just starting out who come in and perhaps buy a turntable from us and then start picking up records. Being in Dalston which has and has always had a rich musical culture, we get a lot of the old reggae sound system guys who have probably been buying reggae for more than 40 years!
Q. With regard the shop, you must see a lot of stock come and go. What are some of the records that you know will fly out as soon as you get them in, no matter what the price or condition?
All the classics, the building blocks, Roy Ayers, James Brown, Kool and the Gang, Parliament are all still strong, while good Boogie 12s, Afro and Calypso are still big. We are strong on the Calypso and Island Funk stuff, as its been a passion of mine for a good while now and as a result a lot of good stuff has come through the shop. We have new records coming in literally every day.
Q. And we guess you must come across new collections all the time, what’s the craziest track or LP you’ve found amongst the piles?
Off the top of my head one interesting collection we brought in in around six months or so ago was from a builder who was knocking down a cavity wall in someone’s house and found two shelves of records behind it. They had literally been shut away I’d say for at least the last 50 years ago! The records were mint, vinyl and covers and all Jazz, Rare British Jazz, Tubby Hayes for example, and at least thirty first press Blue Notes, some from the 50s but nothing later than 1965. They probably lasted about two weeks in the shop!
Q. Everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon recently when it comes to record collecting and there certainly seems to have been some kind of renewed interest in vinyl. Have you noticed a change in your clientèle as the years have progressed?
We are mainly a second hand store so we don’t really deal in trends, we sell what we have been selling for six or seven years and as long as we can still find good records to sell, that’s not going to change. I’m not really interested in the apparent upsurge in vinyl, as I’ve said we are mainly second-hand so it doesn’t really affect us. Gimmicks like Record Store Day don’t interest us either, every day is record store day at Eldica.
We did have a customer a few months ago on a Saturday who came in to buy a record, spent £15 and didn’t want a bag so he could walk down the street holding an LP because he thought it was trendy. He didn’t care what he had bought and didn’t even have a deck!!
Q. Finally, can you share a few of the bits you’ll be bringing down to sell on Saturday?
We have a nice selection for Saturday, nice copies of both The London Jazz Four LPs, a bunch of Island Funk 45s as well as some nice Calypso and Reggae LPs. I’ll also be looking at some Soul and Funk 45s and a Reggae collection before the fair – so you just never know what you might turn up in the crates!
For a further glimpse into the little shop, check out this entertaining clip featuring IG Culture, produced by Holy Roller Productions last year.