Rye Wax Records East Wing Edit

Community and music with Rye Wax Records

11 Jul 2018

As part of our East Wing Edit, this summer Peckham-based community music venue Rye Wax will be transplanting its small but fully-fledged vinyl record shop to Somerset House. We spoke to shop manager Claire Smith Cullum, one of half of DJ duo Souvenir, about what to expect from their two week pop-up and tips for building a succesful local music community space.

First off, it’s great to have you back at Somerset House following your Skate Lates night on our ice rink last year. What can people expect from your takeover of the East Wing Edit?

We’ve moved our record shop here for the two weeks and we’ll also be hosting live performances, workshops, and talks. Everything is free, and everyone is welcome. We’ve got showcases from Cotch International (who are associates of Somerset House Studios) and the West Friends label imprints, a ‘mastering for vinyl’ workshop run by local vinyl cutting shop Peckham Cuts, a panel discussion on femme identities and voices in London’s nightlife scene, plus a make-your-own-zine workshop hosted by one of our favourite music journalists, Emma Warren. There’s also a whole wall of DIY zines and independent print for those who don’t have record players. There will also be a distinct lack of bruises and black eyes from ice-skating injuries!

Rye Wax Pop-Up in the East Wing Edit
Rye Wax Pop-Up in the East Wing Edit

Rye Wax opened in 2014. What were your reasons for opening the space and how do you think London’s music landscape has changed since?

South East London, Peckham in particular, has always had a dense population of incredible artists, DJs and labels and we wanted to build a grassroots space that provided a platform, as well as a record shop so that our community could shop local. There’s a lot to be said for bricks and mortar outlets that can provide a more personalised service.

Rye Wax is now able to provide a stable space for the more leftfield, DIY music and arts communities. As there’s a tendency for these groups to be nomadic and move around London when the lack of venues creates instability, we try to give some of them a home. Hopefully, greater protection will one day be awarded to music venues alongside recognition of them as important hubs of culture.

Rye Wax shop and music venue in the Bussey Building, Peckham
Rye Wax shop and music venue in the Bussey Building, Peckham
Rye Wax
Rye Wax

Your venue is an integral part of the local music scene, hosting live bands and club nights and stocking the latest releases from local and independent record labels. What do you think are the most important elements of a successful community hub?

It’s so key to be welcoming, inclusive and get as many communities involved as possible. We always look for proposals that sound like they’re serving an underrepresented audience, even if it turns out be a tougher event to plan on our side. The record shop, more often than not, prioritises releases from local labels and artist over international releases. This isn’t really a conscious thing, it’s simply that there’s just too much local heat! Now we’re hitting our fourth year, our emphasis is on nurturing that local talent we’ve seen flourish.

Find what you like, keep showing up, and keep asking to get involved. You’ll find your people that way.

Claire Smith Cullum, Shop Manager, Rye Wax

What are the challenges involved in starting something from the ground up and do you have any advice for young people looking to break into the music industry? 

Find what you like, keep showing up, and keep asking to get involved. You’ll find your people that way. Figure out how to put on your own events by asking as many questions as you can, and never be afraid of trying something different, London always loves something new, and the right crowd will find you if you keep it up!

Visit new venues and work out what places suit your needs or where you can fill a niche. Send people personalised messages about why you want to work with them. Work on making your brand stand out and conveying the message that your event is one to go to, or your music is the one to listen to. But honestly, the most important, most crucial part is being authentic. If you’re getting into the industry to make money and not because of passion, you should probably just do something else.

Finally, there’s a lot of great music coming out of South London right now, and we’re excited to have Ezra Collective gracing our Summer Series stage in support of Jorja Smith next week. Who are your hot tips for the second half of this year?

Label wise, we have to give a shout out to Cotch International and West Friends of course, it’s really nice to see them grow! Man Band/Toma Kami, SVS Records, Weird Weather, Moonbow, Cabasa, MX World and Truska are all local artists putting out amazing stuff. On a World Cup themed tip, check out Naira Marley’s ‘Issa Goal’ - it’s pretty much the official Peckham summer anthem!

Naira Marley’s - Issa Goal