Tangled in a Web interview with Matt ( Tangled Parrot ) 23.01.08 for electronic music wales. This post has been edited on 29.01.08.
M: We started as a market stall doing one day a week in Carmarthen and Cardigan and then two days Wednesdays and Saturdays. We then moved into 15 Bridge Street Carmarthen in November 2001. Largely built on vinyl sales (there is a large dj community in wales). On the back of selling Hard House and Drum and Bass eventually going on to CDs. On the back of selling these vinyl and CDs i've built up a broad cross section of music in here, I suppose my initial aim was to stock music that would last forever and would still be good down the line I'm not saying I stuck to that because I've got some right crap in hear ( laughs ) but you know generally that was the kind of aim. It still is!
H: You have managed to keep your shop open whilst others around you have kept closing down so you have a staying power here?
M: Yeah . It's pure stubbornness, if music wasn't my love it would be a different story. I'm a music junkie.
H: Looking back on 2007 how was it for independent record shops like yourself?
M: I'd say it's still been a bloody struggle. You know, it's tough out there because of big businesses online like Amazon and the effect there having.
Norman Records is a good music website that had an interesting thing about not selling cds because they can't keep up with the prices from Amazon. So it's kind of strange because the bastion for a shop like this is vinyl because of the size and bulk of vinyl it takes up more storage space and so Amazon don't have a lot to do with it um you can't go on Play.com and buy the latest LP cause it's on CD. That is all to do with economics the fact you can store a lot more CDs in the space that vinyl takes up. So it's like the last bastion of independent record shops is vinyl which is quite ironic really because vinyl is seen as this archaic thing but people who love music love vinyl.
H: Yeah, vinyl is something that will always be there in the physical rather than hidden away in our hard drives and i pods.
M: Last night I was looking through my old vinyl collection pulling out old records like 15 years old all absolutely battered, they'd been in fields, parties but there was memories there. you know pulling out this record looking at it and remembering and putting it on. now whether you'll be able to do that with MP3s I don't know! You know so say you were into a dance track 15 years down the road chances are you wont have the MP3 or even if you have so what! there is nothing to look at you can't look at an MP3 on your computer screen and say "oh, that takes me back" where as with an LP you can almost see the blood sweat and tears on it.
H: It does my head in when you see people online saying vinyl is dead.
M: What you have to understand is that vinyl accounts for about 1% of all record sales globally. So it's a tiny tiny amount. It's quite good really in a way because like I said before for record shops like us vinyl has become there own little thing. It's the only thing they have left ( laughs ) it's ours! CDs I mean people like Play, Amazon all those places there just dealing with a commodity. For some reason vinyl hasn't quite become a commodity.
H: Looking at the other online stores ( the big ones ) that sell vinyl for a cheaper price how has that affected you with you online store www.tangledparrot.com with people going there instead of here?
M: I still haven't quite got my online store right yet so it's still struggling. The internet has become more monopolized than the high street ever was i.e people used to moan 10-15 years ago about high street chain stores destroying independent record shops.
H: Now it almost seems like they are in the same boat as you.
M: Yeah, then you could complain because there was a HMV in every town but there was still room for the independent as well. Where as now with the internet places like Chemical, Juno... places that are really well established and all props to them they started somewhere like myself but it's become that they maintain themselves because their huge so they have a huge stock they have huge buying power so they get things cheap. Obviously because of the nature of the business they've probably got 3 or 4 people sat in front of a computer every day doing these orders and it is an efficient thing.
H: An efficient business.
M: Yeah, and it's good but at the end of the day what it means is the more hits you get on your website the more your website goes up so with these places they are right at the top of every search engine you go to and it's quite hard to see that being broken. if they run their business so efficiently how are you going to get into that?
H: It's whether people are willing to show commitment to their local independent music stores! They have to go out and do a bit more work to find out about there locals.
M: Yeah. People now have more power than they ever had. To choose where they buy there music. But you know we all do it, I do it! People want to get the cheapest they can.
H: Most of the time losing out on quality for a little less coins!
M: Yet again, yet again with out going down a completely different road you're into the kind of problems of a society and economy that is run on capitalist principles which takes everything back to money ( beautiful Ed ) and if the money's right and people go for it it doesn't take in the account of the social implications or whether this shops providing a service in the area it doesn't matter none of it matters because if your not doing it as cheap as Chemical and Amazon you can f*** off
H: With all these MP3 stores popping up do you see MP3 as a throw away thing, does it have staying power?
M: A throw away but I think it will last. Again the ironic situation is that cds will probably become obsolete TAPE ERROR
With vinyl covers it's almost like a piece of art something you can frame and stick on your wall.
H: And be proud of....
M: With a CD cover you really need a magnifying glass before you can start calling it art! ( laughs ) So whats the advantage of a CD over an MP3? I don't think there is a hell of a lot so if people want all this stuff digitalized which they do then they are going to end up with MP3s and cd sales will become obsolete. also it's just not going to be worth companies pressing CDs because enough people will start buying MP3s.
H: Have you ever brought an MP3?
H: Do you think you ever will?
M: Yeah. I probably will. I'm not dead set against it.
H: Would you ever consider selling MP3?
M: Yeah I would. If thats where I have to go. If that means me surviving as a shop I'll do it. Thats it my games survival and I'll do anything I have to to survive. I'm stubborn
It'll get to the point where I'm not earning money you know I'll go for a month sometimes with out earning money sometimes and just have to scratch through with other things I mean thats why I get involved in these other things. To keep this shop a float. (laughs)
H: So this Complete Control project is coming to an end due to funding issues? Whilst it was running did you get hold of any decent music?
M: I came across some good bands. Yeah. I mean that was quite a good thing it was exclusive to Wales funded thing to go out and help bands and give them a bit of guidance for 6 months. So I came across some good bands. There is a few good bands that I directly worked with. Dapper Cadavers a good festival type of band and good fun live. Der Science Metzger I think they're a good metal band with a good live performance. Gotta mention Infernal Twilight, our in house,1 woman, black metal artist! Another band that I wasn't mentoring but are worth a mention are the skacore Broken Nose from Bridgend. In my opinion one of the best electronic artists in this area is Recall. He has his album free on his my space. Any mention of the South Wales West Music scene has to mention Lews Tewns who just keeps on knocking out his Wonky Hip Hop!
H: So you were saying you wanted to start some gigs again in the waterside for 2008.
M: Yeah. I did the booking for a couple of years and just seems there is not a hell of a lot going on you know you have Truans ( the oddog ) night Jolly Good doing well but thats about it really!
H: How will you organize this.
M: Slightly different maybe. I would like the club to support promoters a bit more and give them some support. But mainly I would like to raise the bar. I don't want to go back to this night and that night I want names down and I want it to be a venue on the map. I want south wales to be seen as the Welsh Club (Clwb Ifor Bach) in Cardiff, the Monkey Club in Swansea and Carmarthen, Waterside. Three places that are putting on really good music.
H: How would this be structured?
M: I would like to do live gigs mainly in the week and club nights on a friday. So maybe try 2 nights a week see how much Carmarthen can take. I think if you raise the bar and start getting involved in bringing bigger artists down people will travel a bit more.
H: Are you looking for people to get involved in this?
M: I'm looking for people in terms of promoters who are serious about promoting and want to actually achieve something and not just take the piss. I've always thought about this long term. I do feel that the two years we did do the bookings we did get the waterside on the map. We had the Bug, Knifehandchop, Skream, Digital Mystiks quite early on in the Dub-Step movement. I mean Digital Mystiks came here long before Dub-Step was a big thing you know and that's the sort of thing that puts the club on the map because people think when Dub-Step did arrive which was about 6 months to a year later and people would say "oh yeah! That club must have something going on!" and that's the sort of thing you build on thats how it works. (laughs)
So thats what I would like to do. I would like to get bands down that are just about to break. Thats the sort of thing that makes a club stand out and stand above the others! It's whether you are getting artists in who will have a future impact.
Colin ( Powersteppers ) and I where doing Step Forward promotions in Cardiff which was very poorly attended I think there was about 70 people for the Digital Mystiks (edit).
H: Why is this? in Cardiff!
M: Because Dub-Step hadn't arrived yet. People just didn't know it. The Mystiks gig we did the only people who where there were music biz people. But then we went back i think it was in december for Swn Fest and Loefah was on and it was packed!
H: We are talking about one of the fastest moving scenes since I can remember I mean I wasn't around when jungle was breaking so this is the first one i've experienced and your not even talking about 5 years here more like a year. I think 5 years ahead and it's almost impossible to imagine!
M: Yeah, I mean obviously your not booking things for 5 years ahead but to me there is a lot of fly by night promoters who come here try to make their money then two years down the line end up married with kids and not interested ( says the man with 5 kids Ed.)it doesn't look like changing. For me it's more of an attitude I'm not thinking about diving in and making money now I'm thinking that in 5 years time the club is still there with a good name. So thats what i mean by thinking 5 years ahead.
H: I believe we need another venue in south wales?
M: Yeah in West wales you have Narbeth Queens Hall which is great but there is only certain gigs that work there. It's a big hall. I was saying this last night with Fran my partner. I've been going to gigs for 20 years and I like gigs that are in my face! (not 20 meters away Ed) I mean it got to the point where I wouldn't even go just because of the venue! I think this Waterside project is quite exciting and we will see what happens within the year.
H: Cheers Matt.
M: Good start.
Thanks to Matt tangled parrot for taking his time out to record this interview with me. Unfortunately my dictaphone kept messing up so i lost parts of the interview so where you see TAPE ERROR sorry! Please leave feedback in the comments section.
Der Science Metzger Band