Shadi Megallaa, 37 Image Credit: Kristina Nabieva

In theory, Record Store Day (RSD) is all sunshine and roses. It’s one day in a year that, according to its original intent, celebrates vinyl. Major labels put out special, limited edition releases, and fans flock to the shops to get them first. What could go wrong?

If you’re an independent label owner — a lot.

RSD started out in 2007 and has been happening on the third Saturday of April ever since. This year, it lands on April 16. Over the last couple of years, record sales have soared around the world. But its independent label owners who have suffered delayed releases because of congested ­pressing plants.

“Personally, I’m not a fan of it at all,” Shadi Megallaa told tabloid!.

The 37-year-old Egyptian DJ is well-known amongst the record-collecting community in the UAE. He’s about three months away from opening Dubai’s first record store-slash-coffee shop-slash-recording studio in Alserkal Avenue, called The Flip Side. He’s also a resident DJ at the Analog Room and runs his own label, Ark to Ashes.

A couple of decades ago, Megallaa said, major labels “went towards CDs, because I guess they just wanted to make more money, and they thought, you know, it’s the future, so they all stopped releasing music on records and only released music on CDs.”

Meanwhile, independent and smaller labels continued to release vinyl.

“They kept the culture alive. The problem with Record Store Day is a lot of these [major] labels now are kind of capitalising on the fact that vinyl is cool again. They just do all these limited Record Store Day editions, and they take over the pressing plans.

“Independent labels, like my label and lots of other labels, now have to wait a long, long time before their releases come out.”

In 2014, Canadian musician Owen Pallet took to Facebook to announce one such delay, stating, “The album release date for In Conflict has been pushed back to May 27. This is due to a backup at the pressing plant; Record Store Day was a tall order this year.” In 2015, British act Martin Gore told interviewers, “Vinyl is back! That’s the reason the album is coming out so late. The pressing plants were backed up because of Record Store Day. We have to push back the release of the record to wait for the vinyl. I never thought I’d be saying that in 2015.”

So can a dedicated day help to keep records alive in the mainstream?

“Records are alive, anyway,” said Megallaa. “They never left. It’s not like they stopped being made and now are made again. It’s a business thing – it has nothing to do with vinyl. It’s a money thing. You have to wait four times as long now to be able to press a record, because the pressing plants are limited around the world. There’s only two people in the world that fix these machines. They travel everywhere, all the time, to fix them.”

Last year, two independent UK labels — Howling Owl and Sonic Cathedral — teamed up to make a statement. They started a website called recordstoredayisdying.com and called out “…what Record Store Day has become: just another event in the annual music industry circus…” They announced that they would put out a split single in a limited run of 365 records, releasing one vinyl a day starting on RSD last year, and ending April 17 this year.

On their website, Sonic Cathedral wrote: “If you want to queue up from the early hours of April 18 to buy Mumford & Sons’ 7” or an overpriced Noel Gallagher 12” to flip on eBay, then fine, but what the hell has it got to do with us? U2 have already [expletive] their album into our iTunes, why should they constipate the world’s pressing plants with it too?”

Megallaa argued that records should be celebrated every day — not just once every year.

“Valentine’s Day should be Valentine ’s Day every day. Mother’s Day is every day. Father’s Day is every day. I think it hurts independent labels a lot more, so for that, I’m against it,” he said.

 

tabloid! spoke to Megallaa, Dubai-based DJ Rick Prior and talent booker Dan Greenpeace about their massive record collections and how their passion for vinyl began...

 

Rick Prior, 31

DJ at Cocktail Kitchen’s Vinyl Brunch between 1pm-4pm, and between 9pm-2am.

On how many records he owns…

“I’ve been DJing for 16 years now, so I’ve obviously got a massive collection of vinyl all over the world, in different places, and I’m here now, so I’m shipping bits and bobs over when I can. It would be around about 9 to 10,000. I’ve got all my father’s records as well, you see, so it’s a big collection.”

On whether he’s heard all of them…

“No, absolutely not. In the UK, what people do is they tend to send their collections, maybe if they’re giving up DJing or they need to create space or they’re having children, so I would buy their collections. You might listen to two or three of three hundred. I just like the collecting side of it.”

On the appeal of vinyl…

“The minute you pick a record out of your bag, you remember when you bought it, where you were, what you were feeling, who you were with.”

On his first record…

“One of the first ever records that my father gave me when I started playing about DJing was Earth, Wind and Fire — September.”

 

Dan Greenpeace, 45

Former DJ and radio presenter; current talent booker for events such as Love Music Your Way festival (April 29).

On how many records he owns…

I’ve got about 5,000. I’ve had almost triple that at one point.

On whether he’s heard all of them…

“All my records have very much been used and appreciated and loved, or used in clubs or played in radio. I’m quite fussy about keeping some in good condition, some classic records. Maybe I’ll even buy a double just to keep one in a really good condition.”

On his first record…

“I think it was Uptown Girl by Billy Joel. I used to be a big fan of a band called Adam and the Ants, and I remember one day faking being sick to not go to school because the new Adam and the Ants single came out – so that could have been the first single I bought.”

On a prized record…

“A Tribe Called Quest, when they did live shows, the DJ would have instrumental versions of their records pressed onto vinyl… There were very, very limited, maybe even 50 copies of each of their album pressed, and each album had four different pieces of vinyl with the instrumentals on, and they were pressed just privately for the band themselves to use. I managed to get a full set of all their albums. I acquired it through a series of trades… For the full set, I’ve been offered $15,000 [Dh55,081]. But I would never sell them.”

 

Shadi Megallaa, 37

DJ at Analog Room, owner of Ark to Ashes record label, and future record store owner.

On how many records he owns…

“I don’t know. I stopped counting. It’s somewhere above 6,000, 6,500 maybe.”

On whether he’s heard them all…

“I’m a DJ, you know what I mean? I buy them to play them. I don’t buy them to look at them. Same with buying an expensive car — do you buy it to put it in the garage, or do you buy it to drive it? Not saying one is right or one is wrong, but that’s just how I do it. I play them. “

On where he stores them…

“They’re all here. I can’t move anymore. I have to just be buried here, because I have too much, so that’s out of the question. Maybe when I retire, I can move one more time. Maybe. I don’t know.”

On a special record he owns…

“It’s a Lightnin’ Hopkins record, it’s a blues record. It’s Live at the Bird Lounge in Houston, Texas. It was released, I think, in 1965. The one I got, I paid 50 dollars for, which is actually not that much. You can get much more expensive records. But it’s sealed, and it’s an original pressing from the first time they pressed it — 1965. That one I haven’t opened yet. It’ll have to be something super special for me to open it.”

On his first records…

“I didn’t buy a first record, I bought a first ten records. They’re mostly terrible, but my favourite one out of them is by Sunscreem, called Perfect Motion. It’s the Junior Boy’s Own remix.”