Sound factory | Monocle

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Amid rubble, sawdust and the promise of a David Adjaye-designed interior, Stephen Godfroy is adamant that Rough Trade East is the space to snare the “dormant music shopper”. Compared to its thriving, if ramshackle forebear in Notting Hill, the newly opened space off Brick Lane’s curry paradise-cum-piss-artist enclave is, despite the last-minute carpentry, already a sleek showroom, where “girlfriends won’t want to wait outside.”

The site used to brew London’s Stella Artois franchise. So, short of being a Jack Daniel’s distillery, the space is as rock’n’roll as a spanking new record shop can be. Where mighty lager vats once stood now sits an impressively lofty mezzanine office, halfway between the stage and acoustic baffle boards on the stripped-out ceiling. When shop becomes venue, the record racks are wheeled away to allow up to 200 fans to go wild. With Rough Trade’s impeccable indie pedigree it’s no surprise that Godfroy is bashful as he admits, “Well, there’s no shortage of A-list bands who want to play.”

The heart of the enterprise is the racks of CDs and vinyl, edited selections of the hottest releases with handwritten descriptions of records that read like wine-tasters’ eulogies to fine vintages. It’s little wonder the original small shop opened by Geoff Travis in 1976, and which became the label that signed the Smiths, is often a career rather than a summer job for its “till jockeys”.
Truman Brewery, Dray Walk, London E1; + 44 20 7392 7788;

Rough Trade’s top 10 bestsellers

01 Eugene McGuinness, The Early Learnings of Eugene McGuinness
02 Mia, Kala
03 Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
04 Richard Hawley, Lady’s Bridge
05 Various, Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label
06 Tunng, Good Arrows
07 Arthur & Yu, In Camera
08 Kate Nash, Kate Nash
09 King Creosote, Bombshell
10 Various, Kompakt 8

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