Eleanor Sharples talks to Claudia Wilson about her records, her new shop and the Brixton community.
Claudia Wilson no longer sees the community spirit that there used to be in central Brixton.
But she is doing something about that from Pure Vinyl Records, the Ferndale Road shop she moved into earlier this year.
People used to host house parties where doors were open to anyone, she says. But this just doesn’t happen any more. And there are not many places to go where you don’t have to spend money and you can meet other people.
Claudia strives to recreate a sense of community in Pure Vinyl by providing a free and social space for everyone to enjoy.
Born and raised on Saltoun Road, she first came to the notice of local music lovers behind the decks at Mango Landin‘, which is now a block of flats on Brixton Water Lane.
After it closed she set up a Saturday stall outside a longstanding record store owned by her friend Simon in Brixton Village (formerly the Granville Arcade) selling records and playing music to help him when he was ill. For two years, she was doing what she loved.
She wanted to give back to the community and make people still want to walk through Brixton despite the gentrification it was undergoing.
Unhappy in her full-time job, and following words of wisdom from her mother, Claudia packed in her job to focus her sights on setting up a record shop in the Reliance Arcade in 2015. She has never looked back.
Music was a way of life for all of her family. In 21st century households, a television is the statement feature in most living rooms. In the 1960s the radiogram was the centrepiece in Claudia’s home, standing proud in the front room alongside a stack of her father’s blue beat records.
Each of her siblings brought a different genre to the busy house. Reggae, funk and pop resonated throughout and listening to the charts every Sunday was an integral part of their weekly routine.
Recalling her start as a vinyl seller, she says: “Getting Reliance was an achievement. That place was my sanctuary.”
It was, she says, a “heart wrenching” decision, to move to her new shop, part of the Department Store development in Ferndale Road by architects Squire & Partners.
But it means she can display a wider selection of her favourite records and, with other members of the community, host events.
She moved in in September, but there have already been record signings, pop-up shops and performances. Collaborations with other labels are in the pipeline.
“I pride myself on my records – the records I have in this shop are my own selection,” she says.
Her speciality? Finding 7inch soul records. These rare vinyl disks are unique to her shop.
Claudia has lots of regular customers and understanding their tastes and providing them with a personal and friendly service remains the heart of her business.
“A lot more people are into reggae than they were, so the demand for that is a lot higher now,” she says.
But her biggest seller is an album by Brixton’s very own Soothsayers, playing Nu Afrobeat and dub. Claudia thinks people coming to the area want to know what’s going on in Brixton and buy something local.