Plastic Fantastic first opened at Christmas, 1994. The early '90s saw a worldwide recession, the "demise of vinyl" and, increasingly, competition from the vast music emporia impacting on independent record stores. At the same time, it was a very exciting time in the history of dance music.
Presented with our business plan, our bank manager looked bleak and said, "you're brave". But music was what we knew about, and what we lived for. The impetus in setting up the shop was simply to feed our habit. Our basic credentials were a broad knowledge of all kinds of dance music, an aptitude for cheeky banter and a refusal to be put off.
Five years on, we are glad we did it. Plastic Fantastic is now a firm fixture in the London scene. All the shops we were influenced by when we started out have now gone. May we pay homage to Charlie Chester's Flying Records in whose footsteps we aim to tread. Respect also to Fat Cat (Andy and Alex) whose encouragement and support helped us get off the ground.
Plastic's Hallmark is its intimacy. A few years back you needed serious attitude to shop for records. The atmosphere at Plastic is altogether more laid back. Shopping at Plastic Fantastic is a social experience: the shop is invariably so packed you are guaranteed to meet new people every time you come in. Plastic Fantastic is synonymous with Covent Garden cool.
Wary of the corporate takeovers in the mid 90s (experienced by Flying and Eastern Bloc), we have consciously maintained the independent record shop flavour, opting for the intimate surroundings of an old school record shop where the focus is on people and music, rather than high tech. The friendly service is the same whether you are a big name DJ or a bedroom DJ, boy or girl, black or white, yellow or pink. We have a genuine international flavour, partly by virtue of the music we stock, and partly because of our own European backgrounds: French, Italian and Spanish. In short, Plastic Fantastic is a mecca for anyone who's into dance music anywhere.
Our tastes in music are diverse. We grew up with disco and hip hop, exemplified by the Studio 54 classics and Grand Master Flash. We were also heavily influenced by indie - bands like New Order, the Stone Roses, Primal Scream and the Happy Mondays - and the cross over sounds pioneered by Paul Oakenfold and Andy Weatherall. The whole Hacienda movement engendered the house music which defines the early 90s: big and funky instrumentals, bouncy beats, percussion, bongos and dubby disco. Labels of this era that have had a profound effect on us include William Orbit's Guerilla with DOP's ground breaking "Future Le Funk" and Dr Atomic¹s heavenly "Schnoodlefloss"; Outer Rhythm who brought us Djum Djum's brilliant "The Difference" and Leftfield's classic "Not Forgotten"; and then Leftfield's own label, Hard Hands, with seminal tracks like "Song of Life" and "Release The Pressure". Massive inspiration also came from the whole Junior Boys' Own collective, generated by F lying Records, with Lemon interrupt's cheeky "Big Mouth" and later Underworld's "Rez" and "Cowgirl". Cowboy, Limbo and Deconstruction with Justin Robertson's "Lion Rock" also feature amongst our all time favourites.
Our prime position for testing new music is recognised by several major record companies. We get regular scouts from, amongst others, Sony, Warners, Bonzai, Ministry, Hooj, Distinctive, Manifesto, Positiva and AMPM. Our speciality today comprises break beat, house - from deep/tech rhythms, pumping and funky beats through to harder sounds - progressive and trance.
Plastic's impact is such that when you go to any of the big clubs in London, chances are much of what you are listening to has come from us.