WAM Talks: Rhubarb Records with Dylan Sainsbury
Rhubarb Records is one of WAM’s Song of the Year Category Sponsors and is an indie Perth record store and label promoting great music especially local acts. They sell new and vintage vinyl records, cassettes, turntables, and accessories. Their store shelves are always packed full of new and vintage items so get on down to Rhubarb Records.
Today we chat with Dylan Sainsbury, the mastermind behind Rhubarb Records.
Tell us about Rhubarb Records Vinyl Café, why did you start your store?
The idea of a vinyl café had been something I’d been talking about with my wife and brother way before we even started Rhubarb Records as a business. My background was in hospitality having worked as a chef for 17 years and we all had a common love of music and collected vinyl. It seemed like a bit of a pipe dream at the time but after getting Rhubarb Records established as a successful record store over several years and then seeing an opportunity come up to take over the lease and work with Scott (aka Billy from Billy Blacks Barbering Experience) I just thought this feels right, let’s go for it.
The space gives us the chance to put on intimate music events too which is something I’ve wanted to be able to do for a long time.
What advice would you like to pass onto others trying to start their own business?
It’s going to be a lot of hard work whatever small business you decide to start, and the odds are going to be stacked against you. You’ll probably work harder than you have ever had to when being employed by someone else and earn a lot less for your time to begin with, but if you really want to follow a dream just keep at it. Find mentors and people in your industry who can help with advice and encouragement.
You know you’re on the right track if what you do is pretty much all you think about, talk about and even wake up dreaming about.
Don’t think ‘what can I do so this business makes money’ but ‘what can I do to make this business awesome not only for yourself but the people in your community’.
Don’t be afraid to take risks if you feel passionate about something.
What unique services does Rhubarb Records offer outside of normal record stores?
Aside from your everyday new and used vinyl retail we have also been running an indie record label for a couple of years and are now on our twelfth release. We’ve also moved into the vinyl manufacture business by teaming up with a Czech based company XVinylX to form XVinylX Australia which now run the Australian and South East Asian operations here in Perth. I hope this really helps with local bands releasing their music on vinyl and our expertise and quality product can make the vinyl releases coming out of WA really stand out in the crowd.
In the past year, Rhubarb Jam – a vinyl sampler of great local artists – has seen two sold-out runs. How are projects like this vital in sustaining the Perth music industry?
I think it helps draw attention to the local music scene from people who might not usually get out to gigs to see live music. We sell copies not just to people in Perth but internationally as well as the rest of Australia and I hope that after hearing some of the music on the Rhubarb Jams people go on to explore more of the bands’ catalogs and hopefully go on to buy more of their music in the future. The feedback I have been getting suggests that this is the case.
Generally, people who collect vinyl are very excited by good music and this makes it easy for them to discover what’s new and exciting in the Perth music scene. It’s also an enjoyable way for us to work with some of our favorite bands and artists on each project and help contribute something to the local scene that brings a lot of creative people together to make something special.
What do you think indie record labels, bands and distributors could be doing more of to help themselves and indie stores like yourself?
I think there is a lot more to be gained when people work together and that’s generally what I see happening which is great. Just support local as much as you can that way the money gets reinvested into the local community and not into some shareholders portfolio like when you shop at big retail stores, online etc.
Despite the rise in online music streaming, vinyl consumption has seen rapid growth in the past few years. Why do you think this is?
The vinyl and turntable technology had decades to be perfected so what you have is decades of research developing an analog sound format which still holds up against the best digital formats. The period through which vinyl dominated as a format had so much amazing music released which is available and some of it is still only available to discover on vinyl. Not only do you have the unique analog sound, but the physical product looks amazing, is a lot of fun to collect, the listening experience requires more of your attention rather than just scrolling through or skipping track after track. Spending your money on vinyl can be an investment with prices rising on not only rare older releases but titles being released now skyrocketing in price after selling out. There is also the satisfaction of going into a store and finding something you’ve wanted or discovering something new. Lastly there is a lot of community around the vinyl scene and most people who collect love to talk about their music tastes as well as their collections. So, it’s more than just a format to hear music it’s a whole culture around music, collecting and the love of the format.
What are your top tips for artists wanting to press their music to vinyl?
Don’t be put off if you’re not sure where to start. Just hit us up at XVinylX or even just drop into Rhubarb Records for a chat. We’re happy to give all sorts of advice for every step of the way not just production of the record. Like how to go about funding the project, how long it will take, advice on artwork etc.
Saturday 21 April is Record Store Day and predicted to be bigger than ever this year. What do you have planned?
We’re opening Rhubarb Records Vinyl Café at 8am with some breakfast & coffee specials to get everyone fueled up for the big day as well as having hundreds of RSD titles in stock and the chance to win over $800 in prizes. Our East Vic Park store will open at 9.30am and have even more RSD titles as well as DJ’s beers and pizza. We pack the bags full of free giveaways for the first fifty or so people through the door too. Then afterwards we’re throwing a free RSD after party at Nowhereman Brewing in West Leederville with The Psychotic Reactions and Black Stone from The Sun Playing.
Looking to the future, what contribution do you hope Rhubarb Records can provide in supporting the local music scene?
I hope we can keep releasing amazing local music on vinyl as well as making the process a lot easier and more affordable for local bands to release their music on vinyl.
What is your stores local best seller currently?
We’ve just released and almost sold out of ‘Flaneur’ by Verge Collection and we just put ‘Terrible Signal’ by Terrible Signal up for pre-sale last week and that has been selling really fast too.