Frans de Waard (Kapotte Muziek/Beequeen/Goem) worked for independent record label Staalplaat from 1992 till 2003. In his upcoming book This Is Supposed To Be A Record Label he tells about the countless activities that were involved in working for Staalplaat: organising shows, publishing a magazine, distributing albums, hosting a radio show and running a record store. In this preview of the book De Waard describes an average day at the Staalplaat Music Shop.
Peter, Radboud and I are hanging out at the counter in Staalplaat below Fort van Sjakoo, Amsterdam’s famous left-wing bookstore. A big sign in the window upstairs reads ‘Staalplaat – Independent Music Shop’, with a pictogram informing visitors that they have to walk down the metal staircase to get to our dungeon. We’re smoking they’ve got their rolled ciggies and I’m puffing on my small cigar. We smoked constantly, much to the annoyance of lots of customers who staggered around in our thick blue clouds. We’re listening to some new stuff on the store’s sound system, discussing a magazine, or just talking bullshit. If you look around it’s obvious this is a music store. A few crates with LPs and singles, two racks with CDs, and large steel plates with empty cassette boxes with covers attached to them with magnets. The counter is at the back of the shop, facing that clunky steel staircase that descends into our little kingdom. It’s still early, there aren’t any customers. But wait, some people are stumbling downstairs, carefully avoiding bumping their heads. Their accents betray where they come from: the country where people prefer everything to be very straightforward. And the last thing they expect to hear when they’re abroad is someone joking with them in their own language. Humour often bypasses them.
“Is this Staalplaat?” they enquire.
“No,” we say in unison and very loudly.
They leave and we continue talking as if nothing happened: if you’re too lazy to observe your surroundings properly, then you’re probably not worthy of being our customers.
“Staalplaat has the best music selection in town, but the snottiest personnel,” wrote some American in a ‘What’s On In Alternative Amsterdam’ guide. Americans can’t take a joke, but we’re proud of this pronouncement.
THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A RECORD LABEL – Frans De Waard
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