Next Door Records Two Opens In East London 

With a venue downstairs, too...

In the mile-long stretch from Kingsland High Street to Stoke Newington Road in north-east London, underground music culture has always been supported here.

It’s where online radio station NTS broadcast from for their global community of music lovers, where venues EartH and Cafe OTO champion artists on the rise, and where cultural institution Total Refreshment Centre has been a sanctuary for London’s jazz scene over the last decade to record and perform in their studios.

Now, the popular West London record store Next Door Records has opened a second branch at 182 Stoke Newington Road, hoping to bring something new to the music community in the area.

Having been friends from their childhood and through studying music at universities in Leeds and Newcastle, co-owners Louis Raworth, Thom Parris and Alfie Aukett decided to open their flagship store in Shepherd’s Bush back in 2020 from a desire to share their love for record digging, gigs, and electronic music within a cultural space. 

With Next Door Records Two (NDR2) officially opened on May 3rd, Raworth explains why they chose Stoke Newington for their new store: “We’ve managed to build quite a strong community base within Shepherd’s Bush. In the creative landscape [here], there’s a lot of music and a lot of art within the area. We saw the same thing with Stoke Newington, if not more, as there’s loads of great record shops we look up to around here and lots of great venues as well. We saw Stoke Newington as an area we would fit into.”

Next Door Records has become more than just a destination for record collectors, with the store’s popularity evolving through running as a café, bar, bottle shop, and music venue for small gigs, radio station takeovers, and late-night DJ sets.

They have also collaborated with restaurants Whyte RushenTaco Collective, and BBC Good Food and Mob Kitchen writers to host pop-up food events and supper clubs for intimate dining experiences, as the diversity of their operations has helped them thrive in the post-pandemic climate.

NDR2 is a larger store, but still finished in similar style with record shelving made by Spinback Furniture and a magnificent soundsystem designed and installed by Glasgow’s We Enjoy Sound.

“The big difference between this one and Shepherd’s Bush is we’ve got a venue in the basement,” Raworth says. “We’re going to push weekdays [hosting] live music and supper clubs, and on weekends focus more on DJ-stuff as well as push livestreams and radio takeovers on Saturday and Sunday daytimes.

“Having a venue in the basement [means] you’ll see us having one event going on the ground floor which will always be free and open to the public, and then the basement will have another event going on.”

Having free or discounted events is important to Next Door Records so their community can access their cultural programme whilst the cost-of-living crisis is affecting people.

“We’ve always tried to push as many free events as possible,” shares Raworth. “The inclusive nature of venues is so important, especially when you’re trying to be community-focused where people can come and meet each other.

“We don’t we don’t think anyone should be turned away from being involved in what’s going on in the in the arts and cultural sector. So, we’re looking into doing regular jazz nights that will be free, and different sessions free or at least cheap for the public.”

Having that community space for local creatives to meet each other has been important for Make A Dance (M.A.D) Records’ Ben Lewis.

“I used to live very close to their first shop, and it brought all the music heads and creatives out in the area and gave us a hub to meet,” says Lewis. “Turns out there are some great people living round there, [but] we just hadn’t found each other yet.

“They also stocked my first records when I started a M.A.D Records a few years back and I know they are always on the lookout to support local.”

Lewis also admires their record collection of “good electronic stuff where I often find gold”, and Raworth explains their process for choosing what stock to get in.

“It’s a big mix of people coming in selling their big dance collections, DJs who are looking to just switch up their own collections, or us scouring the internet for collections. We buy a lot from a dealer in Nigeria which has been great, but [with] the newer stuff, we’re trying to work with as many independent record labels as possible. Lots of broken beat stuff comes from an Italian label called Mother Tongue Records.” 

“We’ve still got our bargain bins which are three for £10 – I think it’s super important for digging culture to have affordable records.”

The basement in NDR2 is having the final touches completed so a listening booth can be used by crate diggers to listen to their collection.

“If you want to properly dig and not just listen through our headphones in the listening stations on the ground floor, you can book out the listening booth for yourself,” says Raworth. “Take a hundred records down there, bring a few mates along and listen to records through the system.

“I don’t think there’s many dedicated listening rooms in record shops anymore, but I think it’s such a nice way to listen to music in shops.”

Next to the listening booth is a walk-in fridge left from the previous owners, something that Raworth is planning to turn into a small vocal booth and studio which can be used as a podcast room, demo recording space or mixing space.

Once these final renovations are completed, Raworth is excited for the summer programme to begin at NDR2 and beyond. 

“At NDR2, we’re doing a takeover with Foundation FM on July 19th, and we’ll put on a few summer sessions for our Off The Rails festival because it was great last year,” he shares. “We’ll have a full stage area at Above Below Festival this year too.”

Words: Ben Lee
Photography: Ben Lee + Louis Raworth

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