Record Store Day is a huge highlight of the dance music calendar. Inaugurated in 2007, the yearly event has the mantra of ‘celebrating the culture of the independently owned record store.’ It’s an opportunity to support the underground scene, respect the roots of electronic music, and even more importantly, to pick up some fresh new wax.

Many of the team at Toolroom HQ first caught the bug for music collecting at independent record stores. We caught up with some of the team to discuss some of their favourite records, and the stories behind finding them…

George Ankrett
Music Director

Reese & Santonio – ‘The Sound’

When I was a kid I’d regularly shop at Music Power (2) in Ilford. I was around 12 or 13 and at the time was purchasing much Hip Hop. Ilford (Essex/East London), was somewhat lively and if you didn’t have your wits about you you’d be walking home in your socks. When a stranger asks ‘Hey, what shoe size are you?’ only a fool would answer. It happened a lot, trust me. If it wasn’t your sneaks over knifepoint then you’d run the risk of a butter heist if you didn’t keep your vinyl purchases tightly gripped when popping into the nearby Maccy D’s.

One week the inevitable happened and I got set upon. I managed to get out without losing my newly purchased Ice T ‘Rhyme Pays’ vinyl, but unfortunately lost a sweet Smiley Acid House pin badge in the scuffle. It seemed sensible albeit somewhat ‘whack’ to only go shopping in Ilford with the accompaniment of my mum. She could offer some protection and being from the darker parts of Essex was fairly handy.

Anyhow, fast forward a few weeks and I’m thumbing the racks of Music Power once again, mother in tow, standing awkwardly next to me, her gaze wandering around the shop. I remember a giant poster of Richie Rich ‘Turn It Up’ adorning one of the walls, it may have been signed, and the guys behind the counter where busting a lot of early House and Techno on the shop system. We’re talking 1987/88 here. After some time, I selected my purchases; some obscure UK Hip Hop and Kool Moe Dee’s new album ‘How You Like Me Now’; with the infamous red Kangol being run over on the cover – a rumoured diss for rival MC LL Cool J. As I handed over the cash, my mum stepped forward and said to one of the guys “pop one of those that’s playing into the bag too…” I remember the guys expression was one of slight surprise, but my mum was deadly serious. What was playing was a fresh slab of Detroit Techno from Kevin Saunderson and Santonio Echols.

My mum always had good taste, and used to run discos in her youth so had a descent record collection. Fast forward a few years and we were all into Acid House, House and Techno. The 80s were such a brief period in time, yet the extremes of music that bookended the decade were vast. Buying records, and indeed keeping hold of them was a risky business only for the committed and dedicated few. Needless to say, one weekend I performed my own heist and ‘borrowed’ some of her vinyl and to this day I have never given it back.

Soz Mum.

It’s a treasured 12” and like all the best records, has a tale attached to it.

Props, respect and love to you Maureen Ankrett.

Pete Griffiths
Toolroom Academy Tutor

Energy 52– ‘Café Del Mar’ (Three ‘N One Remix)

The original version of Café Del Mar was released in 1993 but it wasn’t until 1997 and the release of the Three ‘N One Remix on the infamous Hooj Choons Label that I discovered this record, to say it literally changed my life is an understatement!

This particular remix just had that magic formula, crafted for the Big rooms with that instantly recognisable riff melody it became one of the most iconic and recognisable euphoric dance tracks that to me signifies a whole era of clubbing, perfectly encapsulating the hedonistic & euphoric vibe of Ibiza in the late 90’s and 00’s.

I had been spending every single penny I could get on vinyl from about 1995 after buying my first set of decks; going on a musical journey through Hardcore, Jungle, Trance & House, I loved multiple genres and my DJ sets at the time would span across this wide range. I remember the first time I heard the Three ‘N One Remix of Café Del Mar, I think it was a live broadcast on BBC Radio 1 with Judge Jules, back then his show was on a Saturday night alongside Danny Rampling and Seb Fontaine and was always high energy – As soon as I heard it I was literally transported straight to Ibiza and from that moment it was a must have record I had to track down.

I spent most of my Saturdays at the time in a well-respected record shop here in Maidstone called ‘Plastic Surgery Records’ It was an official Cool Cuts store back in the day, which was a big deal for any records making the Cool Cuts chart, with this remix not only topping that but eventually the national charts as well. It was such a buzz in that shop spending the day going through records, hanging out with other DJ’s and the guys running the shop, it’s where I met some of the Toolroom crew and spent a small fortune on vinyl over the years!

I actually remember when they got this vinyl in stock, it was instantly recognisable because of the distinct cover art that all Hooj Choons releases had with the bold colours, specialised font and of the course the legendary Hooj Choons stickman Logo that really signified the label.

That feeling of tracking a record down you’ve so desperately wanted was pure elation, I remember literally racing home to play it on the decks over and over, and from that moment it became a signature tune in pretty much all of my DJ sets, I would always play this at that peak moment or finish my sets with it, It was kind of a signature thing I’d do at the events I would play back then in the late 90’s and actually helped with my progression and getting gigs – It also holds many special clubbing memories during that era from nights like Cream, Peach, Sunny Side Up, Monkey Business and so many more.

It’s still such an amazing record that’s been the soundtrack to Festivals, Films, and it still gets played by the world’s biggest House DJ’s, Techno DJ’s, Trance etc, and always raises the roof, simply an all-time classic for me ☺

Little known fact: The original Melody was actually based on a piece of music written by Belgian Composer Wim Mertens called ‘Struggle for Pleasure’

Victoria Smith
Community Manager

Omar S – 002

Unfortunately, I don’t have an elaborate story about purchasing this – I bought it simply because I loved it and I wanted to own a piece of music by one of my favourite producers, someone I’ve admired for years, Omar S. He’s considered a Detroit legend, and this EP was first released back in 2003, but luckily for me I managed to get a reissue. ‘Set It Out’ is one of very few vocal led tracks put out on his own FXHE imprint, and it’s certainly one of my favourites.

I wanted to own this vinyl because I wanted to hear it in its realest, purest form. The sounds are always warmer and more raw through a record player, and I really wanted to own this for myself to play and enjoy. I love the imperfections that come with playing vinyl: The odd crackle, the fuzzy noise before the needle reaches the audio, and I think there’s something special about being able to physically open a record because they are more than a file online, a streaming link on Spotify, but something we can keep forever.

Taste evolves and changes, you’re introduced to new artists, albums, reissues, and collectables – People’s record collections grow alongside with them, and I really love that.

Andrew Tyrell
Lead Design

Kavinsky – Outrun

If I was ever going to buy a record based on the cover art alone this would be that record. With a title taken from a 1980s Sega driving game of the same name, both the artwork and the record’s sound inspire a severe case of nostalgia in me. As a listener of a certain age who has low budget VHS action movies, horror b movies and the soundtracks of 1980s driving video games imprinted in his subconscious; I am inextricably thrown into the middle of a stylish, eerie, neon noir story – and there’s no place I’d rather be. This record and its association with the film Drive inspired a complete revival of retro artwork where hot pink brush fonts, palm trees and supercars were seen everywhere for a time proving Outrun’s dark vision of electro really captured people’s imagination.

Jamie Kemp
Sales Director

Fatima Yamaha – ‘What’s A Girl To Do’

I was given this by a very special friend/mastering engineer from Italy; Moris. I couldn’t find a copy anywhere and Moris decided to donate his copy to me – he sent in the post as a surprise. Forever grateful! I play this at least once a week and keep it pristine.

Ibiza sunsets and great times… The record brings so many memories of times with a cocktail in hand, sun beaming down – smiles, no COVID. A simpler life. I don’t think you can pick a better record for summer. The record speaks for itself… Melodies for days. The record is like a fine cheese, it gets better the longer you keep it. I have heard this one played out in bars, warm up sets, my own playlists, and it always creates a smile on my face.

Sean Holbrook
Label Manager

Sonz of a Loop Da Loop Era – ‘Far Out’

I bought this particular record from Massive Records, Oxford. A shop originally set up by a group of ravers from Gloucester and Cheltenham that went on to be a global mecca for the vinyl addicts everywhere! This tune reminds me of leaving school, GCSE’s, your whole life in front of you… Not having a care in the world, the summer and that perfect blend of uplifting rave music with a nod to hip hop! It was released on a label called Suburban Base that came out of a record shop in Romford called Boogie Times. The label was my first time witnessing a collective / a family / a tribe / a movement and that blew my mind outside of the outstanding consistency of the label’s releases.

Paul Gardner
Artist Manager

Nightwriters – ‘Let The Music Use You’

I had the same ritual every Saturday, around 1989-95 growing up in Islington, there were two buses that went past my house into the West End. If the 73 Bus came first I would head straight to Trax & Blackmarket both in Soho. If the 38 Bus came first I would head to City Sounds in Holborn. I have around 15,000 12” so this is an extremely hard to just pick one favourite record, but one that always comes to mind: Nightwriters – ‘Let The Music Use You’, picking up a really early American import. It has all the elements I love about house music – Soul, groove, acid, emotion & an uplifting vocal.

Danny Weeks
Head Of Albums

Farley “Jackmaster” Funk & Jessie Saunders – ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’

One record that I own now that means a lot to me is ‘Farley “Jackmaster” Funk & Jessie Saunders – Love Can’t Turn Around’ – 1986. When I was getting into DJing about 16/17 my Mum pulled out some of her old records from the loft that she thought I would like and showed me some of these classic dance anthems that I’d never heard before. It was a real lesson into the dance culture and really opened me up to the discography of House music taking me right back to Chicago. I was instantly hooked to the likes of Inner City and Mixmaster, but this record ‘Farley “Jackmaster” Funk – Love Can’t Turn Around’ was the one I loved most, so much funk, fun and life was breathed into this record which is what I’m all about musically. I loved the cover arts on 80’s dance records with bold block colouring and bright florescent graphics, simple but kind of felt underground and of course retro to this day and age which I absolutely love!

Conor Rowlan
Marketing & PR Assistant

Django Django – ‘Django Django’ Debut Album

This was a super hard choice for me as I own a few incredible albums that have changed my life, but the one I think back to the most is probably the Django Django self-titled debut album. A little bit of a left field choice but this record is one that I brought on a whim at Rough Trade East in Shoreditch literally because the artwork looked cool! This was back in 2012 I think when I used to play gigs (remember those) with my old band. We used to play up in London fairly often at venues like the Old Blue Last, Camden Barfly, Lock Tavern, The Monarch, Fiddlers Elbow and 93 Feet East to name a few and we used to head into all the different record stores in the area before the shows!

Anyway, one day we were playing a show at 93 Feet East on Brick Lane and ended up popping into Rough Trade. I was checking out the records and was tempted buy the Death Grips – The Money Store LP. Before long I caught a glimpse of this insane glitched out desert artwork thing sat up on the wall and was blown away by it, I didn’t have a clue who the band were and to be fair it didn’t matter as we were running late for soundcheck so I just grabbed it and left for the gig. Put it on the next day and it completely melted my brain, it sounded like the Beach Boys had dropped acid for the first time or something and were like ‘Fuck Good Vibrations let’s roll with this trippy desert shit’. It’s full of super catchy, simple but elegant pop tunes and its always a pleasure to listen to this album from time to time.