It was actually a few weeks ago that I photographed Catapult Vinyl in the High Street Arcade and got chatting with the owner, Simon. Sadly, life got in the way and I’m only just getting around to blog about it – hopefully you will think it is worth the wait.
It’s fair to say that Catapult is one of the cooler shops in the arcades, fitting in very well with many of the other great shops in the High Street Arcade (including New York Deli, Looby Loo’s, Hobo’s…). In case you hadn’t guessed from its name, it’s a record shop specialising in hip-hop, dance, dubstep etc vinyl. They also sell accessories like T-shirts upstairs.
I spent the majority of my time however in the basement, which was converted especially for the shop. Previously it was all mud that has been dug out. I’m not exactly an expert on these things, but the acoustics in there are great, and amazingly you can still get phone signal.
To tell you a little bit about the history of the shop, Catapult is one of the oldest arcade businesses, having been set up in 1992 by Lucy (Simon’s wife) and their business partner, Simon joined around 8 years later. It was previously in another one of the shops but switched around at the same time as the New York Deli moved premises.
While I was there, a customer from Manchester was also in and Simon and he spent a lot of time chatting about “the glory days” and times gone by. It would seem, for the shop at least, the best times were the late 90s, just after New Labour had got into power. Indeed, if you look at pictures on the wall from that time you’ll see well-known DJs playing to so many kids that they can’t all fit in the shops.
Nowadays, Simon says that there’s not so much of a “youth identity” and he is concerned about the homogenisation of clubs and bars, especially in the Cardiff area. Before the 24-hour licensing laws came into play a few years ago, Catapult was a destination once the pubs had kicked out, now not so.
Fortunately, the business is doing quite well at the moment, thanks in part to what Simon calls a resurgence in hip-hop and a love of vinyl, along with all things retro and nostalgic. He also says that people are starting to come in asking for magazines that went out of print years ago and there’s a keen-ness for fanzines at the moment, even though it might look like the publishing world is in decline and the internet is taking over.
Eavesdropping on the conversation between Simon and the customer was fascinating as it gave me a better insight into the ‘scene’ – so to speak. I’m the first to admit that this kind of music isn’t really my cup of tea but it’s always fantastic to hear people talking about their passions, and it was clear from listening to these two that that’s exactly what I was hearing. One interesting point that came up though was the effect politics has on music.
The pair suggested that the best punk music came about during the last Tory government, as a rebellious ‘fuck you’ to those in power. He thinks that perhaps this could happen again under the current administration. In the commercial world however, like Hobo’s, Catapult relies quite a lot on students for a lot of their trade and of course with increasing tuition fees and less money available for loans, it is of course a worry that business will be affected in the long run, even if the music is better.
Anyway, enough of the rambling, you probably didn’t come here for that – you came to look at pictures – quite rightly too. Enjoy the photos, Simon is keen to include the “Singles” sign as much as possible as apparently it cost quite a packet and he wants to get his money’s worth … look out for it.
It’s also worth noting the exterior of Catapult. It’s one of my favourites in all the arcades. I love the colour, the leading on the windows and the art deco styling – plus it looks great in wide angle pictures. I’ve put one in the post below, but you can see more in the High Street Wide Angle post.
Catapult will also be taking part in Record Store Day where I’m hoping to capture some great scenes from “behind the counter”. If you’re there, look out for me and come and say hi!
As always, comments, suggestions, ramblings, thoughts and more always very much welcome. There’s more photos from Catapult if you really can’t wait over in this Flickr set.