You are in the Special Features section - Chapman Records - Specialising in Northern Soul, Tamla Motown, Mod+Ska








Chapman Records - Specialising in Northern Soul, Tamla Motown, Mod+Ska






Here Digger talked to Sean Chapman at Chapman Records. As well as running Chapman Records, Sean is a popular DJ on the soul circuit, resident at the biggest all-nighter in the world.


Inspired by Sean's love of authentic rare Northern Soul, Chapman Records now caters for fans of a number of genres, the only criteria being that the music needs to be great music.





Digger: Can you please tell us a little bit about your background Sean?

Sean: I was in the Air Force for thirty years. I've been selling records since 1993 and I combined that with my service career as a hobby.

Digger: I imagine you were being stationed all around the world?

Sean: In Belgium and Holland, so I picked up a lot of stuff over there.

Digger: How did your passion for this sort of music come about?

Sean: I was sixteen when I got into Northern Soul back in 1975/1976.

Digger: That was the sort of heyday. Wigan Casino and all of that?

Sean: 1973-76 was the heyday so when I got into some say the best years had gone. For instance Wigan Casino was not my cup of Tea.

Digger: Was it all press hype?

Sean: Yes. Well, you've got to look at Wigan Casino in two halves. The first half from '73 to '76 was probably fantastic, but unfortunately I never went. I went from '77 to '81 and I thought the DJs and the music were quite poor, with the exception of a couple of DJs like Richard Searling, what was being played in comparison to the rest of the country was rubbish and even after 30 years since Wigan closed. I still think that as well.

Digger: There do seem to be some people who are involved in movements who are purists and, like you say, are in a time-warp and don't want anything new.

Sean: It's very retro and there's nothing wrong with retro but you've got to have an open mind about whatever you're into. So just because it's not Northern Soul doesn't mean it's not a good record. That's not everybody, because a lot of people from the old Northern Soul scene went into the modern scene and that's a different scene as well - still soul music but a little bit more progressive and up-front.

Digger: A lot of Mods became Skinheads and back again.

Sean: Yes and I like that. I like the whole diversity of music and when I DJ I play a very mixed set. I don't want to just play Northern Soul, I like to add Latin, Mod Boogaloo and Ska and it hasn't GOT to be soulful either. I do like such a vast range of music, from Punk to Indie to...  

Digger: Matt Monro?

Sean: ... No. (Digger laughs) Anybody who's talented from Tom Jones to Shirley Bassey, Elton John to Frank Sinatra, T Rex and Bowie to The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. I love characters and great personalities. I was just reading an article about Alex today and he wasn't a great singer or anything but he was a monster on the stage - a massive personality and you couldn't take your eyes off him. He was never a pop star either and never made it really big but he was a fabulous entertainer.

Digger: People like Dylan arguably couldn't sing but what a wealth of great material.

Sean: Yes.

Digger: Did the DJ'ing go in tandem with you collecting these records?

Sean: I got into DJ'ing in the eighties but it was only when I really started buying and selling records. It was because I needed to afford to buy DJ'ing records, so I put some of my records to one side which were the better ones and with the rest it was a case of selling those and making a profit. And what profit I made went straight back into the DJ box. And, to be honest, it's still no different today. Even though I do very well with the records, I still don't take any pennies out of it - it all gets put back in.

Digger: Funding your habit?

Sean: Yes. I've got a vast range of stuff because I can afford to buy them, you know. From £5 to £5,000, if I want something I use the records money, so although it's run as a business it's still really just a massive hobby.

Digger: Who are the typical people coming in and buying your records?

Sean: Today, I've had them from Sweden and Finland. Obviously UK and mainland Europe, Australia to New Zealand to Japan.

Digger: You were doing it before The Internet. How did that work?

Sean: Well even then everything was done on the computer and I had a list sent out to people. I also used to go out to venues as well. I stopped doing that about two years ago - 1) because it's not worth doing it because you know you're not going to sell enough 2) I can't be bothered and 3) I got records stolen, so the combination of all three made me want to do it just Internet-based.

Digger: What are the holy grails, for other collectors and for you?

Sean: Two big records I've got are an Eddie Parker – I'm Gone on Awake Records which I paid £5,000 for and Del- Larks – Job Opening – Queen City Issue £4,500 - they're not my favourites but they are the most valuable. I've got all the Rare classics - The Rita and the Tiaras, All Williams, Damon Fox, Hamilton Movement, Tomangoes and The Salvadors.  

Digger: Do you always hold out for mint condition?

Sean: Sometimes you can't. Eddie Parker, for instance, you'll get in any shape or form because there's probably no more than a handful in the world, never mind the country. Luckily it was in good condition. Generally I want good condition because I'm looking at resale.

Digger: Can you tell us about the other stock in your shop?

Sean: Everything from 45s, LPs and CDs and memorabilia, which includes an array of keyrings to books to stickers to football annuals, membership cards, towels. I always wanted to cater for a £5 person a month to a person spending £100 or more a month. I never wanted to distinguish, because Northern Soul's quite snobby and some people would only sell original records. They had to be this or they had to be that. For many years, I was selling car stickers, which some people see as tacky but there was a market for it. I used to go to scooter rallies and Northern Soul rallies and there was always a market. And the more I could sell, the better records I could buy. That's what I've done for years and It's still based around my record collection. I used to be paid by the RAF and now it's my pension only, but this money I don't see as my money anyway - it's for stock and for reinvesting.




Digger: You're almost like the custodian of these items for a while and then they go on to another home.

Sean: Yes, yes. And that's what I want. I don't want anyone's money to be honest. I'd rather they have one of my records and give me another one back. I'm quite happy having records as opposed to money - the money doesn't mean anything to me.

Digger: We might be going that way with the way the economy's going. We might be going back to barter.

Sean: Yes. I do get a lot more of that now. People saying "You've got a record I like. Any chance of trading?" And I say yes because it's important to turn your stock over. You have to have new things. I mean, I buy stuff sometimes at record fairs and I know I'm not going to make anything out of it but it's nice to have it on the website. It looks good and it's not all about making money. You win some, you lose some. I bought records in the past and lost £1,000 on them because I bought them at the wrong time and sold them at the wrong time. But the next day, I'll make it up with something else. It's always made money, it still makes money but that's not an interest to me. Put it this way, if I didn't do this I'd have to get a proper job.

Digger: Perish the thought.

Sean: I'm doing something I have loved since the age of sixteen and I think that's a great way to live.

Digger: I agree. What are the best and most enjoyable aspects of what you're doing?

Sean: Just getting to know about records, artists and songs. You think you know a little bit about this music and then you start doing it full-time and realise how little you do know. Every single day I'm learning something. Somebody asks me about a record, or I have to do some research and check the bibles I use to tell me the guide prices and check The Internet. So I'm learning all the time and its just fascinating. I love the music industry and the people involved.

Digger: Do you like dealing with the public?

Sean: Yes. When I used to do it face-to-face I used to get all the characters and that was a really good social thing as well as working. Getting to know people who buy off you. I miss that because I'm working from home now. I'm not seeing them and I'd rather buy records than sell them. I'm always on the look out at record fairs and people who are selling collections.

Digger: The Internet has changed the scene. I can remember looking for rare soul imports in north and south London specialist vinyl shops in the seventies. I'm sure most of them have gone now.

Sean: There are still a few about. I've got quite a few in this area who I go and see. It's all about networking and they might have some stuff I want and I might have some stuff they want and we can do some bartering. Like you said, there's a lot more of that going on now. Money's getting tight.

Digger: What you offer is democratic because you've got high-end items for people that can afford them and some more affordable stock for the average client who can't afford a lot.

Sean: It's surprising what people buy. When you offer something at the right price, it sells. The rare stuff tends to go for what it's worth but I do a lot of stuff at £30, £40, £50 which I'll sell a bit cheaper than the book price. So I sell a lot of that stuff because it's priced right. And it's all part of my calculation of percentages when I buy stock as well. You've got to base it on percentages and have a philosophy about what you're doing, and I've got mine. I think what I do works well, so you don't make anything on your low-end stock but you turn it over and make £1 here or £2 there - it's nothing, but at the top-end I make 50% of a third and a third on £100 is £33 and with £1 or £2 on a lot of things it all adds up.

Digger: It all goes towards the target, doesn't it?

Sean: Yes, and there's people that just want memorabilia - to buy a car sticker or a magazine from you, so as far as I'm concerned they're all the same. I'd rather have somebody spend £10 with me every month than somebody spends £100 and that's a one-off.

Digger: Some people would make a distinction between their customers, even without realising it, but that £5 person may become a £100 person. You never know.

Sean: Yes, exactly and a lot of people do that. I get a lot of DJs buying from me. They trust me and know I've got a good ear for it and I'm an honest guy and try to help them as well. They start off at £10 or £20 purchases. Then, when they get the bulk, they are looking for the special buys and that £20 becomes £50 and that happens quite a few times with people.

Digger: It doesn't look like vinyl's going to die any time soon, does it?

Sean: Not for the time being. I think it's as strong now as it's ever been, even though the economy is as it is there are still people out there buying vinyl. And young kids are buying vinyl as well, and I think the eighties and nineties is starting to go up in value now. As for the Northern Soul scene, I think eventually it will crash and burn because there'll be no demand for it. In another twenty years' time I can't see any demand because you're not going to get a rush of young kids coming into it. Although you do see young kids about but they're only in little pockets. When I go to Stoke - that's one of my residencies and the biggest all-nighter in the world by a mile, you do get about fifty young kids in there and they can dance as well.

Digger: You've got all the people that were there the first time just standing around the outside watching them. It's become a spectator sport!

Sean: Yes, they can't do that anymore. They're all fifty or sixty plus. The guy who won the dancing competition at the Blackpool Tower - he was eighteen. Until the last couple of years it's always been someone in their forties or fifties, and these young kids have been getting into it by watching some films about it and via their parents as well.

Digger: It's good Sean. So what about the future?

Sean: I'll just keep doing this until I can't. I don't know how long it will last. I've been out of the air force since 2006, so I've been doing it for five years. What I have done is I've made a subconscious effort to diversify and I'm even diversifying into pop now. Stuff like Bowie and I've even put pop singles on the website. You just never know whether they'll go. They're not costing me anything, only my time to put them on the web page. So, if I could do this for another ten years that would be fantastic.

Digger: I don't see why you shouldn't be able to.

Sean: And because I don't take a wage from it, it's probably something I could do until the day I die to be honest. I still think that because I have diversified and gone into different areas. Whereas a lot of Northern Soul dealers just stick to Northern Soul and don't look at other music. I go to record fairs now and I buy a right mix of records. If I think there's something unusual, something a bit different then I think "I'll have that." Buying Bowie singles is something I wouldn't have done, but he's a tremendous artist. It wouldn't matter who it was, if it was a demo or an acetate or it was priced so that I thought I could make something from it. Even if I can't it's still worth having and putting on the site. It's making the site different to everybody else's.

Digger: That's your USP.

Sean: Yes, I don' think there's another site like mine in the country. There may be bigger for Northern Soul but they don't have the diversity I've got. I've also got the knowledge of all the Mod, the Ska, the scooter and soul scene and not many have got that because they're into a narrow part of the scene. I've done it all and I've been at the top end all of the time so I think I've got the experience to deal in that and be comfortable with it as well.





Chapman Records - Specialising in
Northern Soul, Tamla Motown, Mod+Ska



Northern Soul • Sixties • Seventies • Vinyl Records • Tamla Motown • Soul • Mod • Reggae • Two Tone • Fifties • Punk • Indie • Stickers • CDs • Books • Football • Scooters • Magazines • Badges • Posters/Postcards • DVDs • Events • Gift Vouchers

Chapman Records was established 1994. Specialising in Northern Soul, Tamla Motown, Mod+Ska 45s, LPs, CDs and Memorabilia. Quick friendly, personal and efficient service to UK, Europe and Rest of The World.

Sean Chapman Resident DJ at The World's Famous Stoke Kings Hall All Nighter and Gloucester All Nighter. Whitby, Prestatyn, Weston-Super Mare, Blackpool Tower and Torquay Weekender's + Benalmadena Malaga (Spain) week. Co-promotes the extremely successful Porthcawl Soul Night.

Radio presenter of the weekly and very popular Soul Train since 2006 on GTFM 107.9. Wednesday 8-10pm playing the best in Northern Soul, Mod and Ska.

Writes a monthly column “Soul Nation” for the soul magazine Manifesto since 2004.

T: +44 (0) 1785 281092
M: +44 (0) 7957 573621

www: Chapman Records






This page layout and content  is the intellectual property of and cannot be reproduced without express permission. 

We are not responsible for the content of external websites.

If we have inadvertently used any image on this web site which is in copyright and for which we, or our retailers on our behalf, do not have permission for use, please contact us so that we can rectify the situation immediately. Images in this article are, to the best of our knowledge, either in the public domain or copyrighted where indicated. 

Home Page | About | Contact | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy