Isobel Campbell, singer
Amoeba Music 6400 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles
Amoeba is enormous! It's the largest independent record store in the world. I went there for the first time in 2004, when I was finishing my first record with Mark Lanegan. You could spend the whole day in there. It has everything – jazz, lots of imports, DVDs and film posters, second-hand stuff and new stuff. If I'm looking to find something, the chances are I'll find it in there.
My boyfriend and I once went into Amoeba to buy a Fleetwood Mac DVD. We came out with a Harry Nilsson DVD, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, a David Bowie CD... I ended up spending about $200. We were in there so long that when we went outside, his truck had been towed away! It cost him more to get the truck back than the cost of the stuff we'd bought.
I love the convenience of online music shopping. But still, we should think twice about doing everything at the push of a button. It narrows our experiences. Sometimes it's just nicer to wander into a shop and have a look-see, so you can smell the records, hold them and touch them...It's a shame that so many record shops are closing down. It's good to have independent boutiques, rather than cookie-cutter chain places – that's what makes life interesting. When I was 19, I'd go into every record shop I could. That's how I discovered bands like the Zombies. Sometimes things just catch your eye – that happened with Felt Mountain by Goldfrapp, years ago. I thought, that's an interesting cover. I'll buy that. It's really sad because now, if you go to a supermarket or department store to buy CDs, they're only selling the top 5. It's cheapening music, but that's just the way things are going.
Sometimes you end up meeting people in record shops with mutual interests, who you become friends with. So many bands must have started just because they hung round record shops. When I was growing up in Glasgow, I went to John Smith's on Byres Road. Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub would be in there all the time, Bobby Gillespie, Eugene Kelly from the Vaselines... the whole Glasgow scene! And Belle and Sebastian, before we'd even met each other.
I really do think the internet is amazing, but the human contact you get in record stores makes everything a bit more sociable, especially for music nerds. They probably don't have that many places where they can let off steam like that! GKR
Mark Ronson, musician/DJ
Rough Trade West, 130 Talbot Road, London W11; roughtrade.com
Rough Trade is the shop that I spend the most time in when I'm in London. The stock is really well curated – if they have a record in there, there's probably some merit to it.
The staff know me and they even make fun of me as, from an independent record shop point of view, my work means I straddle the line between cool and uncool. But they do it in a loving way, the way your big brother might. Then they recommend about 10 new things for me to check out.
I'm indebted to record shops. They're where I found the samples for a lot of the early music I made. When I produced "Littlest Things" with Lily Allen, for her first album, we went record shopping for inspiration. I dug out the soundtrack from Emmanuelle, the softcore 70s porn film, and that's where we found the piano loop for that particular track. Next thing you know we're back in the studio and Lily's writing along to that loop.
Most of my memories from my teens and early 20s are of hanging out in record shops. Now DJs have software that means they get sent all their promos on MP3. But it's not the same as having to make sure you're in the right shop on the right day, just so you can get your hands on the new Notorious BIG track and be the first to play it in a club that weekend.
Compared to America, shops in England are better for having a guy behind the counter who gets to know you and recommends things you'd like. I think it's because, over here, early shops were partly based around records being imported from the US. My stepdad worked in a record shop in Portsmouth in the late 50s and early 60s and he says that they were always waiting for that new box of 45s to arrive from America.
I can imagine a world without record shops, as they're dwindling, but it would suck. The visceral experience of being in there, leafing through the racks, is more fun. And you're much more likely to discover something great that way, by accident, than by being on iTunes. GG
Will Kennard, Chase & Status
BM Soho, 25 D'Arblay St, London W1
It used to be called Black Market Records when I first started going there in 1994 or 1995, when I was about 15. I'd be in the basement, where they sold all the drum'n'bass records. The shop was tiny, with two, big, PA-sized speakers that took up half the space. Big-name DJs like Ray Keith worked behind the counter and they'd be blasting white labels and promo recordings out really loud.
It was an iconic place, one of the centres of the whole drum'n'bass scene. Everyone in there would try to be cool, so the place had a bit of a moody vibe to it, and it could be intimidating. And there was a hierarchy among the customers: DJs would get the VIP treatment, be invited into the back room and given all the promos first. The odd tourist would wander in and people would take the piss out of them. So it was very cliquey, but that just made me want to be part of it even more.
I always dreamed of working there, but you could never get a job unless you were a friend of a friend of someone already there. But if you did work there, you were almost famous and could get bookings as a DJ. At that time, I was just DJ-ing in my bedroom and desperate to be part of the drum'n'bass scene in any way that I could. There was no internet back then so the only way to discover new music was to go to a club or record shops.
If I was 15 now, I'd probably still be going to record shops, but I'd be scouring the internet as well. It's all online forums now. I'd hate to think there will be a day when there are no record shops, but they're probably going to be a bit more rare than they are now. GG
Miles Kane, musician
Probe Records, The Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool
I've been going to Probe since I started buying records as a teenager. They've put me on to a lot of good music over the years, especially a lot of great 60s stuff such as the Nuggets compilation and records by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra.
I get on well with a guy who works there called Bob, who likes a lot of that 60s stuff. Through him I discovered a compilation series of music from old Italian cop shows and films, called Beat at Cinecittà. The guitar sounds are amazing, as are the covers, with photos of a girl lying down eating spaghetti, or lying on a car, that sort of thing. The sleeve for the Last Shadow Puppets album [Kane's collaboration with Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner], with the girl on the cover, was partly inspired by discovering those compilations.
I get a lot of my inspiration from music, right down to the lyrics, because I'm not a big reader of books like some people. So being able to see the album cover is important, because you might be inspired by the haircut some guy on the cover has or the font on the artwork. GG
MistaJam, DJ, 1Xtra
Rob's Records, Hurts Yard, Nottingham
Rob's is the second-hand record shop in Nottingham. There's no real cataloguing of the stock, everything is stacked from floor to ceiling and you just go through piles of records until, with luck, you find something worthwhile.
Rob's was the place I went when I was looking for old records to make beats. Sometimes I'd buy records because I liked the sleeve, or because I recognised the names of some of the session musicians who worked on it, or it was really cheap.
I've found lots of great things in there at random, records I never expected to be good, like the Bee Gees' Spirits Having Flown. It was only £1.50 and when I listened to it, I realised how much it had been sampled by other producers. GG
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