Over The Counter #19: Norman Records


Based in Leeds, Norman Records is a record shop with a difference; everything is sold via their online store. Since opening in the mid 90s they've been dealing in some of the best and most interesting records around, packing and shipping off vinyl to people the world over. Selling tons of vinyl obviously comes with a few setbacks, and after directors Phil Leigh and Nathon Raine calculated their own carbon footprint, they decided to implement some new green initiatives going forward including a free vinyl disposal service.

They opened their doors to let us into how Norman Records runs day in day out. We'll hand it over to them…

The thing we do most at Norman Records is pack vinyl. Depending on how big a ship out we’re having, the members of staff who are responsible for packing might be doing it for the whole day. As varied as our customer’s music tastes can be, that is obviously never reflected in the shape of the things. Records are 12 inch by 12 inch squares. The way you pack one record is the same as you’d pack any other.

Packing a record makes you the smallest cog in the machine that drives the physical music industry. Most of the time records are moving around the world they’re in boxes of tens or hundreds. We mostly send between one and three. There’s something quite awesome about realising you’re at the tail end of this, that you’re the final point in a massive distribution network before the music gets to where it wants to be. To its audience.

But it doesn’t always feel like that. Packing records is repetitive, and yes, occasionally boring (it is a job after all…). And it’s in these moments that you start to appreciate the minutiae of the job. Pack enough records and your muscle memory will master folding mailers, using a tape gun. Even the weight of a single record starts to become this incredibly familiar thing that leaves an indelible mark on you.

All this means the people packing in our office are probably the most receptive to the music we play. Their bodies are occupied by an act, leaving their ears to latch onto the sounds they’re hearing. It’s something like how Einstein’s work in a patent office let his mind wander over to his theory of relativity. Except we’re finally getting into Autechre.

Picks from the packers…

Plaid – ‘Clock’

Repetition yes, but also texture. On ‘Clock’ Plaid finds depth in the little things.

Aphex Twin – ‘minipops’

When we’re excited about a record our customers usually are too. A 13 year wait and hundreds of packed records mean ‘Syro’ won’t be forgotten any time soon.

Jk Flesh – ‘Wasplike’

Some music gets you in a trance and keeps you there. The time flies by, before you know it, it’s hometime.

Vanishing Twin – ‘Wise Children’

Vanishing Twin are masters of making you feel like you’re gently drifting along to somewhere warm.

Stevie Wonder – ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours’

Maybe one day there will be a list of songs about postage that don’t feature Stevie Wonder. This is not that day.

Hot tips coming through the shop…

Nyah Fearties – ‘Hallelujah!’

Improbably shambolic 80s Scottish punk with an undeniably infectious energy.


Manages to out metal most metal with just her voice and a piano. Completely awesome.

Nubiyan Twist – ‘Basa Basa’

Upbeat and exciting afrobeat that can warm even the coldest heart.

Follow Norman Records.