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Greenhouse Cafe: Leith’s hidden record store and coffee shop

ByAdam Moore

Oct 24, 2019

Located by Leith Shore, an area of Edinburgh which has in the past few years has become fertile ground for emergent restaurants, bars and cafes, lies Greenhouse Cafe.

The small cafe-cum-record shop opened back in June, it’s relaxed leafy interior allows customers to take as long as they like browsing through a unique and diverse record collection, speciality coffee in hand.

Returning inspired from time spent in cafe spaces in Germany, owners Erica and Joe settled on Edinburgh as the location for their first business venture, “We’ve had the idea of opening a record shop, cafe and creative space for a couple of years. We really wanted to open somewhere that has a casual vibe about it and combines underground music with cafe culture”.

Greenhouse Cafe has integrated seamlessly into the Edinburgh music scene in the few months since it opened, running events at The Biscuit Factory and La Belle Angele while holding down a residency at Edinburgh’s community radio station EH-FM, “It was always our idea to have a show that pushes the the type of music we like and sell at the shop. Fortunately the lovely people of EH-FM were more than happy to have us there!”.

The cafe marks a welcome addition to the small handful of record shops spread across the city. Erica and Joe explain the continuing appeal of physical format music in the digital age: “For us, the appeal is in the sense of holding the record in your hands and appreciating the artwork that compliments it. This gives you a real sense of the thought process and artistic curation that has gone into producing that particular record.

In the days of Spotify, Youtube, Soundcloud and various others (which are all great) it’s nice to physically own music and be able to go out and spend time in shops digging and searching for new stuff.” Erica and Joe’s expertly curated selection of records is testimony to their years spent running club nights in Nottingham and Manchester however it is by no means limited exclusively to dance music boasting an eclectic mix of world music and ambient records.

“We’ve both always been into percussive, organic music which has lead us towards African and Latin music, in particular West African music. Artists such as Fela Kuti, William Onyeabor, Ousmane Kouyate & Miriam Makeba have been consistent influences on our interest in this genre. Ambient music is again something we have always been into, the more you listen the deeper you delve I guess…”

Starting a record collection from scratch can be an intimidating experience, especially for cash-strapped students. Record players are often the first minefield to be navigated by the fledgling collector, “If you’re interested but don’t have a record player, go and buy one, they can be as cheap or as expensive as you want”, Joe explains, “my first record player cost me thirty quid through Ebay”.

The diversity of records on offer at Greenhouse Cafe could no doubt be similarly disorientating, Erica and Joe recommend approaching any record shop with an open mind, “leave all artists you know about and like at home and just focus on genres of music you like. Get stuck in there for a few hours and just listen to things to see if you like them or not and speak to the owner for recommendations and tips”. Their current recommendation in store is Melbourne based label Butter Sessions.

The present location at Leith Shore is only the first incarnation of Greenhouse Cafe and the pop-up will close at the end of this month, “the pop-up was the first stage of our plans for Greenhouse and was a chance to try things out”.

Before the pop-up closes there are a couple of events lined up, the cafe will host an exhibition by Northstreet Collective on the 24th and on the 27th, the last day at the pop-up, they will be playing records until 8pm for ‘Greenhouse Lates’.

Erica and Joe are now shifting their focus onto finding a more permanent home for Greenhouse where it can continue to grow, “as well as the records and coffee we’ll be serving food and local beers and we will have a varied programme of events”.

The seed has been planted for a rare and unique space in Edinburgh’s music scene.

Image: Cafe Greenhouse via Facebook

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