Khaya Records: the store for music lovers in Durban
We all agree that technology has drastically changed our lives. In the last 20 years the world has abandoned chunky VHS (and the trunks they used to fill) and embraced the slim world of streaming. Earlier in 2019 we learnt that the once blooming DVD chain Blockbuster has only one store left in America (we could almost consider it a vintage spot).
In the face of all these changes however, we haven’t neglected intimate and tangible experiences - the music industry is a testament to this. Spotify and Apple music notwithstanding, music lovers have rediscovered the intimate analogue sound and records are here to stay. ‘I have been selling records for the last 15 years and South Africa has come a long way in terms of vinyl buying. In the last 7 years the price of records has tripled and that shows price and demand; people want something physical and tangible, as niche as that may be’, Paul Buttery, owner of Khaya Records tells us. The shop opened its doors in 2015 in an aging victorian building at the bottom of Florida Road in Durban, initially sharing the space with a DVD shop. Since then, Paul and his team expanded to the whole floor with high-quality records that allow their customers to journey through the local and international music scenes. As part of My Business, My People, we sat with him to chat about how his team helped develop Khaya into a community where music lovers can feel at home.
Simply: What is the value Khaya Records adds to the market?
Paul Buttery: You don’t need to buy music anymore, it’s a R60 deal online, where you have so much music at your fingertips. It takes a special person to come to the shop and buy the physical format. With that dwindling away, it’s good to have a place like Khaya Records where you can listen to music, touch it; where you can talk to people who are on the same page as you, learn more about music and discover new artists. We also promote local artists by hosting events. These days, there are fewer places to play in Durban and I think it’s great to have a relaxed platform like Khaya for people to come and show their talents.
Simply: What drives you in your entrepreneurial venture?
Paul Buttery: There are lots of things that drive me, people drive me and I have to get something on the wall for the guys who come every weekend. I also enjoy discovering new stuff and whether it has a value or not, to explore a whole world that was forgotten about, which wasn’t even that long ago. So it’s not just about the sound, but I appreciate the history of the music.
Simply: Did you ever see yourself as an entrepreneur? How did you become one?
Paul Buttery: Like many people who tried to work in a corporate environment I got to a point where I valued it up and decided that I’d rather take the risk and work for myself. Music was always something that I loved to the point where I had excess records and could consider a business venture. I started selling records on eBay and here I am today.
Simply: How many people have helped you build your business?
Paul Buttery: Literally anybody who walked through these doors has helped me build my business. I have had key players, people who have helped me. Ryan van Rooyen has been the manager at Khaya for the last 4 years and run all the events. Benny, who inspects every record that is in this store. My family has always been behind me supporting me, even if they maybe didn’t think it was the wisest decision but it panned out.
Simply: What is the team behind Khaya Records like?
Paul Buttery: It’s good to work with people that you can get on with. I have been fortunate enough to work with people that share the same ideology as me. When you work with people that you like and share the same vision, it makes things a lot easier.
Simply: Could you tell us about a time when you celebrated something together as a team?
Paul Buttery: We have many memorable moments! Some of the highlights include shows and 7 inch releases. We had Madala Kunene, Medicine Boy, Diamond Thug, Black Math, where Khaya was completely full. Other really good ones were obscure, once-off workshops like Richard Haslop’s talks on krautrock and cowboy space jazz.
Simply: And when something terrible happened to one of your employees or their families?
Paul Buttery: Benny’s son had a terrible incident. He is well now but it was scary to realise how fragile life is and how people you love can be taken away from you very quickly.
Simply: What is the difference you and your team make in your community?
Paul Buttery: I might give you a biased opinion about our shop, but being a big store, we are able to host gigs. This creates a sense of community, builds on a scene and it gives you an upper hand to do more like vinyl releases.
Simply: What more could be done to support small businesses in South Africa?
Paul Buttery: It’s important to remember than small businesses rely on you to come visit every now and then. It’s easy to love a place like this but we need you to come in. Supporting local businesses is important. It’s tough out there so if you can help it’s great to help.
Simply: What us your tip for upcoming entrepreneurs?
Paul Buttery: Believe in yourself! I am an ordinary guy who made a few decisions which got me behind this camera. Give it a try, what is the worst that can happen?