Today we get to introduce you to one of those rad, down to earth women that does it all and makes it seem effortless. From running a lathe cut business, to working in record stores, managing and working with indie labels, DJing and playing drums in a band. Meet Oihane Follones, born in Basque Country, Spain who moved to London when she was eighteen to work at a record store, and is now located in Berlin to run the record store Wowsville. She is the co-owner of the mastering and lathe cutting studio Lathesville while also handling European distribution and mail order of Slovenly Recordings. Oiahne has been working with vinyl for the past sixteen years, and we’re happy to have her as part of the Women in Vinyl community.
In what spare time she has, she plays drums in the punk band The Inserts, DJ’s garage punk nights and festivals, and runs an awesome blog about female musicians called “I Am In The Band : Tales of Rock’n’Roll Women“. “From time to time I also do shows, I am part of a great team of queer people that organize a party called Queergala. In the past I used to do more shows, and I did a hardcore punk festival called Nothing Nice To Say for three years, but right now I don’t have much time for that”.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
I was always into music. But I never thought I would make a career out of it. I studied film in London but then right after I was done all the available jobs were un-paid. I started collecting records at the age of 18 and I used to go to a rock’n’roll specialized record store in London called Sounds That Swing. After a while I was asked to work there on weekends and soon that turned into a full time position. I had a short lived record label called Antitodo records that I stopped when I moved to Germany. Then in Berlin, while running the vinyl only Wowsville Record Store, which is inside a bar by the same name, I was asked to do the European distribution and mail order of US garage punk label Slovenly Recordings. A few years ago, while talking to the owner of Slovenly I suggested to buy a record presser and start pressing our own records, but it didn’t pan out.
During the pandemic while the record store was closed, the idea of setting a pressing plant started brewing again. We bought a lathe machine and in 3 months we got a great team together, with the help of some fine folks. We started cutting at the end of March, upgraded our lathe in May and we have been rolling since then. The plan is to get a pressing plant in the near future, so we can offer all the steps of the vinyl manufacturing process.
What is a day in the life like?
Right now it’s a bit hectic. I go to the cutting studio in the mornings and the record store in the afternoons. Luckily both are in the same area. In both places I do lot of customer service, and packing. I do this Monday to Friday and then Friday evenings I rehearse with my band, and on the weekend I DJ, play shows or go to concerts.
In your opinion what has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
Overall music is the gift that keeps on giving, not only the feelings and the therapeutic elements that brings but also because of the amazing people I have met because of it.
As a dejay, the coolest thing I have done is spinning records in festivals like Get Lost Fest in Hamburg and Dracula Funtastic Carnival in Spain. My experience working in two record stores has been very positive. The one in London was also a music library for me and the one in Berlin is inside a bar, so it is a meeting point for many people, both locally and internationally. The first week I was working at the store in London, Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) called asking about a record. Him and Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream) were regular customers.
I also met Ray Davies from The Kinks at the store. In Berlin, Jello Biafra and Thurston Moore came to buy some records and we had Lenny Kaye and Howie Pyro spinning records at Wowsville. My experience in the record manufacturing business is not very extensive, I am a newbie, as we started this year. But so far we have made some very important connections with people from other cutting studios and pressing plants.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
When I first started to work at the record store in London, I found myself in some situations where I had to prove that I was there for a reason, probably because I was young and a woman, and more than once they doubted my musical knowledge. That doesn’t happen anymore.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
If you have a passion, go for it, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it. Passion and dedication will take you far, the rest you just learn it along the way.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
Yes, I collect 7″ records. Mainly 70s punk, powerpop and glam, but also protopunk, pub rock, rock’n’roll, garage and some soul. I buy LPs from time to time, but all my money goes on 45s. I started buying LPs but when DJing I realized 7″s were easier to carry and they sounded better, plus you don’t need to be looking for the right track in a dark room.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
The vinyl industry is booming. This might seem a very positive thing at first but is creating some negative effects too. The small and independent record labels are suffering because major labels are monopolizing the manufacturing process. The same happened with Record Store Day. It started as something to support small independent record stores and labels but once the big companies saw it was profitable, they took over.
There is a very serious shortage of lacquers. Since the Apollo fire there is only one manufacturer in the world. If something happens to it, there is no more lacquers. This is a very scary thought.
Who has been influential to you and your growth as a professional in this industry?
I get inspired when I see other women navigating through a male dominating environment. That’s why I love what you are doing with Women in Vinyl.
Anything else you’d like to add; if not tell us what you’re listening to:
Oihane’s Blog on Rock n Roll Women: www.iamintheband.blogspot.com