Meet the Man Behind Zambia's Vinyl Revival

The Time Machine has various records for sale
The Time Machine has various records for sale | © The Time Machine Zambia

Duncan Sodala has always been musically inclined. He got his start in the music industry as a rapper under the moniker “The Holstar” before becoming a manager for award winning Zambian hip hop group Zone Fam. Two years ago, on noticing the global increase of vinyl sales, Sodala decided to start selling records.

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Sodala founded the company Time Machine Records from his home and began selling the records he had collected in addition to comics and other collectibles. His personal collection has close to “1000 records, but the number declines when there is a good sales run.” Although Sodala is the foremost seller of vinyl in Zambia, there was a time when the country had vinyl presses and record stores. Sodala states, “The Golden Age of vinyl in Zambia would definitely be the 80s – we had some record companies present in the country (Teal Records being the largest one) as well as vinyl presses. The W.I.T.C.H (We Intend to Cause Havoc) was a very popular band in the late 70s and early 80s, Mashabe Band, Julizya, Mulemena Boys, Amayenge as well as a number of Church Choirs that produced their music on vinyl. The decline of vinyl came about when Zambia had an economic downturn as well as the introduction of CDs, which were cheaper to produce.”

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However, according to Forbes, in 2017 the global sales of vinyl was projected to hit over 40 million. On the African continent, Stall 570 in Nairobi, Kenya, Mabu Vinyl in Capetown, South Africa and Nyege Nyege Tapes in Uganda are a few examples of vinyl dealers. Sodala attributes the revival of vinyl to nostalgia and quality. “The quality of music on vinyl is unmatched, they outlive any other media and the best music was produced on vinyl. A lot of people are nostalgic and want to connect with their youthful days.”

In 2010, Now Again Records was one of several companies that reissued vinyl records of bands such as Amanaz, The W.I.T.C.H and more. The W.I.T.C.H in particular have benefited from the resurgence in vinyl as more people have discovered their music, such as film director Gio Arlotta who went on to create a documentary called We Intend To Cause Havoc (2017) about the Zamrock (Zambian rock) band W.I.T.C.H. The only surviving member of the group, Emmanuel ‘Jagari’ Chanda, went on to tour throughout Europe after the release of the film.

Sodala primarily uses social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) to advertise the records he has for sale, as well as renting stalls at local events such as Lusaka Comicon and other festivals. He also took part in World Record Store Day in April, an annual event where those interested in purchasing records can visit independent record sellers. In terms of the market for vinyl in Zambia, Sodala says, “The market for records in Zambia is growing as more people become aware. A number of people have a pile of records lying in a corner somewhere; I always say it’s like a forgotten gold mine – the potential for records to take hold is big! Not to mention this is another way we could beat piracy by creating exclusivity.”

Time Machine Took part in Record Store Day by hosting a Lusaka edition

Sodala has also provided a few tips for purchasing vinyl and starting a record collection:

-Look for limited edition vinyl, box sets and independent artists’ early music that you think will probably be big one day.

-Make sure they are in good condition (check for scratches and don’t buy dusty records unless you have time to clean them) and store them properly.

-Join groups and websites like Discogs that will help you know what your collection could be worth.

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