In 2010, when record stores around Adelaide were shutting their doors, Matt and Laura Horvath were opening theirs, launching Clarity Records in a poky tenancy on Pulteney Street.
It quickly became a pillar of the local music scene, stocking thousands of new and second-hand records with an emphasis on punk, rock, hardcore and metal, and a particular focus on local music, providing shelf space to Adelaide artists of all stripes.
Twelve years on, not only is the independent record shop still going strong – it’s turning things up a notch, with an expansion into the tenancy next door (previously occupied by gift shop The Tangerine Fox) and the introduction of an all-ages live music space and video channel.
“In the back of our minds, we always thought it would be cool to expand one day,” Matt tells Broadsheet.
“We’ve sort of grown and grown and grown, and now we’ve reached a point where we don’t have enough space, so it would be nice to have a bit more elbow room,” adds Laura.
We’re sitting in an upstairs office above the Pulteney Street shop, where some 3000-odd records are stocked to supplement the dwindling space downstairs. “There are some days when we’re working where it feels like the walls are coming in on us,” Matt laughs.
The shop will close for renovations in September. The wall dividing the two stores will be knocked out, doubling the Clarity Records footprint, and the remaining walls will receive a fresh lick of paint and a new mural by Adelaide artist Kerri Wright (whose work has adorned walls in Port Adelaide, as well as labels for Mischief Brew, Pirate Life and Alpha Box & Dice).
More space means more stock, so expect a wider range of titles including expanded hip-hop, soul and jazz sections, plus merch, posters and a range of record players.
Perhaps most exciting, though, is the launch of Clarity Sessions, a live video channel streaming on-site performances (inspired by NPR’s Tiny Desk series).
“Out the back of the [new] store there’s actually a risen area they used as a gallery for Japanese imports like beautiful crockery … We’ve always looked at it and gone, ‘That’ll be a cool little stage,’” says Laura.
“I grew up going to shows and record stores, and in-store performances were always a big thing,” says Matt. “When we started Clarity Records, we wanted it to be more of a thing in our store but it’s so small. And since we opened, we’ve added a few more vinyl racks, so we’re completely out of room to have shows now.”
“We used to have them all the time,” adds Laura. “We used to have them every Friday, then every now and again when our friends were touring. We had little acoustic shows, instrumental shows, and it was so lovely to have the community support the store in that way, on such a grassroots level. And it will be so lovely to welcome that back into the space.”
As for the types of performances, Matt says they’re “open to anything”. “We’ve had all sorts of music [before] – from experimental, heavy stuff to acoustic and whatnot. We’ve even had John Baizley from the band Baroness do art exhibitions. So it will open up endless opportunities, I think.”
Since 2015 the pair have also staged an annual block party, A Day of Clarity, with some of their favourite bands. In a difficult climate for touring artists and large-scale music festivals, the tiny-show format is another way for the Horvaths to bolster the live music scene.
“The most positive thing to come of [Covid] is we’ve been able to redirect our focus to our brick-and-mortar shop and look at the ways we can support Adelaide and make sure we do our best by the music scene here,” says Laura.
Part of that support mission is a new podcast Matt’s launching, called Underground Sounds, about the history of the Adelaide music scene. He’ll be chatting to local figures who’ve made an impact on both him and the wider music community.
“I’m just so fascinated with music history and … I just like digging deep,” he says. “To be honest, it’s a bit of a selfish thing for me – so I can sit down with people and punish them about things I want to know.
“People who have been key figures, who aren’t necessarily celebrities but people who, say, inspired me and inspired different waves of musicians in Adelaide, it’ll be cool to get their stories. And document it.”
“There are stories you hear in the record store,” says Laura. “People come in and tell all sorts of gnarly stories about things that happened in Adelaide. You hear them when you’re standing at the counter, thinking, ‘This is such a cool story.’ To be able to document it is a great way to make it more accessible to other people.
“We’ve grown up going to live music and [been] a part of the live music community our whole lives, so this is another stage in our continued involvement.”
Clarity Records will close in September before reopening on October 1.