If you have never been to Run For Cover’s business before, it may be hard to imagine that there is a mecca of spray paint, cans, pencils, merchandise and self-published vinyl inside the raw industrial buildings on Hvidovrevej 80A.
It is hardly imagined that the people behind the store, helped finance and cultivate vinyl releases for some of Denmark’s heaviest hip-hoppers. On the other hand, the unmistakable fragrance of spray paint is imminent when you enter the shop, and the concept is understood immediately. You realize that these people has taken the chance and has been wholeheartedly into what they love – to convey hip hop.
How does the Run For Cover story begin?
We released a 12″ for a rapper called ALX, which was the first record we made. I had experience from a small record company, and had worked there for a number of years. I sort of played with the idea of starting my own. Poul had his own record company at the time, so we agreed to join up. We started out as a hobby project and it was for five years – and then we quit our regular jobs. That time we did not have paint (spray paint, tinsel etc., red.). We only made vinyl and merchandise. At that time we had everything at home in my apartment. It was about doing something that we thought was cool and fun.
Was that not a bit risky in 2002?
We did not think about that, but it was absolutely absurd. We started making gazelle vinyl, and the first four albums we made on vinyl only.
Why did you choose to publish hip-hop?
It has always been hip-hop that was the focal point. Poul was also hip-hop. There was not really anyone who sold Danish rap on CD and vinyl, or who prioritized it high. So we quickly got through to people. In fact, we started making a web shop where we wanted to see, if we could sell our own records. As there were only a few shops that were buying vinyl, we started selling others’ records as well. In 2007, we had to choose what we wanted to do with it, and so we decided to go all-in.
Since 2014, Run For Cover has been a Copenhagen company, but the concept had its origins in Aarhus.
We had an office for Poul in Aarhus, and also wanted a shop. So we could just as well use the shop as office too. Then we moved from Axeltorvet to Glentevejen in the north west where we converted the kitchen – which was the entrance – into a small shop of approx. 7 square meters, with a small stock at the back..
And then we agreed over time that we would also sell tins and spray cans, as it was hip-hop we’re doing.
What does graffiti, hip-hop and vinyl have in common?
It’s hip-hop culture we convey, and graffiti is a big part of it. Graffiti is art like everything else and we do it to embrace the whole hip-hop culture. DJ’ing, rap, breakdance and graffiti are the basic elements of the hip-hop. The only thing we do not have anything to do with is break dance – however, we can order a cap for you.
We also make events and graffiti lessons. We made a big wall with an artist named Michael B. He lives in L.A., and is a sick pro. He had an advertising agency with his brother in Los Angeles. His brother is now his manager. Anything on social media and PR is top tuned. As these projects requires immersion, we would rather make 2 artists a year who are really wild.
The same goes for vinyl, because it is also about immersion. You are stressing around, but putting a record on requires that you have time to listen through it. I think that’s cool, and also quite underestimated.
Their employee Rasmus, who has stood and packed web shop order throughout the morning, comes to the office who has an open door to the store, to give his comments.
It’s a hands on feeling – you also have a CD, but it’s just a plastic item. The vinyl is more concrete. You can feel it with your fingers and have it in front of you. You do not have to open the computer and read the disc. Just open it and explore.
We fully agree. My records had a huge impact on me, and even though they are not playing anymore (too scratzy) they still have a high level of affection. When will new releases come from you?
There will be ‘Stik Op Jakob’, as we send out a record in June, and then there is an Aalborg rapper called Intensive MC. We will release two records with him later this year. We make mostly reprints now. There is a compilation in the pipeline called ‘Viva La Gade hip-hop’.
And while Torben tells, that they are not publishing randomly but very selectively, I can see that he has a long list of deadlines for their upcoming releases. Like so many others, they have also experienced that their vinyl sales have risen over the last few years. In fact, they have seen 60% growth in vinyl sales in 2017.
We like to make small releases. Typically, we make 200-250 copies at a time. And sometimes it’s fun to make only 50 records. It’s paradox when we started making vinyl, which we could not sell, and today it’s our main income . We just blindly jumped off the cliff.
The visit to Run For Cover is by now over, but I can not completely let go of the cozy atmosphere and the many cool products. I take a look around the business and get fascinated by the many filled shelves that contain spray cans in color from the entire color spectrum. It’s hard not to be completely absorbed by this whole universe when you have cultivated handwriting for many years. Torben tells me that they have begun events and graffiti lessons, as an extra layer in their hip-hop dissemination.
We just try. We have never really thought about what we did. Sometimes it has gone well and other times not so good – but then you learn from it. It has never been us to put a strategy. If it feels right, then we’ll do it. If we do not feel it, we will not. Then it must succeed or fail.
And in fact, we hear from our customers that it gives a good feeling when they come here. Wether you’re a big star or you’re a beginner, you’ll get the same treatment. There are no silly questions here. Everyone should feel the same.
About Run For Cover: Run for Cover is a Copenhagen shop and online store that sells paint, merchandise and vinyl. They have existed since 2002, started as a record company and released artists like Niarn, Johnson & Malone, Pede B, Ham Den Lange and Kasper Spez. Address in Rødovre (north west surburbs of Copenhagen), where they have both storage and business.