Vinyl Destination: Tale Of Bus

By in Features





Vinyl Destination is a series where we visit new and established crate-digging locations and vinyl focused spaces worldwide to learn about the stories, people and records behind them.

Have you ever dreamed of packing in your day job and hitting the open road in a campervan? Dutch DJ, booker and collector Daan Donk got that same itch and made it a reality.

Read More: Getting to know Hackney Wick’s Rook Records 

Having entered the party scene at the tender age of 19 through a role as DJ and booker at beach club Woodstock ’69, Daan had worked in the events side of the music industry for nearly a decade before bureaucracy allowed him to take a step back. “I had helped to set up a beach venue in Berlin and my five-year plan was to be there every summer,” Daan explains. The venue’s license fell through, leaving Daan with hours to fill for the first time since he was a teen. “I always wanted to have a campervan, and I was jobless,” he says. “I wanted a van and to have decks in it so it would be the ultimate DJ camper for myself”. 

At this point, the project was to be a personal endeavour for Daan. Years spent in the commercial dance scene had taken its toll and he strived to have a more authentic, direct connection with the vinyl community. “I don’t like the state that electronic music is in–everything is for the masses. There’s no intimacy,” he says. “I want to be really close to record culture and to have a relationship with artists and music”. 

There’s no better way to build connections in dance music than partying, so, armed with Klipschorn speakers and an adequately punny name for the campervan, Tale of Bus was born and began throwing small events. Despite having not intended to open a record store, Daan sold some of his own records at those early parties, and customer interest meant a last-minute expansion of the van-tasy. “It was just an experiment, and it turned out super well. I met so many people in the first days and the response was really nice, so I decided I might look for records elsewhere, buy some collections and make it a frequent thing”. 

Despite its initial modest ambitions, Tale Of Bus quickly became a DJ collective comprising Daan and two friends–DJ MB and Koen FM. The trio, with their bus in tow, courted their first big audiences at the Amsterdam Dance Event ’22 and the legendary De School club, before setting out to bring their multi-purpose vinyl hub to audiences further afield. 

While a record store on a bus may seem like a novelty, Daan takes his role as a store manager seriously. An ethos of approachability, community and passion guides Tale Of Bus and its offering. “When I first started going to record stores in Amsterdam, I noticed there were a few stores where you could tell the owner is just very passionate about what they’re selling,” Daan describes. “They’re telling a bit of history about the records and the foundations of electronic music and different genres. That’s what I’m doing now for people coming in the van for the first time”. 

Tale Of Bus offers a cross-genre taste of mostly ‘90s dance records. The collection is what Daan refers to as “adventurous dance music” encapsulating experimental, dub, drum & bass, house and techno and everything in between. Each record is curated, so Daan can give sincere recommendations and meet the needs of his customers. 

It’s a challenge to compete with stores that have existed for much longer than Tale of Bus, but the unique setting and digging experience means word-of-mouth is on its side. When the bus pulls up in a location for the first time, it’s “the local community that comes”. In future visits to the same spots, Daan notices that word has spread. “They’ll have told friends and we’ll have another bunch of new people coming,” he says. “It’s funny. I see people returning to the shop that met each other for the first time when they were last on the bus and are now coming to dig together. That’s really nice”. 

Of course, as anyone who has watched Little Miss Sunshine, RV or any other hijinks-heavy campervan road comedy could tell you, running a business from a van is not for the faint of heart. During Tale Of Bus’ first pilgrimage to Berlin to host a pop-up, the bus broke down in the middle of the road. “We were stuck in a German village. Some kind of spooky town,” Daan laughs. “We actually had to stay there overnight. It had this very classy Chinese restaurant, and we just stayed there drinking and had to stay overnight in front of a garage. We weren’t in time for our pop the next day, but we at least had a really fun boozy night”. 

For Daan, unorthodox stores and listening spaces like Tale Of Bus are a natural response to the hegemony of the commercial dance music that he seeks to get away from. “It is my personal response to do the things I’ve been experiencing, the things I’ve been seeing,” he says. “Small spaces are opening up and creating a space for hi-fi sounds. There’s a counter-movement happening slowly”. Tale Of Bus is part of that counter-cultural wave, driving a campervan packed with records against the tide. 

Tale Of Bus parks up at ADE ’23 on October 21. Find out more here.