The Wicked One: Luk Man Hon

How did you come to be in Hackney Wick (HWFI)?

Back in 2008 I had just started my record business when a friend recommended I take a look at Oslo House as a potential place to work from. He was using it to store speakers at the time, and sometimes he would do gigs at the Lord Napier. That’s how I came to Hackney Wick, and I’ve never looked back.

Tell us your favourite local hangouts, and why?

My home in Oslo House. I don’t need to go anywhere and hangout, I usually just stay here – especially over the last year and a half ! How else has coronavirus affected what you do? Covid-19 has impacted me positively overall on a personal level. I was able to use the downtime to return to a healthy living routine, such as exploring Epping Forest and not having to work on weekends. I appreciate I’m very lucky that my business, being mail order, did not suffer by the closing of our shop in November, and that no one around me has suffered with the virus too severely.

What aspect of HWFI do you love the most?

The diversity and richness of the different skills and crafts all found in such a small area. It means you can pretty much start any project and somebody will be able to take part, help you out, or give you advice. For example, my shop was built entirely by local people who live in E5 and E9. When were you happiest here? It was the moment that I realised how lucky I was to have so much space to do what I do in a relatively central part of London and paying so little for it. This happened in around 2010.

Do you think you would have been as successful had you been located in central London?

I don’t think so. The space really helped because our business is analogue, so the more records you have, the better. I looked on a map and there are 32 boroughs in London, and I just thought, is there anywhere else like this here? I don’t think so. We have such a concentrated amount of young people, all into similar things.

What has this area taught you about life?

Change is inevitable and natural. You can embrace and reminisce about this great period of Hackney Wick for as long as you like but it’s going to change and there’s not much you can do about it. Either it changes because people have grown older and moved on, or external influences like developers step in. If you’re making the history books 100 years from now, you’d have to pick the things that were the most influential. Are we going to make it to those books? I don’t know. There’s so much history already here, some eras more significant than others, like the Industrial Revolution when it was heaving here. We might not make the history books, but we have our memories to treasure.

What motivates you in your work?

We buy and sell second-hand records and have a policy that we don’t throw away any records. We produce some waste and we are trying to reduce this, especially in packaging. We try to reuse as much as we can and try to repurpose everything that comes through our doors to new owners and so it doesn’t become obsolete and a waste. That is what motivates me, I’m just that guy to preserve and give records another life, to pass it on. At least then I’ve done my part and not just thrown it in the bin.

Who is a true HWFI hero?

Pretty much anyone who has committed their life to the creative communities in the area, because that is what is worth preserving. They are the heroes. There are more names I could think of.

What makes you truly laugh?

My landlords failing to kick me out of the unit for the last three years thanks to their own incompetency. They tried to kick a lot of people out so that they could rent our spaces to others for more money. It is their property, and they can do what they want with it in theory, but they’ve done such a poor job of it that I’m still here. Some people don’t fight it, they just get scared and leave.

Describe HWFI as a sound, taste or smell.

Fear of Fluffing [pictured first] are my sound. They have this float that goes around the streets. They wear extravagant costumes like huge ice cream cone hats and it’s really cool. They jam non-stop, whenever they feel like it. It’s just a loop that goes on and on and it changes in tempo and intensity. The smell would be the original Bagel Factory [pictured second]. When they did their production run it would fill the entire area with the sweet aroma of bagels in the oven. That was really nice.

What would you like the future to hold for HWFI?

For the council and community to grow some backbone and ensure HWFI doesn’t turn into a massive weekend pub crawl destination. It’s become a destination for people just coming here to drink and then buggering off. It’s not like they’re coming here to be part of the community or be creative or support local artists.

VinylPimp, 4 East Wing Oslo House http://discogs.com/user/Vinyl.Pimp.London

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