Al Mills: Isolation Selection

It’s another beautiful day, bit cooler today, but still bright and cherish-able – hope you’re all still safe and well. Boris has been tested positive? Jesus.

If you’ve ever had the chance to pop into Rough Trade East, you may have had the pleasure of experiencing the pink paisley whirlwind that is Al Mills. At the forefront of Rough Trade Recommends and their Counter Culture playlist, you’ll find Mills in-store, probably wearing the heaviest of flares she could find that day, and insisting you take a listen to her new favourite find of the day, we never know what it might be, but her passion is unquestionable. There aren’t many in the Industry who will welcome you so wholeheartedly as Mills, a truly engaging and open personality in this hyper-rushed cut-throat business.

It’s not just in your favourite record shop that Al gets to express her musical interests – providing words and opinion for So Young Magazine, Gigwise amongst many more. She’s also turned her hand to management – taking the mischievous Manchester trio Fruit Tones under her wing. There’s no stopping her to be honest.

As she does with everything she gets involved with, Al has poured her personality into today’s Isolation Selection – it’s a real enlivening listen.


These really are unprecedented times, how are you, how are you all feeling in all this?

Whack, overwhelmed, in need of so many hugs and craving marmite all the time.

Can you quite comprehend the impact this is having on the music industry? 

None of us have been trained for this at all. It’s almost as if we’re now collectively feeling guilty for rolling through previous motions. All those projects started, hustles planned and the live shows man… It’s incredibly heart-breaking to look back on everything with nostalgia of the wrong kind. 

I know at this stage it’s perhaps not the most important of things to consider, but do you think when all this is said and done, the foundations and the nature in which the industry runs will change??

My tiny pea brain has genuinely not even been able to get this far yet. 

How has your work been affected personally by this? 

On a day-to-day level I do a lot of different work. In a past life this meant hardly sleeping and working always, not much has changed there.

My work at both Rough Trade London shops has currently paused for obvious reasons. As an institution, a live music platform and a retailer our doors can’t remain open to the general public until the government issues an all-clear. We are the literal definition of large social gatherings. Rough Trade is family and this sucks beyond compare. 

The magazines I write for and the bands I manage and work with, that’s different. 

As long as interest remains, people continue to read and financially support print where possible (and someone is willing to let me write relentlessly long sentences), then all’s hoping that can continue no matter the circumstances.

I am not a musician. Trying to find a way to get other people’s artistry ‘out there’ in the most respectful manner, to make noise in an overcrowded industry where everyone is currently very stressed is consuming. Shows are being rescheduled, music is still being made and people are doing the best they can with what they have. The most important factor at the moment is everyone’s well being.

I am beyond privileged to have people who’ve let me into their lives and their work and that remains. The only thing any of us can do is to keep keepin’ on.

Talk about your playlist for us, what does it represent for you?

This playlist is basically everything you would expect me to put in a playlist. I don’t really know what else to say… there’s not a lot of Babe Rainbow? That’s kinda it. 


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