Boutique vinyl cutter, Steve Gibson began his career in Germany a year ago with a 20-hour training day followed by another all-nighter.
He had been eyeing up German engineer Souri Automaten’s record cutter, which cuts a vinyl record in real time from digital copies, for quite some time. The only way to buy the equipment is to fly to Germany to be trained by Automaten himself. Then, only once training is completed to Automaten’s satisfaction, can equipment be purchased.
Once Gibson returned home he started Sleepovers for Life, his own small-batch, record-cutting company that took off without any advertising. Gibson’s business has been growing solely by word of mouth. In one year he has cut hundreds of records.
“Record people are generally collectors. Limited runs mean a huge amount to certain people, myself included. It’s that first pressing, this colour or that colour. The small batches are really fun for a certain group of people,” said Gibson.
Working with local bands and now receiving orders from around the province, Gibson creates an average of 20 vinyl records per order to keep the cost low for both him and the band.
Sleepovers for Life is Scott Gibson’s brainchild. Gibson cuts boutique vinyl for local Kelowna musicians. He posed for a photo in his workshop on Nov. 27, 2018. (Marissa Tiel/ Kelowna Capital News)
Gibson’s love of music began in the B.C. punk rock scene. He moved abroad and lost touch with the local music scene for most of his 20s, but when he came back he was astounded to see cassette tapes covering merchandise tables at shows.
“I lived away for most of my 20s, so I missed things—I didn’t get quite how dead CDs were until I moved back to Canada and saw cassettes on peoples merch tables and though wow, people must really hate CDs right now,” Gibson said.
He says that people are more willing to spend money on vinyl copies of music because of the quality of sound.
“Vinyl has a warmer sound and it’s more durable, there’s a good chance your CDs from the ’90s— you can’t listen to them,” he said. “You can interact with the music in a more hands-on way where I think (in) the digital age we are kind of missing (that).”
Records are also a way of preserving the history of music.
“Living through the ’90s and early 2000s there is a bunch of music history that is lost on CDs from bands before they had a digital footprint. No records were around and there were some huge punk bands that were pretty big deals but there is almost no trace of them anywhere because everything was pressed to CDs… it’s a shame that it’s lost,” Gibson said.
He now works with local bands to create exclusive cuts, such as Kelowna’s Icelandia. He cut their latest deluxe limited edition 10-inch clear vinyl, Paradise on Earth.
Anthony Martens, a member of Icelandia, has known Gibson for most of his life and describes him as a “central fire of the music scene” in Kelowna.
“It’s the perfect fit (creating vinyl). He has been involved in the music community as talent, promoting music and now with the resurgence of vinyl. He has done extremely well, right off the bat,” said Martens. “He has had people knocking on his doors saying ‘I heard about what you do, can you take this.’ There is just a line-up.”
Martens, who also swears off of CDs, says musicians are rushing to get their own short-run vinyls created by Gibson because it is rare to have affordable limited editions to sell at shows and record stores.
“It’s such a rare thing to have short-run vinyl like that,” said Martens. “If you want to get vinyl made it’s tough, you have to mass produce it (elsewhere) for it to be worth it. It opens up the opportunity for smaller artists, and those who just want a limited edition short run.”
Icelandia mass produced their debut album because they wanted a large amount to sell and to market themselves. However, Martens said the process was expensive and when they released the deluxe edition of Paradise on Earth they only had Gibson make 40 to keep it special.
“The way the music industry is, people miss picking up something physical from a store, or an artist. It gives them a chance to feel something, see the artwork and take it out of the packaging. It’s a way for fans to connect with artists again in a way that feels special,” Martens said.
In 2017 Nielsen Music reported that vinyl sales in the U.S. rose for the 12th straight year, vinyl LPs rose by nine per cent to a record high 14.3 million albums.
BuzzAngle Music reported that vinyl sales have risen by 22 per cent in Canada and 27 per cent in the U.K. Rock’n’roll was the highest selling genre at 4.5 million albums sold compared to pop that came in second at just over one million.
Through creating these records Gibson has had the opportunity to work with bands that he otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to.
“It’s a great way to keep involved in the music industry, it’s exciting to see what’s going on and to see people who are really passionate about it. A lot of people (new bands) are keeping the dream alive,” said Gibson.
He is now experimenting with 4.5 inch cuts that are CD sized but are able to be sent in mail with a regular postage stamp. He says the possibilities are endless with that size of vinyl.
Sleepovers for Life cut records are available from artists directly and some are available at Milkcrate Records.
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