Interview: Rustblade Records’ Stefano Rossello + Soundtracks on Vinyl

May 19, 2015 | By

Rustblade Records’ Stefano Rossello offers some brief thoughts on the nuances of pressing vinyl for the collector market as the Italian label releases an expanded and newly remastered edition of Claudio Simonetti’s score for Lamberto Bava’s Demons (1985), plus Simonetti’s Murder Collection. 

 

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Mark R. Hasan: Vinyl has managed a steady comeback over the past decade, moving from niche to a collector’s and audiophile format. Did Rustblade always have an interest in pursuing vinyl releases, and was the decision to produce vinyl soundtracks more complicated than CD or digital albums?

Stefano Rossello: Our first vinyl pressing was a picture disc of The Legendary Pink Dots, and I was surprised by its good sales and success. I’m a vinyl fan and I know very well the thoughts of a good collector. When I understood that LPs were a new and independent way to find a good market and new customers, I started to press and repress from my exclusive artist catalogue releases. The vinyl pressing process needs more time than CDs, and sometimes I must think of a different approach to present the music and artwork, but I think it’s very creative and cathartic.

 

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MRH: I wonder if you could shed some details on the process of how an album progresses from a digital file to LP. How complicated was your search in finding a provider of quality vinyl stock? Was it similarly challenging to find a mastering house, given there are far less places that have the equipment necessary to create physical LPs than 30 years ago?

SR: Yes, it is true. It is really difficult to find a good pressing factory. Also, vinyl doesn’t need too much compression or high volume. When I listen to new bands on CD, I don’t think much thought goes into the dynamics and quality of the songs. Vinyl has a different quality, and needs a different approach. I’m lucky to have more bands on my label that come from the vinyl era and understand what makes a proper vinyl release.

 

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MRH: Are there any unique challenges in producing coloured or patterned vinyl versus straight black vinyl, and has the art of LP design progressed to the point where anything – in terms of colours, patterns, etc. – is possible?

SR: Yes, there are a lot of possibilities on vinyl, for sure. Our first thought is to always create a concept (color, graphic, sounds) which is ideal for the vinyl collector.

 

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MRH: Because the LP sleeve is massively larger than a CD, have you found the graphic artists with whom you’ve collaborated are excited to create designs for a 12×12 inch canvas, if not a little intimidated?

SR: Yes, everything changes for a 12x 12 layout. The front cover becomes a piece of art and for sure makes a big impact. For example, we’re so happy to have a drawing by H.R. Giger for Operettamorale by Black Sun Production, another new release.

 

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MRH: The vinyl stock used by major record labels during the 60s, 70s, and 80s was often very variable. A producer / agent once described how a major British label would reserve quality stock for classical, opera, and jazz, and leave the lowest grade stock for rock. The use of poor vinyl ensured LPs had surface noise even when brand new, and I wonder if you find it’s still a challenge to inform critics and skeptical buyers that the vinyl of today is very different, if not more reliable?

SR: I’ll make just one point: the vinyl format has been alive for 100 years. This is real reason why vinyl is the standard format in the music industry. The sound quality on vinyl is natural, and has a big dynamic. What more do you need?

 

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MRH: What aspects of quality control during the digital-to-analogue mastering process do you follow to ensure a) as much detail and frequency levels from the master recording are carried over to the LP; and b) the recording remains clear, crisp, and vibrant from the outer tracks to the inner tracks?

SR: The biggest aspect of mastering for vinyl is making sure the dynamics of the sound is more real than digital. Vinyl has a different a frequency range but it doesn’t need a lot of compression. CDs are an approximation of sound (a good approximation, for sure), but a digitalization of sound. We have found a good factory for our pressings with good analogue converters that help maintain the best quality.

 

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MRH: Because vinyl has moved steadily into the collector’s realm, a release may well be guaranteed a successful pressing because the final product is both a musical and a physical work of art. I’m curious how you decided on the number of pressed copies to ensure both serious collectors, band fans, and the casual LP buyer have fair chances to acquire a release rather than have a title sell out within days.

SR: It’s a completely different market than CDs. Vinyl is selling out faster because collectors and our customers prefer LPs. For the first release we prefer to do something special, like including unreleased material, different tracks, posters, and gadgets. If the release (the first 500 copies) sells out, we repress it as a standard black LP.

 

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MRH: Lastly, how important are indie record shops and online distributors to Rustblade? (I’m just curious how important both small shops and online distributors are towards reaching buyers in what’s a global market.)

SR: For Rustblade, the little indie shops help the distribution because they are the only places were customers can find music culture. Rustblade wants to be an alternative label that people are interested in following and want to support.

 

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Thanks to Rustblade’s Stefano Rossello and Fernando Maistrello for facilitating the interview.

Also available: a podcast interview on iTunes, Libsyn, and YouTube with composer / Goblin co-founder Claudio Simonetti on the release of the expanded Demons soundtrack on LP + CD from Rustblade Records.

SR

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Category: EDITOR'S BLOG, INTERVIEWS

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