Vinyl has been making a major comeback in recent years, and Dan Marter of INTHECLOUDS Records in Englishtown, N.J. has been very beneficial of that. He runs a company that has been cutting vinyl for local bands for the past six years. We thought that with Record Store Day coming up on the calendar, this would be the perfect time to interview Dan Marter to let him tell his story of how he traveled to Germany to take a class in order to get started in this business. Read more below.
How did you get started in the business of cutting vinyl?
I started INTHECLOUDS as a way to try to do some cool things with bands I love listening to. I like to think of it as part art project, part record label. Since I was doing everything on my own, I had my hand in every aspect of the company from finding the bands, working out a deal, and designing the packaging to actually building out the website, processing the orders and shipping everything out. After a few years of using different manufacturers to press the records, it became difficult to continue to justify ordering the required minimums of 300-500 records when I found myself working more with smaller developing bands and I would sit on the inventory forever. It was around the same time I came across a video for this company in Germany who had made a machine that cuts records 1-by-1. The video wasn’t very flashy, but something about it just clicked with me. A few emails later, next thing I knew I booked a flight to go out and see it.
Can you tell me about your experience taking classes on cutting vinyl in Germany?
To be honest, the whole thing seemed a little sketchy at first. I mean, I took a look at the company’s website, it’s not the most “current” looking thing. Emails with the owner, Souri, were written in broken English and he said the only way to get a machine was to come to Germany, with cash, and take the class with them in person. It felt like I was voluntarily signing up for one of those international banking email scams. Luckily, it turned out to be the furthest thing from it. Souri’s a great guy who puts a lot of pride into his work. The class itself was long, altogether a little over 14 hours straight, very thorough. But going in, I was told the class won’t end until I knew all the in’s and out’s of the machine and if they didn’t think I could use it correctly, they really won’t sell it to me. So it was a relief after passing knowing I didn’t fly out there for nothing, but the machine was way too big and heavy to bring on the flight back. So it was still a little unsettling giving a guy I just met all my money and just walking away. Even more so getting back home and waiting months for it to come in because it was held up in customs. But again, he’s a stand up guy, even now he always makes himself available to answer any questions. I still place orders with him all the time for parts and materials.
What bands have you worked with so far? Are there any bands you’re hoping to work with in the future?
Aside from what we’ve put out on the label, I’ve cut lathes for Equal Vision Records, Fat Possum and a few other one off projects. I also got to work on some scavenger hunt promotions for Lord Huron and Die Antwoord, where we made a 7” single of each song from their new records that were hidden at various record stores across the country, and the only way to get a copy was to physically go to the store and find them before anyone else. It’s projects like that I have the most fun with, ideas that are a little outside the box.
What made you decide to open up to local bands?
There’s a ton of great music out there and I’ve always been somewhat of a music junkie looking for new bands, so for me it’s been a great way for me to hear new stuff. Opening up the service to everyone just evolved naturally. With vinyl sales growing each year, more bands are looking to make it. The bands I worked with were telling their friends and more people started reaching out, so I figured I’d just put a message up on our website and see how it goes and the response has been amazing. Probably should have thought of this years ago.
How long does it take you to cut one vinyl from scratch? Is it expensive?
Each record is different so pricing varies depending on how long the songs are. If you have 20 minutes of music, it takes 20+ minutes setup time just to make one. And I literally sit there and listen to every record as they’re being cut. When I get a big order, listening to the same songs over and over can make me a little loopy, but it’s all part of the quality control.
What do you think about the comeback vinyl has been making in the recent years?
I love it, it’s great.. I mean I basically built a business around it, so I’m happy to see it growing. Being a visual guy it’s great to have a physical piece you can hold and make special for the fans of the music.
With Record Store Day just around the corner, have you had any special requests from artists? If not, is this something you would want to be a part of in the future?
Nothing specific for Record Store Day, but my buddy Karl Jr. from Looney Tunes CDs in N.Y. is doing a RSD interview with Gary Dell’Abate, “Baba Booey,” from the Howard Stern show, and just asked me to cut up a 7” he’s going to give him as a gift, so that was a fun little project to work on.
What is the best way for artists to get in touch with you to go about making their vinyl?
We’re about to launch our new website, INTHECLOUDS.io—that’s the best place to get all the info on the different sizes, pricing and audio quality details. Basically we’re working towards making INTHECLOUDS a full on-demand vinyl and merchandising service so bands can order what they need, when they need it—and it’s all done in house, so we’re really able to make sure the product they get is quality.