Meet Grace Krause, a project representative at Cascade Record Pressing right outside Portland, OR. I’ve known about Cascade for some time (it is after all in one of my favorite cities) so when Grace and I connected I was happy to have her as part of the site. Her and I also do similar things in our jobs, so hearing it from someone else’s perspective has been cool to learn how other plants handle sales and production responsibilities.
When Grace isn’t at work she loves crate-digging through used record shops and pop-up sales, “My favorite place to dig are the less assuming vintage stores with boxes of unorganized 45’s stacked up in the back. It can be extremely time consuming but sometimes the payoff of finding a rare gem for just $1 makes its totally worth it”.
A couple times a month or so she also spins sets at a few different bars around town. Most of the time any money she makes DJing just goes back into buying more records, so it all works out! …Anyone else feel this?! Non-musically, she loves to get out on weekends to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Pacific Northwest- going hiking, driving out to the mountains or the coast, or just biking around town.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
Despite having very little musical ability myself, I always wanted to work in the music industry somehow. I studied art and design in college and throughout school I’d make show posters and album artwork for friends’ bands. Eventually I got a job working as the production coordinator for a vinyl reissue label in Omaha, Nebraska called Drastic Plastic. I learned an incredible amount about the all the inner workings of the record industry during my time there and realized how much I truly enjoyed project management, seeing projects through from start to finish, and all the creative problem solving thats comes along the way. As luck would have it, about the same time in 2015 when I was looking to relocate to the Portland, OR area, Cascade Record Pressing opened their doors. I sent them my resume and planned a visit to meet the team shortly after.
What is a day in the life like?
I arrive in the morning and immediately fire up my computer and check messages that came through from the night before. Our center label vendor is on the east coast so I also usually have several proofs ready to be sent over to clients for approval. During this time I’m also familiarizing myself with what’s on the presses currently and general status of each- what jobs are finishing, what’s up next in the queue, if there are any mechanical problems happening, etc. Phone calls and emails that require immediate attention usually keep me busy until about lunch. The afternoons are when I get down to the really nitty gritty of fine-tuning the upcoming press schedule, checking on the status of projects in motion, and communicating that information with our production team. Then throughout the day I’m fielding general sales inquiries, running quotes, and pricing out print packaging with our vendors.
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to work directly on projects with so many different artists and labels, especially when it’s something that I’m personally passionate about or a geeky fan of. In particular, over the last couple years I’ve worked with one of my all time favorite artists since my teenage years, Phil Elverum (Mount Eerie, The Microphones), to manufacture not only his most recent records, but much of his back catalog as well. Just being able to have even the smallest hand in helping these records be released into the world has been really gratifying.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
I’m constantly juggling a lot of timelines (both internally and client schedules) along with hundreds of small details for each project, so it’s pretty crucial that I stay hyper-organized. This can become slightly challenging depending on how many cold phone calls are coming in, clients stopping by the plant, tour requests, and whatever chaos rolls in through that day. We’re still a pretty small, scrappy bunch and are all handling a lot. Even the smallest oversight or data entry error on my end can create huge problems down the line, so with this in mind I’m neurotically triple-checking on everything constantly. Another huge challenge for me is the occasional bottle-necking of supply chains, like plastics or metal parts for instance, that can throw a wrench into even my best fine-tuned planning.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Learn as much about the manufacturing process and supply chain as possible. I watched a lot of YouTube videos and lurked nerdy forums like Steve Hoffman in the beginning just to get a baseline education of the process and kinda went from there. A lot of this role is educating clients about the process and there’s certainly many moving parts to it! I feel like I’m constantly learning more about the craft of record making. My main advice to anyone would be to just stay curious and be passionate about the work. It’s all a labor of love.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
I am! I think like a lot of people my age, growing up in the age of Napster, Limewire and the like, physical media takes on a more meaningful quality. Being able to hold the record in your hands, interact with the packaging, read the liner notes – all of it encourages more of an engaging experience with the music. We’re really lucky in Portland to have so many amazing record stores and venues that hire all vinyl DJ’s. This environment has certainly encouraged my collecting into overdrive!
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
Vinyl and the music industry as a whole is still unfortunately very much a boys club, which I’m hopeful will change soon. It can feel really intimidating sometimes for women to try to enter into a field where there is a lot of gatekeeping going on, or where they are just vastly underrepresented. However, I’ve been so encouraged by the increased amount of women I’m seeing enter into the industry lately, from engineering to opening up new record plants and shops, it’s been really exciting!
What are your current music obsessions?
I’ve been really into this local act Black Belt Eagle Scout lately, her album “Mother of my Children” was just released via Saddle Creek Records – it’s so beautiful! My friend and co-worker Mandy Morgan (she’s a QC technician at Cascade) just turned my on to an amazing band from Seattle called Wild Powwers. She just released their newest album “Skin” on her own label, Nadine Records.
Side note: One thing Grace didn’t mention but I’m going to plug for her is you can also find her as DJ Graceless – co-host of Emotional Rescue on @freeformpdx 90.3 FM & 98.3 FM in you’re in the Portland area.