I’m excited to finally introduce Robyn Raymond of Red Spade Records to those of you who may not know her. I say finally because she was actually one of the first women I’d been in touch to profile when I started the site, but things were sort of in flux for her. Over time I’d been bugging her to redo the interview and I’m so glad she did. Why you ask? Well aside from being a badass and kindred spirit, Robyn is the only lady record cutter in Canada! She cuts short run, lathe cut records on a desktop Vinyl Recorder T-560, apprentices on a VMS70 and works in the QA department at a pressing plant.
In the little time she has without her eyes on record grooves she’s a self proclaimed gym rat who loves traveling. “I like going to new places and seeing what people are listening to in other countries. I enjoy my online community and interacting with collectors and vinyl enthusiasts around the world. I have the best dog in the world, and we like going on adventures”.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
I’ve always had a love affair with records, and music in general. Having worked in the live music side for years, and then developed a fascination with the manufacturing side. Purchased a lathe in 2018, and tinkered and failed. But not wanting to give up, just kept going and talking to anyone that would listen.
I had the amazing good fortune to meet Noah Mintz and Kevin Park at the 2018 Making Vinyl conference in Detroit. They kindly extended an opportunity for me to join them at Lacquer Channel Mastering in Toronto, if I should be so bold. I couldn’t imagine where it would take me, but here we are. 3000kms from home, in the GTA and working at one of the most storied mastering studios in Canada, and learning from 3 of the best guys in the industry.
What is a day in the life like?
It’s a dream! Records all day, every day. I am now working in the QA department of Precision Record Pressing, by day… and then a quick hop to Lacquer Channel for as many hours as I can every day / as it fits. I try to spend as much time networking online with other lathe types as possible, and also making as many contacts in the local audio and record scene as I can. A good part of the time while I’m at the studio is also devoted to reading and studying, learning as much about the craft and my machine, and the process as possible.
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
Definitely the 125 7″ lathe cuts that I did for DineAlone & City and Colour. I literally wept when I listened to the audio. But really, every project that I get to do is awesome. It’s the 1 off – “I made this EP for my girlfriend for her birthday, would you cut it for me?”, to the “…this is my debut album, can you cut it for me?”, all of these records are just as special to me as the one before.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
The learning curve. Not really having a studio background was / is the hardest part. Sometimes I’m listening to conversations and I am 100% lost. But I take good notes, and then try to research the pieces that were over my head.
I’m so grateful for the community that has given me a place within it, all of these amazing humans are so generous with their time and knowledge. In my experience, it’s been one of collaboration and actual guidance.
These sorcerer magicians really don’t need to be giving me any of their time or breaking things down for me, but I’m so glad that they are. It’s been a hard road, and it’s far far from over. I’m learning new things every day, but luckily, it’s all in the same world. Every piece builds on and enriches a piece from the day or week before.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Don’t get discouraged. Be friendly. Read everything, and then read it again. Listen to as much music as you can, and learn what you like about it, who made it, and where, and what makes it different from other pieces.
Be humble, but aim high. Discogs is a wealth of info, so is the Vinyl Factory. But the best resource is always going to be someone that is in the industry. Go meet the folks that make the thing you like, see if you can ask them questions and see what they do.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
Sure am. I have a robust collection, that spans the century. I was gifted pieces from my mother and from my Grandfather’s collections. As well as continuously digging while I’m traveling or poking around in vintage shops that are local to me.
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.
I’m worried about the monopoly on lacquers. I’m worried about quality. I’m wary of trends, but excited about all the new ways we’re making things. I’m excited about the continuing trend of people buying vinyl, but I want to make sure it’s sustainable as an industry, and for the planet. I’m super excited about platforms like this, and the spotlight that you’re shining on to the opportunities for women to succeed and excel in this business. I think it’s empowering to arm women and girls with information in tech and historically “male” avenues.
Finally, tell me what you’re listening to right now that you’re loving:
I just found a new band The Good Depression, they’re local here in Hamilton, and I got to QC their self-released record the other day. Totally blew my doors off. So stoked to see what these guys do next.
Red Spade Records: @red.spade.records
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