This weekend meet Jacqui Biery co-owner of the record label Slow Down Sounds. Their mission is: “…we believe sound matters and we’re after creating the best sounding, most aesthetic vinyl pressings that exist today. By no means are we an audiophile label, but we hand over the masters to the legendary Kevin Gray who creates the best sounding vinyl version from whatever sources we’re given. With the current vinyl revival, so many vinyl releases seem to be rushed out without a lot of care for the mastering, artwork, or pressing, allowing the market to be flooded with not so great sounding records. That’s why we Master, Print, Plate, and Press with the foremost experts, people who have been doing this for decades. Join us on our journey as we continue to release vinyl that will stand the test of time.”
Jacqui has spent most of her professional career raising funds and awareness, and building strategic campaigns for non-profit organizations. Her fundraising encompasses elements of advocacy, communications, event planning and organizing. As an entrepreneur she has dabbled in jewelry design and recently combined my love and passion for music and co- founded Slow Down Sounds a boutique vinyl record label focused on quality of sound.
In her free time: “I love to hike with my dogs in Griffith Park and listen to a podcast. Like an LP, podcasts are long form story telling. I also enjoy discovering recipes on NYTimes cooking and reading historical fiction.”
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
I grew up listening to Kid Leo on WMMS and amazing college radio WOBC, WRUW, WCSB, WJCU – so at an early age I had a great appreciation for all kinds of music. I also worked in indie record stores like Record Revolution in Cleveland and Rose Records in Chicago. I spent a couple of years booking live music as a student at The Ohio State University and a PA for Belkin Productions. But it was at Empire a short lived live music venue in Cleveland where I managed the office, that really defined the role music would play in my life. There is nothing like a live show. It is still my favorite way to consume music. It is also where I met Grover, who I married, had 4 kids and launched Slow Down Sounds with! I love the process of production and working with artists.
What is a day in the life like?
Ha! Right now during COVID-19, I am at home quarantining from the rest of my family after a 3 week RV trip with a friend and a bunch of teenagers! Although, I worked through out the trip, when I had wifi. I was in the middle of a project with a band when the global pandemic shut down the pressing plant. Vinyl production for Slow Down Sounds has its ebbs and flows. Grover and I run everything out of our home office including fulfillment. During quarantine our kids have been super helpful and it has really been a family affair!
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
Honestly, learning about the vinyl pressing process and quality control has been the coolest! I love to learn and after listening to vinyl records my whole life, understanding that they are not all created equal and that every step of the process matters.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
Working with Grover who is a vinyl snob! Thankfully we both care about quality.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
I think this very weird time has created an exciting opportunity for rediscovering physical music. It seems like the perfect time to explore the crossroads of digital and physical music.
My biggest tip – do not undervalue customer service.
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.
Recently I have been doing some “vinyl zoom listening rooms” with friends. Which reminds me of growing up and listening to music, while reading linear notes, looking at artwork with friends. Sharing the listening experience. I have also had some exciting conversations with young artists who have grown up in the digital world and want to put out vinyl. The concern is when will vinyl production fully be able to return.
During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?
Pick out a record, drop the needle, sit down + enjoy. It is like meditation. Support your local record stores or buy vinyl from them on line!
Tell me what you’re listening to right now.
I am excited for the new Bright Eyes record. It has been a while and I have been listening to their catalogue during COVID.