The day after Black Friday Record Store Day seems like a perfect time to introduce you to a woman behind the scenes working to create some of those beautiful releases. Alaska, Press Operator and Production Supervisor at Clampdown Records in Vancouver BC Canada. She came a s recommendation through the wonderful, and talented Robyn of Red Spade Records. Alaska works the press machines, as well as plans and executes their production schedule. While she’s newer to the industry she’s already making an impact with her creativity with and love for vinyl.
When she’s not at work, she says that in general she enjoys most things creative and artistic. “I like making candles, painting, macrame and writing. I also love the outdoors and being active outside. I love to camp, hike, kayak, and roller skate. And of course listening to music whether it be on a turn table or live at a show.“
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
I have always been intrigued and a little obsessed with vinyl my whole life, but never had it crossed my mind that I could have a job literally making it. Luckily this opportunity came up through a friend who worked at the factory.
What is a day in the life like?
Each day can be quite different depending on what kind of job or record were doing and how much trouble shooting there is. Some days can require a lot of patience and tweaking different settings in the press whilst continuously listening to the record to try to ensure the best sound. Other days can be quite creative, often when we do colour jobs we are trying to match a very specific shade sometimes only using primary colours to get there. Then there are other days where working the press can almost feel meditative and I produce hundreds of records without much pause or issue. Overall each day is different and you never know when you’re going to be challenged but for me thats all part of the fun of it.
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
I have made records using different techniques to get very weird visual designs on them, I’ve included a couple photo examples (see image below). I’ve also made records for artists that I’m quite a fan of.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
The most difficult part would probably be the amount of variables that can go wrong when pressing a record. Many different things can change at the drop of a hat, something as simple as the weather outside getting colder in a day can effect if the record can be trimmed after being taken off the press. So as much as these challenges can keep me engaged at work it also can be extremely frustrating and time consuming.
If you aren’t a vinyl collector yourself, what drew you to the industry?
I’ve been collecting vinyl since I was a kid. When I was quite young I remember finding some of my grandpas old school Ukrainian Gospel 7 inch records and even though I didn’t really know what they were or how to play them I took them and displayed them all over my bedroom. Once I was a teenager I started to realize that I also had some great sounding records and not just ones to hang on my wall such as Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and many more classics. As I got older I started to develop my own sense of music taste and slowly built the little collection I have today.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Because I was lucky enough to find my job through people I knew I don’t have too much advice. From what I’ve seen of the music industry and especially the vinyl industry is that many different people and jobs seem very connected to one another. So start small and get your foot in the door, and start talking to as many people as you can and learn and hopefully find more and more resources to grow within the vinyl industry.
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.
First off I am very thankful the vinyl industry has stayed afloat during the decades of newer technology. Secondly I’m quite excited about the different experimentation within making records in relation to adding colour, splatter, and marbling to enhance the visual aspect of a record.
During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?
Keep supporting all your local artists, records stores/suppliers, and labels in any ways you can. Plus many musicians have had a lot of extra time this year to be creative so even though people may not be able to go to shows right now, new records are still being dropped quite often. Artists please don’t be shy about getting records pressed as many people are still buying them. Check out clampdownpressing.com to get a quote or information on getting records made.
Tell me what you’re listening to right now.