By Susan Sliwicki
It's nice to see vinyl records getting some love from music lovers under age 40. They buy them, they play them, and, in the case of musician Alexandra Starlight, they’re also choosing to put out their work on vinyl. But Starlight didn’t want just any vinyl. She wanted something different. So her latest release, “Alexandra & The Starlight Band,” has been issued on vinyl featuring a custom combination of clear vinyl and rainbow glitter, with each record hand numbered. Goldmine caught up with Starlight to get the scoop on Starlight’s pet project, which was able to come about thanks to a Kickstarter campaign.
Goldmine: What was the biggest technical challenge you faced in getting this particular combination to work?
Alexandra Starlight: I think the biggest technical challenge was actually two-fold: How to make the glitter record both aesthetically and sonically pleasing! We originally tested some prototypes with different kinds of large flake and vintage glitters and found that they affected the sound quality of the vinyl. When the needle would hit the pieces closest to the surface, it’d cause the record to skip, hiss and pop and just generally sound bad. So we had to go with a microfine glitter that wouldn’t disrupt the surface and grooves of the vinyl as much. Then, with the microfine glitter — when we mixed all the colors of the rainbow together into one cup — the prototypes for some reason just came out pink! Who knew the law of the glitter universe was that every color of the rainbow makes pink? We finally settled on sprinkling “stripes” and patches of each individual color, so that the rainbow really stood out. Pretty painstaking work!
GM: What’s the weight of the vinyl used for this pressing?
AS: It’s a little heavier than standard 7-inch records at 51 grams.
GM: What was the total pressing for this rainbow-glitter variety (250, 500, 1,000, etc.)? And, does every copy come with the picture sleeve?
AS: I pressed an extremely limited edition run of 250 in the clear vinyl-rainbow glitter combination. Each one is hand-numbered in silver metallic ink, comes with a full color picture sleeve, and a 14-inch, full-color poster insert with lyrics on the back.
GM: Are there any other varieties available? If so, how many? And do they all come with the picture sleeve?
AS: Yes! I also pressed 275 opaque jade green marbleized vinyl 7-inchers! They also come with a full-color picture sleeve and a 14-inch full-color poster insert!
GM: Where can folks buy a copy, if they so desire?
AS: They’re available online at http://alexandraband.com/fr_store.cfm
Each package comes with secret surprise glam rock extras!
They’re also available at a select group of west coast U.S. record stores, like Origami Vinyl, Burger Records, Wombleton Records, Amoeba Records and Zia Records.
GM: What’s the catalog number for this? Or is it simply “private pressing”?
AS: They are all private press. I funded the whole thing via Kickstarter — and ended up receiving over 200 percent funding for the project! They were nearly sold out before I even officially released them just through pre-orders! However, I am looking for a label to release my next full-length album.
GM: Have you offered any other specialty vinyl releases for your band in the past? If so, what are they, when were they released, how many were pressed, and how can one buy them?
AS: This is my first specialty vinyl release! Though I hope the first of many more. I want to keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in vinyl and taking a more artistic approach to releasing my music.
GM: What pressing plant did you worked with to make this happen?
AS: I worked with Erika Records in Buena Park, Calif. They’re one of the last record plants that use semi-automatic presses, so you can customize each record by hand.
The owner, Liz, is this rad former metal-head lady who welcomed me to Erika Records like family. They don’t let anyone visit, but because of the nature of our project, they actually let me inside for a tour and gave me the opportunity to hand-make the prototypes of the records! For a vinyl lover like me, it was like visiting Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The week before I came, The Misfits wanted to visit (they were making a glow-in-the-dark vinyl) and Liz wouldn’t even let let them! I have a photo on the fridge of us in front of all the insane picture discs and shaped vinyl they have hanging in their offices! She told me crazy stories of metal bands wanting to embed human blood or maggots in vinyl. They’ve done everything from picture discs of KISS with UV light eyes, a giant clear blue vinyl with star cut outs for Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner,” rainbow splatter… just the craziest stuff. Working with them was one of the highlights of my music career so far.
GM: What records do you collect?
AS: I mostly collect 12-inch vinyl records, and some 7 inches. I just collect vinyl by artists I like to listen to! Janis Joplin, Ike & Tina Turner, Otis Redding, Black Sabbath, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse … the list is endless really! I don’t really listen to music on computers, just my vinyl collection.
GM: What’s the focus of your collection?
AS: A lot of UK glam rock, punk rock, proto-metal and soul. Some of my favorite records are a signed Runaways record by Joan Jett, a T. Rex picture disc single of Marc Bolan, a Swedish pressing of an original Beatles single for “Rock ’‘n’ Roll Music,” Andy Warhol’s Velvet Undeground Featuring Nico with a giant gatefold of a Warhol lips and Coke bottle, and original pressings of metal records, like Trouble, Sir Lord Baltimore, Candlemass & Witchfinder General. Also, an original press of “Too Fast For Love,” ’cause inside, some fan had stashed this autographed photo from the ’80s of the band! I felt like it was a cool secret surprise to have that inside. Maybe my favorite is my dad’s original copy of “Sticky Fingers” by The Rolling Stones (with the zipper), with his name written on the crotch, haha!
GM: How big is your collection?
AS: I have about 700 records now, last time I counted. Still a small collection, compared to some of my crazy friends! Every dime I get, it’s off to the jukebox, man …
GM: How did you get started collecting?
AS: My dad actually gave me his vinyl LPs when I was a teenager and I moved out of the house. He gave me all these records by (David) Bowie, The Stones, Elvis Costello, The Faces, Funkadelic — the music I grew up listening to. I just fell in love with the sound, the artwork, everything about records. They’re so much more personal and less disposable than any other form of music.
GM: What was the first record you ever bought?
AS: Wow, I can’t remember! But when I was really really little, my dad and I used to wear out the “Ziggy Stardust” record — it was one of the first ones he gave to me. That and Queen! I used to belt out “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a little kid at the top of my lungs.