Coming hot on the heels of its Dallas debut, and now in its fourth season, Discogs-sponsored Crate Diggers record fair returns to Miami on March 18th, 2017 at Gramps! Crate Diggers Miami is the ultimate event for record collectors, vinyl junkies, and music fans, with a record fair during the day, followed by an all-night after party! Leading up to the return to Miami, we spoke with Dan Yashiv, founder of the newest pressing plant in the US, SunPress Vinyl, who gave us the lowdown on their awesome backstory as well as what’s to come!
Although SunPress is technically a “new” vinyl pressing plant, the location and equipment are steeped in history. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Indeed, SunPress Vinyl’s location has some amazing history. It was first built as a record pressing plant by reggae music pioneer Joe Gibbs, then taken over in the early 80s by Clement “Sir Coxsone” Dodd of legendary Jamaican label, Studio One. The very machines we have rebuilt pressed records by Bob Marley & The Wailers, Toots & The Maytals, Lee “Scratch” Perry, and many other reggae greats. In its 30 year history before it closed down in 2009, the plant also pressed classic Miami based artists, such as 2 Live Crew and Debbie Deb. We are honored to continue the tradition of pressing vinyl records in this historical Miami location.
Did you guys have to do any restoration to the pressing machines? If so, what did that entail?
Yes, we’ve done a tremendous amount of restoration work. Starting with the factory’s infrastructure, we replaced the main boiler, rebuilt the cooling tower and all piping. We then had to de-grease, clean and rebuild the 6 presses we have here almost from scratch. There isn’t a part that wasn’t either replaced new or refurbished. We also completely rewired all the machines as the wires going between the controls and the presses were cut (!) at some point in the past. That was a major headache, as you’re talking about 200 wires or so per machine. On top of that we could not find an exact schematic for the electric wiring, so it was a bit of a nightmare. But with a lot of love and sweat, our dedicated team overcame the challenges and the presses are running like new.
It’s fairly well known within the industry, and to many collectors, that the demand for new vinyl pressings has outstripped available resources in the past couple years. Existing plants have been backed up, and turnaround times have become painful for many labels and artists. Aside from offering a supply-and-demand solution, what motivated you to enter into the vinyl pressing business?
I got into pressing vinyl because I wanted to put my own music out on vinyl and discovered that it is not an easy process. Producing quality vinyl records is an art, and the increased demand has certainly affected the industry’s ability to maintain high quality standards. On top of that, the overwhelming demand left many indie artists and labels waiting at the back of the line to get their records pressed. So our goal is to press top quality records at reasonable turnaround times, and with the same dedication and attention to detail regardless of whether we are pressing 25K copies for a major artist, or 100 records for an indie label.
So SunPress is pressing for both major and small/indie accounts?
Indeed, we are committed to providing a steady stream of records not just to major labels and artists, but to independent labels and artists, which is really where we come from. We don’t have minimum order sizes, and we will work with any artist or label that wants their music on vinyl.
For labels or artists that may be interested in utilizing your services, how many machines do you guys have running? And what does the current turnaround time look like?
We are currently able to turn orders around in under 6 weeks. We have 6 presses in total, of which two are currently running, two are just about ready to start pressing, and the last two are scheduled to be operational in May.
Have there been any projects – or are there any upcoming – that you’ve been particularly excited about?
We are genuinely excited about every project. Watching the records come out of the presses is always an amazing moment. Saying that, we are currently pressing albums by Bob Marley as part of a partnership with Marley’s famous Tuff Gong label. Needless to say, we are psyched about pressing such classic albums, and pressing Bob Marley records completes a symbolic circle, since Marley started his career as a Studio One artist and his records were pressed right here at this plant.
What do you enjoy most about operating SunPress?
The biggest joy is definitely putting a newly pressed record on the turntable for a listen, and even more so, doing so with the artist present. There’s no greater satisfaction for us than to see an artist or a label rep get excited about their vinyl records. Music does sound best on vinyl!
Here’s a question to help our Database contributors: What are SunPress’s runout identifiers?
Good question, we’ve been trying different things, but look for SPV or SPV17 with an order number after that (001, 002, etc.).
Can you tell us about your own background in the music industry?
My background is mainly in music production – I’ve worked as a recording engineer and producer from the early 1990s for 20 years, recording artists as diverse as Britney Spears, Pet Shop Boys, De La Soul, and Arto Lindsay . When I started, recording studios were all analog with tape machines, large format consoles such as SSL and Neve, and tons of analog outboard gear (compressors, EQs, etc.). I witnessed the rapid transition to digital recording, and it seemed there was no way back. But analog has a unique sound and we’re seeing more analog gear back in recording studios, and of course, the vinyl renaissance. I do love the analog life…
What is one of the most prized records in your collection?
Admittedly I don’t own real rarities. However, right now Bob Marley’s Catch A Fire LP test pressing we’ve run here is certainly my most prized record. I am of course prohibited from, and would never think of ever selling it…
What can people expect to find at your table at Crate Diggers Miami?
Other than in-depth info about our pressing plant, we’ll showcase albums and 12″ singles we pressed for some great Miami area indie artists and labels, as well as a lot of Tuff Gong/Bob Marley records, naturally.
Crate Diggers Miami 2017, presented by Discogs, takes place on March 18th, 2017 at Gramps. The epic FREE event begins with a record fair at noon, featuring 30+ vendors and 7 local DJs. The After Party goes from 9 PM until 3 AM and features headlining DJs Ron Trent, Rich Medina, and Zernell.