Client: Kill Rock Stars
Artist: Horse Feathers
Album: Cynic’s New Year
Packaging: Standard 12-inch with Insert
We love working with Kill Rock Stars – from reissues to brand new albums, so much creativity goes into each vinyl release. DoradoPkg recently spoke with James Reling, part of the label’s amazing production team, about his favorite album cover, the latest release from Horse Feathers and more…
DoradoPkg: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, James! First thing’s first: what’s your favorite album cover?
James Reling: Wow! That’s a big question! I’ll just keep it to Kill Rock Stars’ recent catalog. The front, back, and inner-art of Quasi’s American Gong was painted by artists Chris Johanson and Johanna Jackson. The front and back have a lot of character, and are specifically meaningful to the album details. Also, the Grass Widow album art was cool because the covers to the LP and CD are different photos.
DPKG: Very cool. We recently printed Horse Feathers’ Cynics New Year 12-inch. Can you tell us about the inspiration for this cover art and design?
JR: Cynic’s New Year features photos of diorama style, meticulously cut-out art created and assembled by Brian Danielson. Apparently, it was quite time consuming, and it shows! What I love about the art is that you can see the 3-dimensional aspects in the shadows of the candles used to illuminate the art. I particularly like the shadowing around the Mt. St Helen’s explosion on the sky behind it. I think the art is somewhat unique, full of surprises, and I don’t get sick of looking at it.
DPKG: The diorama style really works well with the matte finish of the jacket. How deliberate are your choices when it comes to special finishes and printing options? Did you go through a few versions of this jacket, or did your choices stick from the start?
JR: The finishing choice is deliberate; options are discussed for their relative merit early in the process of planning a release. Most artists have a clear concept from the beginning about how they want their record to look. In the case of the Horse Feathers album, the matte finish works well with the colors and texture of the cover. Some artists may not be as particular and the choice may come down to intuition, or greater trends. Overall, at least in the indie scene, matte appears to be the current dominant aesthetic choice.
DPKG: In your opinion, how important is the packaging of a vinyl release?
JR: My personal opinion is that the packaging is a very important part of the overall aesthetic and enjoyment of the work. It brings a physical and visual element to the audio. The size of vinyl allows a significant canvas for bold and striking artwork. People collect vinyl because they love the format itself. The more interesting the packaging, the more excited fans are going to be about owning the object.
DKPG: We couldn’t agree more! With MP3’s so prevalent, sometimes artwork seems to take a back seat. What role does artwork play for Kill Rock Stars’ releases in such a digital age?
JR: I often had to make a leap of faith as a teenager, buying albums based on the art calling out to me from the rack at the record store. Now that one can preview audio online before purchasing, the packaging may not be as important as a first impression to the music itself. However, since audio is so easy to, ahem… sample/acquire/steal… packaging has become important to get people excited about buying and owning a physical version of the album. If anything, the digital age has made artists consider the physical packaging as more important than before.
DPKG: That’s a great point. So let’s get down to brass tacks – What was it like working with DoradoPkg?
JR: I have a short list of vendors I love working with; Dorado is one of them. Brokers and printers attempt to entice me towards their services. I feel lucky to have great relationships with a handful of great printers/manufactures and love to tell those brokers to quit wasting my time! Dorado has been printing for KRS longer than I’ve worked here. I haven’t made any changes because the quality of the printing and customer service are top-notch.
DPKG: Thanks James! Anything else you’d like to add about the release, or your experience printing this record jacket?
JR: The initial version of Cynic’s New Year LP was a limited edition of 500 on 180 gram vinyl. The non-limited regular weight version should be available any day now at record stores and through our mail-order.
I should mention that the vinyl is cradled in beautifully printed inner sleeve as well. I’m a HUGE FAN of printed inner sleeves and am always trying to push them on our artists.
Do you want to add Cynic’s New Year to your record collection? Head on over to Facebook and LIKE DoradoPkg – we’ll randomly choose a winner from our Facebook fans on Wednesday, June 27th. The winner will be announced on – you guessed it – Facebook. CLICK HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO ENTER!