Lipstick Crush Records, a forthcoming synthwave vinyl label, is kicking off its launch this month by issuing some important earlier releases of the genre on wax for the first time. There’s Betamaxx’s crucial 2012 album Lost Formats, Vincenzo Salvia’s 2013 album Auto Radio, and synthwave pioneer and Girlfriend Records founder Sferro’s 2015 favorite Ornaments. Accompanying those releases is the 2017 album Static Shock from prolific Sellorekt/LA Dreams. (Keep reading for brief interviews with all of those artists.)
Label founders Minneapolis-based Adam Black and New Orleans-based Matthew Weeks met in the Synthwave Vinyl Collectors Facebook group and in January 2018 started formulating the concept and mission for Lipstick Crush Records, a name inspired by an LA Dreams cut called “Lipstick Blush.”
The first artist to sign on was Betamaxx, the early synthwaver whose work was featured on the soundtrack to Kung Fury and whose album Archaic Science the foundational synthwave collective Rosso Corsa recently released.
“Matthew had actually been wanting to start up a label focused on vinyl for a while and just hadn’t found the right partner,” Black told Vehlinggo over email recently. “I had toyed with the idea of starting a vinyl label myself for a while, but knew I couldn’t do it alone.”
“With Matthew’s resources and having the pressing plant right there in New Orleans, my extensive knowledge of the scene and endless passion for the music, and with both of us wanting to put releases on vinyl that otherwise may never see a vinyl release, Lipstick Crush Records was born,” Black added.
Black also said he has a fondness for recirculating earlier synthwave releases that might not be getting the attention they should be today, especially in physical releases. (I’ll note that it’s a natural element of genre evolution that some of the earlier, foundational releases get sidelined in favor of the artists active when new fans dive into a scene. It’s lamentable, but it happens. Oh, is it lamentable!)
“For me personally, I was seeing so many people on Facebook that were getting into synthwave on vinyl, but had never really heard of any of the music released in the genre prior to 2016/2017,” Black says. “There are so many good releases from those days, but of course vinyl in the scene at that time was almost non-existent. So, I didn’t want these releases to be passed over for vinyl now just because of when they were originally released.”
Lipstick Crush isn’t just another synthwave label pushing vinyl, though. They have a particularly attractive hook: supreme quality that benefits both artists and fans. Their vinyl records themselves are going to be high-quality — no cereal-box flimsiness here — and the media will be sent in safe, high-quality mailers at cost-effective prices all across the globe. You won’t be dropping gold bricks for broken records, ostensibly.
“In a nutshell, we aim to be the most fan-friendly and artist-friendly label releasing vinyl in the synthwave genre,” Black says. “We want to eliminate the barriers that prevent fans from buying more vinyl in this genre. We will focus on high quality and high value. And, we believe that there are many vinyl fans out there collecting ‘synthwave-adjacent’ releases that would love what the best of this genre has to offer. We have plans to capture those fans and expand the fanbase of our artists.”
On that note, let’s read words from the launch artists themselves about their take on Black and Weeks releasing their albums on vinyl for the first time.
Looking back to 2012 with the release of my first album, it’s been six years and crazy how time flies. A lot of things have changed in this time span, but I’ve always stuck with the use of analog gear in my productions. I remember writing this record, before I even really had a studio, in my bedroom at my parent’s house in my mid-20s. I look back on those times fondly, and I remember how eager I was to put out something ‘80s that was created with my Roland Juno-60 synthesizer.
I am a big personal collector of vinyl records and tapes, so it’s been a dream of mine come true finally seeing Betamaxx albums in physical form. I am happy to present to you, in collaboration with Lipstick Crush Records, Lost Formats, remastered, with redesigned artwork on limited edition colored vinyl and cassette. You can look for upcoming releases of my back catalog soon, including Plug & Play and Sophisticated Technology, and more brought to you by Lipstick Crush Records.
Well, the album Static Shock was initially a nod to Herbie Hancock’s Future Shock album (1984), with classic tracks like “Rockit.” I like to compose music like it’s a journey. My music captures the feel of ‘80s commercials, high school years, [and] cartoons of the decade, as well as first loves, film soundtracks, and the prom. I want listeners to reminisce about the time spent during those wonderful years and even for younger fans, wanting them to get a sense of how fascinating it was.
More than anything, I want fans to come away with feelings and thoughts of complete euphoria. I am, of course, a super serious vinyl collector with over 1,500 records in my personal collection. Being a child of the ‘80s, I know this scene all too well. I’m excited about my future relationship and vinyl releases with Lipstick Crush. My next vinyl release on the label will be Fantasy Hard Drive, an album which my fans have highly requested be pressed on vinyl.
Auto Radio is a concept album based on an imaginary Italian radio station in 1984. The track list has been realized as a real radio show, highlighted by the magnificent voice talents of Patrick Rizzi (Shio-Z), as he takes us on a drive through Italy.
It’s exciting to release Auto Radio on vinyl — an album into which I put so much effort. It’s an album that is strongly connected with my life experiences, my travels, and my memories. Auto Radio is not only a collection of tracks, it’s a trip into a past that has never ended, a past that you can relive with every listen.
Though heavily inspired by acts such as Art of Noise, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and various Italo Disco artists, Ornaments is ultimately the result of becoming very bored with the standard synthwave sound. I’ve been reached out to many times about getting my track “Blitz” on vinyl, so I’m happy folks will finally be able to get that and more.
Working with Lipstick Crush has been a dream, too. I was skeptical at first, because I have been burned by physical labels in the past, but they have been nothing short of amazing to work with and I’m eager to continue working with them in the future.
What You Should Know
For fans in the United States, each of the four launch records is available now on the Lipstick Crush Records website and will include digital downloads with vinyl purchase, redeemable on the Lipstick Crush Records Bandcamp page.
For fans throughout the rest of the world, copies will soon be available via the label’s distribution partner Playmaker Media.