Colin Herrick, along with Maria Chenut, live in California and run a label, called Time Released Sound. It’s not just an imprint that puts out beautiful music that has appeared on these pages since its inception in 2011 [I still own the very first releases from its catalogue] but also takes the time to put together all gorgeous hand-made limited edition packaging that makes the music more of an art project, a time capsule of archived material, a small lovely treasure to cherish for life. Those “in the know” have always jumped at an opportunity to own a TRS release, and its output often has sold-out on pre-release dates. Today we put aside our admiration for the label’s output and instead ask Colin to share his beloved gems. We hope you enjoy!
How many records would you say are in your collection?
I suppose that I have 400-500 in total in my own collection, most all bought within the last three years or so in a few manic bursts of buying frenzy. And then there are the unsold records that I have released through my own label, Time Released Sound. I probably have 500 CD’s as well… down from 2,000 at the peak some years back. And a bunch of scratched up old 78’s haha. There is something nice about not worrying about the condition of a record when putting it on or taking it off, which is the case with my 78’s. As contrasted to the annoyingly extreme care with which I usually take when I remove one of my expensive/valuable vinyl records from its outer protective poly sleeve, trying my best not to drop it as I reach up high to my misplaced record player on the top shelf of the cabinet haha… at least when you drop a CD you’ve got a 50/50 chance that it lands playable side up!
Do you consider yourself a ‘collector’?
Absolutely not, not anymore! I’m old enough to have disposed of two record collections over the years, but after almost twenty years of not even owning a turntable, I too seem to have been sucked back into the situation as we all know it! When the vinyl resurgence started, I said to myself… “there are a couple of my old favorites that I would love to have on vinyl again!”… and a couple became a few, and then a handful… and then I went crazy for the last few years! But honestly, I could part with them all in an instant, and not lose any sleep over it. So no… I’m not a collector of records in the normal sense. I’ve collected enough things over the years, and though I’ve parted with much of what I collected over time, for various reasons, I still have way more than enough beautiful art/photo books, furniture, knick-knacks etc. to keep me happy until the end of my days. And of course, I do still buy things quite frequently. The difference is that I also part with things frequently… it’s become a balancing act of sorts. Also… my partner is an avid collector and dealer in vintage objet d’art and clothing… so between the two of us, our house is fit to burst!
What is your playback setup like?
Fairly minimal as a matter of fact. As a label owner, I often wish I was more of an audiophile, in both the technical sense and in the auditory sense. So I constantly rely on others more qualified in those areas to help me maintain my somewhat professional image, at least in regards to my business dealings with musicians and artists that I work with! I bought my current Sansui turntable at the flea market… I found my quite nice dual JVC cassette player on the street, my Yamaha amp at a garage sale, and my Boston Acoustic speakers I inherited from my father after he passed away… I am all about upcycling materials whenever possible! However, at yet another garage sale recently I did on an impulse buy a very cool old Brunswick, 78rpm player from the ’30s… the first of the electric ones, so I don’t have to crank it! I also have a fondness for strange old music from the early years of the shellac record… from which must also come my love of the deliberately and digitally scratchy music of the present, from such artists as The Caretaker, for instance. I just love tossing those old records in a pile on the carpet as I play them… it’s a deliciously irresponsible feeling!
What was the very first record you purchased?
Hmm… the first that I personally purchased was the Yes album, Close To The Edge… But I’d been listening to music obsessively as a child since the late ’60s, and always had the radio on in my bedroom. I grew up in Oakland, California… so at the time it was KFRC and KYA… the Big 610!! The earliest records that I owned myself were bought for me regularly by my very cool aunt Dorothy when I was a youngster. She bought me all of the first Doors albums for instance when they came out… and obviously, I owe her a great debt of gratitude for that as they no doubt played a big part in the formation of my character haha… people are indeed strange, I learned that at an early age!
Which brings me to another cute story. My mother played the organ in the local Presbyterian church… she loved the organ playing on the Doors albums, and so she took my little neighbourhood friends and me to see the Doors on my birthday when I was eight years old… so that would have been my first live concert as well… little did she know! There I was in my bedroom, looking at my smutty magazines and thinking… “the first animal is jettisoned!… legs furiously pumping… its stiff green gallop…” what the…?
Tell us about the most prized record in your collection.
That would be my absolutely mint copy of the Deux Filles 1982 album, Silence And Wisdom… a record that I listen to endlessly still. I just love this record so much… it’s just got everything in it for me personally, and I am endlessly turning other people onto its beauty… nice one Simon and Colin!!
What makes you want to purchase an album on vinyl as opposed to any other medium?
There is no sensible reason for it. I was perfectly happy with CD’s as the medium of choice for 20 years or more, and still am. But as I said… I fell for the hype when it started, and obviously felt that I needed to be a part of it for some reason! However, as a label owner, and someone that is releasing vinyl themselves now in absurd over-the-top packaging… the larger size of a vinyl record itself makes for some more intriguing packaging possibilities. And that difference also probably plays in my desire to own a release on vinyl as well.
I am drawn to intriguingly packaged vinyl that is for sure… such as the highly recommended, and recently released book/vinyl extravaganza from the Savage Republic. It’s just such a beautifully done production! Someday soon I hope to do a book on our label and our designs… and if it comes out anywhere near this fine I will be happy!
I suppose that like other folks I am also drawn in part to the nostalgic elements of vinyl… it being the first medium that I owned and played music on myself, other than the radio of course. And as a somewhat manic and overly impulsive person myself, the ritual of playing a record is good for my temperament, as it slows me down a bit during the process, and while flipping it etc… and realizing that, I generally try and take advantage of it… breathing deeply and evenly as I remove the record from the jacket… feeling my body lose weight as I gently place it on the turntable and back away… anyone else knows the feeling?
What are your thoughts on the “inconvenience” of vinyl?
Two thoughts/peeves. One… the seeming inability of many people, and other labels, to package and ship vinyl properly, in order for it to arrive at my house undamaged! I am constantly amazed at the lack of care that is often taken, even by people that should know better. Please, folks! It’s all about protecting the corners! No amount of extra cardboard will protect the corners if you are using a soft, substandard mailer to begin with! I often take the time to tape extra cardboard corners on the outside of my mailers, and consequently, I get zero returns! Rant over!
And secondly, and again as a label owner, it is the inconvenience of shipping vinyl safely myself, despite the care I take, that causes me to lose sleep at night!
But again…I don’t feel it an inconvenience as regards the playing of it, or storing of it… that is part of its charm for me, and as I said probably good for my general state of mind and body. However, this is where most of my thoughts on the “inconvenience” of vinyl actually lie… and it’s something that none of us really like to think about. “The vinyl record industry is quite a toxic one for the most part. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) is the most toxic plastic for our health and the environment. … During its lifecycle — from production to use to disposal — vinyl releases some of the most toxic chemicals on the planet that has been linked to cancer, birth defects and other serious chronic diseases.” Isn’t that nice!
This is part of the reason that I have really been embracing lathe cut records lately. Lathe cut records are made of polycarbonate, which although still a plastic of sorts, is of a much more “friendly” type. And despite what some people believe, it is just as durable a product as vinyl and can sound just as clean as much of the newer pressed vinyl today if done correctly. I also love lathe cuts for their overall “hand-made” aspect. Just like the absurd packaging that I release them in, and unlike most vinyl records, lathe cuts are hand-made, in real-time, by an artist that generally cares deeply about the quality of their sound and the quality of his product. I have been getting my lathe cuts from Bladud Flies, in Wales, UK, who do a wonderful job. Most mass-produced vinyl records these days are pumped out by machines, according to particular sets of parameters, determined by the type of music that someone that really doesn’t know anything about it decides upon. That may be a bit harsh, and please correct me if I am wrong!
Ever consider digitizing the collection and selling it off?
I doubt I will ever take the time to do that. I actually listen to very little music in the digital sense, other than the demos that the label is endlessly sent these days. And to all the fine folks that are sending me their music on a regular basis, let me use this as an opportunity to thank you kindly for the confidence in us, and for the interest in working with our label! I don’t really stream music myself, and I only occasionally download something to listen to, preferring in most cases to support the artist’s directly and buy physically from them if I can. I am a bit of a Luddite I suppose in this case… and I am very happy that I was able to live at least half of my life in the analog age! I hope to return there one day before I am swept up into the cosmos again…
What album has your favourite artwork and why?
Oh my! an impossible question… OK, there are no doubt hundreds that I have loved over the years, but I’ll try and …pick a few. These are all very personally inspirational records for me, and from three periods of my life. The Doors, Strange Days… Joy Division, Closer… Olga Wojciechowska, Maps And Mazes (coming soon!)…
Honestly… there are just so many beautiful albums down through the years, I just wouldn’t know how to pick a favorite. There are those that I love for their outrageousness, so unlike anything design-wise that I would ever come up with myself. And there are those that I immediately responded to at the time, and on quite an obsessive level, such as those of the 4AD label which not only were inspirational to me in the artworks I was making in the ’80s… but even later in my ideas for my more current “artworks” that have become my musical packaging of the last nine years or so.
What do you look for when you go record digging?
I used to spend an insane amount of time in the goldmine that used to be Amoeba Records, as I live close by two of their stores, but I was mostly CD digging then. Can you dig for CDs? Now I only put my shovel to good use on Discogs for the most part, and eagerly wait for my damaged record to arrive, haha! Of course, during the maddening times, we find ourselves in now, there are no record stores open at all… at least not around these parts. So once things are back to the “new normal” I will no doubt find my way back into the local shops. The problem is that I never seem to find what I am looking for in shops these days… I have quite uncommercial tastes in music in general, and there is just a lot more available in the way of obscurities and unknown gems available on the internet. My partner and I are avid flea market and antique fair aficionados though… so if I am doing any digging these days, then it would be there. The main problem for me is that I have lost my competitive nature as far as this is concerned… and I just can’t bring myself to grapple with other record nerds in the same boxes on the ground anymore… unless of course, I am the first one in!
What are your thoughts on limited editions, original releases, and reissues?
Well, now you are asking me a leading question! As I personally run an uber arty limited edition music label myself, I’m going to of course have to say that I absolutely love the idea of specially and uniquely packaged, limited-edition musical releases! I can’t get enough of them, and neither should you! I have been drawn to, and have searched out and bought beautifully and unusually packaged music myself for years… which is part of why I started my own label. I only wish I’d started it 20 years earlier when most everyone bought music in the physical fashion. For nine years now I have been trying to keep the art of the beautifully packaged music alive… or at least doing my part. I don’t really expect everyone to agree with these sentiments… or to even care about what we do here… I’m just someone that will never own a Kindle either. I realize that for a lot of folks in our over-crowded world, there is, these days, often the feeling of a need to downsize ones lives a bit, and reduce one’s carbon footprint at the same time… and I am one of those people for the most part. Less is more for me, the older I get.
I have mixed feelings however, on the glut of re-releases that have become such a big part of this second wave vinyl madness. As someone that puts a lot of effort into releasing “new” music, and for the most part, by quite unknown artists, I often wish there were fewer labels around that are seemingly obsessed with re-releasing older music, much of which you can still get in the original versions fairly easily, and more that were willing to put their time and money into releasing more contemporary, unreleased, and possibly less profitable works. On the other hand, the world of obscure re-releases has opened up the ears of a lot of new listeners to a lot of old music that has remained basically unheard for a long time… and that is no doubt a good thing.
What record do you think you could play all the time?
All I can say is that of all the records that I currently own, the one that I have listened to most would again be the Deux Filles album I mentioned before. But I wouldn’t want to play it all the time. I really believe in rationing one’s favorites, if possible, in all aspects of life, in order that they remain somewhat fresh for as long as possible. It’s a bit like that amazing old smoked sausage I got in Spain years ago… and am still enjoying today! Don’t eat it all at once, make it last! Actually, I am really quite greedy myself and tend to gobble everything up as quickly as I can.
And honestly…I just don’t listen to much “old” music very much. And by old, I guess I mean pre-80’s? And if it is pre-80’s, and I am listening to it, then it’s probably pretty obscure. I just don’t seem to be very nostalgic for the music of my “youth”, and I don’t listen to much of the older “commercial” music that I used to love so much, or grew up with. I enjoy it when I hear it in the supermarket… but I don’t own much of it, and I don’t really seek it out. For whatever reason… I don’t know why? As a listener, I seem to have always been drawn to the music of the present, whatever it was/is, and for the most part, and have always enjoyed seeking new and unusual sounds out. There was never a bigger Led Zeppelin fan back in the day than I, for instance… and yet I own none of their music, despite being able to sing every song and still knowing all the lyrics by heart. Is that weird?
I also get sent an absurd amount of demos these days, and just listening to them, and the music that I am currently and planning on releasing myself (generally while I am working on the packaging for that particular release), takes up quite a lot of my listening time. And I do listen to a lot of my own releases over and over as I work on the release itself. But I am also a bookworm, and love to read… so it’s always been a balancing act for sure! There is just not enough listening time in the day, or reading time for that matter!
How is your collection organized?
Vaguely by genre, and then vaguely alphabetized at that point.
How has vinyl impacted your life?
Not at all as a music buyer, but definitely as a label owner/hobbyist that has found themselves releasing vinyl now. More upfront expense, more overall trouble, more stress, even less non-existent profit… it’s a beautiful thing! Buy more records, please! It is still just so much easier to ship a CD!
What will happen with your collection when you’re gone?
I’m not going anywhere anytime soon! And no… you can’t have them… whoever you are! Which reminds me… I haven’t made out a will yet, and probably should… have you? Actually, and as a late afterthought, I will probably have them all melted down, and then cast into a toxic vinyl tombstone that will no doubt last as long as marble!