When it comes to spinning out a sterling selection of remastered scores for cult sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films, Waxwork Records reigns supreme.
The New Orleans-headquartered company has been delivering magic to our ears since 2013 by offering out-of-print and never-published soundtracks for movie lovers and audiophiles around the world. Each enticing vinyl release spans the Hollywood spectrum of geeky favorites that include The Thing, The Exorcist, Creepshow, Dawn of the Dead, Trick 'R Treat, The Babadook, Evil Dead 2, and dozens more in their ever-growing discography.
Co-founders Kevin Bergeron and Suzy Soto pride themselves on an unrelenting attention to detail in every aspect of production, from album selection and cover artist matchups to composer collaborations, liner-notes research, colored vinyl choices, and final inspection and packaging.
Besides their premium record releases, Waxwork is now branching out into the realm of comic books with Waxwork Comics. This latest component of the business focuses on all-new content comics and graphic novels bundled with original companion soundtracks on deluxe, colored vinyl, which serve as soundtracks to the stories inside each book for a unique reader experience.
SYFY WIRE spoke with Bergeron to get the inside scoop on how Waxwork Records was born, learn which flicks get the prestige vinyl treatment, understand the research involved, find out exactly what steps are taken to press a perfect platter-pleasing product, and hear what surprises are in store for 2018 and beyond.
Cue up your favorite score and drop the needle on this behind-the-scenes peek at Waxwork Records, then chime in on your favorite movie music in the comments!
Photo: Megan Trosclaire
What was the genesis of Waxwork Records?
Kevin Bergeron: Waxwork co-founder Suzy Soto purchased a stack of records for me for Christmas 2012. Within that stack of vinyl were a lot of soundtracks to horror movies, both new and old. We started asking each other questions about the quality of those releases. Were they sourced from original masters? Were the directors or composers involved? We decided that we could start a record label that releases soundtracks on vinyl, and do it in a very deluxe manner.
What was your original vision for the company, and what makes a Waxwork release so special?
We started with the aim to manufacture and release the definitive, highest-quality soundtracks on vinyl. That's still our guiding principle. These items are usually purchased by big fans of the movie or soundtrack music, so let's do it right. Also, vinyl is a physical thing that takes up a considerable space in your dwelling. Why not make it worth owning? We want to offer only the best.
How are soundtracks chosen for each remastering project?
What we are doing is geared toward a really niche market. We have to love the movie and soundtrack. We have been approached numerous times over the years to release soundtracks, and while we take each request seriously and into consideration, we have to actually dig the material. Otherwise, it'll show that we didn't do our best. We don't want anything to ever come off as "throwaway" or half-assed.
What were some of your favorite releases over the past five years?
I'm partial to Day of the Dead, Creepshow, Taxi Driver, and The Exorcist. We have some really hard hitters in our discography, but to me these really stand out for personal reasons. There was lots of involvement from the composers or directors themselves.
Can you detail the process of score remastering and your collaborations with composers?
We always go after the original master tapes. Oftentimes this is the hard way of doing things, but when pulled off it provides an authenticity and realness to our vinyl soundtrack releases. Quite often, these masters are in poor condition and need to be repaired, baked, or even mixed into a cohesive soundtrack experience. It's really great when a composer is involved, because it adds a new and exciting dynamic to the entire process.
This happened with Creepshow and Day of the Dead with John Harrison, on Shock Waves with Richard Einhorn, My Bloody Valentine with Paul Zaza, and also on Black Christmas with Carl Zittrer. These guys really came though and sometimes even remixed the music, or actually created an album for us. These soundtracks aren't always perceived to actually get a commercial release, so when Waxwork comes around 30 or 40 years after the movie was released, the soundtrack masters need to be dusted off, restored, and edited into an actual album.
What are the greatest challengers and biggest rewards of the business?
The biggest challenge is probably growth. It gets busy, and we're not a huge company. Sometimes industry folks can't believe the things we are accomplishing with the size of the company we are. But we don't even think about that. We just get the work done and actually really care. People notice that, I think.
The biggest rewards are actually holding a finished product that you chipped away at for a few years. Also, having the actual director or composer fall in love with our soundtrack releases for their film. We've had legendary, game-changing filmmakers claim that our vinyl soundtrack releases are how the albums should have been executed when the film was originally put out decades ago. We've had filmmakers claim that the artwork we've commissioned for our soundtracks is the best art made since the original film posters. When it's coming from the horse's mouth like that, it's really incredible. It's their vision, after all.
Can you describe the current state of the premium vinyl industry, and where do you see it headed?
It's hard to say. I want to say that it's growing and healthy, but some things that are offered on vinyl, such as soundtracks, could be hitting a plateau. Like I said, this stuff is super niche. We saw this coming and made a segue into original content such as comics in case the bottom falls out. We love comics and literature of any kind, and being able to work on original content is pretty rewarding.
What is your new venture, House of Waxwork?
House of Waxwork is an all original horror-anthology comic book series. Each comic book comes with an original "soundtrack" on colored 7" vinyl. The music serves as a soundtrack to the stories in the book, and you listen to this music while reading. It's a truly immersive experience, and the response to it has been really positive.
What does 2018 hold for Waxwork in terms of upcoming vinyl releases, creator-owned comics, new products, expansions, etc.?
We have a lot of licensed soundtracks ready to roll from old films and new. We're working on our very first creator-owned graphic novel, which is exciting, and we also just recently released the very first issue of POSER. Poser is a multi-issue horror comic book series that takes place within the Southern California punk rock scene.
Why do fans of all persuasions gravitate to these prestige vinyl pressings?
Because we're legit!