Calgary's Canada Boy Vinyl is riding the resurgence of records
Plant is the only one pressing vinyl in Canada, co-founder says
If you're older than a millennial, there's a pretty good chance you'll have memories of spinning long-playing vinyl records in your bedroom or dancing in the living room to a stack of your favourite 45s.
That is part of Dean Reid's identity, "When I was a teenager, sitting around with your friends and listening to records actually counted as an activity," he reminisces.
"That was just something you did. You hung out and listened to albums."
- Vinyl fans in a spin over new Edmonton record store
- Winnipeg lawyer's vinyl record store his ultimate 'man cave'
- Loverboy could cash in on vinyl soundtrack re-release
So when Reid found himself feeling burned out from years of working in construction, his love of music and nostalgia for vinyl helped form a seed of an idea that would become Canada Boy Vinyl.
It took nearly two years to be in full production.
Today, Canada Boy Vinyl is the only record pressing plant in Canada, Reid says.
It was a mission of love and an exercise in frustration finding and making functional all the equipment needed to press records.
'5,000 things' could break down
Reid had to go as far as the United Kingdom to cobble together analog recording equipment and vinyl pressers, much of it 1970s-era, to become operational.
"There's literally 5,000 things that could break down and seemingly in the first two months we were open, they did break."
With the vinyl record market booming over the past decade, Canada Boy Vinyl was opened at a perfect time to capture a piece of it.
It was a much tougher chore learning the lost art of record pressing and fine-tuning the product. "Right now, we have a record with a warm, buttery sound, super clean," Reid says.
We have a record with a warm, buttery sound, super clean- Dean Reid, founder, Canada Boy Vinyl
The orders have followed. Canada Boy Vinyl is pressing 2,500 vinyl records a day with an eye to nearly double that capacity in the new year.
Vinyl began fading into the background with the rise of cassettes in the 1970s and seemed to spin into obscurity once compact discs and digital downloads became the format of choice.
But, just a few steps inside Calgary's Heritage Posters and Music, it's obvious that vinyl never really went away.
Owner Jerry Keogh has been collecting and selling vinyl records while all the other formats have come and gone.
Vinyl sales exploding
But Keogh says vinyl sales have exploded from a niche market of music lovers to the next big thing.
A new generation values vinyl. "From 12 to 40, this is just a cool factor," he says. "All current bands from the Arctic Monkeys or The National, they're putting their stuff on vinyl."
This is just a cool factor.- Jerry Keogh, Heritage Posters and Music
His customer David Clarke is just starting to explore vinyl music. At 22, he recalls the day vinyl records went out of style at his house. "My dad gave away all his stuff. He bought this CD player and he just put his boxes of vinyl on the curb."
Now, Clarke has a turntable and is discovering hearing music in a different way. "It was a really boss sound that you can produce, so that's what sort of drew me back into it."
Across the store, Lorne Levine and his 23-year-old son Thomas are looking for different types of albums. Father is browsing classic rock, son has a thing for heavy metal.
But they've forged a bond over the vinyl records. "I've been collecting for 40 years and now my son is a big collector, so we have something in common," Levine says. "It's just so great to listen to."
The resurgence of vinyl is so strong, it's probably safe to call it more than a trend now.
Every album will feature a maple leaf stamped into its centre. "Well, you know, Canada Boy, right?" Reid says.
"I'm super proud to be Canadian and I feel like I've got something to prove to the world. I like to think about our records scattered all over the world and they've got the wicked maple leaf in the centre."
And that is no spin.