Some people will think it’s fantastic. Others will find it freaky. Either way, placing cremated remains into a playable vinyl record is one of the most-unique ways to go out.
Jason Leach, who created the concept and founded Andvinyly, the company that produces records featuring a guest spot by a very special guest, thinks of it as the closest thing to time travel available.
“I would love to have my great-great-great grandchildren experience me moving the air in the room,” Leach said.
Andvinyly goes through all of the production elements associated with producing an album – from cover and label artwork to pressing the physical vinyl. The one difference is that with the final step, cremated remains are sprinkled onto and pressed into the vinyl itself. By choosing clear vinyl or see-through colored vinyl, the remains are visible, and, most importantly, audible.
Anyone who has placed an old record onto a turntable has heard the pops and cracks that come with age. The pops and cracks heard on Andvinyly’s records are literally the turntable’s needle passing over the remains, causing audible sounds. It is literally hearing your departed loved one through the speakers.
Leach has decades of experience in producing vinyl releases for himself and musical acts, and he stumbled upon this concept when thinking about what he would like of himself to remain after he dies. (This was after the frustration of experiencing more than one occasion of cremated remains blowing in the wrong direction during a ceremony.)
“The fact that I will die one day got me thinking and talking to people about dying. People tend to not talk about it. It’s very much a closed-off subject for a lot of people. That got me thinking, what do I want to leave?” Leach said.
Andvinyly was not a business at first but a way for Leach to pursue this concept for himself, and the first version of his website garnered some media attention. He ended up producing a few records after some inquiries, and soon realized that there were a lot of people who really embraced the concept.
Making records from remains has taken over his life.
One thing to know is that even with optimal circumstances, producing a vinyl record is not a fast process. When taking someone’s legacy into consideration, there are decisions to be made.
1. What will the album contain?
Leach can produce a 7-inch album (generally used by record companies for single tracks on each side) or a 12-inch (that can hold many different tracks), and these can be one- or two-sided with different tracks on each side.
You can provide audio recordings of yourself from a variety of sources. If you are making a record for a loved one who has already passed, you may be able to pull audio from a voicemail, an old VHS cassette tape, etc.
These can be messages recorded specifically for the album or just vocal snippets, depending on what is available. You can include favorite songs, sounds, or even silence.
“Silent tracks are very popular, because then all you are hearing are the pops and crackles of the ashes,” Leach said.
2. What are the artwork options?
Just as there are basic releases in the world of music vinyl, there are deluxe options, too, for this type of album. As mentioned, color vinyl is an option. There is also artwork for the labels placed on the record, that can contain tracks, drawings, photos or special messages.
The record sleeve can also contain any imagery you would like. Then, there’s the cover. You can go with a front and back or go crazy with a gatefold cover, which opens, and offers more opportunity for personalization. You can even have a folded poster printed and placed inside the sleeve.
Keep in mind, all this personalization can take time. Leach said the process takes several weeks even with all the various artwork and sound decisions finalized. We want them to take the time so they can have it exactly as they want it, Leach said.
Generally, though, this has not been a concern. Those in the grieving process have even taken a couple of years to complete the process, as there are some stops and starts as they work through the pain of a loss.
Others have taken it upon themselves to produce the entire project – from sound to art – themselves, while they are still alive and healthy, in an effort to make things easier on their loved ones after they pass. Everything is ready to go except for that final step, having the remains to be pressed into the vinyl.
Producing vinyl is not an inexpensive endeavor, even for established record labels. Leach said the cost of producing one of these records is about $2,600. You can have up to 30 copies produced to be distributed to loved ones and friends, as Leach said the cost difference between making one to 30 is negligible, as much of the cost is pre-production.
Many of the records he produces are for people in the United States, and while this concept has been growing for those who are planning their own records, the majority produced thus far have been records for those who have already died.
“Some of these people have had the ashes for a number of years,” Leach said. “People who have grasped this concept absolutely love it.”
Questions about cremation?