Tell us a little bit about Suitcase Records and what you do?
We are the first vinyl pressing plant in 30 years in Brisbane and only the third in Australia. We are a husband-and-wife team dedicated to great quality vinyl and great customer service.
Why vinyl? What inspired you to open a pressing plant and how long have you been operating?
My partner Neil had been looking to do something different and came across an article about the resurgence of vinyl, and how there was a significant shortage of vinyl pressing plants. As a music and vinyl lover this got him really interested and he started investigating what was involved in starting a pressing plant. After lot’s of research and talking with various press manufacturer’s we both decided to take a leap and go for it. So we sold our house, quit our (safe) jobs, bought a record press and the rest is history!
We’ve been operating since July last year when our beautiful, fully automated Allegra II arrived in our factory in Pinkenba.
Are there any particular pressing plants internationally or in Australia that inspired Suitcase Records and you aspire to?
There’s 2 in particular. Gotta Groove Records in Cleveland, Ohio are someone we admire. The plant was started about 15 years ago, and like us, the founders had no experience in manufacturing vinyl. We take a lot of comfort in their ability to get a plant off the ground and with time and hard work they’ve grown a really successful pressing plant that produces fantastic quality.
We are also close to Press-On in Middlesborough, UK. David and Danny started just before us, and were kind enough to allow us to visit last year to see their Allegro presses being setup and commissioned. We have developed a great friendship with them and stay in close contact.
What type of artists do you work with at Suitcase Records?
We are agnostic when it comes to musical genres. We’ll press everything! Currently we’re pressing for a number of smaller independent artists, and it’s great to see the buzz they get from having their music pressed.We’re also pressing for several major Australian labels, and everything in between.
What was the first album you pressed?
Girl and Girl’s EP, Divorce. These guys will always be part of Suitcase DNA.
Favourite colour vinyl and why?
Black – all the way! It is so classic and timeless.
How long do you think the vinyl revival is going to last?
We think it’s here for a long time. While streaming is convenient, it can feel like an impersonal way to engage with an artist’s music. A whole new generation of music fans have come to appreciate the warmth and tactile nature of music on vinyl, and the industry is going from strength to strength.
In what ways are you working towards sustainability? What do you think that the vinyl industry can do to improve moving forwards?
As a business we are really conscious of sustainability, and work hard to minimise our footprint. We purchase our energy through renewable energy companies, recycle our waste pvc and water, and use printing companies that engage in sustainable production. That said, we can’t hide from the fact that we make records from pvc. While it’s comforting that records are the opposite of single use plastic, the industry needs to work hard to develop alternatives to pvc. We have started engaging with a couple of R&D companies that are exploring options for bio-plastic compounds for record production, and we want to push this as hard as we can. The industry really needs to take alternate compounds seriously to ensure it can continue making records for generations to come.
What was the first vinyl that started your own collection? Was it bought, gifted, or handed down?
Neil’s first album he bought with his pocket money was Suzy Quattro’s debut, and his collection has grown in all sorts of directions from there. Mine was Billy Joel New York State of Mind.
Do you have a favourite record store in Meanjin (Brisbane)?
That’s a hard question as we have some great record stores. We’ve been long term fans of Rocking Horse. It has a really broad range of genres, a great mix of new and used vinyl, and staff that always have good recommendations.
Jet Black Cat is another great store. While it’s fairly small, it is well curated, with a good mix of current international and Australian artists, as well as some classics.
Favourite album from a Queensland based artist?
Both Neil and I have a special bond with Girl and Girl’s EP divorce, as they’re a local Meanjin band and were the first album we pressed. Jackie Marshall’s album Ladies Luck is another classic album from a fantastic Queensland artist.
What is your favourite record you have been a part of? As if I could answer that! That’s like picking your favourite child!
What record do you wish you had been a part of? Is there an artist you would love to press the record of one day?
There are countless Australian artists we’d love to press for the sheer joy of it! Jackie Marshall, Tanzer and Regurgitator are just the tip of the iceberg. An album we wish we’d had the opportunity to press is After the Rain by Hat Fitz and Cara. They played in our backyard not long after releasing this album. When they arrived they had a suitcase with all their merch to sell, and this was the genesis for our name – Suitcase Records. It would have been great to have pressed that record!
Tell us about your favourite artist, and what record of theirs you’d recommend to introduce to someone who’s never heard of them.
Picking a favourite is almost impossible, but in the last couple of years some standouts have been Liz Stringer’s First Time Really Feeling, Blake Scott’s Niscitam, and Laura Jean’s Devotion. Amazing album’s by amazing Australian artists. If you’re not familiar with their music these albums are a great place to start, and then you’ve got the joy of exploring the rest of their catalogue.
It’s a Monday morning in the office, what’s playing?
Diesel by Full Flower Moon Band. It was one of our early pressings, and it’s an album that just gets us firing.
Stay up to date with Suitcase Records, and get in touch via their Website, Facebook and instagram.
1171 Kingsford Smith Dr
Pinkenba QLD 4008
Phone: (07) 3260 1653