Death Waltz announces new LP Art/Screening + Gives Fango an exclusive mixtape
Presentation is everything, and the UK’s Death Waltz Records—one of our favourite specialists in high-end collectible soundtrack reissues—have reinvigorated some of the genre’s most beloved soundscapes with intricate packaging by an international roster of artists including Graham Humphreys (who designed the UK campaign for RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and debuts new artwork for DW’s HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY release exclusively here), Jay Shaw (who designed our eye-popping website header) and Gary Pullin of Rue Morgue fame.
Death Waltz always has a few releases in the works, but the company has also just announced that Dinos Chapman will be providing cover artwork for their forthcoming double-LP vinyl release of John Carpenter’s THE FOG (1980), which will be launched on June 7th with a 16mm scope screening of the film in The Nave (a deconsecrated church in Islington) as part of Cigarette Burns Cinema‘s ongoing series of classic rep (screening details below).
In the meantime, DW honcho Spencer Hickman has not only been kind enough to give us a glimpse behind the curatorial process at Death Waltz, but he’s also made FANGO an exclusive mixcloud comp of some of his favorite synth and disco horror themes and covers, which we’ve pasted in below as well as put in rotation in our mixcloud player on the homepage for the next few weeks.
FANGORIA: What’s your methodology for selecting which soundtracks you want Death Waltz to reissue, and how/when they’ll be released?
SPENCER HICKMAN: Well basically if I’m honest I only release soundtracks to stuff I love. I have to like the film and love the score, otherwise I can’t get excited by it and if I’m not excited then how can I expect other people to be? As for when they are released I guess it just comes down to how I feel they sit together. I like things to flow and sit well on a shelf.
FANG: It’s cool that you are dealing directly with the artists, as opposed to just publishing companies, so you know they can see the amazing work you guys are doing in tribute to their work. You’ve done a lot of John carpenter/Alan Howarth stuff, what was the first soundtrack of theirs that you did, and did your presentation of it just impress them so much that it created this continued working relationship?
HICKMAN: The first Carpenter score we released was ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, and man I just love the music in that film, it’s utterly perfect. To be truthful, that initial release was licensed through the company that released the CD. It wasn’t until after that I contacted John and Alan, who are both super happy with how they look and sound. It’s great to work with these people. I’m a fan first and foremost, so it’s absolutely thrilling to be able to work with your heroes.
FANG: How do you select the graphic artists you work with? I think it’s really interesting that you get the visual artists to write liner notes—this kind of goes in hand with the philosophy that soundtrack music isn’t just background music, and the artists here aren’t just hired to market a product. They are all essential to the creative process and one can’t exist without the other. I think that Gary Pullin’s artwork for THEY LIVE has got to be the most gorgeous thing he’s done. Not to minimize anything else he’s done, but it is just stunning.
HICKMAN: Agreed, that sleeve is incredible. I buy a lot of art and I really love people that can paint/create and turn things upside down. Each project that comes along, I just have an instinct of who would deliver the best representation of the score. It’s interesting because I never art direct and I want the art to come from the music as much as the film itself. It’s always interesting too, to read notes from artists. Some tell you about their creative process and yet others will just tell you a story from when they were growing up (which actually tells a whole lot about where they are coming from). Working with someone like Graham Humphreys (legendary UK poster art responsible for THE EVIL DEAD and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) is a dream come true; he has just finished the sleeve for our release of HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY and it’s stunning , I’m super happy FANGO get to show this off to the world exclusively.
FANG: Why is THE DEVIL’S BUSINESS the one thing you’ve also issued on CD, as well as vinyl?
HICKMAN: Honestly? It’s to do with licensing. Some things we cant release on CD as they are already out. We’ll do CDs when we can, but my heart lies with vinyl. CDs are pretty boring [laughs], although our triple fold out pop packaging is pretty damn great!
FANG: What were you doing at Rough Trade before starting up Death Waltz, and what did you take away from that experience that’s helped you with this business?
HICKMAN: I’ve worked in record stores my whole life. I was employed by Rough Trade to open their flagship London store and managed it for five years. It was the hardest thing to leave, but I was just too busy with the label to stay. I’d like to think that my years of working in record stores have given me an ability to know what vinyl buyers want and the best way to give to them, it’s given me a whole bunch of contacts and the belief that I can do this as a full time business.
FANG: Has there been any soundtrack that’s been especially elusive?
HICKMAN: I’d love to release the score to THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (my favorite haunted house film). The score is by Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson, from the BBC Radiophonic workshop. It’s incredibly atmospheric and eerie, but unfortunately the masters were destroyed, which is very upsetting! The MANIAC remake took a fair bit of running round to get, but that’s one of the best scores in the last five years so I was determined to get it. I guess in some way they are all pretty elusive until the contract is signed!
Death Waltz and Cigarette Burns Cinema presents:
THE FOG (16mm scope!)
June 7th, 7:000pm
The Nave – 1 St. Paul’s Rd, Islington