Vinyl is a material that inspires fervour. No true music fanatic has a bad word to say about the black stuff. This is usually because they will have spent hours poring over their father’s 12s or scouring the racks in their local record store.
Vinylium, a four-man operation in Switzerland, is one of the most influential forces of vinyl advocacy in the world. It is also one of the most respected vinyl equipment engineers, with clients in the UK, Brazil, Japan, Jamaica and the US. “There is no record cutting equipment in Switzerland. Therefore, all our clients are overseas, so yes, we are an international company,” smiles Christoph Schmid, one of the four founders.
Vinylium started out in 1997 pressing records from a small facility in Solothurn. Now it manufactures vinyl-cutting equipment and offers an overhaul service to clients such as Metropolis in London, DJs recording at home and independent studios such as Frankford Wayne in New York and Topmaster in Paris.
Owners André Huesler, Flo Kaufmann, Jvo Studer and Schmid were once DJs at illegal parties held at the Kofmehl Factory. “In those days the record companies owned all the vinyl pressing plants. But we managed to secure a pressing machine, a mastering kit and cutting lathe and began recording and cutting our own records in the Kofmehl,” says Huesler.
Soon a network of enthusiasts grew. A mastering studio in Jamaica contacted them asking if they could fix a broken mastering machine. The guys wrote software for the job while at the airport. The rest is rock history.
“We stopped pressing records in 2005 to focus on servicing equipment in studios around the world and developing engineering products for the vinyl industry,” says Huesler.
Vinylium has created an affordable dubplate and vinyl cutter costing under €6,000 – making it possible for enthusiasts to cut at home. Vinyl cutters are used to create original metal discs – the equivalent of a negative in photography. One can then produce a single vinyl unit or huge volumes inexpensively. “Our aim is to keep vinyl alive. Vinyl is not part of the mass market any more, it has a soul, it is independent and no longer competes with anything,” says Schmid.