Enjoy The Experience

May 15th, 2013

Figment is all about creating a musical idea or figment of a band.  In many ways, it is creating your own homemade records, sans music of course.  That’s why a new book “Enjoy The Experience:  Homemade Records 1958 – 1992” (Sinecure Books) recently caught my attention.  “Enjoy The Experience” is the largest collection of American private press vinyl records ever amassed and presented, with over 1,000 cover reproductions spanning a 34- year span. These covers are as unique as the artists that produced them, and while some are goofy, they are inspiring if only as expressions of the personal creativity that went into their recording.

The artists presented in “Enjoy The Experience” were all serious about their music, hoped to become stars, committed themselves to record, and opened themselves up to an industry that has little time for artists they don’t see as marketable.

So what is private press vinyl, and why publish a book about these virtually unknown footnotes in recording history?  We talked with one of the book’s editor’s, Johan Kugelberg, to find out.

Figment News:  “Enjoy the Experience” is the largest collection of the artwork from private press vinyl ever amassed.  What is a private press vinyl record?

Johan Kugelberg:  It is a record produced and paid for by the artist. Home-made in its execution and usually self-distributed, i/e sold locally as in at the venue where the artist is playing, the local church, the local bar & grill etc.

FN:  What type of artists created these albums?

Johan:  Any kind! Lounge singers, psychedelic rock bands, Christian youth ministries, country singers, etc. etc. and on and on. People who were not deemed to have what it takes for a mainstream record deal, but who felt the desire to express themselves on vinyl LP so strongly that they did it themselves.

FN:  Was it an inexpensive and easy way to get your music out if you didn’t have a record contract?

Johan:  It was difficult and rather expensive, and cumbersome, the absolute flipside to loading up your songs online. There were custom record companies that advertised in the back of magazines.

FN:  I see Paul Major, the rare record dealer, contributed to your book.  Are these records coveted by collectors because of their limited production or the unique artists that recorded them?

Johan:  Paul was the first and the greatest to document this stuff: When I started receiving his catalogues in the mid-80s they brought about one of the greatest aesthetic AHA-experiences of my life. Paul acted as an educator and a catalyst, spreading his enthusiasm to the rest of us. I love these records cuz they are fantastic, constantly reminding me of everyday life creativity far from the cultural depletion of corporate mid-management.

FN:  Album cover art is a big part of the book.  Where the covers designed by the recording artists themselves or were they designed for the artists by the custom record pressing companies?

Johan:  There’s all kinds of examples in the book: Sometimes it is the artist, sometimes the artist is using a generic design, sometimes the cover is designed by their nephew/niece/mom/girlfriend/boyfriend/buddy at work etc.

FN:  Are there any covers in particular that stand out to you?

Johan:  One of the points of the book is that as you look at more and more of these record covers you come to realize that what is at hand is a vernacular: A visual everyday narrative of the hopes, dreams and aspirations of what Paul Major calls ‘real people’.

FN:  Were the artists that recorded these albums purely fringe artists or did some of them go on to bigger and better things?

Johan:  Calling them fringe artists is missing the point: When you perform at the local bar & grill or local church you aren’t a fringe artist, you are an artist performing at the local bar & grill or church. The intro in the book discusses this.

FN:  Is there a way to listen to any of the albums presented in the book?

Johan:  Yep.  The book comes with a bunch of downloads, there’s also a list of our favorite jams in the book where you can Google or YouTube and find the music, there’s also a double CD double LP anthology released by Sinecure Books and Now-Again Records.

FN:  What do you hope people take away from “Enjoy the Experience”?

Johan:  That core sense of happy humanity that the art of everyday life can distribute.


Find out more about “Enjoy The Experience”:

Check Out or Buy The Book

Listen to The Music Of Some of the Artists In The Book



2 Responses to “Enjoy The Experience”

  1. theHoseman Says:

    Loved this!

  2. poppinfresh Says:

    Very interesting! You’ve got to admire people who self-released their music.

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