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Death Waltz Records celebrates 10-year anniversary, producing vinyl for films like Fight Club and Eyes Wide Shut

Spencer Hickman is no stranger to fame - as the man who brought Record Store Day to the UK, his long tenure running the legendary Rough Trade Records saw him working alongside some of the biggest bands in the world.

But it was only after moving to Thanet and founding his own record label Death Waltz - celebrating its tenth anniversary this week - that he had to pinch himself to check he wasn't dreaming.

Spencer Hickman runs Death Waltz from his Transmission record shop in Cliftonville
Spencer Hickman runs Death Waltz from his Transmission record shop in Cliftonville

Having spent the last decade designing vinyl soundtrack releases for cult and blockbuster films alike, his work has been approved by some of the biggest names in Hollywood - from Nicole Kidman to David Lynch.

And as most record collectors will tell you, the Death Waltz records are far from your bog-standard vinyl pressing.

A lifelong fan of the format, Spencer and his team want to encourage obsessive record heads to interact with and enjoy their releases, not just delicately slide them into a polyester sleeve and not touch them.

They've gone as far as making record packaging designed to be damaged in order to access the vinyl.

Spencer said: "We work with so many cool people, we're in this really enviable position where people let us go crazy. With Fight Club they allowed us to create a record where you had to destroy the packaging to play.

WATCH: The Fight Club soundtrack release you have to damage to access

"Eyes Wide Shut was approved by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, the Kubrick estate let us create this incredible package with tonnes of hidden stuff which even to this day people have not discovered yet.

"We have so many great relationships with Universal, Sony, Disney, and we get carte blanche to do whatever we want - we get to pitch them crazy packaging, and they know we're not going to put something out that's half-arsed."

The label has been a runaway success since 2011, with Spencer running Death Waltz from Transmission Records in Cliftonville, a shop he owns alongside partner Kimberley Dunne.

Looking back a decade earlier, he said: "The craziest thing is when I started the label I was still running Rough Trade and I was still doing Record Store Day, and the label was just a hobby. I founded it because we were planning Rough Trade New York but it kept getting delayed and delayed.

Spencer Hickman runs Death Waltz from Transmission Records in Cliftonville. Pic: Jo Bridges
Spencer Hickman runs Death Waltz from Transmission Records in Cliftonville. Pic: Jo Bridges

"I just wanted to do something while I'm stuck in this holding pattern - I've always loved movies and I loved soundtracks, and thought it would be really cool to put out some movie soundtracks."

These days Death Waltz is partnered up with Mondo, a record label based in LA which also launched in 2011.

But Spencer and Mondo's Mo Shafeek began as rivals, both hoping to capitalise on the gap in the market for soundtrack releases.

Just a year later though and the two had partnered up to run as one transatlantic unit, selling their premium vinyl releases to fans across the world.

Spencer said: "No one had been putting soundtracks out on vinyl at all.

The label has benefitted hugely from the vinyl boom of the last decade
The label has benefitted hugely from the vinyl boom of the last decade

"When Mo went to Universal and said 'we want to do Jurassic Park on vinyl' they laughed at him.

"But then it blew up and quickly became overwhelming - we went from 500 copies to repressing six times, and thought 'well, this looks like something people are really into."

"I never thought it would last ten years and never thought I would end up joining Mondo.

"We've become this destination vinyl shop for film soundtracks - I wouldn't in my wildest dreams have imagined that. I just thought I'd always be at Rough Trade."

To celebrate a decade of history and almost 200 titles between the two labels, they have today released a book to spotlight the records released in that time.

The 10-year anniversary book is out today
The 10-year anniversary book is out today

Mondo: The Art of Soundtracks, shows off the wacky, wild and beautiful creations designed by the team.

And the publication even has a Hollywood special guest - none other than the composer responsible for soundtracks on films like Star Wars: Rogue One, The Incredibles and Spider-Man.

Spencer said: "Michael Giacchino wrote the foreword, and for me that's a dream come true. I never ever thought we would be at this point where we'd have a book to celebrate ten years of a label...but now it seems like 'oh I wonder if we could make it to 20?'"

Having worked on so many releases in the past decade, Spencer wouldn't be pressed to reveal his favourite.

But one certainly stands out as the most audacious: "We worked on Autopsy of Jane Doe for 18 months and we only pressed 666 copies, and that record came in a triple fold-out sleeve on a morgue slab - you had to rip the chest open to get to the record, and it came in a body bag.

WATCH: The gruesome release for The Autopsy of Jane Doe

"We're super lucky that we're allowed to go do that, and the people who pay our wages are like "OK you can do that because we know you've got Twin Peaks coming out."

They even hired out a morgue to shoot the promotional video - now that's what you call dedication.

The rousing success of vinyl in the past decade has helped make Mondo and Death Waltz find success with music lovers worldwide.

But there have been caveats to the rising global demand for records.

A lack of plants around the world to actually produce the vinyl has resulted in long wait times for labels and artists alike, with some waiting around eight months for their orders to be pressed.

And with Record Store Day on the way next week, the man who brought the annual day here in the first place thinks a year off might actually help plants catch up with the huge backlog of pressings.

He said: "My feeling is even Glastonbury takes a year off...I think Record Store day should take a year off to ease up on the capacity.

"There are just not enough plants or new machines that are being built."

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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