Movie soundtracks have become hot property in recent years. The resurgence has a lot to do with the great work that Sebastiaan Putsey of One Way Static is doing from his base in Belgium. Established in 2012, One Way Static Records is one of the leading re-issue labels for horror and cult themed soundtracks and has received a number of accolades for their outstanding work.
Since their first release, the 1972 cult shocker Last House on the Left which brought Wes Craven to the fore and was composed & performed by David Hess, One Way Static have consistently amazed and excited horror fans with the release of somewhat obscure movie soundtracks.
Not only are the recordings of incredible quality but the artwork and detail that goes into the whole package make every purchase a bargain. With a catalogue of quality releases and a community that continues to grow, One Way Static is a leading light in the industry.
We spoke to Sebastiaan about how he got into the movie soundtrack business and what the future holds for One Way Static.
Do you have any previous experience in the music industry or is One Way Static Records your first time venture in the business?
I’ve been active in the business since the mid 1990’s. I’ve been involved in records, distribution and running labels for half of my life now and I have no intention of slowing down. I’ve experienced the good and the bad as well as the rise and fall of different formats. Not to mention the many changes to the industry over the years.
I have learned a lot from past experiences and I’m now quite comfortable where I am. One Way Static really is how I want things to be for now.
What made you want to start a record label that focuses on the release of Motion Picture Soundtracks?
Movies and music have always been a passion of mine. In fact passion is actually an understatement as it’s safe to say (like for many in the community) both mediums are my life (hahahah). Combining my passions for both music and films has naturally lead into getting a soundtrack label off the ground. It was just a matter of time and was the logical thing to do and what I really wanted to do.
There has been a huge boom in the last couple of years in regards to the interest of film scores and soundtracks, mainly due to yourself and Death Waltz. Why do you think that is?
I have no clue how the hype and boom started. Back in 2012 myself and Spencer (Death Waltz) started working on these type of releases and we just watched it become bigger and bigger. People were freaking out, willing to sell their mother to buy these releases. Crazy!
Three years later it’s become a rather crowded scene with so many new labels popping up. We run a forum Spintheblackestcircles that has grown from hundreds of members to thousands, which just goes to show how this thing is getting out of hand.
When we started I had no idea it would become the size it is today. We’re available worldwide in most record stores through majors like Sony and Universal and we’re getting press coverage in some of the biggest media outlets. We have customers on all continents, hell OWS has even been voted ‘one of the best labels of 2014’ by FACT. Never expected this all to happen.
I don’t really care about the buzz it’s been getting, it can all settle down for all I care. I’m just happy with doing my thing. The most important matter for us is staying loyal to our customers/fans who have been with us since day one. The people who are really into these releases for the music, not because it’s ‘hip. They are the reason we are doing this.
Part of it must be credited to vinyl nostalgia in my opinion, like with the VHS revival that’s been going on. Most credit must be given to the format though. Vinyl is the ticket: great warm sound and jackets with big artworks. I mean, who wants to look at these beautiful artworks on his iPod an inch in size? Vinyl is a format you can hold in your hands and cherish.
The process of obtaining the rights to release soundtracks sounds quite complicated. Could you give us an idea of what that process entails? Are there any film scores that have been particularly difficult to obtain the rights for?
It is. There are so many people involved with producers, directors, movie companies, right holders, labels, publishers, etc. Some things take years to release and others are literally bagged over two phone calls in a couple of days. If you don’t have patience and a back up plan then this is not the business for you. We have literally worked three years on one release and three days on another one. Timeframe varies on a case by case basis.
There are a few similar independent record labels like Death Waltz, Invada Records and Waxwork Records who are doing something similar to OWS and you seem to have formed a small community. Is there a process or agreement between you regarding who releases what score or it is it a case of first come first served?
Yes, you can call it a community, most of us have become friends over the years and there isn’t a label in the genre I’m not in touch with. We try to promote each other and OWS even distributes some of the smaller and upcoming labels. I guess it’s a logical thing that if you have a passion for the same things you become close with each other, I rather have that than harsh blind competition. We even co-release some stuff.
There are indeed talks between the labels who’s working on what, so we don’t all go after the same things which would be pretty stupid. But in the end we just all try to out-do and impress each other with ‘Look what we just signed’ (hahaha).
The artwork and packaging is clearly a very important part of what your release. How do you go about finding artists to design the artwork and do you give them a rough idea of what you are looking for?
We have our in-house designer ‘Silver Ferox’ who works on 99% of our releases. We love his style of capturing the feel and look of the materials we work with and he gives them a twist you can never predict. He knows what we are looking for and I can’t imagine OWS without him.
Nine out of ten times we go for classic album art/pictures. It’s just what I had in mind when I started OWS records and we’re sticking to it but on rare occasions we will go for commissioned artworks. Last year we released ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ which has art by Luke Insect and Kenn Goodall as there just wasn’t any decent original material available to work with since the movie dates from 1925 and those guys did an amazing job capturing our vision. We have also worked with artists like Randy Ortiz (Wolfcop) and Graham Humphreys (Cannibal Holocaust).
After just over two years of One Way Static Records you already have a catalogue of some stellar releases. Which are you particularly proud of?
We’re extremely proud of ‘Candyman’ as working with a stellar composer like Philip Glass was a humbling experience. ‘Last House On The Left’ is probably the one I’m most proud of as it was the first release for OWS and it took over a year to get out. It’s still a top release for us and most people into the genre.
If you could release any film score, what would it be?
We just released ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ together with Death Waltz. That was the holy grail for both our labels. Even though it took us three years I’m so glad we were able to release it as the outcome and response has been through the roof!
A lot of my favorites have been done either by us or by the competition. I’d love to do some genre compilations too and things I would have to start from scratch with. The ones that are not readily available are the most rewarding.Some classics like ‘Danger Diabolik’ and the original ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ would be great to release but sadly for some of my top wants, no audio masters exist as they have either been lost or destroyed.
What’s next for One Way Static?
I have a list as long as my arm of releases we want to do. Most of them are top-secret but we’ll be announcing some new titles shortly. We’re doing a re-release of Tim Krog’s score to the ‘Boogeyman’ (1980) and are currently working on another Wes Craven classic, ‘The People under The Stairs’ by Don Peake. Also we’ll be launching a side label soon where we’ll be releasing new horror inspired music by both renowned and upcoming acts. Stay tuned!