29/05/2021

๐Ÿ“€๐Ÿธ๐Ÿ’ฟGames Freezer Interviews : Stumpy Frog Records ๐Ÿ’ฟ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿ“€ @stumpyfrogrecs #VideoGameVinyl #Vinyl

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Tying in nicely with my recent articles on video game vinyl as well as our interview with Harvester Games’ mastermind Rem Michalski, this interview with Stumpy Frog Records came about as I happened across them on Twitter due to them promoting The Cat Lady vinyl soundtrack.

That soundtrack very quickly came to be a favourite and I had a really great experience as a customer with Stumpy Frog to the point that I wanted to learn more about them, hence this interview.

Whilst they only have a couple of releases under their belt, there’s a lot of gold bubbling in preparation and I can absolutely vouch for their quality, customer service and professionalism.

Britt - For those who aren’t familiar with Stumpy Frog Records, can you give a little background on how you came to be?

Stumpy Frog Records is just myself, flailing wildly in my quest to get some of my favourite video game soundtracks pressed on vinyl. Actually, the first steps toward creating releases came 10 years ago.

I remember being excited by speciality labels like Death Waltz Records during the early boom of film soundtracks on vinyl, and I wanted to try my hand at giving some of the music from my favourite films the same treatment. When I finally attained the rights to release one of my holy grails, I kinda face planted into the obstacle commonly referred to as ‘being dead broke’.

Years later, I fell in love with a particularly wonderful soundtrack for an early 2000s platformer and I couldn’t wait for its vinyl release. Indie game soundtracks on vinyl were just becoming more of a thing at the time, much like movie soundtracks on vinyl before it. Anyway, when it came out, I was, to put it mildly, extremely underwhelmed. To put it not so mildly, I thought it did the music I loved so much a disservice. At that point, being more financially stable than before, I just took my desire to put niche soundtracks on vinyl and combined it with my desire to give creators and composers as much input into these releases as possible.

I wanted to give them the ability to help create a fitting testament to their art. As I have a day job, I don’t need to rely on profits from these projects, which means that creators will receive the profits from these releases. For my part, I just want to break even.

Britt - I’ve noticed that a fair few record plants/vinyl labels are based in Europe (especially in terms of video game releases), has vinyl always been a big deal in mainland Europe?

Honestly, I’m not too familiar with the history of vinyl in Europe, but I’d definitely say it’s been popular again for a long time now. The ‘90s were all about CDs but in my teens, the transition towards vinyl was already happening. CDs were being replaced by MP3 at first, but then a desire for physical media returned. With all the art real estate vinyl records provide, it’s not too crazy that we’ve resorted to wax again. Digital for on-the-go, vinyl for at home.

But the pressing of less popular, more obscure stuff is increasing a lot too. Video game soundtrack labels are popping up left and right. Thankfully, I don’t have to consider anyone ‘competition’; my intent is to put out the soundtracks that might not be on the shortlist for most labels, for whatever reason. Maybe there’s not a built-in audience attached to the creators or composer, or maybe the game itself is quite niche.

In this regard, my second release ‘A Short Hike’ was a bit antithetical to my mission statement. Turns out, ‘A Short Hike’ was and is an immensely popular indie game. Hopefully, the more obscure stuff that’s upcoming will also strike a chord for the people who tuned in for ‘A Short Hike’.
Britt - I recently interviewed Rem and Mic Michalski, who showered praise on you and deferred to your talent and skill when it came to The Cat Lady vinyl, can you talk us through how you get involved - in terms of being a record label - for the releases? I bought The Cat Lady QUICKLY.

The only ones who deserve praise are the Michalski brothers themselves. They’ve been supportive and wonderful the whole way through, assisting with amazing new art and putting a lot of trust in a nobody like myself.

As to why I ‘chose’ ‘The Cat Lady’: I had been enamoured by the game and its soundtrack for so long, I felt obligated to at least attempt to give it a vinyl release. I simply reached out to Mic to thank him for his music and laid out my plan. After that, it was merely sorting out some growing pains.

By the way, thank you so much for supporting the label by buying the soundtrack. That first release especially means a lot to me; I can tell with every purchase that it’s from someone who holds the game near and dear. That’s exactly the feeling I want to foster. Sadly, I’ve seen some people scalp copies of ‘A Short Hike’, and it pains me. I suppose with popularity this becomes unavoidable. I try to keep my releases available at all times and, if that becomes unfeasible, I don’t stand in the way of alternative releases from other labels.

Britt - We’ve chatted online for a while but I’m intrigued how you choose the video games that you work with. For example, The Cat Lady’s unsettling psychological darkness and A Short Hike are very (wonderfully) different. What attracts you to a project?

I purely go by my own personal tastes; whatever interests me, essentially. In particular, soundtracks and games that struck a personal, emotional note with me; experiences that will stick with me, in part due to a strong original soundtrack.

The initial idea for the label to was release soundtracks that were pure quality but more on the obscure side; the one-person projects you’d find tucked somewhere on http://itch.io, you know. I can tell you, there’s a lot of gold in them hills, all deserving of their day in the sun.

Having said that, several of the upcoming releases already have a passionate fanbase and critical acclaim, so I feel that in those cases a vinyl release would just be a matter of time. Regardless, the background of these games may vary, but the reason for releasing always stays the same: I felt passionate about the soundtrack.
Britt - I know that the third Stumpy Frog release is on the horizon, can you unveil anything to us or is everything locked under an NDA?

I don’t mind sharing that upcoming releases that are currently in production are Jettomero: Hero of the Universe, a wonderfully versatile zen-like OST, and Umurangi Generation, an often fast-paced, beat-driven OST. With many pressing plants having an extensive backlog of orders, it might take a while before they see the light of day, especially Jettomero.

However, that doesn’t mean other releases aren’t being worked on. I’d rather not name them as I personally believe that, unless they’re in production at the plant, too much can still go wrong or prevent these releases from eventually happening.

I can say I’ve got an enhanced 2LP repress coming up of a particularly jazzy gem of a game, along with a retro-aesthetic horror game soundtrack which will, hopefully, have some very interesting packaging. Thirdly, a stellar soundtrack from a game that puts a smile on people’s faces. Beyond that, some wonderfully obscure indie soundtracks and a few non-video games releases as well.
Britt - What soundtracks have recently attracted your attention?

Too many to list, to be honest. I’ve been very taken by Jack King-Spooner’s soundtrack to Dujanah (https://jackking-spooner.bandcamp.com/album/dujanah-extended-soundtrack). I’ve also tried my hand for the first time at the Build Engine game Blood (1997), and its dark gothic soundtrack is just all kinds of my jam (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NIofux7yC0). Another stellar soundtrack is that of Depths of Fear: Knossos, with its amazingly evocative use of synths (https://youtu.be/4puzVlNrWGM?list=PLyIYTNiXDszFPUSiLXIjCd_jvSan77g-o). And I don’t want to forget mentioning Albino Lullaby’s OST, which is the kind of dark symphonic ambience I really don’t hear enough (https://apelawgames.bandcamp.com/).

I could go on, but there are too many wonderful soundtracks out there, many of which I’d love to release on vinyl myself.

Britt - if you could release any soundtrack on vinyl, which would it be?

Oof, how to answer that without increasing the chances of someone else attaining the rights?


There are three game soundtracks I’m especially passionate about releasing on vinyl, but the rights to each are held by major publishers who have no intention of doing anything with them.


Additionally, in the case of two of them, the composers have since passed away, further complicating matters.

If I can get even one of those ‘white whale’ releases, I’ll probably start winding down the entire label.

Britt - Finally, what is the best way for everyone to keep up to date for your other releases?

Simply sign up for the newsletter on http://StumpyFrog.com and follow the Twitter account @StumpyFrogRecs to stay up-to-date! I’ll always make sure that new releases are announced through these channels. And my email (hello@stumpyfrog.com) and Twitter DMs are always open.

Britt – Thanks very much for taking the time to do this and I look forward to future releases!

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