“Record cutting machines do exist, but they’re really for professionals and are very very expensive machines,” explains Yuri Suzuki, Pentagram partner and sound designer, whose latest invention looks to change that. The Easy Record Maker does what it says on the tin, allows anyone to record straight to vinyl at home, without breaking the bank. The results are, in Suzuki’s own terms, primitive, but accessible to even the least tech-savvy and lighter pocketed of us. “There have been amateur record cutting machines in the past, in the 1970s, but they were still very expensive. Vestax created a compact record cutting machine which was around £12,000, which is still out of reach for most people. The Easy Record Maker has a toy-like quality, but you can still record decent (albeit lo-fi!) quality 5-inch records.”
Having been a dream project of Suzuki’s since he was a teenager in a ska-punk band, the designer has been working on his latest invention in the background for a while, and now it’s a reality, already available in Japan via Gakken, and coming to the UK and US later this year. It follows a number of Suzuki’s projects that bring sound- and music-making to a wide audience, for example, the AR Music Kit: a collaborative project with Google that allows users to make an instrument out of anything by sticking paper musical notes on an item, and “playing” it using AR through a smartphone app. There’s also Ototo, a kit that you can connect to anything around the house (a spoon, a banana, a glass of water, a plant) via wires, making them instant instruments that trigger different sounds.
“I think that the only reason I create projects like Ototo and the AR Music Kit is that these are the tools that I want to use myself,” Suzuki tells us. “When I was in my high school band, we always wanted to make original records but pressing a record was just too expensive.” He also wants to create products that keep people’s attention in a world where attention spans are declining. “Sometimes I get quite easily distracted, but if I find something that’s really fun to play with, I spend a lot of time with it. With the Easy Record Maker, I’ve tried to create a product which people can really immerse themselves in. Sound has a strong impact on our emotions and the way we behave, and I always try to create an experience with sound that as many people as possible can relate to.”
The product taps into the growing appreciation for vinyl, but a facet that many vinyl lovers won’t have had access to before – actually creating their own record. “Many people will have made a DIY mixtape or compilation CD, but making a bespoke record will be a completely new experience,” Suzuki says. “I hope people will use this machine to create records with their own music or voices, and also design fantastic record sleeves to house them in. We have designed some template sleeves and stickers but, of course, you can design your own record sleeves too! It’s very straightforward to make, format and create your own.
“In Japan, people are already starting to create their own ‘very limited edition’ 5-inch EPs. It’s been great to see them on Twitter and Instagram. We are in this tough time of lockdown at the moment, and it’s very quick and easy to communicate via phone, Skype or Zoom. Taking the time to send a message via a one-off vinyl record is something quite unique, and I think very valuable.”
GalleryYuri Suzuki / Pentagram for Gakken: Easy Record Maker
Yuri Suzuki / Pentagram for Gakken: Easy Record Maker