One of our missions here at Monsters is to try and promote the talent from our home region of Southwest Virginia as much as possible. No matter the talent we want to help bring a little more notoriety to artists or people we feel deserve more of it that are currently residing or from our home base of operations.
Recently, Yeti had a chance to have a conversation with one of those people in Melvin Dillon. An artist in every sense of the word, Yeti and Melvin discuss his vinyl pressing label, Soul Step Records, the struggles of artists in Southwest Virginia, and Yeti attempts to get some breaking news.
Yeti: Thanks for agreeing to do a Q and A session with Yeti Music Review on Monsters of Geek.
For those that don’t know you, please introduce yourself.
Melvin Dillon: Melvin Dillon. Founder and owner of Soul Step Records. Also known as DJ Soul Step!
Yeti: First of all, being from Southwest Virginia, what was it like being a musician and actor from the area?
Melvin: First and foremost – I’m proud and love where I was born and raised. It’ll always be home. However there isn’t the resources available to the youth in the area to truly sustain a true arts scene. I wish one day Soul Step could make millions of dollars so I could invest back into the community there. There is a TON of talent in the area – but for anyone who wishes to make a living off the arts it requires a move away. It’s unfortunate because there is no place as special and unique as SWVA.
Yeti: Explain to the readers what Soul Step Records does?
Melvin: Soul Step Records is an independent vinyl only label. What truly makes us different is our business model. Our plan is different because artists do not have to pay anything for the vinyl pressing of their record. We will release 100 of a limited edition vinyl. Once these sell we split profits 50/50 with our artists. They even buy copies to sell on the road at a discounted price. The plan is the greatest for artists that is out there in the business.
All we look to do is support these artists as they continue their music careers and at the same time we are looking to continue building upon the vinyl revival.
Yeti: Explain how you began your love for vinyl?
Melvin: It began in Charlotte, NC. It was a rainy night and I was recently heartbroken. A friend invited me over for beer and music to cheer me up. When I came over to his house, he went into the closet and pulled out a crate of vinyl. I had no idea about the medium at that point but the first record he put on was Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde.” Within minutes of the first track I was gone. What I could hear, the way to hold the music, how I could interact with it? My heartbreak ended and my love affair with vinyl began then.
Yeti: What made you want to go from playing music to pressing music?
Melvin: A true lack of being in the spotlight. The older I got – the more I enjoyed creating opportunities for others. Before I was playing music I was a lover of music. I was creating mixes and sharing discovered artists from my youth. This is a natural progression of that behavior. At the end of the day I could have continued to feature myself or spend the same amount of energy and promote many others! It’s good karma!
Yeti: You have five bands on the label and working on the Modoc release. What has been your favorite special pressing you have done?
Melvin: Well I would say it would have to be SSR-003, Matt Duncan’s “Soft Times.” This was special due to the fact that we spent so much time in trial and error placing a physical object (a tarot card) INSIDE a playing vinyl record. This took lots of time, effort, and energy from the team down at United Record Pressing. It brought such publicity and attention to not only Soul Step, but to Matt Duncan as well. That release was honored all over the musical world – even garnering a mention of a Top 25 of 2013 list on Pitchfork.
Yeti: Being from Southwest Virginia and knowing the music culture, is there a band that catches your attention to ever put on vinyl?
Melvin: I’ve spoken with a couple of different groups from the SWVA/NETN area, but they typically do not have the fan base that are large enough and fan bases that would want vinyl. Remember, Soul Step operates as a non-profit and we have to ensure that we can break even with each release. Vinyl is not cheap and when we sign an artist we have to know 100% that the product can move. However, with that being said we do have our eyes on a particular artist/group from the area.
Yeti: If you could press any artist on to vinyl who would it be and why?
Melvin: Wow. Any artist? There are plenty of artists in the Hip-Hop/R&B community who are neglecting vinyl. There is a company out of the Netherlands who keeps bootlegging the releases. I wish that a Kanye, Drake, Frank Ocean would reach out! Hip-Hop/R&B is what has kept vinyl alive during the reign of the CD so to have a release in that genre would be fantastic.
Also, with our love for Soul, we’re still searching for that Soul record to release.
Yeti: This is a question I have wanted to ask for a very long time, will there be a Melvin Dillon album pressed on to vinyl?
Melvin: Probably never. That would require people who would be interested in that part of my career – and there never really was! I was not that good. Maybe one day there could be a 7″ pressed – but that would probably be it.
Yeti: 2013 was a good year for Soul Step Records, what is 2014 looking like?
Melvin: Hopefully just as strong. We would like to get at least four releases out – and start plans for something really special for SSR-010. We just want to keep building our brand and support the artists we have on the label!
Yeti: Any breaking news you can release?
Melvin: Nice try bud! We keep things close to the vest!
Yeti: Lastly, tell the readers where they can find Soul Step Records and how they can support it.
Melvin: soulsteprecords.com – This is where you can find everything Soul Step. Artists, our DJ gigs, news about upcoming releases and our charitable work. However you can link up with us on Facebook, Twitter, and instagram.
Yeti: Once again thank Melvin for answering some questions for us, hopefully we will have many more.