Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Cameron Schaefer, Head of Label Relations for Vinyl Me, Please

AMBY can’t get enough of Vinyl Me, Please — the world’s “best damn record club”. Each month, VMP help music enthusiasts discover new artists as they share their selected Record of the Month (September’s ROTM being How To Be A Human Being by Glass Animals) and curate and press essential records, all while pairing them with specialty cocktails and limited edition art prints.

To celebrate the ROTM, we’ve teamed up with VMP to contest a 3-month subscription and a vinyl copy of How To Be A Human Being pressed on royal blue vinyl. The giveaway will be live next week, so stay tuned here!

Until then, music lovers can dive into our exclusive interview with VMP’s head of music and label relations, Cam Schaefer, as we discuss treasured vinyl, discovering new artists, cocktails, and taking risks with music. Listen to the amazing vinyl on this portable vintage turntable.

AMBY: Welcome to AMBY and thanks for speaking with us! Where does our interview find you today?

Cameron Schaefer: Thanks, great to be speaking with you — I am currently based in Boulder, CO.

AMBY: Please introduce yourself to our readers. How did you become part of the best damn record club Vinyl Me, Please?

Cameron Schaefer: Prior to joining Vinyl Me, Please I was actually a pilot in the Air Force for about 8 years.  I’m originally from Laramie, Wyoming and attended the Air Force Academy for school.  My parents were both musicians at various points in their lives and kept me well stocked with a good music from an early age…weird at times, but good.  While in the Air Force I started a music blog with a fellow pilot and the co-founders of Vinyl Me, Please were fans.  They reached out shortly after launching the company and I began working with them soon after, initially handling the marketing/social media and then transitioning over time to the music & label relations side.

AMBY: Where did your love for vinyl begin? Have you always been a fan or did the fascination come later on?

Cameron Schaefer: My parents had a decent collection growing up that we’d listen to, a lot of trombone jazz like Jay & Kai Winding as my dad was a jazz trombonist in his early years.  I didn’t pay a huge amount of attention to it as cd’s were definitely what I focused on collecting as a kid.  Then Napster hit and I had my Gateway 2000 computer up and running 24/7 trying to get as much music as possible.  After I graduated college my parents gave me much of their vinyl collection which I carted around from place to place as at the time I didn’t have a turntable.  Then around 2011 I began hanging out with Levi Sheppard (the pilot I started the music blog with) who had a pretty incredible vinyl collection.  Ultimately it was the hours spent spinning records at his house & drinking alcoholic beverages that reinvigorated my interest in the medium.  I had been lost in a sea of mp3s with not a drop of music to actually satisfy my thirst.  Vinyl felt like a much more fulfilling & tangible way for me to connect with music.

AMBY: VMP have an incredible subscription service. How do you discover the artists you choose to feature in the subscriptions? We’re loving this month’s Record of the Month, How To Be A Human Being by Glass Animals!

Cameron Schaefer: Glad you think so!  The process of selecting our monthly features has evolved over time, but starts with breaking up the year into 3 categories of records.  First, we feature 4-5 major reissues each year – titles like Fugees ‘The Score’, Weezer ‘Pinkerton’ or My Morning Jacket ‘Z’.  We look at these as staples to any collection and try to focus on creating a unique, exclusive vinyl package for members that sheds new light on the album.  The second category is new artists where we’ll try to find 3-4 new releases from emerging artists to serve as a discovery mechanism for members.  Glass Animals, Lapsley, Torres & others fit this category.

Finally we try to fill in the rest of the calendar with undiscovered gems, generally reissues of albums that are great, but potentially haven’t received the attention we think they deserve.  An example of this was in 2015 when we featured Youth Lagoon’s ‘Year of Hibernation’, which had been received well by critics and music heads, but was an album we weren’t convinced everyone had actually sat and listened to from start to finish.  In addition we also try to vary genre from month to month to keep members on their toes!

AMBY: Each vinyl is paired with a specialty cocktail, which is such a cool idea. Where did this concept come from?

Cameron Schaefer: The music blog I helped create back in the day was called Vinyl + Cocktails and was born from Levi & myself sitting around at his house late a night picking albums from his shelf and deciding what to drink while listening.  Matt & Tyler, who founded Vinyl Me, Please were readers and reached out about having us create a cocktail pairing for their monthly featured records.  It’s stuck around to this day and is viewed by about half our members as a great value-add and fun part of the experience and the other half as a bit of a joke…maybe it’s both…regardless many people seem to like listening to music with a good drink in their hand.

AMBY: What’s your perfect vinyl and cocktail pairing?

Cameron Schaefer: Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers – Free For All + an Aviation

AMBY: If you were to put together a VMP Summer Party, which artists would you love to see perform there live?

Cameron Schaefer: BadBadNotGood, Anderson .Paak, Father John Misty, Nao, Ty Segall, Sturgill Simpson, Kamasi Washington, Thee Oh Sees, My Morning Jacket, Jamie Woon, Hiatus Kaiyote, Sufjan Stevens, Khruangbin, Jack River, Sam Gellaitry, Trapo, Sunflower Bean, serpentwithfeet, Exploded View

AMBY: Which vinyl that you own do you treasure the most?

Cameron Schaefer: Beck – Sea Change

AMBY: You were able to make your hobby into your career which is amazing. Do you have any advice for folks who are just starting in this crazy industry?

Cameron Schaefer: Admit when you don’t know something or somebody. Do your best to work on projects you actually care about & believe in. Always have a side project.  Don’t recline your seat on an airplane.

AMBY: Any parting words you’d like to leave to all of the VMP lovers, or folks who are now newly introduced to this awesome company?

Cameron Schaefer: We are living in a new golden age of music. Don’t be afraid to pick up an album you don’t know anything about…it’s taking the risk that leads to the greatest music discoveries.


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Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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