Vinyl record on turntable

The growth of commemorative ashes vinyl

Posted by AK Lander | On September 25, 2017 17:14

As discussed in a recent article we wrote about ‘celebration of life’ funeral services, more and more people are now finding unusual ways to honour the memories of their loved ones.

Perhaps one of the most unique forms of tribute that is now gaining popularity, however, is so intriguing that it deserves some individual attention: this is the practice of incorporating a family member’s ashes into a vinyl record.

What started as a ‘fun’, small-scale project to promote conversation around the issue of mortality soon became a business for Jason Leach, the owner of And Vinyly – a record company with a very significant difference – and, over 10 years on, he is now receiving more orders than ever before.

The concept, which grew in Mr Leach’s mind when his mother started working for a funeral director (as discussed in this BBC article), is one of a growing number of ways in which people are choosing to mark their loved ones’ passing in non-traditional ways. Bespoke diamond jewellery and drinking vessels made with small amounts of human ashes are just two other examples of how this unusual business sector is rapidly expanding in size and scope.

‘As close to time travel as I’m going to get’

Man holding vinyl record

The process of adding ashes into the record in question is relatively straightforward and can be easily integrated into standard vinyl production techniques. As Mr Leach explains, “It’s a balance between adding enough ashes so as to be seen, but not so much as to affect the grooves’ smooth playing”.

The producer and label owner notes that the unusual ingredient does have a slight effect on the records’ sound quality, but claims that this in itself is something of a selling point: “There will, of course, be some extra pops and crackles resulting from the inclusion of ashes – but we like these, as this is you”.

The records themselves usually consist of a spoken word recording of the deceased, with And Vinyly also offering bespoke ‘artwork’ including a photograph or portrait and personal details printed on the cover.

Man going through record collection

Some memorial customs will never change – headstones and plaques will always be purchased, along with coffins and funeral flowers – but it is interesting to consider how and why people are choosing to place their loved ones’ ashes in ever more unique places.

Is this shift indicative of a relaxation in our attitudes towards mortality, or just a by-product of the ever-increasing choices that the digital age has given us as consumers? Mr Leach, who plans to be pressed into vinyl himself once the time comes, has his own, less complicated answer: “I like to think about my great, great grandchildren listening to me. This is about as close to time travel as I’m going to get”.

Image Credits: Jack Hamilton, Roman Kraft, Clem Onojeghuo