An Interview with Jenn D’Eugenio of Women In Vinyl

Record Collector: Jenn D'Eugenio, aka jennn_erator | No Echo

Forward by Erin O’Dell

Editor’s note:
This week, we feature the wonderful Jenn D’Eugenio for my latest “sit down.” Jenn is not only blazing a trail for women within the music industry as the found of Women In Vinyl, but she is also the Chief of Sales and Marketing for Furnace Record Pressing. If you’re interested in learning more about Women In Vinyl, you can head here to check out some of the amazing work Jenn is doing to spotlight and empower women within the community. With that being said, I wanted to first turn things over to our very own Erin O’Dell before we get to our interview.

Sometimes, trying to be heard as a woman is a lot like screaming underwater; they see that you are speaking but they don’t hear the words. 

At times it seems like the female voice in music gets misconstrued. A band with a female vocalist becomes a “female-fronted band” instead of, say, a Metal band. A woman who plays the violin becomes a “female instrumentalist” instead of a classically trained musician. The fact that this specific label of “female” anything in music shows that equality in the business is still not entirely a reality. Society still likes to differentiate between male and female success, often enacting a double standard upon the “fairer sex.”

If a woman writes a song about her former lover it usually ends up with her becoming the villain of her own story as people will ask, “Well, we don’t know his side, so how do we know she’s telling the truth and not just trying to get attention?” Yet, a man can write the exact same song, and the woman it is about will be crucified for decades to come. Women in music have come a long way in being accepted and allowed to make their voices heard. I personally feel we as a collective whole still aren’t quite there in respecting them and their words as simply people, and not females. 

That being said, I feel like women have a strong foundation in music and the music industry and should continue their efforts to be heard. Not just as women, but as human beings. We have a lot to say, and we want to say it. It isn’t about if women are better than men or the age old adage of “anything you can do, I can do better,” it’s simply about true equality.

Andrew:
Jenn, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us! Tell us a bit about your back story. How did you get into records?

Jenn:
Thank you for having me! Well, I grew up with my parents having a couple crates, and I started buying records in high school. It was something I loved immediately, the sound, the hunt for what you wanted, the pieces of art that they were. I was hooked.  

Andrew:
What moment influenced your decision to establish Women in Vinyl? If it was a series of moments, tell us about those.

Jenn:
Whenever someone asks me about this I point to this meme of a 1950’s couple that was circulating on social media. The guy is nerding out on the special pressing in his hand of, insert any band name here, to his wife who is knitting. Her speech bubble is basically that she could care less. It annoyed me because I completely get the sentiment. I mean, I’m like the guy in that image a lot of times. It was the fact that no one thought for a second how that looked for women before reposting it that bothered me. That, coupled with the fact that I’d experienced the discrimination first hand, and knowing so many amazing women in the industry working hard behind the scenes drove me to start sharing their stories. I saw that few women find careers within vinyl because they chose it and more of us fall into it or find our way to it randomly. I want to start speaking about what is out there, sharing the amazing opportunities and role models, to help girls want to become mastering engineers or work to innovate in vinyl manufacturing, at labels, etc. Imagine how far we’ll be able to take things with new minds looking to continue to find ways to expand and grow this industry.

Andrew:
You’re also the Chief of Sales at Furnace Record Pressing. How did you get started there?

Jenn:
My entire life I have been passionate about music, but I never knew the types of careers that were available for people that didn’t make music. I was always artistic and so thought of things more from the artist perspective. I ended up going to design school. I got my degree in textiles and designed print and pattern for kid’s clothing retailers for years. When I was completely burnt out, I went back to the college I graduated from and became a career adviser where I helped students find jobs, and I also worked in admissions for a time “selling a dream.” After a need for change of location, I worked at a T-shirt printing company and found that I enjoyed using my love of helping people like I had with career advising in my design background. Combining those things made selling a product easy because I really care about the end results. When Furnace was opening up the plant, my Mom actually saw the listing and told us about it. I grew up in this area and never thought I’d move home, but knew that if I could add music into the creative, advising, and selling mix, it would be the dream job. I’m thankful they gave me a shot. I truly do love helping people make their vinyl project come to life.

Interview With Jenn D'Eugenio, Founder Of Women In Vinyl | Discogs

Andrew:
Despite the efforts of organizations like Women Who Rock and your organization, Women in Vinyl, women are still very underrepresented in both the music industry, and the vinyl community alike. What has your experience been like in that regard? In your opinion, what needs to happen to change that? 

Jenn:
I have definitely had people talk down to me in my job (never coworkers or industry friends). I’ve had people say they wish I’d die so someone worthy could inherit my collection. It’s been suggested I don’t know about things I share online both from a manufacturing perspective or as a collector because I’m a woman and have even been treated differently when out digging; but I’d rather not get into specifics past that because this behavior isn’t something worth rehashing. More important is, like you’re asking, what needs to change.

I think a lot of it is just not knowing what opportunities are out there coupled with women not taking chances because it can feel scary to ask questions within the community. A lot of times it can feel like you’re being looked down upon for not immediately knowing what gear you like, or how to set up a turntable. It sort of goes hand in hand with how we can address the issues. I can’t speak to Women Who Rock but from the vinyl perspective I believe it all has to do with education in three parts. Let’s not forget the resurgence has been within the past 20 years, so we have to take the time to share what we know with people new to both collecting and in the industry.

First, actual education. I used to work in higher ed as a career adviser like I mentioned. My focus was in Industrial Design/Service Design and Design Management. It made me a huge supporter of STEM education as soon as we can start it in schools. Supporting girls’ involvement in those types of classes, to give them a try, will open the door to seeing career paths into audio engineering, and so many other areas of the vinyl industry.

Second, as the industry continues to grow, we need to expand from seeing internships as doing your time in the front of house only. As an example, think about who is applying for jobs as a press operator. Is anyone applying passionate about it from the start? Do they know anything about running a record press? Probably not. It’s usually someone just taking a shot thinking, “this might be different.” So, there is a steep learning curve. There are a lot of intricacies involved in record pressing – how to adjust the press to create a flat, good sounding record. How to create cool new effects while pressing a quality record. What if internships like that were available and people were excited about actually making a record? What would that look like for innovation?

Finally, I think it’s current industry education. For the most part within the industry, everyone is very receptive and open to a new generation coming up in vinyl. They love vinyl and want to share their knowledge with those of us that are wanting to take this medium and run with it. There are those in the vinyl community, less inside the industry though, who have said things like, “Women should find their own invention,” which is an ignorant comment. But, it goes to show that there is prejudice still out there, and it is something that women in this industry feel on various levels, from shopping in record stores to thinking about getting into a job with vinyl.

Andrew:
One of the biggest sayings we have in the vinyl community is that, “Safe Spaces Matter,” but it’s not just a saying; we truly live it. Your organization, Women In Vinyl, does a fantastic job of shining the spotlight on women around the community. What can we do to make sure women everywhere know that this is for everyone and shatter the outdated “boys club” mentality?

Jenn:
I think showcasing women in the way you are doing is great. Also, sticking up for women if you see people trolling online, or having women on your staff if you have open spots are two ways in which we can begin to shatter the “boys club” mentality. One thing that’s so amazing about Furnace is that we have so many passionate, smart women on staff from our VP, to press operators and others in between; a lot of whom are in leadership positions.  You need different opinions and viewpoints to really begin any sort of change.

Andrew:
I read an article recently in Metal Hammer that said, “Will ‘female-fronted Metal finally die in 2020?” It seems as if “Female-Fronted” anything has become its own genre in a way, which is absurd when you think about it, right? What are your thoughts on that?

Jenn:
It does seem silly to have to designate something as “female fronted” as talent should just be talent. It’s more about recognizing women and their place as equals. Until that is a real thing across the board, “female-fronted” and movements like the Riot Grrrls in the 90’s will continue to be a thing that exists as its own entity, or in this case genre. It is strange for those who support women and don’t see the discrimination, but it’s still there. Women In Vinyl supported a project by Desert Records and Blues Funeral last year called Women of Doom that represented this idea of showcasing women in the ‘Doom’ genre that is very male dominated. It’s a gorgeous compilation.

Interview: Jenn D'Eugenio (Women In Vinyl) | Precision Record Pressing

Andrew:
Shifting gears a bit, as I mentioned earlier, you’re the Chief of Sales at Furnace. You guys do a great job! As you know, quality control is an issue within the vinyl industry. I know Furnace takes this extremely seriously. What’s the QC process like at Furnace?

Jenn:
Funny you should ask, my fiancée Ray is QC manager. Furnace is passionate about quality vinyl, and with vinyl nerds on staff like myself, Ray, and others, you have people who care what the vinyl that ends up on your turntable sounds like.  The QC team checks every few records while they are on press and as they’re coming off to ensure no issues like non fill, or stitching are developing. Then, once the records have cooled, the sleeving team hand checks every record before being sleeved.

Andrew:
Is there anything within the industry that you would like to see change for the better? What improvements would you like to see that you feel would be beneficial to us all within the vinyl community?

Jenn:
I think it’s important for collectors to learn the process and understand the in’s and out’s a little better. I don’t think everyone needs to know all the technicalities, but just an overall sense of how it works. The more you know and understand about the process, the more you understand about why there are delays. Shortly after the Apollo fire happened, I posted a story poll on Instagram asking how many people knew what a lacquer was, most said they did not, which I think is eye opening.  

Also, record pressing as a whole is an old process, and maybe it’s one of those “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” type situations. That said, I always believe there’s room for innovation like I’ve mentioned in previous comments, so I think it will be awesome to see where we can take the manufacturing process as vinyl continues to be the preferred medium by most.

Andrew:
I know this is a broad question, but who are some of your favorite artists? What’s your favorite genre, and why?

Jenn:
First is Heavy Instrumental, Stoner Rock, Space Rock, Post Rock and Doom. Bands like Elder, Monkey 3, Uncle Acid, Earth, Pelican, My Sleeping Karma. Essentially bands inspired by Black Sabbath. To call out Uncle Acid specifically, I love that their sound is so unique and that each album focuses around a story or concept. What a perfect live band, too. Second would be New Wave, Dark Wave and Goth Rock, examples like the Church, Nick Cave, The Cure, New Order, Echo & The Bunnymen. Finally, I have a huge soft spot for 90’s Alternative Rock; that’s my nostalgic place, Smashing Pumpkins for example, are one of my all-time favorites.

Andrew:
Anyone who has seen your Instagram knows you collect records. How many do you have now? Are there any albums you don’t have, but you hope to find one day? Are you like some of us who purge records, only to buy them back again?

Between Ray and I, we have about 4k (we think), not counting 7”/ 10” or box sets. He and I have both been collecting a long time. That said, we haven’t stopped buying either and don’t plan to. Our recent home search included finding a place with enough space for the record collection. That was a big priority. We both have been semi good at cataloging on Discogs,but we are working on our insurance rider and going through album by album so we’ll soon know exactly what we’ve got. When we merged our collections, we did for the most part purge duplicates (unless they were different variants) but I’ve not bought back something I’ve gotten rid of, no.

Interview With Jenn D'Eugenio, Founder Of Women In Vinyl | Discogs

Andrew:
I’ve just recently found out you’ve got a separate Instagram for your Black Sabbath albums. I have to admit, you’ve got some impressive stuff in there. I’m a big fan of Sabbath. I saw them on their Farewell Tour. What a show. Are you a big Sabbath fan yourself? 

Very cool you got to see them on that tour! To say I’m a big Sabbath fan is an understatement, haha! I started collecting variants of Master of Reality after first buying a Warner Brothers edition, finding NEMS and Vertigo and seeing and hearing the differences. From there, I started exploring others and trying to understand how all of these different releases were able to be made. I am truly looking to catalog as many variants as I can find and deep dive into the history. Master of Reality is my favorite and the one that spawned it, but I’m not stopping there. I actually have several pressings of each of the Ozzy era Sabbath records. That’s not even getting into memorabilia etc.

Andrew:
I don’t get to ask this question often and it can be a pretty polarizing topic, but when in Rome right? Ozzy or Dio? Or are you one of those rare Tony Martin, Ian Gillan fans? As a side note, I think all Sabbath is awesome, and essential!

Jenn:
When it comes to Sabbath, it’s Ozzy. People can disagree and try to change my mind until they’re blue in the face, but to me, that is Black Sabbath. Four schoolmates who accidentally invented a genre by exploring new territory…c’mon. Guys that came from nothing. I get the argument that it’s Iommi’s band but there is nothing like Ozzy’s voice singing Geezer’s lyrics, over Iommi’s riffs with Ward drumming. That is Sabbath. Now, that said, I like Dio. His voice is powerful, he was an amazing performer, but to me I prefer Dio in his solo career. Iommi and Dio are two giant showmen, and yet it doesn’t hold the same magic for me. Tony Martin and Ian Gillian aren’t Sabbath to me; that may be fighting words, but that’s my opinion. Not to say there wasn’t talent; I love Deep Purple for example, but it is a different band from self titled, ParanoidMoR, etc.  

Andrew:
What does music/vinyl mean to you? Why is it important to you personally?

Jenn:
Besides being that person that says it sounds better, which in my opinion it does, I’ve always been a collector of things I love; from books, art, antiques, and Halloween decor, to vinyl. I had cassettes and CDs as those were the common formats when I was growing up, but moved into vinyl after my first experience buying and listening to it. Buying it felt like adding a time capsule into my home; back then, vinyl wasn’t being manufactured as commonly as it is again now, so most of what I had was used.  Thinking about someone who had owned it before me, wrote their name on the label, shared it with friends before everyone sat around the TV, that was special.  Drop the needle on it and that sound, there wasn’t anything like it. Vinyl is the perfect tangible way to own and enjoy music, and while digital may take up less space and be a lot easier to move, it does not feel like ownership of an album. The fact that I come from an art background as well, I appreciate how vinyl really allows for the design of the album to be showcased with cover art and liner notes.

Ep207: Jenn D'Eugenio - Vinyl Industry Evangelist - | The Vinyl Guide  podcast | Interviews for Record Collectors & Music Fans

Andrew:
What is one album that means the most to you and why?

Jenn:
This is literally an impossible question for me. We’d need way more time and space to even scratch the surface on the records that have impacted me and how. Even then, it would depend on the day. Or the weather. Or the time of year. Haha!

Andrew:
2020 has been a weird year, but we’ve still had a ton of great music released. What are some of your favorite releases this year?

Jenn:
To stay on the Sabbath kick, Zakk Sabbath’s Vertigo was a cool one. I liked the idea of them staying true to the original recording of the record and of course they’re a talented crew, so I enjoyed that. Then Nativity in Black finally got a reissue for Record Store Day, that was one I’ve definitely needed.  Speaking of other RSD titles, I was glad to see Spacehog’s Resident Alien and L7 Smell the Magic get reissues. The new Marilyn Manson was a must have, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it but I’ve been a fan of his since the 90’s and support those still putting out new music. It has a couple tracks on it that I’m really into. Steve Von Till of Neurosis who is a client but also someone who’s creativity I admire put out a new record No Wilderness Deep Enough. It’s got an eerily beautiful, almost Nick Cave vibe to it. I really love it, and the artwork is just gorgeous.  

A new to me record is Life Leone’s 2013 EP Comes Crashing In.  If there were more copies of that record for sale, I’d have worn out the grooves by now. I haven’t even filed it because it’s been stuck on my turntable. The song “Is This Love” got me hooked, but every song is so good. It’s got that stripped down, Desert Rock, grungy guitar sound with almost a Pop or Indie Folk undertone. Check it out.

Finally, looking forward to 2021 and the new Here Lies Man release. A band everyone should know.  

Andrew:
What drives you? What inspires you most? Both as founder of Women In Vinyl, and in your work with Furnace?

Jenn:
My love for music on vinyl and helping people create their art is what inspires me. Seeing that final product that brings happiness even in our darkest times. One of my friends, who is also an inspiration, started a camp years back called SHiFT where they bring young designers together for a week without technology, to learn, talk to each other, innovate without Google and share knowledge through storytelling. I’ve always taken that experience with me and how impactful that type of sharing, both of inspiration and of knowledge, can be. What I can do now, day to day, is share women’s stories through Women In Vinyl, or help people to produce their tangible stories in the vinyl record they are working to create.

Andrew:
Is there anything else you want all of us vinyl addicts, as well as the general record consuming public to know?

Jenn:
Support your local record store, support the bands you love, especially now…don’t be so close minded that you can’t learn from people who aren’t like you, be it another race or gender…listen to vinyl and care about the quality and craftsmanship of the product.

Jenn, Black Sabbath fan & record collector, Washington DC - Interview

Dig this interview? Check out the full catalog of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, USA, Andrew has always loved writing, music, drumming and collecting music on CD, tape and vinyl. After losing his life-long vinyl collection in 2014, Andrew began his vinyl collection from scratch again when he met his future wife Angela in 2015. Andrew’s love of music only further blossomed as his collection spanned all genres possible. After amassing over 3,000 albums in under two years, he knew it was time to finally follow his dream of being a music journalist, and thus, Vinyl Writer was born.

Andrew’s not only the go-to friend for music trivia, but his intricate knowledge of the ins and outs of the music industry allows him to develop engaging questions that really tap into each artist and individual to deliver insightful and enjoyable interviews. He’s proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict, for fellow music addicts.

Andrew lives on Long Island, NY, with his wife Angela and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie and Kevin. Andrew’s collection of over 4,700 vinyl albums, plus several hundred tapes and CDs, tells the story of his passion for all that is music. Andrew works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer website by night. Andrew is also the admin of several Facebook groups dedicated to music.

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