From burn table to turntable: Meet the company that’s turning ashes to vinyl

and vinyly record

Jason Leach knew he was going to die.

It was 2006 when the British musician began seriously ruminating on his own mortality. For most of us, such deep thoughts are accompanied by religious consultations, tough conversations with family, or lengthy personal explorations.

For Leach, it came with very specific thoughts about what he wanted done with his physical form when he, then a healthy middle-aged man, expired. Some want to be buried next to loved ones or to have their ashes scattered at a favorite location. Leach had a more unusual idea: He wanted his ashes pressed into vinyl records.

“It was never intended to be a commercial venture. It was an idea I had for something that I wanted to do for myself.”

Finding it difficult to turn to friends and loved ones to have such a difficult (and somewhat odd) conversation about his own mortality, Leach turned to the internet.

“I put a website up that explored the whole concept of doing it for myself,” Leach says, “I was making records. I was having a bit of fun with the idea, and it was more about me dealing with the reality of it all.”

Soon, various media outlets discovered the story, and it garnered Leach a bit of press for his idea. Oddly for Leach, the public response was overwhelmingly positive. As it turns out, he wasn’t the only one who was interested in spinning into eternity on the turntables of friends and family.

“It was never intended to be a commercial venture. It was an idea I had for something that I wanted to do for myself,” he says, “It suddenly got picked up by the media and sort of became a real thing. I started doing interviews and getting inquiries and I thought, ‘crikey, this is something people actually want.’”

It took a few years to get off the ground, but in 2010, Leach began what he calls And Vinyly, a service that presses up to 30 records at a time with the ashes of deceased loved ones. The records are produced on a press that is co-owned by Leach and musical friends — who purchased a record production setup together to press small runs of their own records before And Vinyly was a blink in Leach’s eye.

Having access to a small record production system is one of the keys to And Vinyly’s viability, as there are very few commercial presses that would likely feel comfortable pressing human remains into their plastic discs.

The process itself is simple: Right before a plastic puck is squeezed by a record press into its final, groove-laden shape, Leach sprinkles on a client’s ashes, embedding them into the finished record. The resulting vinyl is actually shockingly beautiful, with little speckles of grey-white ash forming a human constellation across the surface of the disc. Hey can make up to 30 copies of each ash-laden release.

Aeon Video

But adding human ash to records has its downsides in terms of fidelity. It’s essentially adding embedded dirt to the surface of the vinyl, and leads to interesting pops and scratches when played back. In fact, it took Leach a while to develop the best method of making sure And Vinyly’s albums functioned properly.

“The material we’re usually trying to keep out of the workplace, we’re bringing in and actually trying to put into a record, and still have a record that plays,” he says. “We had to do a fair amount of trying stuff out so that we have something that’s playable on both sides.”

So what exactly is he pressing onto vinyl for the friends and family of the deceased to hear?

“Often it’s spoken word — if they have anything with their voice on it — or, for example, silence, so they can just hear the pops and crackles,” Leach says, “Then there’s often a lot of people who were involved in music, or made music themselves, or just music people loved. When it is that, we contact the musicians themselves, or the publishers.”

We realize how much responsibility you’ve got when you do something like this.”

Leach says that And Vinyly has been remarkably successful in reaching out to artists to include their music on his short runs of discs for mourning clients, saying that in most cases musicians don’t mind as long as the music is serving its intended purpose.

To date, And Vinyly has produced somewhere around 50 different projects for clients in the UK, United States, Mexico, Norway, and Australia, among other places.

Making a good quality, heartfelt, product is something that Leach takes very seriously.

“You realize very quickly the responsibility that comes with it,” says Leach, “The people who like the idea, obviously it means a lot to them.”

Despite the notoriety that And Vinyly has brought him — and the at-times massive number of requests for records — Leach still refrains from taking on more orders than he can handle at any given time.

“We just want to keep it personal, because we realize how much responsibility you’ve got when you do something like this,” he says, “We love vinyl and music and sound, and most people who are having this done or doing this for someone they loved, they’re often cut from the same cloth.”


From PUBG to Apex Legends, this is how battle royale happened

Battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ and Fortnite have become the biggest trend in video games. The genre is also pushing the envelope in Twitch streaming and eSports.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Product Review

The Division 2 brings the most fun we've ever had to Washington, D.C.

After spending 30 hours with The Division 2, it’s clear that Ubisoft has improved on the original in almost every way. The world is richly detailed, the story missions are wonderful, gunplay and enemy design are great, and the open world…

For the Gamechanger charity, comforting sick kids with games isn’t child’s play

Gamechanger is a worldwide charity that helps thousands of children each year, bringing them gifts and video games to keep them entertained during their hospital stay. Yet all started in a garage during a family’s darkest hour.
Home Theater

What year is this? Apple might drop a new iPod tomorrow

After two days of surprise hardware releases that have brought us new iPads and iMacs, rumor has it that we may see an update of Apple's iPod as soon as tomorrow, sparking a mixture of nostalgia and curiosity.
Home Theater

Dish TV customers can access up to 13 NCAA March Madness games in 4K

If you're a basketball fan looking to get your fix of NCAA Championship action in 4K, Dish TV will be airing up to 13 of the tournament games in the ultra high-def format, starting on Tuesday.
Movies & TV

Disney completes its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox

Now that Walt Disney Company has closed its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox's movie and television assets, what does this future hold for franchises like X-Men, the Fantastic Four, The Simpsons, and the rest?
Movies & TV

Stranger Things season 3 teaser proclaims it's almost feeding time in Hawkins

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season, premiering in July 2019.
Home Theater

What’s new on Netflix and what movies and shows are leaving in April 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Netflix for April 2019 and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on your bingeing, and also ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.
Home Theater

Pandora now lets you mess with the secret sauce for its music playlists

Pandora introduced a new feature called Modes, allowing subscribers to pick between six different algorithms that determine what the popular music streaming service will decide to play.
Movies & TV

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the Final Four online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on all the ways to watch March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.
Movies & TV

Study up for season 8 with the best Game of Thrones theories

Season 8 of Game of Thrones is still on the horizon, meaning there's still time to brush up on the best theories about the show. Whether you're one of the last adherents of the Cleganebowl or a King Aerys truther, here are our top theories.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in several genres for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.