Record Store Day puts a spotlight on many large labels throwing around some money to do very limited pressings of of hot artists pressuring the collector to rush out and stand in lines all day to hopefully grab a copy before they all end up on ebay. The truth is though that many labels are doing amazing limited pressings of records on a day to day basis on a shoestring budget for artists they truly believe in. Sadly these labels don’t get the attention they deserve. Melvin Dillon of Soul Step Records has released three excellent records by Scattered Trees, Big Tree and Matt Duncan. The sound of Soul Step is a perfect blend of indie pop with R&B and blue eyed soul. Melvin took some time out to talk about his label past present and future and his love of vinyl.Why start a label?The long and short of it was that when I was an artist - I could never afford to get my music out there on vinyl. I would have loved the chance - but the costs to press something even as small as a 7” just proved to costly. I wanted to provide a service for artists get their music out on vinyl without having to take on any cost. That is what makes Soul Step Records different and mutually beneficial. I am much happier directing from afar than attempting to be in the spotlight.When and how did it start?The idea sprung in my head in the summer of 2011. I was mid-shower and the idea came pouring into my brain. I jumped right out mid-shampoo and wrote everything down. I finished the shower and the rest is history!What labels inspire you?Third Man Records for sure. The innovation and creativity that comes from them is incredible. I’m always thinking of ways to innovate - but Third Man is in a league all their own. Numero Group in Chicago gets props for the level of detail laid into each release. It’s almost like musical archeology. Plus the music is top notch. Those are probably who I look for when it comes to inspiration.LOTS of digging. I am constantly searching and sourcing online for someone new. I also get TONS of submissions (Which I love) and sourcing locally. I think that it is one of the most important and fun aspects of the work we do - is the work we put into finding this new great artist and introducing them to a whole new audience.What is the goal and purpose of your label?To do a couple of things. First is to push the vinyl medium forward - with innovation and education. I want to be able to reach new audiences and keep the momentum of the vinyl resurgence alive. I also want to ensure that I can help artists along in their dreams by making vinyl a possible reality for them - in a way where they put no money into it and can make plenty of money at the same time. There is nothing like it.How do you find new artists?Why vinyl?I think that it is the way music should be listened to. I think that your readers are well versed on the sound quality advantages of vinyl - so I won’t speak to that so much as the permanency of it all. Digital files can be deleted in a second. Gone. CD’s have and continue to be flimsy and disposable. Vinyl is heavy. Vinyl is big. Owning a record on vinyl means that you have a connection to the music buried in the grooves. There is an emotional and romantic aspect to owning and playing vinyl. You have to hold it just right, treat it well, care to it - it’s a more active experience. Now for our artists - we want their fans to experience their music THAT way. That’s where Soul Step Records comes in.How important is packaging to you?Incredibly so. That is one of the biggest parts of the vinyl experience - it’s what you are holding and reading during the listening experience. I feel as though we are continuing to make our layout and designs better. It is tough for smaller labels, as packaging can be the most expensive part of the vinyl process. I’ve seen some really great stuff - but one of my favorite designs is from Karate Body Records did a “Matchbook” cover for a Pokey LeFarge 7” It’s super cool. I love when the innovation doesn’t just stop with the record itself - but moves onto the packaging.What are your future plans?We are looking to find and release SSR-004 in the Fall, and announce some new additions to our business. We want to not only just release new records - but find some reissues and some archival work. We don’t want to be one dimensional with our plans.Do you collect vinyl?Religiously. It all started with hearing Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” on vinyl and just began to swell from there. I had never heard such rich and warm sound before and just like that, I had the bug. I love the active listening you need as well. Nothing makes me happier when I have someone over to my home and I get to share some of my favorites in my collection. Or going to to someones place and looking at their collection.How big is your collection?Whew. 6000+ easy. And truthfully the majority of that is Soul and R&B. I cannot get enough. Just when I think that I have bought all that is out there - I uncover a entire new area I’ve been unaware of. My collection is all I have in terms of worldly possessions. Any day that I get free from work I can easily be found digging in one of the local indie record stores, flea markets, yard sales or anywhere else I can track down the black wax.What are some of your go to records over the years?Now THIS is a tough question. It’s like asking parents who the favorite child is…..I’ll have to say these would be the top. Beach Boys - “Pet Sounds”, Sam Cooke - ”Live At The Harlem Square Club”, Tom Waits - “Heart Of Saturday Night” I could honestly name 20 more - but then that would make me think of another 20, and that 20 would make me think of another 20 - and I’m sure you get the point!