Brooklyn-based record label Ship to Shore PhonoCo. grew from a place of passion. Having met on the set of cult horror film Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volumes 1 & 2, Ship to Shore founders Justin Martell and Aaron Hamel discovered a shared interest in rare records, blood-splattered movies, and collectables. Seeking to fill a void in the ever-growing world of re-issue labels, the duo pooled their money together to create Ship to Shore PhonoCo: a boutique record company shining a light on under appreciated classics and undiscovered gems.
Their first release was an actual Edison cylinder record (made from filing down original cylinders that had become too moldy to play) featuring Tiny Tim’s previously unreleased track, “(Nobody Else Can Love Me Like) My Old Tomato Can.” After the record’s success proved that there was, in fact, an audience for rare cultural touchstones, Martell and Hamel released a soundtrack for the prequel to the film they met each other on: Troma Entertainment’s Class Of Nuke ‘Em High, the 1986 horror/comedy b-movie.
With its early releases, Ship To Shore PhonoCo. found a fanbase eager and excited to embrace the duo’s curatorial spirit. After releasing another string of horror LPs that included George A. Romero’s Martin, Manos: The Hands of Fate, the label bosses took to Kickstarter to seek funding for the soundtrack to Nintendo’s MOTHER, a video game score that had previously only been released in Japan. After hitting their $42,000 mark in less than 24 hours, Ship to Shore eventually received $77,000 for the project, once again affirming the label's belief that their tastes reflected a larger, underserved audience of collectors, listeners, and mega fans alike. The victory of MOTHER would propel Ship to Shore PhonoCo. into the world of Video Game Music, never losing sight of their ethos to only release titles that had been criminally neglected for physical distribution. Promoting titles such as Guacamelee!, Klonoa: Door To Phantomile,the Phantasy Starseries and Lena Raine’s award-winning Celestewhile working closely with well-established video game publishers such as CAPCOM, KONAMI, NINTENDO, SEGA, SUNSOFT and TAITO cemented Ship to Shore PhonoCo.’s place in the VGM market. Is it any wonder that The Guardian called Ship to Shore “…a hip New York-based indie (which) produces high-quality albums for classic games.”
As the label found further success, Martell and Hamel grew more comfortable expanding their vision and scope. Reissues of rare, much-beloved Japanese City Pop records proved to be a hit amongst die-hard and new fans alike, with albums by Piper, Momoko Kikuchi, Akiko Nakamura and Rie Murakami added to the roster. Ship to Shore joining forces with TV streaming service Shudder brought about a wealth of riches for devotees of horror soundtracks, with some of Shudder’s exclusive titles receiving the vinyl soundtrack treatment, along with producing numerous releases containing music from their flagship show The Last Drive-In With Joe-Bob Briggs as well as official merchandise. Other TV soundtracks followed suit, including the beloved Australian cult smash Danger 5and Shudder’s Cursed Films.
Always striving to inject new life into physical media formats, and recognising that audio cassettes were beginning to appeal to collectors once again, Ship to Shore PhonoCo. created the Video Audio System (VAS), a package which featured a horror film soundtrack on audio cassette bundled with a digital download of not only the score but also the full uncut feature film in high definition. Cult favourites such as Frankenhooker, Demon Wind, Basket Case 2 & 3, Maniac Copand Manos: The Hands of Fate made the cut, with further releases to come. Ship to Shore also expanded into the home video market, releasing episodes of The Last Drive-In on VHS cassettes to the delight of the Mutant faithful. The success of these titles allowed Ship to Shore to expand their vinyl horror soundtrack catalogue to new heights, with releases like Dead and Buried, Hellbender and an expanded 2LP edition of The House By The Cemetery receiving acclaim from both fans and critics. Using these releases as a springboard, Ship to Shore also branched out into Music Supervision in the film & TV industry, helping to secure a placement for Tiny Tim’s 1979 curio “Tip-Toe To The Gas Pumps” in HBO’s The Lady And Dale, as well as Piper’s “Summer Breeze” in Netflix’s We Have A Ghost, and arranging for legendary composer Joe Renzetti to create original music for recent Troma productions.
Never forgetting their roots, Hamel & Martell have also continued to champion rare albums from artists like Paul Williams (1968’s The Holy Mackerel), Warren Zevon (Life’ll Kill Yaand My Ride’s Here) art-punks MX-80 SOUND, and further releases from Tiny Tim, including Tiny Tim’s Americaanda special expanded edition of Girl for Record Store Day 2022. Italian film composer Fabio Frizzi’s compilation of rare selected works Frizzi Beyond Fulci received its vinyl debut on the label, as did Glitch Black’s monster synthwave LP Mechanical Perfectionand North Korea’s Pyongyang Gold Stars’ accordion A-ha tribute album Take On Us!
So what will the future bring? As Ship to Shore PhonoCo. continues to grow its audience, the variety of music they release will follow suit. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of all things weird, as Ship to Shore is making sure no corner of the horrifying, the occult, the avant-garde, and the hard to find gets neglected.