A Star Day for a Day
In the Zone- by Tommie Vaughn
In the Zone- by Tommie Vaughn
Back in 2001 I got my first job in Hollywood. No, not a singing job, but one that would lead to almost every connection, I have in the music industry today. The day I walked into the infamous and top of the Billboard charts legendary, Cherokee Recording Studios on Fairfax Avenue, just North of the heart of Melrose, my rock n roll life truly began.
Sadly, Cherokee was one of those incredible recording studios that became an overpriced dinosaur, with all of it’s amazing and rich analog consoles, the moment that digital recordings, or for those in the know- pro-tools, came onto the scene along with a little help from Napster, they rocked the music and recording industry to it’s core, when every Tom, Dick, and Sally could record themselves in their basement and come out sounding just like they spent thousands in a giant studio, so Cherokee, like quite a few others around the world closed down, and a new sort of studio was born.
Now, some would argue, (and some being some giants in the music industry, ie: Dave Grohl, ehem: Sound City, anyone?) that there is no replacing the true sound of analog and the feel of recording live as a band in a giant studio, that digital is the downfall to mainstream music today, where anyone, (and I mean anyone) can sound like a million bucks with the help of digital cut, paste, and don’t forget about Autotune.
But today’s listener is different than the folks of the 60’s or 70’s, (lucky bastards) even the 80’s and 90’s. People today want immediate gratification. People don’t have time to waste, they want music to be quick, to the point- give them a hook, shake their booty a little bit in the car while they drive to work and then they want to be done with it. I’m not saying that’s me. I’m one of those old rocker chicks that want’s an epic guitar solo, an imperfect voice, shoot, I even love a three minute instrumental intro. But I digress; let’s just say with all my experience over the years in the music industry, I am totally at home within a recording studio- digital, analog or my very own basement.
Hidden within a City
So when I found out that there was a new recording studio tucked perfectly within the Funk Zone, I clapped my hands and scooted over to meet with Elliott Lanam, the owner and head engineer at Hidden City Studios, on the corner of Garden and Yananoli. First off I must report, the studio itself is totally hidden within a woodworking building that used to be the production studio for non other than Hall and Oates. (Man-eater? Rich Girl? Private Eyes?Anyone?)
Just that little tidbit of music history might be what gives Hidden City Studios it’s retro-cool feel, dripping with low lighting, rock memorabilia, and vintage equipment strewn around like every musicians wet dream, like a classic Hammond organ, and plenty of classic Fender crate amps to create those rich guitar tones of the said 60’s and 70’s. The studio itself is made up of four (six if you count the vocal and drum booths), two control rooms and two live rooms, and I gotta say, the vibe is really cool, super low-key and very comfortable. It’s absolutely perfect for an artist to feel at home in order to release their soul songs properly.
Elliott Lanam opened his pro-tools driven Hidden City just five months ago and already word is spreading around town of his engineering talents, reasonable rates ($50 an hour folks) and the downright cool factor of Hidden City itself. Elliott began his journey in music behind a piano at the young age of seven, moving through teachers and styles, ending with a passion for keyboards, the blues and jazz. It was through his own music and recording his passion that brought him want to work at the largest studio in Santa Barbara, Sound Design Studios, where he interned for 3 years gaining his knowledge working with the likes of Depeche Mode and The Jacksons, then moving over to Playback Studios where he became a paid engineer and producer, working with Santa Barbara’s darling Katy Perry, before venturing out on his own, creating Hidden City Studios.
A Note of his Own
“I worked at those high end studios for years and they are totally amazing with all the gear and consoles, but what I wanted to create here at Hidden City, was an accessible atmosphere, where artists could come and record their music and not go broke. Because, who are we kidding? Musicians don’t tend to have a lot of money.” Elliott smiles and I’m nodding in agreement, thinking of almost every musician I know and love.
“I spend about fourteen hours a day here, I sometimes don’t even go home if I’m working on a session. I love that an artist will come in as a stranger, and when they leave, we are like best friends. It’s an amazing experience to have with someone. I get to make peoples dreams come true. They come here with a song, sometimes just an idea, and we suss it out together, getting the best recording possible, and they leave with that song in their hand. It’s a pretty cool job to have, they really are a star for a day.”
Is his studio for the huge musical stars? Maybe, Elliott say’s, but mostly they stick to the big studios in town, for now at least he tends to work with the first time recordings to the mid level acts, dabbling in voice over’s and jingles for commercial use, that is until the big shots discover the hidden gem within the always happening Funk Zone. Book your time soon before Elliott raises his rates because he is so damn busy, and such a nice guy, you will be at ease and in your creative zone in no time, enabling you to record your dreams, one song at a time. Hidden City Studios, http://www.hiddencitystudios.com 650-454-5459
Through the Grapevine:
Alright foodie folks, it’s time for another delicious night at my favorite funk zone eatery- The Lark, a new edition of their Local Treasures Dinner with executive chef, Jason Paluska, and local winemaker, viticulturist and owner of Larner Vineyards and Winery, Michael Larner, have collaborated to create an amazing 5-course paring dinner. Chef Paluska has carefully chosen local and seasonal ingredients, like a Sea Urchin and Scallop Crudo, a crispy smoked Pork Belly, a slow cooked Lamb Shank, along with Central Coast Summer Fruit and a Stonefruit Gallette, paired perfectly with Larner’s wines from Ballard Canyon. The event will be held on Sunday, June 29th, at 6pm. RSVP your tickets today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
And please stay tuned for my next column featuring the brand new exciting edition to the 137 Anacapa Street Project, The Santa Barbara Wine Collective, set to open its doors on July 2nd, brought to you by The Larks Sherry Villanueva, featuring the winemakers in the collective Ernst Storm and Justin Willet. I know where I will be spending my long holiday weekend, why don’t you stop in too!
Or see the article here: The Santa Barbara Sentinel Page 8.