How’s your quarantine going? For some musicians, it’s time to hunker down and get to work. The quarantine is giving them time to get organized and create more art. For many of them, that means making sure they also have a proper space to create. We talked to some local musicians with impressive home-studio setups. From recording vocals to laying down guitar tracks, Lawrence musicians are finding ways to keep the beat going in these trying times.
Artist: Nick Carswell
Associated Acts: Carswell & Hope
Studio traits: Nick, who has extensive experience playing in piano bars and performing just about anything that’s requested, has been live streaming his performances on Facebook every Friday night since the quarantine started. Fans are quick to make requests in the comments, which he happily obliges in a very entertaining performance.
“My little home studio in my garage is basically a workshop for music. In the last two weeks it’s also been the remote control center for my day job (I run a radio station for blind and visually impaired folks). Of course, it’s where I jam new ideas and practice. I’ve started using it for live stream performances and will inevitably end up tracking new music here, especially the longer this crisis goes on. It’s not pretty or comfortable but it’s very functional. With two young kids in my house, it’s important to have a separate space for music (and now work too). I am very thankful for it.”
Artist: Mitchell Hewlett
Musical Act: Westerners
Studio traits: Mitch runs the very popular COOP Studios in North Lawrence, where several musicians record live sessions for YouTube.
“I live somewhat out in the country and typically feel a little isolated anyway, so the coop’s really the same sanctuary as it always is for me. It’s my distraction room and it often gets me out of my own head, or at least in a different part of it.”
Artist: Sean Hunt
Studio traits: Sean heads up Datura records and helps a host of local rappers release albums and record their tracks
“It’s allowed me to move with the freedom of thought. The only concern when I am in (Prosidio Gardens) is how creative can I be. Therapy in these extremely stressful times.”
Artist: Chris Maddox
Associated Acts: Bloom
Studio traits: Maddox has played and worked with a host of hardcore and metal musicians, and is an experienced audio engineer who brings his metal know-how to the studio.
“I finally had the time to sit down and set up my recording rig and regular PC for the rest of the house. Currently working on mixing the upcoming Slaw EP, and hoping to start writing and recording some of my own songs soon as well.”
Editor’s note: OMG did you hear that? There’s new SLAW music on the way!
Artists: Alex and Ross Williams
Associated Acts: Alex is in Bad Alaskan and UltraVivid, Ross is in Evil Twin
Studio traits: Alex and Ross are married and share a studio space in their home. Alex is a whiz with synthesizers, while Ross is an expert guitarist. At their wedding, they brought a host of synthesizers out for the guests to fiddle with in a move to encourage more education about the instrument.
Ross: “It’s become more of a workspace than before. I’m livestreaming guitar lessons through my audio gear 4 days a week. I’ve spent some time recording for other people, which I really enjoy. I’ve also discovered I like doing livestream performances. I love how it can be more informal and I can play as much or as little as I want. I’ll definitely be doing more of that, quarantine or no.”
Alex: “I haven’t had many chances to jam and record in our space since the ‘Rona started. What a semester to be taking four graduate courses, an internship, my LSAT, etc. But once Summer hits I know we’ll record more frequently. We have a pattern of doing a lot whenever school’s out. I’ve loved getting to see Ross teach guitar lessons from our home studio set-up. Normally I wouldn’t get to see him in action teaching his students, including some adorable kids!”
Artist: Jenna Rae and Martin Farrell, Jr.
Associated Acts: Jenna & Martin, Unfit Wives (Jenna)
Studio Traits: Jenna and Martin recently moved to a scenic country location, allowing them more clarity in their work. They currently operate Lost Cowgirl Records, working with several “Lost Cowgirls” in the folk scene.
Jenna: “At first I thought this would be a good time to finish up our current recording projects with Unfit Wives, Grassfed, and Lily B Moonflower. We quickly realized the seriousness of this disease and decided to close down our home studio to any guests. It has been hard to sit on unfinished projects especially knowing how much releasing new music could help the bands we are working with during this time.”
Martin: “It’s a good time to get started on my next record which will be called Coffee and Laundry.”
Artist: Ben Knight
Associated Acts: Sheep’s Clothes / Midnight Kick
Studio traits: As one of the more experienced audio technicians in Lawrence, Ben carefully began crafting his home studio before news of the pandemic had hit the nation. As a result, he has a highly professional recording space and is eager to work with bands.
“My studio has been a place of calm, quiet meditation for me during the quarantine which is a slight change from how I envisioned it when I moved in last September. The space started solely as a place for Sheep’s Clothes and Midnight Kick to practice and track albums, with Midnight Kick getting first priority which until recently led to a very high energy environment. My profession outside of being a musician is as a Live Sound Engineer and my last day of work was in early March due to events being cancelled. In the time since, I have found my mind racing from idea to idea with fluctuating energy and focus levels. My desire to listen to music is at an all-time high so I have been listening to way more music at home (possibly because I’m not working at concerts multiple nights a week right now and can’t go without music). I’ve been spending most of my time reflecting and not necessarily feeling creative all the time, so I am extremely fortunate that having a home studio gives me the luxury of being able to jot down a creative idea right when I get it and work on that idea for as long as inspiration strikes (sometime only a few minutes).”
Fally Afani is an award-winning journalist with a career spanning more than 15 years in media. She has worked extensively in radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and more. Currently, she resides in Lawrence, Kansas, where she works as a music journalist and is the Editor of I Heart Local Music.