The listening party experience unfolded.
Another Listening Party came and went, seemingly in the blink of an eye! The Press Recording Studio in Stockton opened its doors to the community for a night of mingling, great local food catered by Papa Urbs Grill, and a “show and tell” session where everyone piled into the control room to share audio projects and discover one another. These events are such great ways to discover local talent, expand everyone’s creative network, and grow the community. If you’ve never attended one or are curious about what it takes to organize and host one, this listening party experience unfolded will share some key tips to successful events.
The Listening Experience, Unfolded.
Listening parties are typically hosted by artists when they release a new project: an album, an E.P., or single. These listening parties are not meant for the public. Instead, these events are the perfect way for creative professionals to share their work with one another and gain critical feedback. New and returning attendees alike shared some of their latest works with everyone and discussed the processes behind their art and craft.
Dave Peck, an engineer by trade from the Bay Area who works with all sorts of pro-audio hardware manufacturers on compliance, shared some of his latest works, including a brand-new work-in-progress track. Dave walked the group through his writing process, a rather unique approach of working backwards from the end of the song to the beginning, and his intricate production process incorporating hardware synthesizers, and an old version of Cakewalk Sonar for tracking and sequencing, mixing and bouncing down through a 24-track analog console and back into the digital world.
Michael Edu, a hip-hop enthusiast & lyricist, unveiled his first-ever recorded experiences. He shared with us his story, being new to the production world but long-inspired by classical hip-hop and the artists that influenced him: LL Cool J, Jurassic 5, and more. The group gave great feedback and picked up on some of those classical references. His passion for wanting to write from the heart and connect with others was met with the same positive reinforcement from the group: everyone agreed he needs to unleash his art on the world to hear!
Steven Hastings, lyricist & rapper, played a few songs he was most proud of in a large collection of private works. Inspired by a unique range of artists from Sage Francis and Aesop Rock, to Fort Minor and Linkin Park, his works over the years have fused with hip-hop lyrics with unique instrumentals from a wide range of different genres. He shared some of his process on his approach to crafting lyrics behind one song that was entirely about prowess of prose, poking fun at the state of rap music today, and another song that is more from the heart, and how he crafts an intricate story filled with imagery all while weaving mesmerizing lyrics with complex patterns and rhyme schemes.
Tom Alexander, Founder of Blue Dragon & co-sponsor of the event who graciously helped with catering, also brought with him some music that was written recorded and produced by artists he manages. The group was blown away by a solo performance recording from one of his artists for his impressive voice and songwriting. From there the group dove into a deeper discussion about publishing and production, and the importance of sharing our own music with the world. He further shared with us another single that his other group is gearing up to debut this summer in an entirely different genre and elaborated on his experience working on his side of the business fence – working with bands and artists to help them navigate the world of touring, and the craft of band management.
Diego, Matt’s 2nd engineer operating the studio, shared some of his production work he’s worked on recently and described one of the challenges he faced with a unique client project. Normally, their clients do the recording work there at the studio and with access to high-quality microphones and preamps, he was accustomed to focusing on the recording aspect to get the quality in the vocal recording. The song he shared with the group, however, was one he enjoyed the challenge of crafting a mix and master, where the client had recorded themselves and provided the tracks to mix. He employed some outboard hardware and in-the-box processing to achieve a vocal character that sat very well with the song in the mix and was surprised at how the challenge opened his mind to working with material in a new way. It further proved to everyone it’s not about the gear you have, but the creative choices you make that lead you to the end result. The quality Diego and Matt both can achieve there at the studio with any style of music, and any method of working is indeed top quality!
Bonus: A Sneak Preview
While our attendance was a bit lighter than last time, Matt Young & Diego have been working on an expansion to the studio and we were able to sneak a peek at the new rooms soon to be available at The Press Recording Studio. we got to take a tour of newly dubbed Studio B suite featuring a control room and isolation booth being built in the adjacent room.
Matt is quite the craftsman, designing and building all the acoustic treatment for his rooms, and has quite the ear for tuning the room how he wants.
There will be some subtle differences between “Studio A” and “Studio B”, notably being the layout and configuration. The most prominent sonic differences in the equipment loadout are that Studio A features the Neumann studio monitors with subwoofer, and Studio B features the Barefoot studio monitors with no sub.
Studio B is going to expand the options for all clients and cater more toward vocal and instrumental work. Studio A has a live room, an Isolation room for vocals and amps, and the control room. Studio B will have an isolation room for vocals and amps, and the control room, for quicker and less complex sessions.
That, however, doesn’t make Studio B any less capable than Studio A. The rack load-outs are already featuring a powerful arsenal of audio processing hardware and software, as well as musical tools for songwriters and producers.
Keys to A Successful Event.
With 2 successful listening parties already wrapped, we’re looking to expand the events being hosted. There are plenty of obvious reasons why you should attend these events, but there are also some less obvious ones. There are some critical insights to be gained from and by producers, artists, and engineers. Creative professionals live and thrive in their professional social circles. If you’re curious just how many ways you can benefit from attending events, consider the following:
clearly, the most obvious reason to attend is to meet people outside of your own social circle. There are plenty of guidelines on how to maximize the potential return on this investment of your time, but the easiest to remember and most important is just be yourself, and genuinely interested in opening your mind to what others are capable of.
Hear what others are doing. Find the talents of others that you didn’t know existed in your area. you might discover there are more who share the same skills as you that you can either learn from and seek mentorship with, or vice-versa. Most importantly, the act of discovery could lead to many more blossoming friendships that could feed you potential work or career advancement in the future.
As an example, the very first time I attended a listening party of this nature through A.E.S. SF Chapter, I was commissioned by Joe Satriani’s mix engineer, John Cuniberti to remix a song for a Joe Satriani remix project!
- Location Scouting
Ever wanted to check out a studio? Studios rarely open their doors for people to tour without some sort of booking, but that’s just the nature of the business. There’s no better way to check out a studio’s potential than to attend a listening party at one! Pro-tip for producers, mingle with the engineers, get a feel for their body of work and the studio’s sound through their recordings and the studio control room and playback systems.
As an example, Dave Peck – a returning attendee, was particularly interested in testing out his latest work-in-progress because he wanted to hear it on the playback system in Studio A since he knew it had the Neumann Audio studio monitors with sub and he had placed some extremely low-end sub-hits in his work that he wanted to reference.
- Finding collaborators
Are you looking for a band to join, or potentially missing a vocalist or guitarist? You could end up meeting the missing link at the next event, and by attending a listening party, the pretext is there to get to hear, show, and tell what you do and connect with others who may be doing or looking for the same.
- Making Friends
You never know who’s going to be there. You may meet potential friends that share the same passions and interests. The connections you walk away with have the potential to last a lifetime.
So, there you have it. If you’re an artist, musician, DJ, producer, engineer, student, or work indirectly with music or audio, there is room for you at future events like this! Everyone had a great time, enjoyed free food and had the pleasure of getting to tour a studio and test-drive the control room to get a feel for The Press Recording Studio’s atmosphere and vibes.
These events were sponsored by A.E.S. San Francisco Chapter, Antelope Audio, Dangerous Music, and Blue Dragon. So, what’s next for the California central valley creative community? Would you like to see more listening parties? What about training events or open houses? Where would you like to see the next event held? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!
Don't Miss It.
These events are private functions with extremely limited space, so don’t delay!
Are you interested in helping? Do you own a business that would like to host an event? We’re looking to expand this events program into a great resource for the tri-valley California area.