We get very excited when there is a new recording studio in town. With each new studio comes the promise of new batch of local releases, so we checked in with Gary Copeland of the minty-fresh South-Fi studio for a glimpse of our future. Copeland gives us all of the important details.
Jamie Lees: Would you please describe your history with the local music scene?
Gary Copeland: I moved to the city about fifteen or sixteen years ago from Illinois. I played in bands and projects (Lofreq, Shame Club, Head on Collision, King City Pinks) around town for a number of years. I worked as the front of house engineer at a few clubs and recently left my last position as head engineer for a club in January.
Why did you want to build your own studio?
I've been interested in electronics and specifically recording for as long as I can remember. I've always liked working with my hands and started teaching myself about things that tied into those interests since I was a kid. It mostly came out of necessity. My family didn't have a lot of money, so if you needed something done, you sort of had to figure it out for yourself.
It came about from the process of gathering equipment to make demos for my own projects. At a point, I realized I had enough gear to make actual records. Combined with the fact that I really like and am excited by the whole process that is involved, I started asking around to see if my friends would be interested in working with me.
Is the studio a part of your house or is it in a separate location?
It was in a house in south city for about fifteen years. The landlords there were just about the greatest people you could ask to be renting from. They let me do pretty much whatever I wanted to the place. I slowly built it into a pretty decent place to make records. By the time I moved out, the studio had more or less taken over the entire place. These things tend to get out hand.
Around July of last year I got an email from Justin Fisher at Smith Lee in Maplewood about an MCI JH110 he wanted fixed up. He had heard about the JH24 I was working on at the time and wanted to see if I would be interested in getting his machine smoothed out.
We worked out a deal and got his machine working really well (with help from a great MCI tech in Nashville named Steve Sadler). During the process, the idea of me moving into a control room they had open there came up.
Did you use any other studios as inspiration when designing yours?
Not really. Since I moved into a pre-existing, professionally designed, working space, there was no need to do a lot of remodeling type stuff.
The only thing I do require from a space is that things work properly and it's a comfortable, homey kind of environment. Which it is. I really like being there and am very honored that they would allow me in. The building has so much history, and I can feel it all around. I'm starting to think the place is haunted though.
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