(Originally published in Enjoy Magazine, February 2010)
Buttons and dials aren’t typical emblems of the artistic process, but for a music producer, they’re as apropos as a paintbrush or lump of clay. At The Soundhouse, a major recording studio in downtown Redding, the buttons and dials are just the beginning.
The Soundhouse is the brainchild of Jeremy Edwardson, an accomplished musician in his own right. Edwardson and his band, The Myriad, have toured extensively with bands such as Eisley and Switchfoot and were named MTV2’s Breakout Band of the Year in 2007.
Edwardson discovered his appreciation for producing as a teenager, even as he was still fashioning his musical signature. In those days, the buttons were on a hand held tape recorder and the only dial was the volume.
“I realized I loved hearing [the song] and playing it back for people as much as I loved making it,” he recalls. He dug his father’s four track reel-to-reel tape recorder out the garage and dusted it off; there was no turning back.
A move to Seattle led to a job at Ironwood Studio and Edwardson’s love for producing promptly became a full-fledged passion. Once Ironwood’s tutelage germinated, he moved back to California and found one of the few Redding homes with a suitable basement out of which he could do all the recording the tiny space would allow.
“It got pretty claustrophobic in there,” he laughs, remembering how cramped it could be with musicians, instruments and equipment all vying for space- and air. “I started going crazy and knew I had to find a different space.” Edwardson kept an eye out, knowing he wanted to base his studio out of downtown Redding. A ‘For Lease’ sign appeared on one of his favorite buildings and he soon found himself with 1,600 square feet and an encouraging landlord.
The clever universe next connected Edwardson with Timothy Garrison, an accomplished acoustician living in the Redding area. Garrison has designed amphitheaters, studios and stadiums and knows how to build a space that looks as good as it sounds. He and Edwardson tackled the daunting task of marrying vision and science, and after 15 revisions, the blueprints were complete and the work began. On April 1, 2009, The Soundhouse was open and ready to record.
The studio is beautiful. Before you even enter the building you’re treated to a window gallery of local art, an inspired use of space courtesy of Edwardson’s wife, Meghan. Marley, the dog greets you as you enter, where to the right, Edwardson’s control room supplies Trident’s 24 channel 8t Series console (also known as ‘buttons and dials’ for those of us uninformed in such matters). The control room is Edwardson’s blank canvas.
Through thick walls built with an inch of space between, the sounds of Tehama street are impressively hushed and you’re met by the main live room. Everything is curved- walls meet in curves instead of corners and the ceiling curves up into itself, all according to Garrison’s masterful distribution of sound. The room is tastefully lush, with rich red rugs and a glossy black grand piano waiting patiently to be played.
“I want people to feel comfortable here,” Edwardson says. “I want to give it a lively feel.” He has succeeded- you feel simultaneously eased and enthused, as though surely even you could create a song befitting such a consummate place.
There are smaller live rooms for vocalists or a single instrumentalist and a large window offers a view to the control room- a far cry from Edwardson’s basement days of producing in a repurposed closet and using walkie-talkies to communicate with the musicians.
Edwardson loves his space; he can fully focus on producing without being stalled by space constraints. While he has his preference of music styles, he’s eager to throw himself into different genres when tasked with a recording outside his usual domains. It’s a research component of the creative process that he relishes. He especially enjoys working with ‘green’ musicians who are still sorting out their sound.
“One my favorite things about producing is hearing the dreams of musicians and drawing their greatness out of them,” Edwardson says, explaining the rewarding aspects of seeing growth and excitement in a newer artist or band.
The Soundhouse is presently producing the music of Kings, a Seattle-based band, and has hosted multiplatinum artists such as Third Day and Brandon Heath. Edwardson has also worked with Florida-based musician, Dave Fitzgerald and Canadian Idol finalist, Amberly Theissen, as well as Redding native, Wesley Jensen.
Edwardson is especially hoping to connect with more local musicians. Beginning and well-established artists alike are encouraged to make music in The Soundhouse and all styles are welcome.
“I’ve been to elite studios that were really ‘closed door’,” Edwardson explains, “I like the idea of the start-up band coming here and making a really sweet record.”
The buttons and dials are waiting.
1414 Tehama Street, Redding