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Local Life

Metro area offers recording options

Bands, advertisers and more tap into sound design


Working in a recording studio is all about capturing sound in the best and highest quality possible. So, it’s no surprise that the best way for engineers and producers to first get to know from perspective clients isn’t by email or text — they prefer a simple phone call or sit-down.

“It’s all about that initial conversation, which allows me to really find out what a person wants to do,” explained Chris McNaughton, owner of Rocky Mountain Recorders studios in Denver.

“To get it right in the studio, it’s all about connecting with the musician, and a conversation is so much better for that than anything else” agreed Pete DeBoer, owner of Lakewood’s World Famous Studios.

The music scene in Denver has been growing steadily with the population boom the state is experiencing, which means more local bands are looking for places to play, and studios to record in.

And thanks to technological advancements, there are more options than ever for budding recording artists.

There are home-based studios that offer a DIY vibe to musicians looking for that raw, warm feeling to their music.

“I had a space for recording set up as Studio 204, but I decided I didn’t need to spend money on rent when I could do it in my place,” said Chase Demos, who now works with rock and punk bands in his home studio. “I use analog equipment for the recordings I do. I like to keep it bare bones, and for me, it’s not about the money — it’s about making great music.”

World Famous is also based out of a home, and DeBoer said the space fits for everything from hip-hop and rock to death metal and singer-songwriter.

“I started in the rock world, and originally wanted to be a live sound engineer. All of this gave me an understanding of how instruments should sound together” he said. “I prefer analog equipment because I like the way the work flows, and the limits it places on the process.”

Musicians looking for a more professional recording experience have options of studios with the latest and greatest tech, like Rocky Mountain Recorders, CCM Recording Studios on East Colfax, and KMGLife in Boulder.

“We have three engineers who each have their own skill set to offer clients,” said Darren Skonson, owner of CCM. “We have experts in hip-hop and beatmaking for rappers looking for those services, and have hosted Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Wacka Flocka.”

Rocky Mountain Recorders has three top-of-the-line studios for its customers for everything from single vocals to bands and even orchestral work.

“We’re pretty easy-going here, but we can really do anything a client needs,” McNaughton said. “For us, it’s about getting the best possible recording.”

Most studios are booked by the hour, but some offer discounts for long blocks of time, or rent space for full or half days. One problem many who work in recording studios say they frequently see is musicians or bands who aren’t ready when they come to the studio, which is why that connection between engineers and talent is so important.

And as the people who work in the front lines with the area’s musicians can say, there are more and more talented people to work with.

“We’re right on the precipice of having the next big thing coming from the Denver area,” Skonson said. “It’s amazing to see the growth in Denver’s music scene as it’s happening.”

Training the next generation of studio wizards

For years, the motto of Greg Kimble has been a simple one — keep music going.

So, when he and some friends started discussing their experiences at different sound engineering and music schools, and decided to start the kind of place they wish they had attended, the name was obvious — Keep Music Going, or KMGLife.

“Life is made up of two things — things you have to do, and things you get to do,” Kimble said. “Music is all about creativity and passion, and they’re things that people who come here get to do.”

Located at 3063 Sterling Circle, No. 5, in Boulder, KMGLife is home to 25,000 square feet of studios, which can be rented for recording but are primarily used by the about 200 studios enrolled in the KMGLife’s Ableton Music Production and Recording Arts and Business programs.
Ableton is a music production program, and KMGLife is one of only 16 Ableton Certified Training Centers in the country.

“Everything we teach here is hands on, with the latest studio technologies,” said Mitch Zonnefeld, executive vice present of the school. “We teach everything students could want, from production and mixing, to live sound engineering, Automatic Dialogue Replacement (ADR), studio etiquette and more.”

Depending on which program a student selects, they can complete the course at four to eight hours a week, for six to nine months. The main aim of the program is to train students in all aspects of the recording industry, and allow them to unleash their creativity — they can use studios at a cheaper rate, work on their own recording, and there are even extracurriculars like a live venue for concerts, and a DJ club.

“For me, the thing I’m looking for in students is a good attitude, and creativity,” Kimble said. “It’s a joy to be here and change the lives of students who come here.”


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