With Provo continuing to boom with music, we're seeing many different kinds of musicians and bands come out of the area, with varying levels of resources. Some people can afford to go all-out and put tons of time and effort into their records, while others are working with a shoestring budget, and need to get the most out of their money. One local recording den helping out frugal artists in town is Indie Brain Studio, led by Dry Erase Tracks member Taylor Woodward, to help give those without a ton of time and cash a chance to make a quality-sounding album. Today we chat with Woodward about his music career, starting up the studio and what they have to offer. (All pictures courtesy of Indie Brain Studio.
Gavin: Hey Taylor, first thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Originally from Colorado, I've lived here in Provo five out of the last seven years as I've gone to school. You could say I'm a singer/songwriter, frontman, producer, sound engineer, neuroscientist, Dr. Pepper enthusiast, and well-rounded nerd.
Gavin: How did you first take an interest in music, and who were your biggest influences growing up?
I'll be honest, my first musical influence was "Weird Al" Yankovic. I had about ten of his albums and would listen to them nonstop from about ages 10 to 13 because I thought the songs were funny, even though all the '80s and '90s hits they parodied were unfamiliar to me. I listened to a cassette I made in 8th grade, and my voice sounded pretty close to his—imagine a nasally, 13 year old
imitating Weird Al's voice singing Simon and Garfunkel. I've always been a lyric lover. Other big influences have been Simon and Garfunkel, John Coltrane, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Relient K, John Mayer, and Dave Matthews Band.
Gavin: What was it like for you breaking into the local music scene, and recording stuff on your own and with others?
I first got into the music scene in 2012 by playing songs I had written at open mics around Utah Valley. I wound up meeting a dear friend, Brad Williams, who invited me to join his musical project, Star-Off, and all of a sudden my I changed from a Jack Johnson singer-songwriter to a Weezer-like rock band frontman. I felt more than a little out of my comfort zone but I had a lot of musical experiences that would never have been possible without Brad's know-how. Since then, I've been playing shows in Utah Valley with a couple other bands including an acoustic pop duo called Ginger Colony and my current band called Dry Erase Tracks. We'll be releasing an EP in the next couple of months.
Gavin: Currently you work at BYU. How’s your time there and what do you do for them?
Right now I'm actually working in a neuroscience lab on campus doing research on the neurobiology of addiction/drugs of abuse. In addition to performing and producing, I plan to attend graduate school and do research on the neurophysiology of music in order to somehow use it better to help people with depression, anxiety and/or addiction. Until recently, when I realized I had to be dedicating more time to my studio, I was also in charge of sound at The Wall. It was an enriching experience in the cool little restaurant/music venue where I worked with a ton of bands/performers doing live sound. I loved that job.
Gavin: What led to you learning audio engineering and production skills?
I would say that there were two major factors at play that led to me starting to record myself as a teenager. First, I wanted to share my music with others, and secondly, I was an ignorant cheapskate. When I say that, I mean that I wanted to make music for people but had no money or connections or anyone to show me how to go about it. So, I mostly used audio stuff I found around the house and cheap recording interfaces to make demos for my friends. As time wore on, I began realizing that my songs didn't sound nearly as good as professionally-recorded songs (surprise!). This, in addition to several audio related jobs and courses, motivated me to research, network and practice my way to professional-quality recordings.
Gavin: What made you decide to open up your own studio?
I wanna spread the love. While recording the Star-Off album, I was inspired by the amazing producers and engineers I worked with- particularly Becky Willard from Vox Fox Studios and Jason Jones at Art City Sound who really radiated an excitement for the recording process.
Gavin: How did you come across the location in downtown Provo, and what was it like converting it into what you needed?
As it's currently a home studio, I came across the space through Aspen Ridge Management :). Converting it has been a fun process, I've build some add-ons to my desk for easier workflow and I've done a fair amount of acoustic treatment in the room to get better sound quality. It's a relaxed studio environment where I hope musicians feel at home.
Gavin: What kind of equipment and gear did you gather to make the place complete?
The gear has mostly been traveling around with me since I was a kid—it all started with cassettes and a crappy karaoke machine when I was 14. Eventually I invested in a cheap USB interface and then got a cheap dynamic mic off eBay, which turned into nicer interfaces/mixers, nicer mics, and so on until my current setup. The studio has kind of grown with me, like a weird robot friend that follows you around. I feel like I've gotten to a point where I'm satisfied for now with my variety of mics, my monitoring equipment, and my mixing workflow. I can track up to 16 channels at a time, I have a variety of mics to choose from, and I have MIDI controllers to add any virtual instruments you can think of. Additionally, I am available as a bassist, guitarist and pianist, and have other studio musicians on call for clients wanting more instruments in their recordings.
Gavin: How was it for you first starting to work with other acts to record albums?
Fun! Recording is a social thing for me; even as a teenager I worked with my friends to help them record. My official opening as a studio was last summer. I started with a promotion offering bands a free song during May to build my portfolio and get feedback working with people as a professional. It was exhilarating and challenging to work with so many people in a variety of styles at one time. I've enjoyed overcoming difficulties and establishing the business.
Gavin: A lot of studios primarily deal with the recording aspect, but you’ve become more of a jack-of-all-trades with mixing, mastering and producing as well. What made you decide to go above and beyond?
One of the original reasons I started recording myself is that I wanted to see what my songs sounded like with more instruments. I really have always enjoyed producing and arranging and feel that's one of the studio's strengths. Also, I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge, so once I started, I wasn't satisfied with just the recording aspect. I love being able to take a song from start to finish in my studio.
Gavin: Who are some of the bands you’ve worked with and album that have come out of the studio?
I've worked with a fair amount of local singer/songwriter types here in Provo, including Sam Benson, Cody Butler, Nathan Hardyman, Kevin Green and Ben Reneer. A few bands I've worked with: Grey Glass, Bust A Kap, Bomb In A Bell, Bruneel, The Great Vine, Ginger Colony and Dry Erase Tracks.
Gavin: Are you looking to expand the studio in any way down the road or are you good with how things are now?
I would love to expand it down the road, but for the time being I'm happy with where it's at.
Gavin: For those who wish to work with you, what do they need and how can they reach you?
I'd love to work with you! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
, even if you're just wanting to chat about gear or Star Wars
or Dr. Pepper. I love talking with people about their musical journeys and helping in whatever way I can. Additionally, those interested in checking out some audio samples/services provided/studio policies can visit our website
Gavin: What can we expect from yourself and Indie Brain Studio over the rest of 2016?
I'm looking forward to the release of my band's EP, a few personal EPs, and the work of the talented clients I'm currently working with. I'll be helping as many artists as I can release music they're proud of.