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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In the mean time...

While I am waiting on the city to render their decision I can talk about something I’ve noticed in musicians that are successful. They can make music in any situation wherever and whenever they want. The studio does not matter. Of course if they were to go to Skywalker Sound they will be assured of pristine conditions with the best the recording industry has to offer. But that in itself doesn’t make a good song.  
Passion does! Listening to every detail of your song and agreeing with yourself is can make as much sense to remove something you’ve done as it is to add something.
Joe Gilder at just wrote about “Less is More” in recording a song. (This is a must read article.) In it he describes how he came to using only guitar and vocals on one of his songs. And I can apply less is more to building a studio. You just don't have to have a million dollar studio to make and record music. Spend less time trying to make your studio perfect and more time using it. Of course improve it all the time, but just don't think it has to all be done at once.

Your studio is really just a tool for you to do what you love most. Make music! Don’t let your let your surroundings destroy the moment or the song. 

Producer Peter Malick who collaborates with Norah Jones used his house that is NOT set up for recording to record Amber Rubarth. Watch the video and see how imperfect conditions worked just fine. 
Keep it simple and build as you go, but don’t stop recording and playing music. So until the City is ready to make a decision, I'm off to do some recording in my wonderfully imperfect basement. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Meeting with the City #2

I met with the City today to discuss my project build. The term "Habitable Space" is apparently a huge grey area. It seems that the city is not as concerned with my intentions on how I want to use the studio but rather what it may become in the future.

My detached garage is considered an "accessory building" and falls into uninhabitable space category. By building a music studio in it "might" make it habitable space if one of the one of the following conditions are met: Habitable space is defined as space that you cook in, eat in, sleep in or live in.

I have no intentions of doing any of those things. However, what if I move out and someone else who moves in says, "hey look, another bedroom" or "we have a mother-in-law apartment". You see the city is concerned that may happen and is why they may decide against my project.

It's in the hands of the zoning commission now and in a few weeks I will find out their decision.

Bottom line:
If you intend to build as I am, make sure you do the following at your meeting to increase you chances for a favorable decision. Bring good drawings for your project, showing musical instruments and all. Be kind to them and don't argue with them. Thank them for seeing you and get down to business. Get them to like who you are and keep chit chat before the meeting out. Look them in the eye when they talk to you.

Make sure they understand you full intentions for making music and not sleeping, eating, cooking or living in it. Let them know you understand where they are coming from and why they are concerned. Follow your meeting up with a thank you letter or email.

Remember, the people you just met are either going to go to bat for you or cry foul and make sure your project is killed.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Meeting with the City #1

I emailed the city about what happened at the "front desk" and they sent an email back requesting a meeting. So at this point I need to gather all my drawings and head down to the City.

Here's a quick rundown on what happened. I went to the city about building a music studio in my garage and the people who work at the front desk, of the city permit and building department, said I couldn't. They said it was because my garage would become "Habitable Space". So What!! What do we need to do to allow me to build a "habitable space" in my garage? "Nothing!" They said.

But they also said I could email the city building manager for a better understanding on  my request. I wrote a nice letter (not an angry, pissed off, I'll kill you letter) to the city about my intentions to take my 720 square foot garage, where 2/3 is for the cars and 1/3 is for the shop, and make it a musical space. I want to convert the shop area into a music/recording studio, with the possibility of making the car side a recording studio and/or adding onto the garage for more usable musical recording/practicing space.

Never in my wildest dreams would I think the city would just say NO!! So I will try to set up a meeting this Friday to talk to the City and present my ideas. I will report on what happens and what I felt helped and what hurt my chances.

Cheers my studio friends, wish me luck!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Unthinkable Happened

Blog # 3
Welcome back from Christmas break everyone. Sorry I took such a long hiatus, but I was busy doing all kinds of stuff around the house.

Let me catch you up to speed, “the unthinkable happened”. I went to the city and they said I could NOT build a music studio in my detached garage. WHAT! No way, how could this happen. I didn’t even think this would be an issue. So what did they say you ask… Something about my garage becoming an “habitable space”. Now after much searching on the internet and an email fired off to the city, I’ve yet been able to “clearly” define what “habitable space” even means, and the city has not responded.

I have a general idea what habitable space means, but why is it that I can work in my garage shop all day every day and it’s not a problem and NOT considered habitable space. But when I want to put up a wall and insulate the crap out of it, it becomes a problem. Of course my cities meaning of “habitable space” may be different than your cities, but I’d like to hear your feedback on this anyway.

I’m not giving up, but it sure was unexpected. So in the mean time until I find out from the city if there are any exceptions to this rule, I’m moving forward. So here’s what I’ve been working on as far as the design goes.

I drafted the plan out (see the drawing) and I put in some furniture and a grand piano (My Daughters) and I quickly discovered there will not be any room in the control room. As you know this is a 2 phase process, phase 1 control room then phase 2 car side for bands. In reality the Control room will be the main room for a year or two. So in the control room will be my control surface desk, grand piano, iso booth and drum kit.

See, not enough room. So I decided to see if I could extend my garage 6’ on the left side for a drum booth and an iso booth. I’d even have a big storage closet. Don’t forget, storage is very very important. At the very least have a closet to jam all your extra stuff in, including your gig bags.

My walls are 10’ so I might be able to get away with keeping the slope of the roof and just extent it down. Heating and cooling are still a concern, but my nephew is an HVAC guy and he and I are going to bang our heads together to see if we can come up with a solution to this. On a side note, I found some cool designs for solar heating that I may at some point add to my garage to help keep heating costs down, but that’s another blog some other day.

Some of you are getting ready to advise me to just build it and not tell the city. And some of you may have done or are doing that, but there’s a danger lurking. I won’t go into great detail but to say, if you are robbed or your studio burns down and you build an illegal studio, there’s a good chance you insurance will not cover it. Also, what if someone gets hurt? Will your homeowners insurance cover it? Hmmmmmm.

OK, wish me luck with the city, hopefully we can come to some solution that will allow my studio and remain within the code.