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Monday, July 6, 2009

Studio 801

Posted By on July 6, 2009, 3:32 AM

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Hip-hop has definitely taken a resurgence and hit its stride in recent years around the state, but one studio up north is helping give it a permanent city to call home.

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--- Deep in the heart of Ogden, taking up shop in the famous Kiesel Building, resides Studio 801. A locally owned and operated recording studio that has become a single-stop jam area for the majority of Utah rap and hip-hop, not to mention acting as part of the hub for the Ogden music scene. I got a chance to chat with co-founder and verse virtuoso Jason Rodriguez about the studio and they work they've been doing, plus his thoughts on local music.

Jason Rodriguez
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http://www.myspace.com/studio801

Gavin: Hey Jason, first off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jason: I was born in Ogden, but I've also lived in Idaho, Arizona, California and Colorado. My dad is a carpenter, so we moved around quite a bit as he found better jobs.

Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Jason: I've always loved music, for as long as I can remember. My dad said when I was 3 the first thing I would do when I got into his truck was slap a cassette into his stereo and play with his EG. I can remember playing with stereo EGs as young as 5, and installing car stereos as young as 13. Michael Jackson was my first favorite, my mom said I would wear one glove everywhere with my zipper jackets when I was still in pre-school. As I got older I can remember listening to old country like Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton. Working with my dad during the summers, he and his crew would always listen to classic rock, to this day I love to throw on some Jethro, Zeppelin, or Floyd during a workout, or just relax and listen to the Eagles or the Beetles. The first hip-hop I ever listened to was LL Cool J, The Fat Boys, and Public Enemy. I was later heavily influenced by NWA, Bone Thugs N' Harmony, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and Notorious BIG. Now a days I listen to reggae a lot, Bob Marley mostly, and classic rock.
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Gavin: You're currently one of the members of Soul Shakers. How's things going for you in that group, and what have you got coming on the horizon?

Jason: We're continually striving to create new music, and stay consistent. We have two new albums coming out this summer, and another one before the end of the year. We have multiple songs playing on local and national radio right now, including some national podcasts we've been interviewed on pretty regularly. We have been asked to join a national tour this summer that will be in Georgia, Pennslyvania, New York, Texas and California. So things are really starting to get exciting.

Gavin: Where did the idea come from to start Studio 801?

Jason: Studio 801 is a joint venture between my partner Raymond Escobedo and myself. Ray owns 360 Audio, a car audio shop located in Ogden. We originally envisioned Studio 801 as a club, but decided to start as a business that could fully exploit the engineering skills I've developed over the years working with Soulshakers and other local groups and Emcees. The plans for a club are still very much in the works.
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Gavin: When did you come across the Kiesel Building and why did you choose it to setup?

Jason: The Kiesel Building is very well known to all artists in Ogden, many musicians have called it their home. I first found out about the Kiesel Building through Gundhi, a rock band Soulshakers performed with about 4 years ago. We rehearsed in their studio on the fourth floor. DK Studios had a studio there, Crittakal started there, as a matter of fact, I have a close friend who was in the very room I'm in now - Gifted Entertainment. So I felt the history of the building was very appealing, plus it is one of the more affordable office spaces in the city.

Gavin: How did you go about getting all the equipment you needed, and what was it like setting up?

Jason: My partner Ray helped with the startup costs. My dad and I spent the first month painting, installing new carpet and wood flooring as well as installing a custom designed desk, sound deadening boards and foam. We are still making improvements to the studio, and will continue to build on our equipment and capabilities.
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Gavin: Tech wise, what kind of audio and recording equipment do you have?

Jason: I'm using a Pro-Tools DAW via the Digi 003 hardware on a G5 Macintosh. I have an old ASR-10, and access to a Roland Phantom workstation but prefer to use software like Reason 4 and Logic Pro for production. I love the flexibility of Reasons advanced sequencing and Logics mixing and vocal capabilities. Pro-Tools is still the industry standard for good reason, and the Digi 003 provides multiple pre-amps and a nice control station that allows you to take a hands on approach to mixing and mastering. I'm using an Audio Technica condenser for vocals too.

Gavin: Unlike other studios you cater more toward the hip-hop community. Was that pre-planned or something you fell into doing?

Jason: I knew we'd appeal more to the hip-hop community, but I still wanted to embrace all musicians. I've worked with a few bands, and some acoustical artists as well as several local singers. But I definitely have noticed the bulk of our clientele have been emcees.
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Gavin: How have the artists themselves and local labels reacted to the place?

Jason: Anytime an artist has stepped foot into the studio they're usually all smiles. I've purposely designed the studio to have a very professional, musical atmosphere. Most artists recognize that right off the bat, which allows me to get right to business and get stuff done. I haven't really had much contact with labels, other than trough their artists.

Gavin: Has the idea ever come up to start your own label, or are you primarily sticking to just being a studio for other labels to use?

Jason: I've actually been offered the opportunity to join with an existing label but am weighing my options carefully. The primary focus of Studio 801 is currently that of an independent studio for independent musicians.
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Gavin: Are there any plans in the works to expand beyond what you're doing now?

Jason: As entrepreneurs, we are always looking to expand and grow.

Gavin: A little state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Jason: There have been greats strides by many talented artists in all genres on the local scene. I thinks its great to see musicians of all kinds working hard at what they love to do. There has also been an obvious increase in the amount of people doing music locally. This can have both positive and negative effects, I choose to look at the positive. More music to choose from and more opportunities that someone will make a big mark on the national music landscape.
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Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it better?

Jason: I believe we all have an opportunity to make it much better. The next time you download a song off iTunes, or buy an album in Graywhale, take a serious look at some of the music the local scene has to offer. The next time you hear that a local artist has a song on the radio, call in and request it. Supporting each other is the best way to make an impact.

Gavin: What do you think about local labels, and do you believe they help or hinder musicians?

Jason: I think its good if you have a group of serious, like-minded individuals working together toward a common goal. At the same time, I think its bad if you have a few selfish dictators trying to dictate what should be a free expression.
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Gavin: What can we expect from both you and Studio 801 the rest of the year?

Jason: Studio 801 is bringing you the 2nd Annual Utah Music Festival later this summer. We have a diverse lineup of some of the most talented musicians in the state. I'm working to get these three Soulshakers albums out this year and Soulshakers will also be debuting a music video this year. Look for our independent film in 2010.

Gavin: Aside the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Jason: I'd like to take a minute to thank all the artists who worked with Studio 801 in its first year. Shout outs to.... Definition, Emerson Kennedy, The Aviators, The Shash Brothas, My Man Domex, Damarr Jones, Mr. Beny Rrecord, Kinnetik, Jake Doja, Young William, Bre, Trafik, Neveah, Konsickwence, and all of the Artists who performed at lasy year's festival. Special south out to my brothers Spitso, Rhagenetix, and Quantum Star. And my wife Lace for all her unconditional support.

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