2023 Utah Local Music Issue | Cover Story | Salt Lake City Weekly

July 19, 2023 News » Cover Story

2023 Utah Local Music Issue 

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Cover photo by Josh Scheuerman (Lord Huron - at Salt Lake City Twilight)
  • Cover photo by Josh Scheuerman (Lord Huron at Salt Lake City Twilight)

Smaller towns sometimes have a small-town complex, that sense that the grass is always greener in a bigger city that has more of this, or better that. But when it comes to local music in Utah, there's no reason at all to feel like you're somehow missing out, whether you're one of the amazing people who creates that music, or the fans who love to listen to it.

The Utah Local Music Issue is a chance for us to get specific about it—not just "oh wow, Utah is great," but "here is all the greatness." In this issue, you'll find a primer on some of the best singers, songwriters, musicians, rappers, DJs and more offering fresh, exciting work to audiences in Utah and beyond. We'll give you an artist's-eye-view on our best local music venues, and why you should be heading there to check out your favorite bands. You'll get a peek into the perspective of why artists feel compelled to make music in a music-industry landscape that's changed so much in recent years, as well as how they try to get their songs out into the world. There's even a special spotlight for the local metal and hardcore scene, and a roundup of studios where musicians can record professionally.

Creation of any kind is a labor of love, and it's our turn to love them back. To all of the people helping to create the musical soundtracks of our lives, we salute you. Local music has never been better, and we hope our readers will come along on the journey to understanding why.

Scott Renshaw
Arts & Entertainment Editor

Rachael Jenkins - JADE CROMAR
  • Jade Cromar
  • Rachael Jenkins

2023 Utah Local Music Issue – Artists to know
Fifteen Utah musical acts worth putting into your listening rotation
By Emilee Atkinson

OK, no one will confuse Salt Lake with musical strongholds like Austin or Nashville. Still, we do have a rich music scene, filled with rather brilliant singer/songwriters and bands that call Utah home.

Indeed, it turns out that SLC is a nurturing place for musical talent. In a smaller market like ours, it's easier for musicians to connect, find gigs, play and jam together—and ultimately support each other. Salt Lake also boasts a wide range of performance venues, and the gods do smile upon us by bringing to our stages a wealth of national touring acts, all serving to feed the soul of local musicians.

Limiting this list of noteworthy local musical artists to just 15 is a daunting task. The scene is brimming with talent, and everywhere you look, you'll encounter new and exciting groups to listen to. If I were talking to someone new in the area, though, this is a list of musicians I'd tell you about to get started. But don't be shy about adding to this list by asking friends and colleagues who they listen to locally, and where they catch them performing. In no particular order, here are some amazing musicians to check out in the area.

Rachael Jenkins
Do you want something that will leave you in an existential crisis? Rachael Jenkins' music is just the ticket! For real, the girl can sing. Originally from Syracuse, Utah, the indie singer/songwriter uses her beautiful, technically impeccable voice in combination with heartfelt lyrics and an acoustic guitar that will hit you hard. With each listen, you'll discover another small bit of musical delight. Her first released single, "untitled," has gained huge popularity, amassing over 2.6 million streams on Spotify alone. Jenkins can be found playing solo shows with just her and her trusty guitar—or, at times, with a band accompanying her, adding some fullness and a new way to experience her music. Jenkins is the perfect performer to see if you're looking for an intimate, impactful show. IG @rachiichachii

Cera Gibson - BEN MORGAN
  • Ben Morgan
  • Cera Gibson

Cera Gibson
Cera Gibson is known as many things: singer-songwriter, comedian, social commentator, daddy. Based in Salt Lake City, this electrifying singer pushes the envelope and creates beautiful and poignant synth pop tracks that stick with you. Her latest single, "Daddy," is a technical powerhouse while still being a sexy and fun time, delving into the intimacy of relationships and letting one's guard down. Gibson puts on electrifying shows and hopes that 2023 is bigger than ever when it comes to putting out new music and playing live shows, so stay tuned. IG @ceragibson

  • Courtesy Photo
  • Leetham

It was an incredible year for Salt Lake pop artist Leetham in 2022. They launched a debut self-titled album that has no skips—it's a fun and intriguing collection with good variety. Leetham put the songs together, keeping enjoyment in mind; the album is perfect for a get-together of good friends, so if you put it on in the background, the night will be a good one. Leetham followed up their debut album with their latest single, "Empty," a song about "celebrating loneliness" according to the pop singer. It's a catchy-yet-introspective song perfect for any playlist. IG @leethamofficial

Scott Lippitt - MARISSA MOONEY
  • Marissa Mooney
  • Scott Lippitt

Scott Lippitt
Singer/songwriter Scott Lippitt put his heart and soul into his latest album, Insight in Time. The pandemic hit hard for all of us; during this time, the local indie musician compiled the most emotional body of work he's ever created, finding the meaning in life again. The album has a lot of highs and lows, taking you on a touching ride of sadness, hope and finding peace. It's a journey of learning to be OK again. Lippitt has since followed up with the single "Better Friend," a light and summery tune fit for the hot months. With twinkling plucked guitar, bouncy drums and a guitar/piano solo, "Better Friend" is a departure from Lippitt's usual melancholic sound but still an incredible listen. IG @scott_lippitt_music

Cherry Thomas - JACOB SWANER
  • Jacob Swaner
  • Cherry Thomas

Cherry Thomas
If you have a hankering for beautiful pop/R&B tracks, Cherry Thomas is your girl. The Ogden singer/songwriter demonstrates incredible technical virtuosity with her voice, and her songs are beautifully produced, creating a satisfying wall of sound that you won't want to leave. Her latest song, "BARBEDWIRE," is some of her best work, reminiscent of R&B and pop of the early aughts—perfect for any playlist. Thomas has spent years covering other artists' songs, but hearing her originals is an absolute treat. She's working on more entrancing tracks to share with listeners, which will hopefully drop soon. facebook.com/CherryThomasOfficial

The Snarlin  Yarns - RACCON MOTEL
  • Raccon Motel
  • The Snarlin Yarns

The Snarlin' Yarns
If you need a fix of folk, Ogden's The Snarlin' Yarns are here to provide. Made up of a unique array of players who come together to create an amazing balance of folk, bluegrass and intricate storytelling lyrics, the band boasts performances that are always rock solid, and seeing them perform is like coming home. They're like your favorite comfort food that your mom makes. The Yarns released their latest album, It Never Ends, in early 2023, and it's chock full of fun, but you can also hear the love and care that went into creating the album. The close-knit group have a strong connection with one another and care deeply about each other, and that shines through on the album. IG @thesnarlinyarns

  • Ian Kellems
  • Fix

26 Fix, aka Erika Goodwin, is making a splash in the local music scene with her first solo project, creating intriguing psychedelic tracks that will have you hearing and understanding more as you hit play again and again. This year is set to be a big one for 26 Fix and her fans, as the singles she's been releasing lead to a concept album about a girl who chokes on a pickle and dies; each song comes from the perspective of the various characters in the story. One of her best tracks, "A Pickle," takes place from the perspective of the devious vegetable and is hard not to put on repeat. Seamlessly blending psychedelic vibes with live instruments at her shows, Goodwin makes the experience one not to miss. IG @26fix.26fix.26fix

The Plastic Cherries - DALLIN SHELDON
  • Dallin Sheldon
  • The Plastic Cherries

The Plastic Cherries
The Plastic Cherries came together based on their love of retro gear and the sounds of yesteryear. Formed by couple Shelby and Joe Maddock as a hobby during the pandemic, it's turned into so much more. The couple recruited friends to form a full band and began creating nostalgic music perfect for fans of bands like Fleetwood Mac. Their latest single, "Lovers on the Run," is a road trip song for modern misfits, emphasizing their love for '70s rock while being heartfelt and earnest. Catching The Plastic Cherries live is a blast, because you'll probably encounter their dedicated fanbase, the Moon Unit, who show up at shows dressed up and ready to have a good time. IG @theplasticcherries

  • Courtesy Photo
  • The Mellons

The Mellons
When you think of music in SLC, it's hard not to think of The Mellons. They've taken over with their delightfully retro yet decidedly fresh take on baroque psych-pop, a fun perspective on life after a difficult few years. Their debut album Introducing ... The Mellons! was recorded largely at multi-instrumentalist/producer/Mellons member Dennis Fuller's No. 9 Studios in SLC. Many of the songs are inspired by the longing for a connection through the pandemic, so now that they're able to get out and play, they have a lot going on with their set. There's an impressive complexity to their music that's still enjoyable by the everyman. Plus, the retro sound and fun outfits donned by The Mellons make for an experience you won't soon forget. IG @themellonsmusic

  • Gia Harris
  • Suchii

Bubblegum pop artist Suchii made the move to SLC during the pandemic after quitting his job to pursue music, and we're glad to have him! He hit the ground running in 2022, releasing a couple of singles before his debut EP Summer on Venus. The EP shows an excellent range from the young pop artist. His song "White Angel" is a chill pop track that doesn't necessarily have a deep meaning; it's just about partying and having a good time. On the other hand, the EP has the track "Fila Fila," a beautiful tribute to the love in your life. Suchii wanted to make a love song, but he wanted to make it for everyone. Each chorus of the song features different pronouns—"he," "she" and "they"—so that anyone can sing and dedicate it to their crush. IG @suchiisound

  • @alcauter.photo
  • Little Moon

Little Moon
Little Moon are out here making Utah proud. The group recently entered into NPR's Tiny Desk series, and wowed the judges with their single "wonder eye." "[The song] incorporates the idea of multiple deaths," lead vocalist Emma Hardyman shared with NPR. "I think it took the physical death to help us realize that death is really happening all the time—be it past versions of ourselves, old held beliefs, old judgments, even. And to that extent, we're always grieving as well, which was also eye-opening." Hardyman is joined by fellow locals Nathan Hardyman, Bly Wallentine, Bridget Jackson, Chris Shemwell and Grace Johnson. Seeing a local act on such a huge platform is amazing, and we can't wait to see where the group goes from here. IG @little.moon.music.

  • Robin Pendergast
  • Mel Soul

Mel Soul
Singer/songwriter Mel Soul paints beautiful and, at times, heartbreaking images with her soft, powerful music. She creates music as a solo act, as well as in a group called Mel Soul and the Heartbeat—honestly, you can't go wrong listening to either project. Whether you need music to sooth the savage beast or want to listen to an artist who has felt the same pains as you, look no further than Soul's music. One of her most recent and hard-hitting songs, "Desperation," has all of the above: beauty, tragedy, longing, alluring imagery. It's a good place to start, but it's worth exploring her entire catalog. IG: @melsoul90 and @melsoulandtheheartbeat

Spirit Machines - BRADEN KRAM
  • Braden Kram
  • Spirit Machines

Spirit Machines
SLC rockers Spirit Machines were catapulted into the public eye in 2020 with their unique song blending two classic rock tracks: "Sober" by Tool, and "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin. As the internet is wont to do, many were vocal about their dislike of the mashup, but honestly, it's badass; Tool themselves approved of the song on their Instagram back when it was rising in popularity. Since then, Spirit Machines have played plenty of shows and are currently in the studio putting together more of their addicting soul/rock fusion to share with listeners. They also have a song in the upcoming DLC for Cyberpunk 2077, so, keep your ears open for their song "Candy Shell" in the game. IG: @spiritmachines

No Such Animal - @JARQOR
  • @jarqor
  • No Such Animal

No Such Animal
No Such Animal brings a seasoned rock sound for being a group of young kids. Listening to their catalog will make you think the group has been together for decades instead of just a few years. It blooms with exciting, addicting tracks that will have you headbanging for days. Their first full album, Painted Faces, dropped in 2022, followed by fan favorite singles like "Witches in Salt Lake City" and "Afraid to Die." Do yourself a favor and go out to see No Such Animal, and throw up some horns in support. IG: @nosuchanimal.theband

  • Hannah Gulbrandsen
  • The Rubies

The Rubies
The Rubies are synonymous with bad-ass rock bands in the SLC area. The trio's fun-loving pop/rock tracks are perfect for hanging with your friends or soaring down the highway with the windows down. The group hit the scene in 2019 and have catapulted in popularity—for good reason. Their most recent singles "You Can't Hide" and "Picture This" are a pure joy to listen to but scrolling back to earlier work is equally enjoyable. Their most popular track (on Spotify, at least) is "Something You Should Know," a slow ballad that really showcases vocalist Colette Macfarlane's pipes. Catch The Rubies playing around northern Utah or while they're out on tour—you won't regret it. IG: @therubiesband

  • Adam Sandberg
  • PhoNix Child

Utah Local Music Issue 2023 – Why Make Music?
Six local artists and ensembles share on their urge to create.
By Lee Zimmerman

The stereotypical image of the starving artist holds true even in these days—not only for those who create their artistry on canvas, but also those who make music. It seems that now, more than ever, musicians find it hard to make ends meet. Day jobs and side hustles are common, and those who do decide to focus entirely on their craft are often dependent on today's various fundraising platforms to offset the expense involved in putting out their product.

So why be a musician in the first place, when earning a living and paying the rent are often at odds with the output involved? In search of answers, City Weekly asked several local artists to tell us what motivates them to persevere.

Rapper, poet and singer Cassie Houston, aka The Pho3nix Child, said it was their life as a black, queer female growing up in Salt Lake City that inspired their desire to share their struggles and uncommon experiences with their listeners. "It is also very important to me to represent women and otherwise feminine folks in hip-hop and hip-hop culture, being that it's inherently anti-female and [anti-]feminine and homophobic in ways," Houston said. "I look forward to continuing to inspire others to be their authentic selves, and to tell their real stories—the good and bad, the beautiful and the ugly."

Houston went on to say they consider themselves a poet more than a musician. "My poetry was my main form of expression from elementary schools throughout high school," they recall. "I was always intimidated by hip-hop culture because of the genre's highly misogynistic and overly sexual undertones. However, I was lucky to be born into a family of musicians and visual artists. They inspired me to do music even though I originally hesitated because I didn't just want to be labeled as a 'female rapper.'  I chose to be a musician to finally be able to showcase my poetry and bring my artistic persona to life."

Talia Keys - SAM CRUMP
  • Sam Crump
  • Talia Keys

Talia Keys and The Love convey similar sentiments. An activist and musician, Keys, for over a decade, has built a loyal fanbase from within the Salt Lake City club scene. She's also toured coast to coast, playing in all types of venues, and for an array of festivals and events.

Her efforts are a reflection of a past journey involving identity and influences, an individual take on the customary role of the rock 'n' roll troubadour who traditionally sings songs about struggle and triumph.

Positioned at the helm of various bands, Keys has opened for such bands as Indigo Girls, Lukas Nelson and The Promise of The Real, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Michael Franti and Thievery Corporation. Keys' current band The Love consists of Dave Brogan (ALO) on drums, Ryan Conger (Joe McQueen Quartet) on keys, Josh Olsen on bass and Lisa Giacoletto on backing vocals.

"I've played in various projects for almost 15 years," Keys says. "I'm inspired by life, humans, traveling and making memories. Music has led to many great experiences and also to some not-so-great ones. The rewards are worth it, if you keep at it. Making fans and friends for a lifetime and inspiring other women, queer folk or kids to be themselves is another big reward.

"Why be a musician? Because I feel as if I was put here to do what I do: Connect my heart to my art and share it with the world."

Imag!nary Friendz - WAYNE YOUNG
  • Wayne Young
  • Imag!nary Friendz

"Being a musician is more than just making music.It's about telling a story and giving people a place to feel heard and welcome," singer/guitarist Felipe Moya of the Ogden-based band Imag!nary Friendz insists. "It's about making people feel less alone and more connected. It's a chance to relate to people on more than just a surface level. It's an unadulterated way to express love and empathy."

Imag!nary Friendz was born from the challenges presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic in the summer of 2020. "We had lost our jobs, and a lot of our social life and we needed a new outlet," Moya explains. "The three of us immediately caught fire. We started to learn covers and soon after that, we started to write our own songs. We worked through emotions and conveyed them through the music. We found inspiration from each other and the experiences we each were going through, feeding our art and our relationship as a band."

  • JS Photography
  • Resonomics

Ogden-based hip-hop artist, lyricist and rapper Resonomics has been making his music over the course of the past 20-plus years, resulting in the release of approximately 50 songs in the interim.

"The songs I write are inspired by events I've experienced throughout my life, things I have observed and even fictional stories that I've made up," Resonomics explains. "Hip-hop, to me, is about the art of storytelling, and the real talent lies in how you shape and tell the story. I also like to integrate humor in almost all of it, because I love to make people laugh."

Still, he insists, there's more to it than that. "The rewards of creating this music, for me at least, are in the creative process," Resonomics continues. "I find it highly therapeutic to write songs and create music. After a long writing session, I actually feel exhausted and sleep like a baby. After completing a song that's fully mixed and mastered, I listen to it over and over in a 'looking back at your lawn after you mowed it' kind of way." 

"One of the best feelings in the world is when someone tells me they got my punchline or figured out my double-entendres. I get high off that. To me, it's better than getting paid. ... When you ask me, 'Why be a musician?,' it's about more than simply wanting to. It's almost as if I have to do it. Otherwise, I'd sit and dwell on how I'm not doing it and start getting anxious. I keep getting this overwhelming feeling that I need to look back at the lawn I just mowed."

  • Mike McDonough
  • Say It Back

Dezmon, the lead singer of the band Say It Back, expressed similar sentiments. His best friend killed himself during a confrontation with police at the end of 2021, and it was that tragedy that led to the band's inception.

"Our first song, 'Dreaming,' was written right after my friend's death, and it describes the struggle I went through after losing my best friend," Dezmon explains. "Life experience is our biggest inspiration. Our lyrics are filled with stories of trauma, heartbreak and hope. We also find inspiration in the stories shared by other musicians and their art.

"For us, being musicians gives us a chance to express the things that can be difficult in everyday conversations. It is our opportunity to tell our story and express it through the raw emotion of music. Our movement in live performances also expresses that desire, and every time we perform we put our souls into it."

The band played its first show last December, Dezmon says, and "it has been quite the journey since. The rewards have been amazing. We have had fans reach out to us after hearing our creations, telling us that they found purpose and hope in our music. Seeing lives change, even in small ways, of those who hear our message and find hope in our songs has been the biggest reward."

  • David Kingsbury
  • Del Lago

That personal perspective also resonates with the band Del Lago. They describe themselves as consisting of "a convicted Danish thief on drums, a Neanderthal on guitar, a sadomasochistic bassist and a sweet little cherubic singer that all just want to make music that they'd wanna listen to."

The band initially got together for weekly jam sessions and then realized the rewards of devoting one day each week to pure escape. "Some people go to bars, carnivals and arcades, but we've got all the games, drinks and clowns in the basement where we rehearse," they suggest.

It's a combination of humor and happenstance that provides their motivation to make music. "It's the fame, the money, the fast cars and designer drugs. We don't have any of those things, of course, but that's what Pitbull tells us the rewards would be. Unfortunately, it's become part of our identity. At this point, if we stopped being musicians, we wouldn't be much else."

  • Courtesy Photo
  • The Mellons

2023 Utah Local Music Issue – Finding new music
How to make that connection between music and audiences.
By Mark Dago

It's hard to imagine not discovering new music. There are so many choices, and just as many new artists that you can find online via music streaming services of your choice. The thing that differentiates between Spotify, TikTok, YouTube and Instagram becomes the game of music discovery.

Whether the discovery is based on algorithms or human curation, musicians have multitude platforms to get their creations to fans, and listeners have all kinds of ways to find their next new favorite. Utah can claim its fair share of successful musicians. Music-lovers in the Beehive State are enthusiastic to lift up new and interesting artists, and local music makers understand that.

What social media is today is not what it will be tomorrow—it's an evolving medium. If you think you knew what it was a few months ago, it has already changed.

Sure, songs blowing up as a side effect of an online challenge, game or other activity is fun at the moment, but if you want to get your work out there in a way that people can find it, focusing on building relationships and human connections with fans are the best "power-ups."

Power-up: Authenticity Boost—We live in a unique place, and the art you create should reflect that. You don't have to—nor should you—compromise your music and what is within that music. The honesty and vulnerability expressed in your songs will resonate with audiences. People want you to be yourself.

Songwriter/musician Josaleigh Pollett (IG:@brosaleigh) notes: "I've been chronically online for too long, and I just share a lot of myself and my process and my passions. I try to be real—I don't post something I don't care about, my TikTok is for me to mostly share other people's albums that I'm enjoying.

I don't do any of it for clicks. I do it ... to find people that like the same music I do and maybe connect [them] with mine in the process. For my career, it's been a matter of connecting with people that like the same music that I do. If we're obsessed with all the same bands, it is more likely that they might like the music I make! I follow bands and labels I enjoy on social media—mainly Twitter and Instagram, and just regularly talk about what I create and how I create it in addition to all the music I love that I can't shut up about. Sometimes people listen to my stuff, sometimes they don't. But if they do, it's more likely that they'll enjoy it if we like the same things already."

Power-up: Genre-fluid Transformation—The borders between music genres have blurred, and the ways that people consume music, make records and collaborate have evolved. Finding an audience for your art when it is genre-less, cross-over or niche could be challenging to commoditize or market. Still, there is no wrong way to make music. Full stop.

Adam Sherlock, Spy Hop's director of learning design (IG: @deepdivefilmschool) says: "To engage growth, it's about creating, iterating, engaging with the audience in a number of different ways. Trickling out work over time can be cool, but difficult if you want to release a proper album. It can be hard to picture who your actual audience is. You can strive for an audience, but who your work might actually resonate with is always a bit of a mystery. On platforms like Instagram and TikTok, it is again about the idea of over-saturation. The state of access today is a double-edged sword, too. While it means the average consumer of art is bombarded with content, it can be difficult to sift through the noise to find the right work. It can also mean that when you find the good stuff, you can really plunge down into a rabbit hole with no end, which is super-exciting. The ability to be niche these days is easier than ever."

Power-up: Tangibility Upgrade—No format ever truly dies. Cassette tapes inherently have that feel of the ephemeral, the experimental, the stuff that you're not sure if you're going to like, but you put it on anyway. There is still a market for physical copies of music and that market isn't limited to just CDs and vinyl LPs—cassette tapes are booming. Digital "ownership" is just a long-term rental.

Far Out Cassette Club creator Nick Anderson (IG: @faroutcassetteclub) says: "In my opinion, DIY and cassettes go hand-in-hand. It was basically the first physical format where regular people could easily record their own audio and produce their own tapes. So, in my mind, those two things were inseparable. Cassette tapes are cheaper than vinyl to buy and produce, so it's a good merch option for local bands and also a more affordable way to build a physical music collection. Half the fun of owning physical albums is the collectability aspect and physically holding the music and seeing it on your shelf and engaging in the whole listening experience. I have tape that was designed to be played for babies or children as they sleep that just has soft music and people whispering positive affirmations. Lots of sounds of nature tapes. A tape of someone's answering machine messages. And if anyone needs a cheap cassette player or help getting into tape collecting, I'd be happy to help."

Power-up: Extreme Vision—The combination of film and music is one of the most powerful types of communication we have available to us as humans. Music videos are eventful ways to get attention to you and your music. They are also one of the most effective ways to engage fans. Lean into that DIY energy—cheap and cheerful is the way forward.

Composer/producer Andrew Colin Beck, who sings and plays guitar with the Mellons (IG: @themellonsmusic) says: "The Mellons have made a few videos, and I feel like we are pretty used to working with shoestring budgets. The video for 'Salad Made of Butterflies' is actually the first video that we hired an artist other than ourselves to create. Usually we take care of as much of the production design, concepting, directing, editing, etc., as we can. The animation was done by a friend of the Mellons: Victor Blandon (of Cool Banana). Victor, or 'VHS Vic' (IG: @vhsvic), is a filmmaker and musician who lives in Salt Lake City. I had been wanting Vic to do a video for my music for a couple of years—finally the planets aligned and dreams became reality. I feel like he captured the soul of the song: chaotic, strange, tense and hypnotic. I think some of the most fun times we've had as a band have been during the video productions we've worked on."

Power-up: Super Reach—Blow the entire world's mind by starting out with stripped-down performances and leveling up to engagement that rivals late-night talk shows. The best ideas are the simplest, and the heart and soul of a live set is one that is intimate. Momentum will organically flow; follow it where it leads.

Musician Bly Wallentine of trippy pop/folk/ambient Little Moon (IG:@blywallentine) notes: "Emma (of Little Moon) put together the whole Tiny Desk video. It was so fun going to DC and filming. We were all just like, 'Wow, this is happening, huh?' That was a major vibe through the whole tour—like, is this real? Everyone at NPR has been incredible. Kind, generous, welcoming. Deep homie energy. They've done so much work to support us, and we are so appreciative. We've got a record that's basically complete, and we're engaging with labels and management. So, say yes to everything that makes you feel intensely alive, even if it takes you to unfamiliar places, places with new images and ideas and language. Create music you love in ways which are life-giving, fun, connective and authentic. Appreciate every moment of it. Failure is at the root of success. It's all a treat. Life will surprise you if you let it."

An Artist records at Audio House - BANCE801
  • Bance801
  • An Artist records at Audio House

2023 Utah Local Music Issue – Studio Spaces
Where to go for a professional recording experience.
By Emilee Atkinson

We live in a time when recording at home is easier than it probably has ever been. People have access to technology and programs that enable them to create DIY music without the help of a professional studio. That said, there's something special about going into a place with top-notch equipment and pros who help your vision come to fruition. The following sampling of local studios are worth checking out to help make your musical dreams come true.

Audio House
Locations in West Valley City and Provo, 385-800-1836,
Audio House was formed to capture creativity. "Learning to express myself and process my emotions through music was absolutely life-changing—but capturing those expressions and sharing them was always a challenge," said co-founder and CEO of Audio House Tyler Gibbs. "I could never get the sound quite right, and I felt misunderstood and underrated each time I shared my recordings with someone. Not only was I frustrated with continually feeling this way, I knew other musicians felt the same way, and I was determined to change it."

Gibbs teamed up with Todd Tran and AJ Vanzeben, and the rest was history. The Audio House studios are self-serve and bring in great reviews. "The profound impact we have had on students, hobbyists and professionals alike is driving this dream forward as we continue to improve and fine-tune the self-serve recording experience," Gibbs said.

While the idea of a self-serve can seem intimidating, it's worth a try for Audio House's fair price-point at $10 per hour. "Professional engineers can still help in ways that a self-serve system can't," said Gibbs. "But, gaining a portfolio of good music while also gaining the vocabulary, skills and reputation that you need to feel confident is the best way to start."

Funk Studios’ boards - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Funk Studios’ boards

Funk Studios
445 N. 700 West, Suite 101, North Salt Lake, 385-424-0778, funkstudiosutah.com
"Funk Studios was the vision of songwriter and composer Jim Funk's decades-long aspiration to offer premium gear and pristine audio quality to recording artists. Our studio will provide a location for professional work of all types," says Funk Studios' website. "We offer a 1,300-square-foot soundstage—outfitted with both state of the art digital gear and near-priceless vintage analog gear—and a Pro Tools system capable of handling the most complex tracking demands. Funk Studios has been in the works for years, stemming from owner Jim Funk's desire to provide exceptional recording services in a world-class facility. In 2015, Jim hired studio designer Jerry Steckling to make plans repurposing an industrial warehouse into what would become Funk Studios."

June Audio
39 W. 200 North, Provo, 801-802-6403,
"Situated in the heart of downtown Provo, the new space was built directly behind a turn-of-the-century pioneer home that houses several production studios," the website for June Audio states. "The two new rooms offer total flexibility, able to accommodate any type of project—large enough for a full orchestra and small enough for an intimate solo session. The equipment is top-rate, the instrument selection is extensive, the rooms are comfortable and sound amazing, and the staff will put you at ease and take care of your every need. The outdoor courtyard, artistic touches, stocked lounge and being within walking distance to countless restaurants and shops make the time outside the studio just as enjoyable as the working hours."

Aggressive Audio
84 S. Tartarian Circle, Bountiful, 801-845-6616,
Aggressive Audio offers a professional and quality experience, but they also offer a unique opportunity to attend a master class with locals who have been around the block with creating/recording music. These classes allow you to learn how pros get that crispy sound you may be on the hunt for. There are 12 spots per class, and the next one takes place Aug. 17-20. There's a fixed price of $278, allowing you to learn the correct approach to making your recordings the best they can be.

Audio Inn
1519 Major St., SLC, 801-441-0719,
"Audio Inn Recording ... was created by Eric Lo and Colin Cronin. The musicians teamed together to create a recording studio with better customer service and recording quality, as well as more reasonable rates, setting out to restructure how studios operated," according to Audio Inn's website. "Launched in 2015, its mission is to focus on the experience, and its 2,000 square feet of recording space is designed to make you feel at home. By partnering with Old Growth Tone, a boutique manufacturing company, Audio Inn Recording is able to offer affordable rates without sacrificing quality, and is the only studio in Utah to offer vinyl manufacturing services."

Ignite Studios
1005 S. 300 West, SLC, 801-999-8249,
Ignite Studios is a one-stop shop for pretty much any recording needs. You're able to record audio and video here as well as fully produce a podcast. Ignite also features video production and green-screen photography. "Just south of downtown Salt Lake City, an unassuming brick building houses the area's most innovative recording studio," their site says. "With reasonable hourly rates for music recording, video production and podcast creation, Ignite is a top area destination for studio services, such as recording, mixing, mastering and post production of digital media."

Key Recordings
1468 S. 1650 East, Ogden, 801-430-3694,
"Key Recording aspires to be the world's leading music production company by producing great music for everyone and by helping artists make the great music that they wanna make, because that's what makes them who they are," the site says. "We believe that creativity is in every person and different in every person, making each and every individual unique. Key Recordings wants to give you the opportunity to create amazing music ... and help you get it out to the world. Key Recordings strive to inspire people to chase their dreams and to never give up."

As this list shows, there's no shortage of places to record your work and make your musical dreams come true. Find a studio that matches your vibe, and get creating!

Villain - RICK EGAN
  • Rick Egan
  • Villain

2023 Utah Local Music Issue – Metal/Hardcore Scene
Villain vocalist Trent Falcone shares tales from the pit.
By Emilee Atkinson

Metal as a genre has a long, storied and epic history. Dedicated bands keep it alive and thriving, especially in local communities. SLC is no different—there are bands scattered across the state who deliver their versions of hardcore music that you can lose your voice and injure your neck to.

Local hardcore/metal Villain features veterans of the scene who came together as a super-group to "not only pay homage to their influences and predecessors, but to cast off any bonds that might hold them to the past, and to define their own path forward," according to their Bandcamp page. "Not hardcore and not metal, Villain exists comfortably in both camps, and in spaces well-beyond."

Their most recent single, "Time Takes Everything," is everything a hardcore/metal fan could want. It starts with some eerie, old-fashioned vocal clips that lead into a somber guitar track and eventually turn into ripping vocals and driving guitar with strumming and pulsing bass. There's not really a moment during the track where you won't stop headbanging throughout the song. Luckily for fans, there's more new music on the way, "Time Takes Everything" is "the first single to Chapter 4," according to their Bandcamp page, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, vocalist Trent Falcone shared more about Villain and how much they love the SLC metal scene.

City Weekly: How and when was Villain formed?
Trent Falcone: The band was a concept in 2013, and came to life a few years later.

Why metal/hardcore? What does the genre mean to you?
We're all veterans of the Salt Lake hardcore scene, and we talked about doing a classic old-school band that would have the sound and style of the bands we all grew up on. All the members of the band are massive music fans, and love many different artists and genres. We wanted to play music that we love while repping the SLC scene that raised us.

What's the best feature of the local music scene, especially with other metal bands?
To just be here still and playing music after 30 years is amazing. We've played with some of our heroes and made a lot of friends over the years. The SLC hardcore scene is perhaps the best it's ever been with so many talented and amazing bands. We're just proud to be a small part of it.

What's the craziest thing you've seen in a mosh pit?
There's been too many to mention over the years. I now only observe from the back of the venue, or from the stage, thankfully. Ha. The pit is a young man's game.

Are there any upcoming projects you can share about?
We're currently recording our fourth EP. We released a new single, "Time Takes Everything" in April, with more new music coming soon. We're also playing Oct. 8 at The Complex with Cavalera and our friends in Social Stigma. Plus, another big local show is in the works for November that will feature some of SLC's biggest hardcore bands from the past.

What should people know about Villain and your music?
After all these years playing music together, it's still as much fun and heartfelt as it's ever been. And we want to thank the "Villain Mob" for having our backs for nearly a decade and supporting our music. The people who come to shows, sing along, buy the merch and listen to the music are all part of the family. Now and forever.

Check out Villain and their legendary catalog before they hit us with some fresh tracks, and don't miss them when they're out playing for the hungry masses in SLC.

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