Local Music Issue 2019 | Cover Story | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

March 12, 2019 News » Cover Story

Local Music Issue 2019 

Turn it up to 11, boys and girls. Our rockingest issue is here!

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ADAM SANDBERG
  • Adam Sandberg

NOT ABOUT THE MONEY
Adam and Kelly Sandberg put music's healing power to work on aspiring young artists.

BY RACHELLE FERNANDEZ

It's Saturday evening at Adam and Kelly Sandberg's Salt Lake City home and an aspiring drag queen, Lilia Maughn, is nervously turned toward the vocal booth. Adam is helping Maughn record a track, and the atmosphere in the home recording studio is quiet yet emotional, as Maughn reluctantly starts from the top of a Sara Bareilles song.

Kelly, Adam's wife and business partner, notices the young queen's timidness. "Don't second guess yourself," Kelly says in a firm-but-gentle voice. "If you're not happy with the take, you can do it again." In that moment, it was the right amount of honest feedback that Maughn needed. He then started belting out a melancholy tune as if he wrote the lyrics himself.

This is a typical evening at Another Element Productions. The home studio has recorded and mixed dozens of local bands and drag queens. Some, like the infamous Molly Mormon, sought out the Sandbergs specifically for their services creating intro songs; others, like Disengaged and Dipped in Whiskey, chose the studio to record and produce full-length albums and cover art. "It just felt so natural," Adam says when asked about his inspiration. "What cooler thing [is there] than to help someone and also produce some awesome music?"

Since Another Element Productions started in 2006, more than 100 artists have found themselves recording with the Sandbergs (Kelly helps book the artists; Adam records them). "Anything I do, she manages," Adam says of his better half. "She's just as much part of this as I am. I might be down there pushing the buttons, but she's the backbone of it all."

Aside from the plethora of management tasks, Kelly also takes on the role of a life coach of sorts to artists, doing her best to provide the right amount of honesty. That coaching is done only to help coax out the raw emotions of artists like Maughn, who might be nervous standing before the mic. "Music is emotional," Kelly explains. "You hear a song and it takes you back to some kind of moment. So I tell the [artists], you need to go back to those emotions and feel it."

In addition to a recording studio, the Sandbergs' house serves as a refuge for artists seeking shelter and healing in music. Before the Sandbergs married and settled in Salt Lake City, Adam was close to the Phoenix nü-metal scene and former Grey Daze bandmate Chester Bennington, who went on to start Linkin Park. "We've lost a lot of friends in the industry to suicide," Kelly says. "Losing Chester was one of the more horrific events."

The studio is therapeutic, too. "It's important to get these kids in here to record, to get [music] out to heal," Kelly says. "I watched [music] heal Adam from his own garbage."

When Adam was 15 years old, his mother left and he was taken in by his grandparents. "I always had this chip on my shoulder," he says. "I was just pissed off. I found out what kind of release and mental stability [music] ended up giving me." As he mended his past, he fell in love with Kelly, who managed his band Brik in the early 2000s. The two moved to Utah in 2012, continuing Another Element Productions, first in a recording studio in Kearns. After a few location moves and the increasing accessibility of recording software, Adam began pursuing his passion from home. "I saw these producers that I follow talking about home studios," he remembers "They had the same gear that I had and I thought, 'I could do that—why don't I?'"

During the day, Adam works for the Utah Food Bank, providing the perfect foil to his creative side, which he pursues at night. Meanwhile, Kelly brings the more logical aspect to Another Element Productions, striking a perfect yin-and-yang balance. "We're a good team," she says. "I get the emotions going, and then Adam knows right when to come in and record."

And when they identify those emotions in their artists, the Sandbergs encourage them to let it out. "We show [artists] their talent," Kelly says. "You tell them how great they are. It's not about the money—it's about you doing something you love and feeding that passion."

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Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman

Bio:
An accomplished writer, blogger and reviewer, Zimmerman contributes to several local and national publications, including No Depression, Paste, Relix and Goldmine. The music obsessive says he owns too many albums to count and numerous instruments he’s yet to learn.

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