On May 21, Indigital Recording Studio and Institute of Recording Arts acquired its business license from the city of Santa Cruz, securing the final puzzle piece it needed to open its state-of-the-art recording studio, which also doubles as a school.
Located in a 3,500-square foot building that sat vacant for years among the once-industrial corridors of Santa Cruz's Westside, the new facility is the result of two years of hard work.
"We've been in business for 13 years now, starting off in midtown Santa Cruz and then downtown, and now here on the Westside, but this particular building we've been remodeling and building pretty much from the ground up," said Brody Bergholz, 30, owner, instructor and executive engineer at Indigital. "It was a shell when we got in here."
About $300,000 later and there is nothing about the new studio that resembles a shell: walking into the studio feels like stepping onto the starship Enterprise, and it's easy to see why Bergholz has started calling it "the future church" and why artists have dubbed it "the space ship."
The main recording area was flooded in soft blue light on Saturday evening when Patch took the tour. A spotlight shines down from the cathedral ceilings. Geometric sound absorbers are mounted to the walls, along with six giant diffusers modeled after world-class equipment used at the infamous Skywalker Sound.
Bergholz spent a lot of time mapping out the acoustics of the space during construction.
"We're so proud of the sound in there because it's got 25-foot ceilings, and it's the best way to get the best acoustics. Put a drum kit in there and you just get nothing but incredible sound," he said.
The studio also features five isolation rooms so that large bands can come in and everyone can have a soundproof space to record in. Colored LED mood lighting runs through every room and is controlled by whoever happens to be reclining behind the soundboard.
During Patch's tour, the Bay Area-based hip hop group The Hash Boys were laying down tracks, and the Paris-born artist "Frenchy" said, "We've been to a lot of studios, but we always come back here, regardless."
Other artists to recently use the studio include Chris Rene, Phil Atkinson, Nitro Circus and the Blyndsite project (check out the short video they made at Indigital), to name just a few.
"We get all types of artists through here, from opera singers to voice overs for books, hip hop artists, rock bands, dub step and electronica, folk..." said Danilo Tj Magallanes, 31, Indigital's studio manager and director of operations. "Basically if it needs to be recorded this is the premier facility from Los Angeles to San Francisco."
Providing quality multimedia is a priority of the studio, which will soon feature green screens for music video backdrops.
"It's so important in this day and age to be able to have a video released at the same time that people release their song. Demo tapes don't get you very far anymore, you have to have your demo video that goes out, and it has to be professional quality," Magallanes said.
But even though the studio is a professional recording facility attracting artists from the Bay Area and beyond, it serves a much greater purpose that locals will be able to tap into, too: it's a credited school, with accreditation from the National Association for Music Education and the National Private School Association.
"You need verification, I mean they come out and they check the classrooms, they inspect the facility, they sit in on classes and see how we teach and inspect the curriculum," Bergholz, whose own studies include studying under Bruce Tambling in San Jose, working in Artistry studios in Los Angeles, a two year apprentice program at Future Rhythm Studios and working in various others in northern California, said.
Indigital Studio aims for a comprehensive curriculum that is much more hands on than your average recording institute.
Students will learn "everything from setting up all of the mics for a band, setting up the sound for a band, mixing, and engineering on state of the art equipment," Magallanes said. "The students that come out of here are top quality."
One thing Bergholz does not want is for his students to sit around watching videos on laptops all day—a phenomenon he says occurs at most recording schools.
"Students are able to run the entire facility in a recording session and work with clients. That's kind of our goal, is to allow students to be able to get through the program and be able to get a job in any professional recording facility. And it works," he said.
This week, the studio hosted students from Beats, Rhymes and Life, a Bay Area organization that uses hip hop as a kind of therapy for youth, and Magallanes plans on plugging the studio into Santa Cruz's First Friday Art Tour.
Indigital Recording Studios and Institute for Recording Arts is located at 1305 Fair Avenue in Santa Cruz. Students of all ages, from Junior High and up, are welcome. For more information visit their Facebook Page and check out their website, or email the manager directly.