Oakland Local and Oaktown Indie Mayhem present The Studio Series. One Oakland band, recorded in a local studio, highlighting the thriving local music community in our city.

In many ways JingleTown Recording is an outlier. Oakland, and the Bay Area as a whole, doesn’t have many large studios, so the studios reception, kitchen, and secure parking are unusual attributes. It’s also a bit of an outlier existing east of Lake Merritt.

JingleTown was started by the members of Green Day as their own studio, but was opened to the public in 2012 and now its three large studios are available for bands to book. Its large main room allows for a large group, say a chorus or an orchestra, to record. JingleTown definitely fills a need for musicians since so many studios in the Bay Area are relatively small.

“There’s definitely a move to smaller spaces in general because the gear allows it more than it used to,” said Lee Bothwick, an engineer at JingleTown and who recorded Kev Choice for our studio series. “I can run a session off of equipment that uses up a very small footprint and my laptop. It didn’t used to be that way.”

Bothwick moved to Oakland in late 2005 to attend Ex’pression College in order to find a way into the music industry. He was given an internship at Studio 880, eventually becoming an engineer there and when the Studio 880 building was sold and turned into JingleTown Recording he was asked to stay on.

“I think now it’s easier for an entrepreneur to get the money and the space together [for a smaller studio] because you don’t necessarily need a big room all the time, especially if you’re doing smaller things like recording vocals and guitars or mixing.”

Late at night on April 27th, Bothwick recorded Kev Choice and his band recorded the song “Gone Too Far” off Choice’s recent album Love and Revolution.

Choice wrote “Gone Too Far” in response to his feelings after the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent non-indictment of police officer Darren Wilson.

‘I was watching the protest in Ferguson very closely and also participating in protest and marches happening in Oakland,” said Choice. “Being out with the people who are constantly organizing and fighting against the the issue of police brutality, I wanted to make a song that spoke for and inspired them and spoke out against all the violence at the hands of police around the country and the world.”

The song fits with a larger themes of his album which call for change to stop violence and oppression both locally, nationally, and internationally. Choice sees love and revolution as the two forces that can change, but also sees love as a revolutionary act in itself.

“Not just love between man and woman,” said Choice, “but love of family, love of community, and all forms of love.”

Along with his career in the music industry Choice teaches music at McClymonds High School along with Valerie Troutt. We asked him what tips he’d give his students about recording.

“Number 1: be as prepared as possible,” said Choice. “It’s good to have a band that knows the music and works well together. Being prepared doesn’t mean not leaving room to change and adjust and be creative. At this particular studio session I came up with an outright section right on the spot.”

Choice also recommended getting cool with the engineer. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” he said.

While Choice and his band did not necessarily need the large space at JingleTown, but they were certainly impressed with the space and the equipment, as JingleTown is undoubtedly an impressive space.

It’s  unlikely to see more large studios pop up in the Bay Area anytime soon, it’s not as if small studios didn’t exist until recently. As Bothwick noted “the smaller upper tier studios have always been around.” But that it may be getting more pricey to open a larger space, then again maybe it isn’t a new phenomenon.

“In places like SF and NY the space just isn’t really available for huge rooms and that even when it is it has probably always been extremely expensive.”

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