Every so often, a technological shift changes the music industry: the radio, quadraphonics, synthesizer, television, streaming. Today, the recording industry is undergoing another metamorphosis with the advent of at-home recording and distribution.
Billie Eillish’s 2019 juggernaut When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and swept the Grammy Awards, was produced in her brother’s bedroom, not a studio.
With the advent of relatively affordable music equipment, YouTube tutorials and the ability to upload to streaming services without a record label, at-home recording is on the rise--and musicians in Jacksonville are taking notice.
“There’s a lot of pressure whenever you’re paying a pretty penny for a studio space,” said Taylor Neal, who has been in his current home studio since last December. “In a home studio environment, you might be sitting on a couch in someone’s living room with a few mics around you, it’s a lot more casual.”
Neal has developed a local repertoire working with artists like Matilda, Yellow Steve and Bobby Kid.
This comfortability, coupled with the lower cost of using an at-home studio, gives local artists an affordable alternative.
This sentiment is echoed by DeAnna Doersch, who along with her partner Brok Mende, runs the Springfield based Friends of Friends recording. They want to bring out of town talent to Jacksonville, on top of recording locally, to expand Jacksonville’s musical influence, “Our goal is to create a way for people elsewhere to record here, enjoy the beach, hang out and bring their knowledge and connect locally.” Doersch envisions workshops and residency programs in their studio, once COVID-19 is under control.
The couple, who moved to Jacksonville from Chicago, see potential to develop the already burgeoning Jacksonville DIY scene into something that can rival Austin’s or Durham’s, “I grew up in Jacksonville, and I ended up leaving because there wasn’t a lot of infrastructure here for doing music,” said Mende, who works as engineer at the studio, “After moving back here, I see it in a different light, there’s so much opportunity here and raw talent and ability here. There’s no reason an artist shouldn’t be able to make a living in a sustainable way here.”
Both Neal and Mende highlight the benefits of having an abundance of recording options in Jacksonville, as a way to promote diversity but also to prevent artists from moving out of the city to look for viable careers.
“The more artists create and release music, the more the sound of “Jacksonville” and all of the inspiration between us artists gets recognized and defines the scene,” said Neal, referencing Jacksonville’s iconic Southern Rock sound of the ‘70s.
“Bringing infrastructure and community to people in Jacksonville, and outside of Jacksonville... is how you get to know people and that’s what helps bring sustainability to the artists in our city,” said Mende.“It allows us to keep making really good music that’s on par, if not better, than what artists in other major cities are making.”
Both Neal and Friends of Friends Recording have continued to progress during the pandemic, albeit at a much slower pace than they would like. With better days on the horizon, it won’t be long until shows with packed audiences will be safe again.