August 7, 2009 – 11:27 am
When you have one of the worst city tourism ads ever, it’s hard to rise above the poor reputation that former steeltown Hamilton Ontario (‘the Hammer’) is subjected to – but in actual fact, it’s an utterly brilliant place.
Especially if you like music (despite the evidence above).
After the radio conference in Toronto, and a quick wander around the city, I made my way by train to Hamilton – about an hour away – and was collected at the station by Glen – co-owner of Vibewrangler Studio, who had organised a public event and a series of consultancies with local musicians – and in whose house in the country I was staying.
The event itself was amazing – certainly from my perspective: the people who turned up were diverse and interesting, all at different stages in their music career, and all with different questions and challenges about how they can make the most of the changes going on in the music industry.
We spent about 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon – kicking off with me talking about some general principles for about 20 minutes or so, and then going around the room talking about what people do, what they’re stuck on and what their online strategies are.
It was my first introduction to some of the people I was to spend the rest of my week with – and to the amazing studio I was going to be hanging in for much of my time in town.
Vibewrangler’s a great space, and quite an unusual set-up.
The room is enormous and comfortable. There’s an isolation booth, but the musicians mostly play live together in the room with the mixing desk. That in itself is uncommon – but what stands the studio apart is the collaborative and creative process that the team brings to the recording environment.
It’s quite amazing – and difficult to describe. Rather than simply provide the service of professionally capturing musical performances (which any studio worth its salt can manage) the team at Vibewrangler get involved right from the outset from a production perspective – but not in a controlling or manipulative way. The best way I can describe it is that Vibewrangler has a culture that musicians can become immersed in, and that changes and develops the music through the process of recording – and beyond.
I was seriously impressed. Michael, Glen, Amber & Jon create a unique environment that’s simultaneously laid-back, friendly – and gets amazing results from the people they work with (check out Dark Mean for some of the results). And even better, Glen insists that everyone reads my ebook.
I did get to see some waterfalls during my time in Hamilton (more on that soon) – but every bit of music I encountered was better than that cringe-worthy bit of promotional nonsense. The city council should get Glen on the case next time…