Over the last few months, local musician (and former Little Village editor) Max Johnson has been spending a lot of his free time turning a small, windowless storage room behind Public Space One’s (PS1) stage into a fully functional recording studio. The upshot? Starting this week, he’s rolling out weekly, collaborative recording workshops that will run through July 21.
Since he first started dabbling in sound production and recording in his teens, Johnson has accumulated an impressive collection of recording equipment. After talking with PS1 Director John Engelbrecht, he decided it was time to combine that collection of equipment with pieces that have been donated to PS1 over the years to create the studio.
Initially, he says he recorded himself playing solo to get a feel for how the equipment worked, and has since moved on to holding larger jam-sessions, many of which have included Lesbian Poetry drummer P.J. Mullen.
He also recorded THUGGOON, PS1’s in-house marching band, as they chanted and rhythmically pounded their walking sticks on the hard basement floor. By recording unconventional, impromptu events like that in addition to more traditional musical acts, Johnson says he hopes he’ll be able to continue to learn about the recording process. As with many of the projects that take place at PS1, Johnson says keeping things experimental is key.
By the end of the summer, Johnson hopes he will be able to invite as many musicians as possible to PS1 to record a giant, Iowa City jam session. For now, he’s proud of the space he’s already put together, and looks forward to teaching his workshops and meeting like-minded musicians.
“I’ve been doing this since I was 16, and the recordings I’ve already done here are my best stuff,” he said. “Not that every recording is predictably good, of course.” (laughs)
To register or find more information about the upcoming workshops, check out the PS1 website.
Non-Literal Recording — Tuesdays: June 9 and 16 from 3-4 p.m. ($20)
Recording Experiments — Tuesdays: June 30, July 7, 14, 21 from 3-5 p.m. ($35)
Note: Discounts are available for signing up for multiple workshops.