Big thanks to Conrad for joining us on the show this week!
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FROM TODAY'S SHOW
- Brighter Day by Caroline Ferrante (Indie/Americana)
- Danger Close by His Dream of Lions (Pop/Rock)
- Down by Jen Miller (Indie/Indie Pop)
- Carolina by Hello Dharma (Pop/R&B)
- Back Where I Started by Pressing Strings (Folk/Rock)
- I'm Okay by Nelly's Echo (Pop/Soul)
- Saturday May 13th - Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival - http://www.kingmanislandbluegrass.com/
- Near Northeast - True Mirror
THIS WEEK'S LOCAL DC SHOWS TO SEE
SEE THE FULL CALENDAR - You can even filter to shows nearby! We hope you'll go to one!
Fri May 12
Lesson Zero @ Rhodeside Grill in Arlington, VA
Olivia Mancini & Run Come See @ Rock & Roll Hotel in DC
Sat May 13
Kingman Island Bluegrass Fest
The Split Seconds, Derek Evry, 9 to 5, and Fellowcraft @ VFW Post 9274 in Falls Church, VA
Sun May 14
Veronneau @ Villain & Saint in Bethesda, MD
Mon May 15
Thievery Corporation w/ Orchestra @ Kennedy Center in DC
Tues May 16
Lanternfish, Technicians @ Black Cat in DC
Wed May 17
Ken Wenzel @ Ireland’s 4 Courts in Arlington, VA
Thurs May 18
Backbeat Underground @ Villain & Saint in Bethesda, MD
VIDEO - BIO - LINKS - TRANSCRIPT
The Blue Room Live Video Link Brian and Conrad discussed: https://www.facebook.com/blueroommusicstudio/videos/1453223031355708/
Conrad founded Blue Room Productions in 2009 after graduating Magna cum Laude from Emerson College in Boston, MA with achievements in audio/radio production and entrepreneurial studies. While living in Boston, Conrad acted as the Live Mix Director for WERS 88.9 FM, one of the largest stations broadcasting to the New England area and online around the world.
As a producer and engineer, Conrad has continued to push his boundaries by attending workshops, master classes and industry conferences which have taken him as far as Avignon, France, attending the Mix With the Masters seminar with legendary grammy-award winning engineer Chris Lord-Alge. As an experienced producer with over 13 years of experience and a veteran drummer, Conrad is one of the most versatile and respected producers in the DC area, as well as being a voting member for the Grammy’s. He’s also a member of the Audio Engineering Society, a society comprised of leading audio engineers and scientists as well as the Washington D.C. chapter of the Grammy Foundation.
Brian: On DC Music Rocks, we're shining a spotlight on the great songs and incredible people behind the DC region's music scene. Now, let's get to know one of those incredible people. We have Conrad, who founded Blue Room Productions in 2009 after graduating from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, in audio and radio production and entrepreneurial studies. While living in Boston, Conrad acted as the live mix director for WERS 88.9, which is what you mentioned earlier with Thievery Corporation, that's where you came across them, so the Boston connection. It's one of the largest stations broadcasting to the New England area, and online around the world, so as an experienced producer with over 13 years of experience, and a veteran drummer, Conrad is one of the most versatile and respected producers in the DC area as well as being a voting member of the Grammys. That's what everyone wants to know, right? Are you a voting member of the Grammys? This man is one of those people. He is also a member of the Audio Engineering Society and overall great guy.
I first came across Conrad when my band, we had entered into the competition for a Whammy, for the Washington Area Music Awards, and my album got picked up as a possibility for that. Conrad heard the album, and he reached out, and wanted to do ... He has something awesome called Blue Room Live, which we'll talk about here in the interview, but I got to participate in it. I'll be sure to share that video with you, because that was a cool experiece. It's awesome he's sharing those videos. It turns out, by the way, he's an awesome guy, so afterwards it was like, "All right, Conrad, I want you to come on the show man, let's talk to you." Listeners it's with great pleasure that I get to formally introduce Conrad.
Conrad: Thanks very much, thanks for having me and thanks for your kind words.
Brian: Thanks for being here. Now, one of the things I want to know, first, I want to know why is it called Blue Room?
Conrad: The first studio, I have one location in Maryland and one in Virginia, the original Blue Room Studio, the walls were blue before I arrived. It was a empty room with a carpet and these funky red lips couches, no recording equipment, no vocal booth, and the walls were blue, so the name kind of stuck for the last seven, eight years.
Brian: Became the Blue Room.
Conrad: It sure did.
Brian: There you go. That's really funny. At what point did you ... It wasn't when you first moved in you called it the Blue Room, then it became, ultimately, a business name.
Brian: When did it go from the nickname to the real name?
Conrad: I never knew even the name would last or stick around and it would be as notable as it is now, but even the second studio in Virginia, all the walls are painted blue in all of the rooms, the isolation room, control room, everything is blue. It fit.
Brian: It became for real then. That's amazing, all right. Now talk about, for those listeners who don't know, I was talking about Blue Room Live. Tell them what that is and where that came from.
Brian: Talk about that.
Conrad: Well were trying to follow similar to your footsteps, we want to support local music, and be a hub for local DC musicians to meet at our studio, to connect with each other, to perform their original songs, and to get out there into the environment. It's difficult now, in 2017, it's a completely different landscape as far as promoting your live music, so we're trying to give local talent an opportunity to perform and stream live in our studio to Facebook, or YouTube, to have a great avenue to get out to their fans and friends.
Brian: That is really cool. Where did the idea come from for that? Was that ...
Conrad: I'm very much into technology, I'm a nerd, and a geek at heart. Hybrid musician and nerd, so recording engineer worked out.
Brian: I appreciate your honesty sir.
Conrad: [inaudible 00:03:29]
Brian: It's that nerd thing.
Conrad: I'm very much into emerging technology, things which are right over the horizon. I'm just now getting heavy into 3D and VR, being able to broadcast a live concert from our studio in VR and to the goggles people wear around the country, around the world.
Conrad: Maybe six, nine months ago, I knew that Facebook and YouTube, they're investing into infrastructure for live streaming, but up until a certain point you could only stream with your phone. Trying to find a way to do it with multiple camera angles, a very high quality audio mix from ProTools, everything done live on the fly like a radio show, like today. There's a lot of added pressure, it's a much different mentality verses just booking the studio for a session and recording, recording as many takes as you want. There's really a lot more added pressure when you're trying to hit that live broadcast, as you know.
Brian: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we do it live on here and then we also share the recording, but same thing with Blue Room Live too. If you got to the Blue Room ... The Facebook tag is ...
Conrad: BlueRoomLive.com will take you right to our Facebook site where those streams occur, BlueRoomMusicStudio.com tells you all about our studio, and Blue Room Live takes you right to the archive of all of our previous live streams.
Brian: Awesome, so definitely, they've had some amazing groups that have been on there. By all means check out fellow crafter, Black Alley was the one right after us, I thought that was amazing. They do incredible sound because it's a recording studio.
Conrad: You got it.
Brian: You guys really do justice to how awesome the sound is of these bands.
Conrad: We care about that too, I'm not satisfied with someone streaming off the internal mic on their iPhone, I want to have a high quality stream to listen to. Band like Black Alley, last month, we had 6,500 simultaneous viewers tuning in from our tiny study in Herdon, Virginia. It was a blessing and we're hoping to do that all summer long.
Brian: Now the musicians, I've had a couple musicians ask me, because they thought it was incredible, which it did, if they were interested in signing up for that ...
Brian: ... or getting to know. What's the best way for them to reach you for that?
Conrad: I encourage any local groups to contact us to do a live stream, or just to chat, and to talk about a potential project, or any way we can collaborate, and support, and be a hub for musicians in the area. The best thing is just give us a call or send us an email, it's info@BlueRoomMusicStudio.com. Feel free to send samples of your work, any information you can share about the group, your experience recording and performing in the DC area, and we'd be happy to host you.
Brian: Yeah that's awesome, very cool. Kind of right now, what about ... Now I know you're also a musician too, so talk about that. What are you into with music around here?
Conrad: I've been a drummer for about 17 years so far.
Brian: [inaudible 00:06:11] high five on the drummer thing.
Conrad: High five on drums.
Brian: That's it, all right.
Conrad: Team drummer here.
Conrad: That's really my primary instrument, I can hang on guitar and bass as well, but I'd say at least more recently over the last few years, my primary passion, my primary instrument seems to be the mixer in the recording studio. That's where I live most of the time.
Brian: that's a very powerful instrument. It should not be overlooked, that's for sure.
Brian: Now, so you play around town now. How did the Tool tribute band, how did that start?
Conrad: I play in a band called Wild Eyes, we're a Tool tribute group. We've been performing for over four years already in New York, Virginia, Baltimore area. I'm into not just loud, aggressive, screaming metal, but something that's a bit more powerful, something with something interesting to listen to, especially in the rhythm department as you can imagine. I'm into music with a lot of polyrhythms, a lot of double bass, a lot of kind of unique blue notes, and odd type signatures, and strange maybe non-typical western music you might hear on the radio. Tool is right up my alley. We play these epic songs from maybe seven to maybe 15 minutes long. There are these long twisted epic songs that we idolize these guys, I'm actually going to see them perform three times in 10 days in DC, New York, and Boston, in two weeks.
Conrad: It will be really cool. I will be loaded on Tool.
Brian: That's cool. All right, so you go see some shows. Now what else with what you're doing ... Talk about outside of music now, and outside of the studio, who is Conrad outside of that? Hobbies, what do you do outside of that?
Conrad: Not much. I'm so heavy, I'm so passionate into audio engineering, into high fidelity, high quality, high resolution audio and video, that's a really a passion of mine. All my friends are musicians, whenever I have free time I'm always going to shows at any venue in the DC area. I've been to the Fillmore twice already this month. I've there all the time, seeing shows downtown, Velvet Lounge, Black Cat, DC 9, trying to not only meet other musicians, but trying to support my friends, and their shows, and they support me and my endeavor, and my studio, so I try to pay it back, as you're doing also.
Brian: Now I can't let you get away with just saying more music, so tell us something else man. What else is outside? Is there a certain TV show you like, are you a hardcore workout guy, is there any ... Do you have pets at home, or any kind ... What's outside of it.
Conrad: I have a beautiful German Shepherd, Silver, that I adore. I try to get to the gym when I can every now and then. I don't have cable TV, so I don't even watch that much TV, just a little Apple TV now and then. The majority of my time and love, which gets me out of bed every day is running my business, running the studios, mixing, mastering, meeting new clients, traveling when I can. I'm very involved and very active in the DC chapter of the Grammys, and go to all of their events, and panel discussions. I'm quite active in the AES, Audio Engineering Society, a group of professional engineers and producers. I travel to all of their affairs and expos in LA and New York. I've been to the Grammys five times already, so I travel to LA every year and vote on the ballot and try to stay very active in my community.
Brian: I think you succeed in that, so it's not just trying, I definitely think you succeed. Now talk about what's something in your music collection that might surprise us?
Conrad: I try to be extremely open when people, you ask people, "What kind of music do you listen to?" They say, "I listen to everything." I really try to listen to everything. I try to be well versed and try to listen to top charting songs on Spotify, even styles I may not typically reach for, it doesn't have to be rock, it doesn't have to be metal, I listen to pop songs, jazz, folk, country, gospel, blues, reggae, because I have to be familiar with those genres. My clients expect that kind of contemporary sound, or maybe they're looking for a older vintage sound, who knows?
Brian: Got it.
Conrad: I try to be extremely well versed, like a chef who might cook all different types of cuisine around the world. I want to be the same capacity as a recording engineer, very well versed.
Brian: You're well versed, is there one that surprises you that's in your music collection?
Conrad: You know, I'd say while I enjoy working with pop singers, and individual singer song writers who maybe play guitar and sing, or play piano and sing, I always gravitate towards working with bands, and recording live instruments. I much always ... I prefer to set up a live drum set, and mic it up, and track live drums instead of resorting to drum loops, or sequencing, or using some midi synthesizer or something like that to ... As far as strange genres, I really don't have any. I'm extremely neutral. Even country music, and hip hop, and jazz, and every perspective, I try to do it all. A bunch of my friends invited me to see deadmau5 at Merriweather Post in Columbia. I don't go to too many EDM shows, or electronic shows, so that was something different for me.
Brian: You were there?
Conrad: I was there.
Conrad: I was there seeing with the animations, and the subs, and the lasers, and fog, and everything, and it was pretty wild. I was the guy in the back with the custom earplugs in my ear, protecting my ears. I'm usually that guy.
Brian: Yep, absolutely. Hey listen, custom earplugs, if you like live music, or you work with live music, custom earplugs, or at least hi-fi earplugs are definitely a great investment.
Brian: I'm glad you're doing that.
Brian: Now, earliest memory with music.
Conrad: Well I started playing drums at age 12, I certainly remember growing listening to whatever my parents, my family, was playing, driving in my dad's blue Nissan ZX300, listening to Deep Purple. Of course he's a big fan of the Beatles too, so those were heavy influences in me too. I started playing piano for about a year or two, and took a lot of lessons, but at age 10 or 11 it's difficult to really stick with it. As soon as I tried drums, and even sitting at the kitchen table, and my dad was trying to demo, and grill me, and see if I can play simple rhythms on the table. I did, and I passed, so he said, "All right, let's sign you up for drum lessons." From age 12 on I've been very deep into percussion and drums. That really carries over even into my career as an audio engineer, because I'm a stickler for timing, and making sure the groove feels correct, and feels proper. Things have to be in tune, and in time, and if the drums aren't feeling right, I sit and analyze, and nudge, the drums around, and force them to get into time. Because nothing bothers me more than a strange, a funky feeling groove. I don't mean funky in a good way, in the bad way.
Brian: It's funky in the kind of smells way, right? I get you.
Conrad: There you go.
Brian: All right now, one of my favorite questions to ask is if you could offer one piece of advice, what would it be?
Conrad: Networking and connections, especially in smaller markets, not in Nashville, or New York, or LA for example, but in a city like DC, being friendly, being outgoing, and collaborating with other musicians is everything. My business and my career as an engineer, as a musician, as a band mate, wouldn't survive without other people, and without connections and assistance from them too. Going and being active in your community, going to events, whether it's Grammys, or AES, or something else you're interested and passionate about, you got to get up, you got to get out of bed, you got to get dressed and go to these events. A lot of them are Saturday, Sundays, some of them are in different cities, but to go and smile, and pass out business cards, and meet people, you never know who calls you six months, or six years later, and says, "I met you a while ago. You had this metal business card. I need an album to be mixed," or, "I have a song to master," or something like that. You never know who is going to knock on your door.
Brian: You sound like you have experience with that, is there a story that comes to mind with that one that [inaudible 00:14:29]
Conrad: I recall the first time I went to the Grammys, which was about five or six years ago, I sat one row in front at the Staples Center in LA with ... There was a reggae artist behind me who we just started talking, and had some time to kill. I gave him my card, and months later he called me and booked me to mix his entire album. That alone, that project alone paid for my whole trip to LA, and all my meetings, and travel, et cetera.
Brian: That's amazing.
Conrad: I never knew, I never guessed he would call. I even forgot about him, and he call and said, "I remember, I was sitting behind you at the Grammys at the Staple Center. Let's do some work together." You never know who's going to give you a call.
Brian: That's amazing. That networking thing, I love it. Now, if folks want to find out more about you and the cool things happening at Blue Room, where do they go?
Conrad: I encourage you to check out BlueRoomMusicStudio.com, that's the domain for my two studios. One is in Bethesda, Maryland, one in Herndon, Virginia, we're about half an hour from the White House, from downtown Washington. I'd love anyone and everyone to reach out, and if you'd ever like to come by for a studio tour, or need a consultation for your project, I engineer, and I have a few other very talented engineers I'd be happy to introduce you.