The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a seismic shift for so many of us, including musicians. This month on SoundCheck, we hear from singer/songwriter Barak Hill and his pandemic project. It all started when he and his partner Katy Frederick bought a house in August 2019.
“One of the things I loved about it was it had this shop out back that I could, I thought, very easily convert into a home office/studio,” Hill said.
It took the pandemic for dreams of the studio to actually begin taking shape, as Hill’s live music career has been stalled.
“It’s been rough,” he said. “I’ve basically taken a year off. I’ve been writing songs, but I haven’t played out much at all. Last fall I played a few outdoor things, but just kind of because of being extra cautious because of some family that are high risk, I just kind of stopped playing everything. So, it’s been an interesting year. And all of a sudden I had just had all this time on my hands and that became my project. And it was a bigger project than I thought it would be, but it’s turned out really nice.”
This included tearing all of the work benches and shelving that was already in the shop, laying new hardwood floors and hanging sheet rock. He filled it with the home studio equipment he already had, added some sound treatments to the walls. A big book case with music autobiographies sits along one wall. Dark earth tones give way to racks of guitars and amps. Its name? Mid-Americana Sound.
I asked Hill how interest in the new studio was going so far.
“It’s been great. You know, Mark Bilyeu came in and did a Facebook live stream from the studio that went really well,” he said. “And just based on that, I’ve had a few people contact me. Right now, I’m being really choosy because of COVID. I think by summer I’ll be ready to go and really do some stuff, but for now, it’s kind of friends and people that I know have been being as careful as I’ve been.”
And he’s not sure if he’ll ever open it up to the general public.
“You know, one of the big things that made me want to do it was working on Brett Miller’s album. But just the process of working on it with a friend and it was so much fun. We spend quite a bit of time together over several months putting that album together. I wanted a space where I could do that with friends,” Hill said.
Until that time comes when he can have more friends at Mid-Americana Sound, he’s been working on his own music.
“It’s been nice to have something to work on, and it’s also really nice – since I’ve finished it – I’ve written almost an entire album just because I have a place to go play music now.”
In fact, Hill has a new song from the new studio coming to all of your streaming platforms this Friday, March 12. “Hallowed Be My Name” was the second song that he recorded at Mid-Americana.
“It was kind of interesting. I wrote the song and then I have a few people that when I think songs are finished, I’ll email a quick demo to them just to get some thoughts and feedback. And so it’s really nice having this studio set up. Those demos immediately got much better and that’s what happened here. I recorded it as a demo and then I really liked the feel I got with it and the sound that I got,” he said.
Barak Hill will be on KSMU’s Studio Live Friday, March 12 at noon.