The year is 2003. Me, my brother and a close friend of ours decided to go to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert at a local outdoor venue. We laid out on the lawn along with 100’s (maybe 1000’s) of other fans and excitedly waited for the show to begin. We enjoyed the opening acts as did the crowd but when the Pepper’s took the stage something happened. I’m not sure I can fully describe just how electrified the audience became the moment the band appeared. I can’t remember the set list or even the first song they played but the crowd went absolutely nuts. I looked around and saw the joy and amazement on peoples faces. They absolutely lit up and it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The band was exciting and engaging and looked like they were having a blast. It was at that moment that I decided this is what I want. I want to be in a rock band and play to a crowd that would go insane when I took the stage. To give other people that same feeling when I played my songs for them. And so the 3 of us started a band. We enlisted other members to fill out the sound and began writing songs and looking for places to play. We eventually started to get some gigs and play at local bars and smaller venues. The next obvious step was to record our album.

We looked at various recording studios around the area and every single one of them was out of our price range so I naively hit upon the idea that we should build our own studio and record the music ourselves. My brother had a bit of a technical background and we agreed that he would be our engineer. The recordings were absolutely horrible. We had no idea what we were doing. I thought what we need is better equipment and a proper room to record in so I convinced my parents that if they would invest the money into turning their home into a recording studio we could cheaply record our bands music and maybe make a bit of money on the side by bringing in other bands. Naturally my brother would be the engineer and I would produce and bring in clients. It was the perfect solution to our problems I thought to myself. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After about a year or two of more terrible recordings and nowhere near enough clients to make up the costs to my parents, my brother, frustrated with his lack of ability and my constant criticisms, decided that he wasn’t cut out for the job and quit. I had two options, either we close the doors to the studio or I would take on the responsibilities of being the engineer on top of being the studio salesman (which I was failing at). I was worse than my brother at the engineering side and had absolutely no clue how to use any of the equipment or tools but I dug in my heels and refused to quit. My brother left me a few notes on how to at least get a session setup and sound to get into our DAW and I began the arduous task of recording a friend’s band on the super cheap.

I have no idea how I was able to convince people to record with me in the beginning. I was a terrible engineer and had lackluster people skills. I was ignorant to most of the recording process and had no idea how to mix a song. But I persevered and after an extremely frustrating learning process which took place over 15 years (and I’m still learning and trying to improve to this day) and working through failure after failure, I am where I am today. I’ve been blessed to work with some of the most talented local groups in Cleveland including Tropidelic, Carlos Jones and the Plus Band, Vibe and Direct, C Level and many many more artists and bands. I’ve learned a lot on my journey (and still have much to learn). It’s funny how life works out sometimes isn’t it? I went from wanting to be an A list rock star to becoming a top engineer and producer in Cleveland. I never would have thought that I would end up here.

The point in telling this story (if there is any) is that you never know where life will take you. Be open minded and don’t be afraid of the inevitable failures on the way to where you’re going. Enjoy the journey and learn the lessons on the way because although you might end up on a path you never thought you would take, it could be the path that leads you to where you were meant to be. I’ve dedicated my life to music and have made some wonderful friends and music along the way. The future is uncertain, but you might just end up where you were supposed to all along. I wouldn’t trade my journey for anything. I have some small hope that if you’re reading this, then perhaps it will give you hope that even if you’re not where you think you should be, that you will find encouragement to press on because you have no idea just how great your future can be.


Cary Crichlow, Senior Producer and Engineer