My outlandish love for synth-filled music has brought me here

written August 1, 2018


In terms of sounds that please me, that liven up my senses, synths top the list. That's a broad statement in regards to the near-infinite amount of synth-filled music out there. But I was born in the 80s. Creepy Jim Henson creatures and dark, dreamy synths permeate my unconscious. I’m no historian of the instruments nor the genres, I only know what’s a hit to me, what makes my soul catch neon fire and my heart leap from my chest in nostalgic euphoria.

The 80s are synonymous with both analog and digital synthesizers thanks to the advent of more portable, more affordable and more widely available technology at the time. But the love for the instruments and all the varying genres that encompass them have kept on growing beyond that beautifully strange, cosmetic decade. Many artists and composers have continued to embrace and improve the storytelling abilities of synths on into the 21st century.

I was able to meet one of those very inventive composers at a recording session for Warner/Chappell Production Music a few months back thanks to a friend, Marc Daniel Nelson, who is an extraordinarily talented audio engineer and producer currently working at LA East Studios in Salt Lake City. It was another brilliant friend of mine, Wes Johnson, a local audio engineer and studio owner (Archive Recordings), who initially put me in contact with Marc earlier this year.

I had the privilege of capturing behind the scenes at LA East studios while brass and strings and synths took their dark, shadowy shape. Once I heard the thoughtful placement of sounds and instruments that the composer, Brian S. Carr (pictured below), was able to conjure up from the depths of his psyche I was overtaken. From the super cinematic and explosive to the introspective and meditative, there was no doubt he was taking us on a cosmic exploration of self and space, the very real kind of space that holds stars and planets and black holes and all the crushing infinity we have yet to know.

  This photo was not taken by Big American Story.

This photo was not taken by Big American Story.

See the studio highlight video and interview with Brian S. Carr below for a rare look at a recording session that involved some remarkable talent. From the musicians, to the composer, to the audio engineer and producers, and to the builders of LA East Studios themselves*, thank you for the opportunity.

an inside look at la east studios

meet the composer, brian s. carr

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*In order of appearance:
Bryan Hofheins - Chief Creative Officer
Judd Maher - VP of Creative
Eric Boulanger - 1st Violinist/Founder & Mastering Engineer at The Bakery in Los Angeles
Marc Daniel Nelson - Producer/Engineer
Brian S. Carr - Composer/WaxLab Music in Los Angeles
Glen Neibaur - Senior Engineer
Jamen Brooks - Content Producer


Know each other, know the outdoors, explore together.

written July 10, 2018


Getting to know each other is vital to our survival. We understand each other by sharing our deepest held beliefs and most intimate dreams. We learn to grow our empathy by expressing our vulnerabilities. Common ground, common passions, common pleasures, common pain, if we open up on the inside we don’t have to shut down on the outside.

Shutting down means we separate, disconnect, disassociate, push away. And before long we trap ourselves in little boxes with little holes punched out, just enough to peek through, too often focusing on what we hate instead of what we love.

Survival is synonymous with co-existence. And co-existence means embracing what we have collectively and progressing forward with it as best we can, with open hearts and open minds. I guarantee it's as simple as that. And it ripples out.

Find reasons to interact, find reasons to shed routine, find reasons to get out into unfamiliar surroundings and break free from rigid ways. If we do this more often then it will be easier to break down all the barriers that tend to rise up so quickly inside ourselves, inside our communities, the brick walls that exist so densely between strangers and us, loved ones and us. The stories we tell ourselves of others being, well, others, are just that, stories.

It's significant that we continue to create new stories with each other. And even redefine old stories within us and with those we haven’t talked to in a while.


Recently I was able to experience a lot of this (as well as document it) with Barebones Living, a community-driven brand focused on elevating life outdoors. (If you haven't heard of them, check them out. Aside from being a genuinely good company with genuinely good people, they also sell real-deal camping gear and cookware, among other things.) Barebones brought an incredible group of Makers together down at Under Canvas Zion. We were able to connect in nature while learning new crafts through curated workshops and communal gatherings hosted by the Makers* themselves, including a foraging trip put on by Beehive Floral Co.

Instead of desert heat we were greeted with cold rain and sometimes hail but throughout it all we held space for each other while enjoying live-fire meals from Tournant, Not Without Salt and Gjusta. We breathed in deep the wild air intending to shake up the city dust from our lungs. With each inhale we listened. And with every exhale we shared memories. And in between we ate really good food and drank incredibly inventive cocktails (courtesy of local mixologist Ryan Manning) around artfully built fires. We left better people than when we went in because we got to know each other. We were privileged enough to co-exist for a few days.