Broke-Ass(ish) Interview: Pat Brown of Different Fur Studios (43rd Anniversary Party Friday @Café Du Nord!)
Usually I ask a bunch of broke-ass musicians to give you advice on how to become a musician. Stupid. The blind leading the blind. (I just mistyped blind as “bling.” If only it were the bling leading the bling).
Today I talk to someone who actually made good on his music industry dream. Mr. Patrick Brown, owner of the Mission’s Different Fur Studios and music engineer extraordinaire. Different Fur celebrates its 43rd anniversary this Friday, August 26th, and they’re throwing a big fat party in its honor (plus it’s Pat’s birthday). So go to Café Du Nord to see a heavy lineup featuring Tragik, Grillade, Dirty Ghosts, and Lilac. Tickets are selling fast, so buy some. Here’s the Facebook invite with more info.
Usually I see Pat between the hours of 11pm and 3am. That’s when I get out of shows and he gets out of the studio and even though I don’t drink and I’m vegan, he tries to trick me into drinking alcoholic beverages made of egg whites (remember that, BAS readers?).
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This time he answered some questions in the light of day. Or, rather, in the darkness of the studio while it was light outside. First we got into the serious stuff, like why Friday is going to be amazing, why Different Fur is a great place to record, and what new projects are coming out of there. Then we got into the really important stuff, like why Ryan Reynolds is such a dreamboat, why Ani DiFranco’s lyrics are so vaggy, why the Mission is so fun and, of course, as always, money money money. Pat is witty as fuck, so read this.
This feels like orientation week. Hi, my name’s Patrick. I’m a Virgo. I like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.
Tell us about Friday’s show.
Friday August 26th is gonna be crazy. I don’t know if you’ve ever partied with a bunch of sound engineers before but it’s a real experience. The studio has been in the same location at 19th & Valencia for 43 years and we wanted to have a little party to celebrate so we organized a show at Café Du Nord with some of our favorite artists. The night starts off with some grungy goodness from Lilac and then continues rocking out with Dirty Ghosts. Grillade is gonna throw down on some live soul/hip-hop business. They’re co-headlining with hip-hop/dance act TRAGIK, who’s a badass that I guarantee you’ll see more of in the future.
At Different Fur we have pretty mixed tastes in music but the common thread is we like real performers. All of these artists keep it raw and put on a serious show. Plus it’s my birthday so I hope Du Nord stocks up on tequila.
How do you prepare for a big day at the recording studio? What will you be doing the night before?
Well, I don’t really sleep more than four hours, so I’m not usually doing that and I work pretty much every day ALL DAY, so most likely I’m doing that. Otherwise, my nights usually consist of either going out to shows or watching reruns of the Golden Girls. I try to spend time with my girlfriend and I’m trying to relearn how to cook when I have the time. It’s healthier and saves me money. Lately I’ve been pan frying small pieces of pork and tossing that on top of black beans with some salsa fresca and a fresh vegetable or two. Hella delicious and hella cheap.
What can people expect when they hire you to record their album?
A lot of yelling. I will probably sing whatever song we’re recording and change the lyrics so they have your name in them somehow, then I’ll forget your name. If you get really high and act like a clown I will live tweet it. I don’t get high so this game is rigged. All in all, I’ll do everything I can to make sure things sound the way you expect, and hopefully even better, so that when you leave you are proud of what we’ve accomplished. It is supposed to be a record, after all. Also, if you leave your sunglasses behind I will wear them.
Describe your sound.
A really big-time engineer (who has worked on most of the songs you hear on top 40 radio) recently told me I have a “Globular Method” which I thought was a pretty funny way to describe it. I like dynamics but also I like the sound things make when I beat the piss out of them. There’s a whole other dimension that occurs when analog gear is pushed and it’s that extra layer that I love to play with. The almost subliminal layer that’s really more of a feeling than a sound. You can call it crazy glue or sparkle motion or something. I think it deserves a rad nickname. Anyway, check out the records I’ve done and tell me yourself.
What do you do during downtime at the studio?
We don’t really have downtime, but when we do it’s spent talking about recording or stalking people on Facebook or arguing. Honestly I spend all my time with musicians and engineers. My job extends past just recording and mixing people’s projects. I really think it’s important to support as many aspects of the music community and careers of musicians/engineers as I can. So a lot of my time is spent connecting people, giving advice, or providing some kind of resource or another… or drinking to forget.
What’s next for you?
Well we’ve got the show Friday and then we’re having an open house for people to come meet us and check out the space on Saturday. Otherwise there are a lot of great projects coming out soon. Right now I’m working on a full-length record for Lilac, and an EP for Ash Reiter, which should be out in October. Nic Pope and I are co-producing a new record for Flexx Bronco. I just finished up some projects with The Park and Grillade and soul legend DARONDO! Also, Jorge Hernandez has a bunch of new hip-hop projects lately with real talented dudes like Team BackPack. Basically we don’t plan on stopping, just gonna keep working our asses off and keep helping make great music. We’re really competitive. It keeps us on our toes when we’re challenged to do a better job by other studios and engineers.
Different Fur: Patrick Brown, Lindsey Cundiff, Nic Pope
Three things you’d take to a desert island?
Fudgepops, coffee, and that kid Piggy from the Lord of the Flies.
What movie can you watch over and over and never get sick of?
“Definitely, Maybe.” Ryan Reynolds is a dreamboat, duh.
Favorite season or time of year?
There are no seasons in the studio, it’s like living in Plato’s Cave.
Favorite lyrics of all time?
“I’m gonna do my best swan dive into shark infested waters
Then I’m gonna take out my tampon and start splashing around”
-Ani DiFranco, “Swan Dive”
Three things that are in your fridge right now?
Home pickled okra my girlfriend made, leftover 4th of July Budweiser with the American flag on the can, and eight types of mustard (but no ketchup).
Anything in your sock drawer besides socks?
I don’t even have a sock drawer. My socks are scattered on the floor around the house.
Favorite thing about San Francisco?
Favorite SF restaurant?
Right now I’m obsessed with Mission Chinese but I think everyone is. They just got on the list of Top 10 best new restaurants in the U.S.
Favorite SF bar?
The Lexington Club, but don’t tell them I sent you.
Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty, i.e. money:
Have any tips for aspiring musicians trying to make it on their craft?
Work your ass off, build a good team around yourself, and be loyal to that team but don’t compromise yourself in the process. Put all of the money you can back into your career. It is actually a job, and a really hard one at that. Treat it that way.
Best money saving tip in general?
Don’t get anyone pregnant and don’t get into the recording business.
Where do you live now and what are some good cheap/fun things to do in that area?
I live in the MISSION DISTRICT. If you’re bored around here, you actually are boring. Mix a Rockstar energy drink with some Malibu rum and go run around the neighborhood like a nut job. No one will notice.
What do you refuse to spend money on?
I buy the cheapest socks I can find at those Chinese surplus stores on Mission Street.
What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought and how did that feel?
This studio is the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought, and it was the most stressful and scary experience I’ve ever been through.
What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten?
Anything from Target, which is a shame since they support gay hate groups.
What is your favorite free thing to do?
Does everyone answer sex to this question? Because it seems like you’ve set it up so that everyone says sex.
If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?
I have so much debt, I wouldn’t buy shit. I would just pay off my debt and then I’d buy 2Pac’s Death Row chain and wear that shit to the CLUUUUB!
What’s one GOOD thing about not having a ton of money?
It makes you work harder and smarter for the things you want. Also, according to a study I read, being hungry makes men more attractive because they put off more of an animal “hunter” vibe. The other side of that is that apparently being hungry can actually make men attracted to people 10 – 20 pounds heavier than they normally would be. I actually read this. I think it was Malcolm Gladwell or something. Whatever, everyone wins when you’re hungry!
Any last words?
See you Friday, suckas!
*photos by Molly DeCoudreaux