My first experience in a recording studio was back in the year 1984

My band Dot 3 went in to record our first cassette release, and immediately I was fascinated with every part of the process—the gear, the sound, the mixing—it was a ‘laboratory’ that meticulously ‘studied’ and produced the thing in life I was most passionate about—MUSIC!


At that time, we still recorded to tape, and the tape alone was quite an investment—as I recall, about $300 a roll for 2” tape, and one needed about 3 or 4 rolls to make an album, so a band could be $1200 into a project before they even hit the studio. During this time, I figured out how to use 2 cassette machines to create multi-track recordings, and eventually got a 4 track cassette recorder, but that was all for fun—I wasn’t going to get a studio quality recording out of those devices, and that was the kind of sound I was looking for. Around 1992, Alesis released the ADAT, a digital recorder using Super VHS tape as a medium for capture—I bought one early on, as I knew I wanted to be able to spend countless hours creating music that could eventually be released at commercial quality—I didn’t yet realize it, but I had become an early adopter of the home studio mindset that is so prevalent today, and in fact has put so many commercial studios out of business.

I set up my first 2 studios in the basements of houses I lived in, the first basement being an unfinished dirt basement who’s (is a basement a ’who’?) floor I covered with cardboard, then scraps of carpeting pulled from a dumpster. I built walls with 2 x 4’s and dry wall, and at barely over 6 feet in height, that was the first studio. We moved in about a year, and the next house also had a basement—a bit of a rarity in California. This basement was actually a ‘finished’ basement, so the studio was an ‘upgrade’ from the first one, and this is where I started recording what would become my first solo release. That basement flooded twice during a particularly rainy winter, and fortunately, I did not lose too much gear. At that time, I started what would become a lifelong process of buying gear to make better recordings, and I bought any book I could find on recording/home recording down at Tower Books. In 1996, I moved into a basement apartment that would be my home and studio for 10 years—it had also been the rehearsal studio of my band Dot 3 in the late 80’s, so as the third basement studio, and the rehearsal space of one the best bands I’d played with, Dot 3, I called my solo project, Basement 3. It was here that I graduated from my ADAT to my first Pro Tools rig in 2000.

During this time, I played in many bands playing many styles on several instruments. Because of my interest in various musical instruments and styles, and my indecisive nature, I became a sort of musical chameleon, playing with lots of different bands, usually on either saxophone or guitar. I wanted to find my ‘thing’—what was it going to be? Jazz? Punk? Sax? Guitar? Classical? Grunge? Flute? World Music? Funk? Industrial? Experimental? Because of my obsessive nature, I delved as deep as i could into all my musical interests, and I went equally as deep with the art of recording—I always had a compulsion to take every avenue as far as it would go, and thus, with the time needed to indulge, I was often single…:) I often kicked myself for not being decisive about one instrument or one genre, as I felt the division of focus would never allow me to get to the ultimate destination on one single thing, but I didn’t realize this inability to decide would serve me very well in the future.

Playing as everybody else’s sideman and keeping my own creations in the closet (basement) started to to feel unsatisfactory, so I started to make plans to bring my own visions to life. With plans of bringing a band together continually failing, I decided I might try to present my music as a solo act—and given it’s many layers, that was going to be an interesting challenge. I bought a good acoustic guitar and tried to strip things down to just vocal and guitar, and I took voice lessons as I was not feeling happy with that part of the presentation. To prepare myself for solo performances, I discovered the world of open mics—I knew they existed, but being in bands since the age of 12, I had no idea what a large community was lurking in the world of open mics and singer-songwriters. It was a whole world that was new to me. In usual ‘Kenny fashion’, I embraced this world with a vengeance and spent countless hours preparing solo performances and traveling the entire bay area and beyond in search of open mics and venues for acoustic music as I started to book solo shows. I toured the west coast and started writing songs based in the singer-songwriter tradition, stripping things way back. In 2006, I became restless, and in a complete left turn, I quit all my bands, quit my full time job of 14 years, and went to Australia to meet a girl (Sabine) I met on MySpace while exploring possibilities of playing music abroad. I had planned to stay in Australia for a year and explore music, so I created my first mobile recording rig—a laptop, a small interface, and 3 microphones—all small enough to bring on the plane as carry on. In Australia, I began recording my 4th solo album, and I began to record Sabine’s first album in her Melbourne apartment. Sabine had been a closet song writer, so this whole experience was new to her and a bit of a shock to her system.

My time in Australia had not brought the clarity of vision I was looking for—in fact, I felt less clear than ever, so I came back to the US in early 2007 with many questions. My friends Heather and Dave put me up in their home for many months while I tried to figure out what was next, as I mixed the album I’d recorded in Australia, as well as Sabine’s album. For some income, I started recording an album for Aly Kahn, a fellow singer-songwriter, using an expanded version of the mobile rig I’d brought to Australia—I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the start of Basement 3 Productions. I’d always kept my tools for my own endeavors, and I’d always co produced stuff for the bands I was in, but this was my first foray into using my knowledge of recording, my multi-instrumental skills, and my collection of gear for recording others. A vision started to appear—most singer-songwriters were individuals without a band, and without the knowledge of how to reproduce their music in a way that would stand up in the commercial realm. I could record them well, and even more useful, I could be their ‘band’—here’s where the years of musical indecision would come in handy! There were many studios who could/can do great recordings, but none that could offer to arrange and perform all the parts that would take singer-songwriter’s songs to a ‘finished’ state. It wasn’t immediately clear, but I began doing this for others, and it sort of just—happened.

Sabine came to the US in 2008, and we roamed the country for several months, then came back to the bay area, and I started producing and recording people in their homes/remote locations with my mobile rig to bring in some income. My background in photography allowed me to shoot the imagery for their albums, and Sabine’s background in graphic design made her the perfect person to design the album art. Still not fully clear to us, we’d already become the ‘one stop shop’. We lived for a time in a vacant house provided us by our friends Barbara and Karl, then moved back to my old digs at Lani’s Basement 3 for a time, and Sabine knew we had to find a place we could use for real studio. We needed a quiet location, so I mentioned the Santa Cruz mountains might yield something quiet. Sabine, despite my panic and concern over rent, found a place to check out in Boulder Creek—we went for it, and Basement 3 Productions in it’s current form was born in 2009. The first years were a struggle and were a combination of production work, photographic work, design work, music lessons, house sitting, and working at my friend Mike’s imaging business. Every year got better, and by around 2013, we were starting to have to drop teaching and some of the other things to keep up with the production work. Here in 2017, 10 years after it all ‘started’, Basement 3 Productions has found it’s unique niche helping singer-songwriters achieve their dreams and has become a haven for singer-songwriters struggling to present their art in a fully professional manner.



Photography and a visual ‘presence’ is essential in music, it’s as important as the music itself.

Photography by Kenny Schick – Kenny is a music producer, engineer, singer songwriter & photographer, living in Nashville TN (from the Bay Area CA)  (see more photos here)

Having great photos shows people who you are, in the crowded arena of music how you look is going to get attention and supports the music you make.

Mike Drew – country artist – – has a song called ‘Maybe It’s the Whiskey’ – photography by Kenny Schick

Music is as much a visual thing as it is audio.

When I check out new music it is not just an amazing song that grabs my attention first off it’s usually a photo, that tells me ‘who’ the artist is, is it someone I can relate to or be inspired by, are they quirky, unique, interesting and what genre are they. People are drawn in whole to an artist. It’s not just about your music but what you believe in and your ‘style’ that attracts like minded people to you. Your audience wants to relate to you and it might be that you just look like someone who I would want to be associated with or be friends with. It’s simply about making a good first impression on your potential new fan. People want to feel ‘connected’ and that they are a part of something. I like an artist more if who they are comes across in photos and video.

What you’re all about should reflect in your music as well as your ‘image’, your photos, your videos, what you support etc… I guess I’m saying don’t let your music down by not having a good visual representation of who you are.

I don’t know how many albums I’ve bought purely because of the cover or a picture of an artist – by flipping through albums in a music store I discovered Gillian Welch and Blonde Redhead and they are my two most favorite artists now and I consider myself a superfan. Sometimes I found gold that way and other times I felt like the cover misrepresented what was on the inside… ha just like people. Once I’m a fan of an artist, seeing exciting beautiful images of them makes me like them even more and certainly makes me interested in a new song, video or album. It’s another element to them that for me is just as important as the audio of them.

For some musicians thinking visually can sometimes be a challenge, but knowing what kind of photo you should have depends on who you are and what your music is all about. What are you trying to say in a photo and who are you trying to attract. It’s a bit of soul searching but with some spit and polish added to it. Its important to understand and know who you really are and be confident in that, and know who your audience is and then attract them to you. If you’re having a hard time trying to figure it out, then copy the best… what is your music likened to (sounds like….) how are they portraying themselves, and what attracts you to them, then do something similar to that. Don’t be shy about it, push it, go beyond your comfort level, you’re an artist right, a performer so go perform. If people like what they see they will explore you, find and listen to your music, hopefully love you and support your music by buying your music and merchandise.

Good photography and videos give your music a better chance of being heard!

Contact Kenny about Photography

Our aim is to empower our clients and fellow artists!

Artist: LeGrand Hutchings – Album Thoughts Along The Way – produced and recorded by Kenny Schick – Photography by Kenny Schick

Kenny and I both come from a do it yourself mentality when it comes to… well everything, especially our music career. Kenny wanted to record himself because he wanted to record more and experiment and that gets expensive. So he learnt how to do it for himself and then took those skills to do it for others. He’s happy to pass on his knowledge to artists who want to know how to do things themselves. He loves it when artists go to the trouble of figuring out things themselves like recording themselves and bring him just tracks to produce and mix. We run a business yes, but more importantly we are part of a music community. We are also recording and performing musicians so feel like we really understand the people we work with.

We love the idea of a creative community of musicians who help each other and we can all together find success (whatever that means to you). We encourage artists to support each other by going to local shows and buying local music. If you don’t do it, how can you expect others to support you! It’s a community not a competition! We ‘create’ a music scene and listening to each other not only inspires us but helps us learn to get better.

Venues, especially for singer songwriters and ‘quieter’ acts are becoming more hard to find and if people stop going to see live music the venues will have no choice but to shut their doors. My dream has always been to have a venue and perhaps one day that will happen mean while, there are some great venues in our area that support the local scene.

The Art 44 Race Street San Jose, CA 95126 – they support singer songwriters and have some great singer songwriter nights on their roster.

The Poor House DOWNTOWN SAN JOSE 91 South Autumn Street, San Jose, CA 95110 – they have a lot of blues there but also an open mic for singer songwriters

There are of course more and you are welcome to add them in the comments! Tell other songwriters about venues!

We have an amazing, talented and exciting music community – do music, love music and listen to others’ music! Learn from others, support others as you would like to be supported, basically treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself and music will continue to be important and vital to our lives.

Some great new artists to check out:


NAMM Music & Recording Gear mega conference.

The NAMM conference in Anaheim CA is the largest music and recording gear event in the world. Thousands attend from musicians, recording people like producers, engineers and musicians to teachers of music.

Although I’ve been heavily involved in the music industry for decades, I’ve somehow managed to never attend the NAMM show in Anaheim—until this year. It’s all quite overwhelming to a ‘NAMM virgin’, and it took most of the first day to adjust to being around 100,000 other music industry folks all dying to see the latest gear, attend lectures by industry leaders, hear music, and, of course, join other hopefuls in spotting rock stars.

Once I got a general feel for the layout of the show and a general idea how it was organized, I settled in a bit and was able to lose myself in the staggering amount of gear and products that are out there–instruments from the large makers down to the quirkiest boutique makers, software, DJ gear, accessories, and some of the best people watching you can imagine. It is a cacophony of sound and a visual assault that would cause an agoraphobic spontaneously combust.

I did my share of drooling both in the pro audio section and on many really cool instruments, but for me, the lectures were the most thought provoking and insightful part of the event. It was the panels that gave me the most food for thought about where this rapidly changing industry might actually be heading, and how I as a business owner within this industry might navigate these unsettled waters for a successful future.

The Global Impact of Disruptive Music Technology

One panel that was particularly interesting to me and got my juices flowing in both good and bad ways was called ‘The Global Impact of Disruptive Music Technology’. With panelists Jack Joseph Puig (multi-platinum producer), Marcus Ryle (founder/president of Line 6), Steve Slate (Slate Digital), Dr. Jeffery Smith (founder/ceo Smule), and Ernst Nathorst-Boos (ceo Propellorhead), the discussion focused on technologies that disrupt and challenge traditional practices in recording and making music.

Here at Basement 3 Productions, advancements in virtual instruments (particularly drums and strings in my case) have really been helpful in allowing me to make top notch recordings for singer songwriters at a price that an independent musician can handle. Though even with the minimal use of virtual instruments here at B3P, one downside is that I’ve replaced the need to hire out work to fellow musicians in some instances, but I can pass on savings to clients. With just this small example, one can see potential dilemmas, like we have certainly seen as well with the rise of digital media (mp3, AAC, etc) replacing physical media (CDs, tapes, records) and it’s impact on music sales/profits. Dr. Jeffery Smith’s company, Smule, is particularly in the front lines of the democratization of music–providing the ability to make music to the masses. This democratization is where the conflict begins to arise for me–where the obvious advantages of technology start to do battle with the cheapening of music as an art and a discipline. The other panelists companies fall more in the zone of helping musicians/engineers to get top quality sounds that would only have been achievable in big studios in past years. Obviously, the latter type of technology is in line with what I find useful and good—it has helped me create my whole business model—but on the other hand, the downside has been for big studios who have gone out of business, disrupting the livelihoods of many.

“…as a society, there is less and less knowledge about music, but way ability for the masses to create it…”


With technology on an a seemingly endless rise, are we going to see perpetual instability in the music industry? As an avid user (and AVID user) of technology, it is perhaps hypocritical of me when I start to suggest that technology is also in part severely damaging the music industry–but that dark part of the technology boom definitely exists too. One thing that came up that really hit me between the eyes was when it was pointed out that as a society, there is less and less knowledge about music, but way ability for the masses to create it. One panelist mentioned that Charles Ives had suggested that people would become way more knowledgeable of music in the future, but the complete opposite has happened. Yet there are an ever increasing amount of mobile apps, like Smule, go here to read more: SMULE APPS SOCIAL MUSIC NETWORK JESSIE J  that will allow users to ‘make music’ and put it out for the world to hear. And this is where I struggle with the internal voices that on one hand say ‘right on’ and on the others that are screaming ‘get off my lawn’. Part of me really feels that apps like this feed the annoying ‘entitled’ stance that is way too prevalent in all aspects of life these days. I feel like music is something one needs to work for, and with the experience and work ‘removed’, the whole joy of achievement and the joy of the process are also removed. For me, being human is all about a lifetime of mistakes and successes that lead to further growth–that is what is unique to being human and the very essence and definition of being human. If we allow technology to replace all this experience, then what happens to joy and accomplishment? I can say that as much as I utilize new technology, I don’t enjoy the process of making music quite as much–there is really something rewarding in the process and the time and struggle it takes to achieve one’s goal. The same has been true in photography too–even more so, I think, as everyone has a ‘camera’ these days and thinks they are a ‘photographer’.

“Part of me really feels that apps like this feed the annoying ‘entitled’ stance that is way too prevalent in all aspects of life these days.”

On the other hand, does it matter how one achieves and end result? If someone creates a brilliant song using apps to piece together elements in a creative way, isn’t that good enough? Maybe just the way in which creativity is manifested will change with the tools, but if the end result reaches and touches people, maybe that’s all that matters.


I have no definitive answers, but I do certainly have feelings and opinions. For someone who values music above all–from the creative process, to the execution, to the sound of the recording, I feel that technology might have done a little more damage than the good it’s also brought to the table. Technology brought us the mp3, which degrades the sound and impact of music. Earbuds and computer speakers are the new norm for listening. Autotune has often replaced talent. Elastic Audio and Beat Detective fix bad timing. Though I still think there is lots of great music being made, there is a major proliferation of crap to dig through to get to it caused by the ability to make it so easily. But new technology has made my business possible too, and has helped me to achieve some of the best production of my life. We can find new music in an instant, and listen to it anywhere. I suppose it actually sounds better as an mp3 on earbuds than it did coming off cassettes on my crappy Sony boom box. So back and forth we go.

I still feel that humans, despite all their flaws and imperfections, emote feeling in a way that machines don’t or can’t. The beauty of all art to me is it’s expression of humanity (the humanities…) –the struggle for perfection that may be the only purpose of each our existences. For me, I suppose it will be a balance that just ends up ‘feeling’ right. As Jack Joseph Puig noted at the end of the panel, one will always find what they are passionate about and will take what that need to achieve their goal. For me, at those times when I feel that the distraction of trying to keep up with the latest technology is getting in the way of making music, I need to remember that all the decades of studying and loving music result in the best tools anyone could have, and no technology is a replacement for that kind of experience, technically or emotionally.