‘Small studio, big sound’

Local musician helps students record music at a lowered price

by Tyler Bergen

Joe Douglas, 25, is the man behind Big Hare Studios. Big Hare is a recording studio Douglas uses to help artists record their music. Over the last 8 years, the Fairhaven based studio has helped friends, bands and local singer/ songwriters record their material.

“I want to give students the opportunity to record, which is something they usually can’t afford,” said Douglas. “I like to get a feel for the music first, see how difficult it will be to record, and find a fair price agreement from there.”

Big Hare studios was started by Douglas as a means of helping his friends record their music, but it has successfully become a business. He strives to record music for college musicians who can’t afford to record at a larger studio.

There are four big recording studios around Bellingham, all of which charge hourly or per song. They are: Binary Recording Studio, Spinner Audio, Fairhaven Recording Studio, and Champion St. Sounds.

Big Hare Studios challenges the tradition by charging for the complete  finished product, as opposed to the amount a recording could potentially cost.  He prefers to come up with a base price for the final product, because in his opinion. “it results in the best possible outcome for the music.”

“Small studio, big sound. That’s pretty much the jist of it. I’ve been doing this for 8 years now and I know how to make things sound good.” Douglas said. “Although I specialize in singer/songwriters, I do have the means to create and use electronic sounds in recording.”

Douglas has the tools needed for recording, mainly Protools, which is the industry standard for recording software. Douglas has plenty of other recording instruments, including interfaces, multi-channel boards, microphones and electronic drums.

Recently, Douglas has been working with local musician Sarah Goodin to record her full length debut album. It’s still a work in progress but Douglas said it’s his best work yet, and he has been working with Goodin on it for over a year.

“She is pretty well known around here, and Big Hare studio became official right around the time that we started recording for the album.” Douglas said.

Big Hare studios has helped release 5 projects all together over the last 8 years, ranging from experimental to folk. Douglas is also part of his own band, The Shows, who are an alternative indie rock band, or as Douglas prefers to call them “Noise-pop.”

“Sometimes a song that was supposed to be just acoustic guitar and vocals turns into something completely different. Other times it stays nice and simple. I’m open to being as creative as the client wants to be,” Douglas said.

Former WWU student Kellan McLaughlin, bassist of the metal band Noceur said that his band is currently in the process of trying to self-record without a producer or studio. Noceur is a trio from the greater Whatcom area, including guitarist and Whatcom student who goes by the stage name Aredux.

“It has been really difficult. We’re recording in a storage unit right now and the whole thing is terrible. It’s cold and echoey and small. We’ve had to scrape together all of the recording gear were using and none of it is very nice.” McLaughlin said.

“It would be incredibly difficult to walk into a fully equipped studio and play the role of both engineer and producer; it’s a hundred times more challenging to do when you have old, cheap equipment, a shoestring budget and no studio. It’s very frustrating trying to get a good sound that I’m happy with doing it this way,” he added.

Home recording isn’t the easiest way to record, but can be done with the right equipment and someone with the knowledge of how to work it all. Big Hare Studios is one of those studios, however Douglas is currently limited to an electronic drum kit, which does not allow for as much versatility in recording, but is more convenient.

In the near future, Douglas hopes to move Big Hare Studios into a larger area to allow for easier recording, especially for full bands and bands with large drum kits.

“The ultimate goal is to have a finished basement for recording, with a drum set miked up and ready to go at all times,” said Douglas.
“Eventually I would like to be able to offer more services than just recording to my clients,” Douglas added, “Like offering practice space or videography for live shows.”

Moving forward Douglas plans to keep working with his two current clients, as well as moving the studio to a larger space.
If interested in recording services, Big Hare Studios can be contacted by e-mail at BigHareStudio@gmail.com, or on the studios Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/BigHareStudio.

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