In 2000 I moved to Los Angeles, California. For exactly one year, June 5th to June 5th, I lived in the heart of San Fernando Valley at John Heron’s recording studio, Rekordio. It was a pink bungalow concealed by an overgrowth of lantanas and orange trees in a vintage neighborhood of crisp lawns and pastel cookie-cutter houses, close to the Van Nuys airport.
A year later, I drove through Death Valley in a 1995 Ford Ranger with my brand new Macintosh computer and the latest ProTools Digi 001. I moved back into Rekordio. Michael Hutchinson still lived in the garage apartment and worked at CBS during the day. He was bilingual, and I think he worked on Spanish overdubs and closed captioning. He did not like to talk about his day job. At night, he recorded and mixed freelance in the garage apartment. He had a nine-year plan, working and living at Rekordio while saving money to buy his own place and build a recording studio.
I lived at Rekordio with Michael for three months the Summer of 2001. He was gone most of the time at CBS or visiting friends, but often during the workweek he was home in the evening. Since the garage apartment had no kitchen, Mike cooked at Rekordio. He was trying the Atkin’s Diet at the time. It was an interesting assortment of meats: gizzards, prawns, chicken breasts. He usually cooked a feast and always shared his dinner with me. Afterwards we would play a game of chess. Mike and I became friends during those rare quiet evenings at Rekordio.
One night, I asked for his help with my recording studio, he answered, “Read the manual. I’m not gonna help you!” He was serious. I did read the manual and eventually Michael gave me all the latest audio plug-ins for my computer.
That summer I was turning 22 and reflecting on my life, trying to gain perspective. On my birthday I asked Michael, who was almost twice my age, “What were you doing when you turned 22?”. He said, “I had just finished ‘Berlin’s Pleasure Victim’ as an assistant engineer and was living in Hollywood in an apartment full of musicians. ”
This was a turning point in our relationship. I had listened to this obscure record in high school and was surprised by his involvement. I quizzed him on the details of the album. He knew the answers. I looked him up online and couldn’t believe his resume. The quiet unassuming person living in the garage apartment was a prolific studio engineer and musician. The long list of credits
included famous names like Billy Idol, Michael Jackson, and Tom Waits. He was still constantly recording late night while he lived at Rekordio. Many anonymous musicians passed through, and a few I recognized, Tower of Power and Manhattan Transfer.
After that summer, I moved back to Oklahoma and started my recording studio, Inner State Studio. The audio programs Michael gave me were magical, straight from CBS. I used them extensively for many years. Down the road we reconnected on Facebook. His plan had worked out, he owned a house in North Hills and built a recording studio on the first floor.
I always thought I’d see him again. He was a mentor, friend, and a cool roommate! I read on facebook that he passed away. I alway thought I'd return to California, visit and record with Mike! Mike treated me like family, I always hoped I could return the favor.
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