Travelling to another city, especially a storied musical hotspot, to work on songs with different people, or record at a legendary studio, can be incredibly inspiring for an artist. Maybe something of the distinctive flavour of those places can even work its way into the music, giving it an indescribable quality that can only come from actually being there and breathing the air.
Unfortunately, staying in those storied locales can be ruinously expensive for an artist, especially with the costs of flights, equipment, production, and studio time. So the free accommodation SOCAN offers at its SOCAN Houses in Los Angeles and Nashville is a pretty sweet perk for its members. We talked to two who booked time in SOCAN Houses about the financial and other benefits they enjoyed.
The Washboard Union, a Vancouver-based country music group, booked the SOCAN House in Nashville in the Winter of 2019 to work on their award-winning album Everbound. “It’s a great little house in East Nashville,” says singer and banjo player Chris Duncombe. “Perfect for us. We rehearsed and finished the writing there, and it was our crash pad every night when we got home from the studio.”
Duncombe says free accommodation made a “huge difference” to the recording budget. “It’s expensive to travel and be in a place for awhile when you’re writing and recording and not playing shows. So it helped a lot. It gave us a place to call home while we were in the throes of recording the album.”
Since the band was there during the Country Radio Seminar, it also gave them an opportunity to perform in front of radio programmers from across the U.S., a huge bonus for a Canadian group.
The band, which also includes Aaron Grain and David Roberts, insisted that being in Nashville had an impact. “I can’t help thinking that Nashville did affect the record somehow,” he says. “David and I are country music history buffs, and in the past we’ve recorded at RCA studio A and Waylon [Jennings]’s old studio Legends, and this time, to be at Sound Emporium, Cowboy Jack Clement’s studio, was incredible. You get to see and touch country music history there, and that’s important for us.”
Neon Dreams, the JUNO-winning alt-pop duo from Halifax, have visited the L.A. SOCAN House several times, including in December of 2019. “We used it for writing, recording and meeting with people,” says singer Frank Kadilllac, “and not having to pay thousands of dollars to stay there was great. I mean, we’re from the East Coast, so the flight alone is expensive. It’s a big investment to be there, so that helped a lot.”
For Kadillac and drummer Adrian Morris, networking and co-writing were crucial, and so having a place to meet and work was, too. “If we met someone who didn’t have a space, we could say we had a space to work in,” says Kadillac. “If we couldn’t book a bigger studio, we had a space to record, and if we wanted to write songs acoustically and go to the studio after, we could do that, too.
“It’s where we wrote ‘Sick of Feeling Useless,’ which [was] on the radio in America, and that’s pretty crazy. We’re new to America, so it was a great way to get our foot in the door. Without the House, it’d be a different situation for us.”
Kadillac says the L.A. vibe has had an impact: “There are so many talented artistic people there, and it kind of infects you. And when you go somewhere different, it can alter your reality. You might find something you never would have found in your hometown, that inspires you.”
To apply for a stay at the SOCAN House in Nashville or L.A., click here.