Work is music to Austin producer’s ears

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published February 17, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated February 15, 2013 at 10:03 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Curt Youngblood

Crystal Gray, left, works on arranging one of her songs with Darian Stribling at Blue Chair Recording Studio in Austin. Gray is an aspiring musician who regularly works with Stribling to develop her musical abilities.

Blue Chair Recording Studio

Darian Stribling talks about mixing music at Blue Chair Recording Studio, in Austin, Ark. (By Curt Youngblood)
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— Music instilled passion in Darian Stribling’s life when he was young and has since allowed him to find success in his work, which he enjoys on a daily basis.

“I played in bands after high school, and I knew that I wanted to do something in music,” Stribling said.

After graduating from high school, Stribling worked at the Jacksonville Guitar Center part time, then started full time with Blue Chair Recording Studio in 1997.

“I started out with a mixing board, two speakers, a digital recorder, a couple of effects units and some microphones,” Stribling said.

In the 16 years of operating his studio, he has expanded from his original building and has five times the equipment he had when he started out.

With his background of playing in bands as he grew up, Stribling knows the importance of having a “good live sound.” This sparked the flame that is fueled by Stribling’s love for music and made him want to get better at recording and producing music.

“I knew that this was the only thing that I was really good at, and it was the only thing that I would spend loads of time reading and learning about,” Stribling said.

Some of Stribling’s first clients were people he met while he was working at the Jacksonville Guitar Center. He would encourage musicians he came in contact with to come to the studio and record songs they had written.

One way a recording studio becomes successful is by word of mouth, Stribling said. Singer/songwriters and bands who record at Blue Chair encourage others to record there.

“People who write songs — they really have to be referred by someone else to go to a studio,” Stribling said. “It’s kind of a scary thing to put yourself out there.”

Uncertainty is one thing that Stribling said can cause some musicians to hesitate before they record a song.

“You go to a studio, and you don’t know what it’s going to be like,” Stribling said. “You don’t know if the [producer] is going to be harsh.”

When a band books time at Blue Chair, it usually takes about a week to record a full album. The last day the band is in the studio, that day is devoted to mixing and mastering the songs. The studio also offers lodging to the musicians so they can focus on their music.

Stribling goes through each instrument on the track, making sure it sounds smooth and “gels” to make a great-sounding song.

“You put effects on there that give it an overall polished sound,” Stribling said.

After starting his recording studio, Stribling said, he discovered how many musicians there are in Arkansas.

“You have no idea how many people, locally even, are writing songs and playing music,” Stribling said. “It’s mind-blowing how many people do that, so much that I could book the studio seven days a week, pretty much all the time.”

Through the years, Stribling has seen many musicians who have recorded with him transform into successes. He said many of his clients make a living being full-time musicians. Adam Faucett, a Blue Chair artist originally from Benton, has recorded several albums at Stribling’s studio and is going on a national tour this year.

“They might not be household names, but they’ve had success [making music] in some form or another,” Stribling said.

The music genres that come into Blue Chair Recording Studio can range from gospel to hard rock, and Stribling said he’s seen a little bit of it all.

“There are a lot of studios where the guy that is producing or engineering has a background of one style [of music], and that’s what he’s good at,” Stribling said. “When I got into this, I realized that this job really suited me because I’m really interested in a lot of different kinds of music.”

As the years have gone by, Stribling has learned to adapt to those various styles of music.

“I can shift gears and get into what they’re doing, and get the right sounds to make it sound like it should and make it sound authentic,” Stribling said.

Stribling finds joy in what he does every day.

“Even after 16 years, I come to work, and it’s still not like work to me,” Stribling said. “I come out and enjoy what I do. That makes it all worth it.”

The happiness Stribling finds in music is what keeps him going as the chief producer at Blue Chair Recording Studio.

“I’m never going to get rich doing this, not even make a lot of money, but the trade-off is that I really get to enjoy my work,” Stribling said. “It makes me happy.”

More information on Blue Chair Recording Studio is available at www.bluechairrecordingstudio.com.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501)244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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