Today we have with us Leonard A. Lawson Jr. sound engineer specialist and owner of Blaque Ice Productions. Today we will be talking about his skills as an engineer, some studio approaches and what his visions are for the future. So without further ado welcome to the show Leonard.
Leonard A. Lawson: Hey, How are you doing.
Benjamin Briggs: What brings you to Alaska?
Leonard A. Lawson: Well I came to Alaska initially in 1996 as an artist to do the June-teenth Festival they had down on the park strip and that’s what initially lead me out here. Over the years I visited off and on and in 2006 became a permanent resident.
Benjamin Briggs: So Leonard tell me a little bit about your past history with music.
Leonard A. Lawson: My music started for me in about 1979. I was a DJ from ‘79 I would say until about ‘95 and ‘96 I kind of took a turn toward the entertainment part of it and became a rapper. That’s what led me to Alaska. I came up here initially to do a few concerts and then that morphed into 2004 when I bought my first keyboard because I wanted to experiment with the producer side of it. I created a few tracks; you know a lot of the guys were making music and I had it in my head but I didn’t know how to get it out. So I bought a keyboard. Then I contacted an old friend, his name is James Gardne; he taught me how to produce professionally.
Benjamin Briggs: So give me a little bit of history about Blaque Ice.
Leonard A. Lawson: Well Blaque Ice Productions was put together in 2007. It started off just as a music production studio. We then took a room and turned it into a sound booth, created somewhere to record. All along the way I was in training in Oakland California learning how to professionally mix master and record on an industry standard level.
Benjamin Briggs: Who are some of the artists that you mentor and have worked with over the years?
Leonard A. Lawson: Over the years I have worked with Denise Williams, I’ve worked with John Lee Hooker Jr., I’ve worked with Paul Grundman, I’ve worked with, well I can’t say I’ve worked with but I’ve met Kenny G. In fact when Kenny G came to Alaska it was Blaque Ice Productions that was the company that was assigned to his liaison. So I guess you can say I worked with him in some capacity.
Benjamin Briggs: Pretty affluent clients! So let’s get into some of the details. How much is studio time?
Leonard A. Lawson: Studio time is roughly $50 an hour, that’s the going rate in this area. That’s for all services, you know recording, mixing, mastering, and that includes the engineer.
Benjamin Briggs: And that would come out to about what?
Leonard A. Lawson: Roughly to do a demo is about $500 total package. Combine the hours to mix and master and effectively give you an industry standard finished product, takes about 8 to 10 hours so it comes out to about five hundred dollars.
Benjamin Briggs: Does that five hundred dollars include an engineer or an assistant?
Leonard A. Lawson: Yes, it includes the engineer. I’m generally the engineer for all the operations that go on here, in house and out house. I come included with everything that’s involved here with Blaque Ice.
Benjamin Briggs: Well from what I see around your studio, it is high quality. Are there any hidden costs?
Leonard A. Lawson: No we don’t have any hidden costs. In fact you get a lot more than what you pay for. We like to go the extra step.
Benjamin Briggs: Okay Can clients break up their day over a number of days?
Leonard A. Lawson: Oh, say if they were recording an album or something. We have a payment structure and payment arrangements. Some clients are ready to pay for it all in one sum, some clients want to kind of spread it out and pay as they go. So, what we like to do is when we set up an album situation of ten songs we like to go a song at a time they generally come in and drop a $250 deposit, and then pay the remaining balance once the first song is complete and then we move on to the next song.
Benjamin Briggs: Okay, can potential clients get a tour of your studio?
Leonard A. Lawson: Oh yes, Blaque Ice Productions is open 24 hours a day. We work around the clock here I was up last night till five mixing a track for a local rap group. At any time, we can schedule an appointment and I do emphasize appointment only! This is a closed facility but it’s built on a family structure so you can come and record bring your kids, your wife, mother, father, and they can sit back and watch you on the big screen as you’re performing in the booth.
Benjamin Briggs: Do you work on the weekends?
Leonard A. Lawson: Yes I do, I’m 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Benjamin Briggs: So you are available?
Leonard A. Lawson: Yes, I am available.
Benjamin Briggs: That’s a good thing. Can clients come in early or the night before to set up?
Leonard A. Lawson: Generally, It depends on what it is. If there is a band involved we like to get the drummer in before the other participants and get him situated, because there is a different mixing procedure with the drummer. As far as coming in early; the earliest we like to operate is generally after twelve o’clock. I don’t know if artist are aware of it or not, but you have to be woke at least four hours before you want start putting a strain on those vocal cords. Many recording sessions can go on for eight to ten grueling hours. So you have to have the warmth in your voice. Unless you’re a rock band, then we emphasize that you come in early in the morning where you’re real grungy then we get that good steel sound that were looking for.