A Conversation with Chris Boosahda, Audio Engineer

Chris Boosahda

The Church Studio is known for its impressive stone facade, multi-million dollar restoration, rare analog gear, and legendary history. The studio is also known for assembling an extraordinary team of dedicated professionals. We’d like to introduce you to one of the newest team members of The Church Studio; Chris Boosahda, Audio Engineer. 

 

Chris!  Welcome aboard!  What can you tell us about yourself?  

Thank you, Nancy, happy to be here. Let’s start with my parents real quick. I was born into the arms of two musicians in Tulsa, OK. My parents met at ORU and were in a band together through college. Some kind of hippie Christian thing I’m guessing. My Mom Stephanie was one of the World Action Singers at ORU and played piano most of her life. She also plays banjo and acoustic guitar.  Music is in the blood of my family. In fact, my Mom recorded her first two Contemporary Christian albums  – at The Church Studio with Leon’s guys! My Dad was a record producer for those albums and a few others back in the day. 

They encouraged my love of music from a very young age. I was just drawn to it naturally, I guess. My parents said they noticed me paying attention to music whenever it was played around the house, in the car, or in the studio. I grew up in the studio with my Mom when she was really doing her thing in the music business. I remember small bits of it as a child. She said I would zone out and really be paying attention to what was going on musically and could see my face react to melodies and movements in music. My parents recognized that I also had the musical bug. From there, as a toddler and even older I would constantly bang on things and keep a rhythm to whatever I was hearing. Around 14 years old I started tinkering around with how to record myself and my friends.  I started out with my Mom’s Tascam 4 track and then when they realized I was serious, my Mom sprung for a Roland VS 880 digital workstation so I could explore with sound.

(The VS-880 Digital Studio Workstation was the first affordable integrated digital recorder, digital mixer, digital editor, and effects processor in the world. Source: www.roland.com.) At the same time, my Mom was still recording her own demos and continuing to write and record her own music. 

I knew that, aside from playing, the art of recording was something I was passionate about.  There was something about it that just drew me in and held my attention from the start. I was fascinated by the science of it all. I simply loved the process and how it was to be done for this or that style. To me, it was a really fun collaborative effort and I’m all about collaboration. I’m truly a people person. The concept of hanging out with your friends, setting up equipment, and simply experimenting and attempting to capture whatever you were doing at the moment was exciting to me. I’m an outgoing person, so I’d ask anyone I heard playing out at venues in the Austin area to come over and jam/record. It was a really fun time meeting new musicians and again, experimenting with sound.

 

What is Audio Engineering?

An Audio Engineer captures the sound an artist hears in their head and transforms it into a recorded medium.  An artist will often say I want the sound to be warm, or edgy, or exploding like a cannon – and it’s one of the Audio Engineer’s jobs to translate those ideas and intentions into a captured sound through the various studio tools at our disposal.  You’re really steering the boat on a sonic level with Eq’ing, choosing the correct microphones for instruments, placement of microphones, experimentation and most importantly using your ears to help achieve the sounds the artist or producer is hearing.  

An Audio Engineer also works with producers and performers and helps bring the overall vision to life on a sonic level. There are some basics too, like regulating sound levels and quality control, setting up the room for ambient sound, overseeing equipment, mixing and editing the recordings down. Bands sometimes bring their own engineer and producers when they record; in that case, the Studio’s Audio Engineer will be on hand to help with the gear and equipment as well as any questions they may have. 

 

What Audio Engineering background will you bring to The Church Studio?

After creating music at home and experimenting with 4 tracks and more, I went to an Audio Engineering school graduating in 2002. I had the passion and fundamental knowledge, but nothing could compare to the real-world education of working in an actual recording studio.

With my education completed, I returned to Tulsa and got an Audio Engineer job with Yellow Dog Studio downtown.  It was owned by Dave Percefull, who has since relocated to Wimberly, Texas.

National and local artists were constantly passing through the Yellow Dog Studio and it was my first real experience in a recording studio environment. I enjoyed that time quite a bit as I had friends’ bands coming through and learned what I could with the time I was allowed.

From there I decided that the best way to really learn and work on my craft was to be in a city where the music business and studios were kings. I moved to New York City in January of 2005 with a couple of suitcases and started what would become a 10-year journey of self-exploration in the music business. I worked at a handful of studios and eventually built a small production room with a good friend of mine in an empty warehouse in Brooklyn. It was a great learning experience across the board. After that, I helped another studio open its doors in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and that’s where I met some very interesting people and artists in this business. It was a killer studio/event space right on the water in Brooklyn. I did everything from engineering, producing, soldering, and helping get the place operational. I was really happy I got to be a part of that experience.

Who is the most interesting person you met?

I have met so many interesting people in this business but as of late I really loved working with Liam Finn and his father Neil from Crowded House, Shakey Graves, Son Little, Caroline Rose, and the list goes on. 

 

What’s your Favorite thing about being an Audio Engineer?  

Honestly, I love the collaborative process between Producer/Engineer and artist.  The joy that comes from sharing ideas, notes, melodies, etc with other creatives is just something I’ve always gravitated towards. These days the lines between Engineer and Producer are blurred and I’m okay with that because they are two roles that I thoroughly enjoy and have been working on for many years now.  With that said though, I’m always learning something new every session or each day that passes. 

Life is like a constant class you’re taking where you’re constantly discovering new avenues and areas you can learn from. I really just genuinely like people and helping curate art for artists. I see the Studio as it was intended, a special gathering place for artists to express themselves and create what’s inside their head or what’s pouring out of them.  The studio really is an instrument of its own accord which helps combine all the elements to get to a final recording.

 

Whose album did you work on that went GOLD?

For the past 8 years, I had been working as a Producer/Engineer/Mixer and touring drummer for the talented artist, Shakey Graves from Austin, TX. I met him by chance and we just hit it off. Sometimes there’s just no denying chemistry where you know fate was having its way. That’s how it felt when we got together and started working as a team. We did an album together called “And The War Came” which I Produced/Engineered/Mixed, with just the two of us, sitting in his living room knocking out tunes. I brought a bunch of my gear over and we just went to work figuring stuff out. It was such a fun experience together and was a first for him trusting someone to help him with his music. From there, things just took off when the album came out and the song “Dearly Departed” became a hit and went RIAA Certified Gold. I got to experience firsthand, a band breaking in the industry and see the demand rise rapidly, very high on the charts.

I literally was just holding on as we traveled around the world nonstop, headlining shows and festivals. Living on a tour bus for years and playing massive shows/festivals was something I thought had passed me by, but the universe had other plans for me. We did another album together called “Can’t Wake Up” where we explored new sounds and did remote recordings from Kevin Costner’s ranch in Aspen, no joke, to a Hotel Suite in Dallas, my house, his house, all over the place. It was a ton of fun! We released an EP last year during the pandemic and I’ve helped him with all of his yearly Shakey Graves day releases too since 2013. I feel extremely blessed to have had that experience with a good friend. I’ll never forget it and it is something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. With that said, I’m still very hungry when it comes to this type of work and I hope to have more gold records down the road.

 

What Brings You to Tulsa?

During Covid in 2020, I had a lot of time to think about what the next chapter of my life should be. I grew leery of hopping back on a bus when this was all over and just slugging it out on the road for another 8 years. I really wanted to focus on what I wanted to do for myself moving forward. With that said I decided to take another leap of faith in my career and exit the Shakey Graves project. It was scary at first but as my career has moved along I’ve been lucky enough to have amazing doors open when one closes and that’s exactly what happened here with The Church Studio.

My name was passed over to Teresa Knox by a good friend of mine in Tulsa, Travis Fite. Teresa and I spoke over the phone for about 40 minutes about what she was involved with and wanting to do with the Church and I really loved her enthusiasm and passion about what she’s doing. That conversation went so well I just had a good feeling about it. I drove up the next week to see the Church in person and had a wonderful time meeting her and her husband and walking through all areas of the rebuild.

I was born here in Tulsa and I still have old friends that live here. My parents have just moved back here as well and I feel like everything is coming around full circle in my life. I never thought I’d be back in Tulsa honestly, but here I am with an amazing opportunity, and couldn’t be more grateful to Teresa. I absolutely love producing/engineering music, and this studio will be an incredible place for people from all walks of life to develop their creativity.

I’m excited to be a part of another era in history at The Church. Leon Russell blazed the path, and we’re all doing our best to follow in his footsteps. Teresa has really invested in the best possible equipment to produce hits for years to come.

Besides the facility being a beautiful sight to behold, we also have all the right tools at our disposal to engage with artists and capture their vision. I can’t wait to work on the Neve 8068 – it’s phenomenal, the Gold Standard, the Holy Grail.  There’s a lot to look forward to!

 

Where do you see The Church Studio in 5 years?

I really see the Church Studio reinvigorating the recording studio experience locally and abroad. I’m all for today’s technology and advancements, but you can’t replicate what a place like this does for inspiration, art, and let’s not forget, sonically. In the next five years, I believe the Church will distinguish itself from all other studios by becoming the next big chapter in the Tulsa community and across the globe, thanks to its musical heritage, state-of-the-art facility, and event space. You can’t replicate what The Church has to offer.  It’s a phenomenon. It’s the Abbey Road of middle America.  Giving the Studio its life back and attracting talented artists to record is simply inevitable. People from around the world will want to record with us and I look forward to all the wonderful moments ahead for this team. All good things!

 

Nancy Ruth

Nancy Ruth

Meet the woman behind the blog, Nancy Ruth, The Church Studio's PR and Development Director. During the week, she spends most of her time writing press releases and grants with a coffee in hand. She's passionate about music history and on a mission to share untold stories!

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2 Comments

  1. Russell Stotts on September 26, 2021 at 3:52 pm

    It sounds like you will be an amazing asset to the Church Studio. You have a great story and have come a long way. It gives hope to us little guys that if we keep at it and don’t give up that we too may someday be successful not just as musicians but also on the production side. Wish you all the luck !!

    • Nancy Ruth on September 26, 2021 at 7:12 pm

      Thanks so much for learning more about Chris! We hope to see you soon at The Church Studio! Nanc

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