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A Musical Life: Chris Schlarb

Devin O’Brien

Chris Schlarb is a musician based in Long Beach, California. He owns and operates BIG EGO Studios and BIG EGO Records. His latest release with Psychic Temple is Houses of the Holy, a double LP, which features guest appearances from the Chicago Underground Trio, The Dream Syndicate, Xololanxinxo, and Cherry Glazerr. He recorded this segment of “A Musical Life” direct to tape.

“A couple years back, my wife and I opened our commercial studio out here called BIG EGO. And I'm grateful that I basically just spent every day of the last few years producing and mixing records for people. We don't do much corporate work at all. Just getting musicians in a room together and pressing record.

I think the motivation for me to work on music is best understood in the form of an addiction or a compulsion, I have to do it. And it's one of these endeavors in life where obsession and workaholism may actually pay some dividends.

I think the challenges of running a studio today are probably the same as what they've been for the last 50 or 60 years. I think of studios, like Gold Star, where the Beach Boys and Phil Spector recorded, you know, in the ‘80s, when you're making this transition from studios to home recording, they couldn't, they couldn't do it. And there's a mini mall, where Gold Star used to be on Santa Monica Boulevard today.

I just love to collaborate.

The new Psychic Temple album, Houses of the Holy, has a different band on each album side and maybe 50 musicians on the whole record.

You know, I've recorded Sufjan Stevens in a hotel room and I've recorded Jim Keltner in a recording studio and all those different situations and different collaborators teach you something. And I think if you're going to do this for a living, that should be your desire, to just keep learning.”

Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.