Zen of Recording
The Zen Diaries #2: Four Seasons in One Day
Moving on. That was my latest project. Moving my studio. Moving from my home. Moving to another state. Moving in with other human beings. I get itchy just writing it, even in hindsight. All along, that wooly sweater of concern was and has continued to be singular in focus: moving forward.
The first complication I encountered, once I had firmly set my resolve, was in finding a new place to live in Utah. Which I wasn’t. At all. After taking all concerns into consideration (proximity to musicians, grandma’s house, and civilization in general), my baby mama Brooke Mackintosh and I started looking in Ogden. It seemed a particularly poetic location, as this was where the railroads from east and west first met, earning Ogden the nickname “Crossroads of the West” and I was definitely at my own personal and professional crossroads. However, most of the places I could afford appeared to be on the “wrong side of the crossroads.” This was, of course, exacerbated by geography, as I could not personally see (or smell, for that matter) any place that might invite even a cursory glance. Metaphorically, I was flying on instruments in very bad weather and communication with the tower was, um, spotty at best. But we had to land…and soon.
Months to go became weeks, then days when suddenly the internet’s clouds parted and there stood our cinnamon-colored oasis. A remodeled farmhouse that was presumably meant as a lodge rental for nearby ski destinations like Snow Basin, Powder Mountain, and Nordic Valley. Upstairs were three good-sized but cozy bedrooms, each with beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains and Wasatch Forest out their windows. Downstairs, a nicely equipped kitchen/dining area connected to a spacious living room (also with great views) and a 25’ x 15’ “den” with high slanted ceilings and newer looking carpets. Outside, a small river passes through the property and under a nearby bridge. The rent was quite affordable considering the scenic surroundings, the only downside being that those surroundings were not in the city of Ogden, but the sleepy little hamlet of Mountain Green, Utah, a minimum 20-minute drive to (or from) just about… well, anywhere. Still, it seemed like a great fit and after getting it, then not getting it, and then finally getting it again, papers were signed and notices given. This thing was finally happening.
First on my list: finish what I started. Chief among these concerns was outstanding projects for other artists and fielding any money-making opportunities that might present themselves in the interim. Business is business after all, baby. This also included a solo record I had been working on for the past several months that was nearing completion. In between stuffing things into boxes, dozens of small recording sessions were taking place: A bass part here, some pedal steel there… the last couple were (fittingly) a guitar part performed by my son, Drew Andrews, and (oddly) an interview with musician David Randle for an upcoming podcast. All the while, I was trying to break the whole house down while keeping the studio running as long as possible. 20 years worth of stuff needed to be sifted through, organized, kept, sold, discarded, or given away. It felt like I was setting fire to all of it.
The final “plan” materialized just days before it was executed: the house and all of its essentials (including the studio equipment and musical instruments) were loaded onto a 16-foot rental truck, behind which I would tow my (semi-operational) 1991 Honda Civic. I honestly don’t know how it all came together in the end. It seemed like every last dollar, every last minute, and every last favor was expended along with every last bit of energy I had.
My cat Thelonius and I spent our last night there, sleeping on the bare floor in an empty house with my jacket as a pillow, because everything had been loaded onto the truck already. The property management company came and performed a final walk-through the next morning and gave me a check that covered the gas for the trip.
And what a trip it was! Driving up the I-15 through Riverside was only the first challenge, replete with aggressive drivers, construction-squeezed lanes and a yowling cat adding to the daunting task of driving a very large and unfamiliar vehicle with a whole other vehicle in tow. As darkness fell, the temperatures plummeted. Then the rain started, which turned to huge hail, then rain again. Then snow. Then icy rain, snow again, then snowy rain…. Being in Southern California most of my life, I hadn’t ever heard some of these weather terms! When the sky eventually cleared after crossing the Nevada border into Utah, the moonlight periodically glared off of patches of deadly “black ice”….
Eventually, by the grace of angels, I made it. Four hours late and shaking like a dime-store maraca, but otherwise safe and sound.
As I walked into our new house, my little three-year-old son Miles bolted towards me, shouting, “Dad! You’re home!” as he jumped down four stairs and into my road weary arms.
He was right. I am.
Sven-Erik Seaholm is an award-winning independent record producer, singer and songwriter. He now resides in Mountain Green, Utah.