For an aspiring musician, the ability to share music with the best possible production value is almost as important as a song itself. A music video shared online will, in most cases, be the first time a potential fan sees as musician's work, and that first impression needs to be an eye-catching one.
For musicians who can write a song but need guidance on how to share it with the world, Cinderblock studio is here to help. Founded in 2014 by Nick Melita and Jake Ryan Hull, Cinderblock has become one of the most trusted sources for DFW musicians looking to film their performances.
While Melita and Hull are professional filmmakers, they provide more than basic cameras and lighting. Their long-running series of concert videos, Cinderblock Sessions, provides a platform for DFW musicians to perform in front of new audiences and have high-quality music videos for marketing themselves.
For each Cinderblock Session, Hull and Melita invite two artists to perform intimate acoustic sets at their film studio in front of a small audience. After recording a few of the artists' songs, they turn the cameras off and allow a new audience of music lovers to experience the talent.
Melita gives Hull credit for coming up with the idea for showcasing new talent with Cinderblock Sessions, but they worked as a team to make the series a reality. With a mission in a place to provide exposure for local musicians and the equipment on hand to start immediately, they were only missing one thing: musicians.
“We didn’t know a lot of musicians in the beginning,” Melita says. “We went on Craigslist to find a couple.”
It didn’t take long for DFW musicians to start reaching out to them, and in the first year, Melita and Hull recorded 25 sessions at their apartment. As the scope and regularity of the sessions began to grow, the duo formed an official production company and moved to a committed warehouse space where they’ve been recording for the last two years.
Dallas native singer-songwriter Carter Davis recorded with the Cinderblock duo when they were filming the first apartment sessions and has since performed at the studio.
“They’ve helped provide much-needed infrastructure and have produced precious content for tons of artists,” Davis says. “Their stage is the revered/respected starting point for up-and-coming DFW talent.”
The musical focus has been primarily folk rock acts, but Melita and Hull want to expand into hip-hop and R&B, and they have a goal of spotlighting more female talents. Folk rock has lent itself naturally to acoustic performances, but the duo want to showcase the ways different genres of music can be transformed by performing acoustically.
It’s the quality of the finished product that has so many DFW musicians seeking a date on Cinderblock’s calendar. In January, sunshine-soul singer Maya Piata recorded a private session, and she considers it some of her best work.
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“My Cinderblock Session is my favorite video out on the internet right now,” Piata says. “When someone YouTubes 'Maya Piata,' I hope they click on my Cinderblock Session first. I'm really grateful for such awesome content. I'm really proud of it."
Melita and Hull have started recording touring bands such as Nashville pop duo Sawyer, and they hope to start more conversations among the Dallas music scene and that of other cities. They’re happy for the opportunity to work with out-of-town talents, but the primary goal hasn’t wandered far from their initial plan of showcasing DFW musicians.
“I think we’re in a musical renaissance right now in Dallas,” Melita says. “There is a gold mine of untapped talent in Dallas, and I think most people don’t realize that.”
The next Cinderblock Session is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at 4622 E. Grand Ave.