Imagine inviting local artists and producers over for recording sessions, drinks and BBQ all in one place without ever leaving your driveway. That's just what Mike Ziemer did with his time during the pandemic.
After feeling disconnected from a silent music scene, a huge staple in his life after 17 years of promoting concerts, Ziemer founded Flip A Switch Studios in his Oak Cliff backyard. He named the studio after his music management company.
Ziemer created Flip A Switch with money he made from the stock market and settled into a former storage shed converted to a studio by his friend Jason Goodwin. He had extra room in his backyard, so he figured he might as well use it. Now, Ziemer's found a renewed hope and a new connection to music.
"I wanted to be able to create a space, like, I'd have people come in there once in a while," Ziemer says. "And we just write music together or do podcasts. But it really wasn't until COVID hit that I was like, 'Man, I should just turn this into a recording studio' and decided to hit up one of my friends who does construction work and woodworking and asked if that was even feasible."
The tricky thing about having a backyard studio is keeping the peace among neighbors, which worried Ziemer. He didn’t want any noise complaints, especially as his collaborators — artists such as Tay Money, Astrus* and Texxan — recorded fire content, but he figured out the soundproofing measures to make the recording process comfortable without any complaints.
Ziemer's dream backyard study became a reality by June.
In less than a year, the new studio has stayed busy recording local artists. Ziemer also plans on hosting some creative gatherings, like writing camps, community hangouts and listening parties — once COVID settles down, of course.
“We just kind of wanted to have a place where the community could come together and create music together, and it’s not really been about charging an hourly fee or anything like that,” Ziemer says. “It’s just kind of been about reaching out to different people that maybe work well together and connecting them and putting them in a space to have some resources to create. Doing things like writing camps kind of comes naturally with our work.”
With business booming for Flip a Switch Studios, Ziemer decided to branch off with a record label called 726 Records. He's also moving all of his music companies under one roof in Deep Ellum on May 1, so Flip a Switch will have two studio locations pretty soon.
For 726 Records, he reached out to producers and other local artists to build a portfolio of talent, including The Crown TX. He wanted to give creatives more than a studio by offering PR, marketing and music video resources.
“Everybody so far is local, just people that I had kind of met or heard of through the studio or people associated with the studio,” Ziemer says. “I saw the guys from The Crown live right before COVID and then had them start coming in to record. It’s people coming in and out of the studio and just me being there and hearing what’s being created and understanding the vision and wanting to help with that process.”
Sure, a couple of studio locations is nice, but imagine a recording studio within a studio when just one isn't enough to contain that flood of creativity. Ziemer hopes to expand his studio locations and size once life returns to normal, especially for those coming into town who want to record something or collaborate with new artists and don't know where to go.
Now that venues are reopening and live shows are picking up, Ziemer’s making trips to get things in order for a music festival he has planned for September in Birmingham. He thinks it just might be a good sign for live music.
“It feels good to be busy again to be finally, after such a long time, like, well maybe live music’s gonna come back at some point,” Ziemer says. “Hopefully.”
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