By Jen Lothspeich
New music studio offers opportunities to create
A wise woman once told me that coincidences are the universe’s way of telling you that things are as they should be. So, any time you think something is kismet or you have a sense of deja vu, you should take it as a sign that you’re doing something right.
For Normal Heights singer-songwriter Thea Searcy, that reminder came just as she was starting to build a new business with her husband, Jeffrey.
The North Park rehearsal space where the couple practiced with their former band, Cameo Kid, unexpectedly became available to lease along with its neighboring unit; the couple formed an idea to re-invent the space on El Cajon Boulevard for a multitude of creative endeavors.
Merging their shared passion for music, Thea’s enthusiasm for community building and Jeffrey’s knowledge of sound design, they came up with the plan for SRCY.CO — a music production studio and more.
“Initially, we were aiming to supplement the band we were in at the time and build a space to be able to record on our own time and dime,” Thea Searcy said. “As life would have it, [Cameo Kid] broke up shortly after signing the lease. It wasn’t till we were knocking down walls Jeffrey mentioned it was the same place I had recorded my first songs after coming to San Diego [from Denver, Colorado].”
Thea was stunned to remember that the space — known then as Archival Sound — had actually been the birthplace of her early music and was now the focal point of such a large undertaking in her life. She recognized it as a sign.
“It helped me feel like we were on the right path,” she said.
In less than a year, the newly wedded Searcys have transformed the location into three distinct areas: a sound/control room, a “live” room for performances and practices, and a lounge area that features an ornate antique bar.
All the pieces are in place for a mountain of music making.
Jeffrey — who also works frequently with Pretzel Logic Sound doing sound design for TV and films — had to build, and re-build, the control room to be ideal for sound quality. To put it in simple terms, that is. He explained that the shape of a room affects sound (commonly referred to as “acoustics”) and thus months of physical labor went into making the room exactly as it should be. Thea says the other areas are also designed to be “recording-ready.”
“Wherever magic strikes, the vibe will not be disturbed and magic can be captured,” Thea explained.
But Thea and Jeffrey don’t want to limit the uses of SRCY.CO to musical ventures.
In addition to putting on small, underground shows and having bands record in the space, Thea said she envisions it as being home to fundraisers, women’s meet-ups, pop-up art shows and other events.
“I want to start a monthly [industry] happy hour for artists and creatives to come together and just get to know one another,” she said. “[They can] talk shop, have a good time, and potentially get involved with each other.”
She’s also open to renting the space to anyone interested and letting them bring in their own vision. As was the case recently when a group of women booked the venue for a bachelorette party with Thea and a friend serving as bartenders.
So far, word-of-mouth has been an ideal way for their business to ramp up.
“It has all been fairly organic,” Thea said of people finding out about SRCY.CO. “[We] build as we go, learn as we go, and are open to opportunities as they arise. [We want to] spread the love and excitement we have for our passions by helping others do the same, and providing a space that inspires that.”
She added that they have hosted small events and let the attendees lead the way on how the space is used.
“Luckily, each one has gone better than expected or planned,” Thea said. “And folks have been very impressed with the space.”
One of those “small” events was also a special day for the couple who have given the location a new life as they started theirs as man and wife.
“We christened the spot by having our wedding reception there,” Thea said. “[There was] insulation still revealed in some corners and everything.”
Of course, she couldn’t give a tour of SRCY.CO without turning on some tunes. With Jeffrey at the controls, we listened to a track entitled “Merry Go Round,” which the two crafted together. As Jeffrey’s production handiwork came to life, the electro-pop song engulfed us with an ethereal ambience in the cave-like control room.
In a serendipitous moment, Thea’s lyrics on the song mirrored her thoughts on the happy accident of SRCY.CO’s location.
“Life’s like a merry-go-round, same things coming around,” she sang over looped beats.
The place Thea recorded her fledgling songs came back into her life and gave Jeffrey and her the chance to build a sanctuary for artistic creativity in its many forms.
Thea’s next performance will be Tuesday, April 3 at The Merrow in Hillcrest. Hear her tunes at TheaTheBand.com and find SRCY.CO on social media.
— Jen Lothspeich is a wine-drinking, cat-cuddling native San Diegan who dreams of writing a best-selling true crime novel. Find her on Twitter at @Jen_Evel.