Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lofts @ Cherokee Studios Featured on Luxist

Luxist featured the Lofts @ Cherokee Studios recently. Here's a little excerpt...

For those who find their muse in their surroundings: The hallowed ground of the old Cherokee recording studios in Hollywood is being converted into 12 work-live lofts, including some equipped as music studios to keep the tradition alive. The Lofts at Cherokee Studios project by Los Angeles-based sustainable developer, REthink Development, is about six weeks away from completion, with a model expected to open in mid-September.

Two penthouses have dedicated music production space; powder rooms can be outfitted as recording booths and acoustical insulation and sound attenuation measures were built behind and in the walls. Four other units can be similarly outfitted. So if Motley Crue moves in next door, no need to worry about the late-night jam sessions.

Click here for the full story.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Platinum Showcase Partners with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles

Ricky Martin signing a hardhat after a recent HFHFH event.

We are thrilled to announce that we'll be partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (HFHGLA) for the Platinum Showcase. HFHGLA builds and rehabilitates hundreds of homes each year for those who need them most, incorporating green building principles into everything that they do. We could think of no better partner for the Lofts @ Cherokee Studios and definitely wanted to find a way to support HFHGLA in the amazing work that they do; mobilizing, building, and educating.

Mark your calendars for a special rock-n-roll benefit party on October 15th. More details on how to buy tickets are coming soon.

We spoke to Ali Winkler, VP of Music and Talent Partnerships, to find out more about the connection between rock-n-roll and the good work of HFHGLA.

Who is Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity and what exactly do you guys do?

Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity (HFHFH) is an entertainment industry partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (HFHGLA) that launched in 2000 with a 20 house "blitz build." HFHFH was founded by Screenwriter/Director Randall Wallace (Braveheart, We Were Soldiers) to encourage the entertainment industry to support Habitat for Humanity's goal of eliminating substandard housing worldwide.

HFHFH works with talent and industry leaders who support the organization through donations, volunteer hours and advocacy. Thousands of volunteers from the entertainment industry have helped build homes in the United States and around the world.

Celebrity supporters and volunteers include: 30 Seconds To Mars, Alejandro Sanz, Christian Bale, Jacinda Barrett, Jon Bon Jovi, Julie Bowen, Garth Brooks, the casts of “90210” “Big Love,” “Boston Legal,” “Entourage” “My Boys,” and “Prison Break,” Harry Connick Jr., Green Day, Paige Hemmis, Dustin Hoffman, Kyle Howard, Enrique Iglesias, Hugh Jackman, Quincy Jones, Linkin Park, Gabriel Macht, Ricky Martin, John Mayer, Chris Pine, Brad Pitt, Sidney Poitier, Susan Sarandon, William Shatner, Maria Shriver, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Switchfoot, Third Day, Glynn Turman, Carrie Underwood, Robin Williams, Chandra Wilson, Wisin y Yandel, Trisha Yearwood and more. All major agencies and studios have been involved with HFHFH over the years, as well as many production companies and record labels, and we continue to expand our reach into the industry on a daily basis, interacting and developing partnerships with musicians, agents, managers, producers, directors and talent.

How did the connection between Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity and the music industry come about?

In 2006, Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity was looking to expand its programs further into the entertainment industry. I was hired, along with Alison Treleaven, previously of Harpo Films, to jointly oversee entertainment industry programs, with my focus being on growing music and talent partnerships. My experience and relationships developed while I was a music agent at CAA and a concert promoter prior to that have been tremendously helpful in my work at Habitat, and I have been privileged to continue to work with many of my former clients, colleagues and managers. Additionally, new relationships have developed during my tenure at Habitat in the past three years, enabling us to grow our programs substantially. We customize each program to suit the artist’s individual philanthropic goals and have been praised for our ability to deliver artist friendly programs with tangible results. We recognize that people’s time is valuable, whether they are an agent, manager, artist, label executive, producer, writer or other creative type, and we try to make the best use of each person’s time as we work together to further Habitat’s mission of providing safe and decent housing for all.

Over the past three years, we have been fortunate enough to develop long standing partnerships and ongoing programs with a diverse group of talented musical artists such as Jon Bon Jovi (who has been the catalyst for over 60 homes being funded and built in the US in less than four years); Ricky Martin (who provided funding for over 228 homes built in conjunction with HFH and continues to advocate on our behalf, lending his name and image to advocacy campaigns, speaking at the Jimmy Carter Work Project Los Angeles and donating tickets to his concerts to Habitat families); Linkin Park (through their disaster relief organization, Music for Relief, the band has funded and built multiple homes in the gulf coast and will have several upcoming programs with HFHFH this year); Green Day (who have built with HFH in multiple US cites, blogged about their experiences, donated to our online auctions and continue to support our mission in many ways); 30 Seconds to Mars (who raised over $10,000 in less than a week by running a “Win a Chance to Build with the Band” contest and whose fans then on their own raised an additional $50,000 as a result of the band’s advocacy for our cause, and who continue to support Habitat in many ways) Switchfoot and Third Day (who created the Music Builds Tour where funds from every ticket sold were donated to HFH, band members advocated for HFH from the stage, funds from merchandise were donated to HFH and bands built in multiple cities.). There are too many more who have contributed to list here, but each of these artists has contributed to Habitat in a unique way, helped us put more families into more houses and helped us further our mission. We are very grateful to all of those who support us by building, advocating and donating.

What's HFHFH cooking up for this year?

Ongoing supporters Linkin Park and Music for Relief will be running several programs with us again this year, one of which is an exciting and innovative online campaign to raise funds to build a “green house” in Los Angeles. Linkin Park fans and Habitat supporters will have the opportunity to donate online to the house, as well as to win a chance to build the house with the band at a later date. This follows a successful campaign we did last year with Music for Relief and Linkin Park during the Projekt Revolution tour. Additional programs with Music for Relief and Linkin Park will be announced later in the year, all containing a “green” component, as this is very important to both the band and to Habitat.

Many of the families served by HFH GLA and HFHFH are from the Latin community and we are fortunate to have the ongoing support of top Latin artists such as Ricky Martin, Alejandro Sanz, Juanes, Enrique Iglesias and now Wisin y Yandel.

Wisin y Yandel are new Habitat supporters, and are currently #1 on the Billboard Latin Charts, having won every award possible and shattering all sales records with their new album “La Revolucion..” Their arena tour this fall, promoted by AEG Live, will include a multi-tiered advocacy program run by HFHFH, which will incorporate Habitat’s message into the entire tour. Funds from every ticket sold will be donated to local Habitat affiliates in tour cities, VIP experiences and packages have been created to be auctioned off with all funds raised going to local Habitat affiliates, the band has created a series of PSA’s to run onsite and online and footage of the band building will be incorporated into the band’s next music video. This is the first time a Latin artist has done a program like this in the US and we are very excited to partner with Wisin y Yandel.

We have recently run a series of successful online auctions, and will be holding another one this fall. Can’t give too much away before we announce in a couple of weeks, but to give you an idea of who we work with, our most recent auction (March, 2009) was a “Celebrity Hardhat Auction,” and included over 90 autographed hardhats from artists such as U2, Jonas Brothers, Zac Efron, Kate Beckinsale, Chris Pine, Miley Cyrus, Stevie Wonder. Keith Urban and more! Our latest “VIP Experience and Memorabilia Auction” (October, 2008) included set visits with Hugh Jackman, the casts of “Entourage,” and “My Boys,” premiere tickets and party passes to “Milk” and “The Spirit,” front seats plus meet and greets with Carrie Underwood and 30 Seconds to Mars plus autographed memorabilia from Jon Bon Jovi, Sidney Poitier, Linkin Park, Dave Matthews, Ryan Braun, Christian Bale, the casts of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Prison Break,” “Breaking Bad,” and over 50 other items and experiences.

Look for our auction at later in the month and check for exact launch date of the auction.

How do HFHGLA and HFHFH build sustainability into their projects?

We define “Green Building” as providing housing for people with methods, products and processes that lessen the detrimental impacts on the health of human and ecological environment, while not placing a financial burden on the homeowner. Habitat for Humanity is at the forefront of developing affordable housing that is also sustainable.

Our Green Building practices include:

• Energy-efficient design, lighting, heating and cooling systems, and Energy Star® appliances

• Active solar technology

• Recyclable building materials, recycled carpets, environmentally friendly green siding, thermal pane windows and doors

• Low emission finishes – paints and varnish with low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds)

• Water-efficient toilets and showerheads

• Water filtration systems to minimize pollution from storm runoff

• Native drought-tolerant landscaping

• Recycled blown-in insulation and Dow foam insulation

We bring pragmatic aspects of affordable housing and Green Building to create tangible benefits like cost-savings and upkeep for families. Our Home Improvement Store and Housing Center for Excellence are excellent examples of our Green Building. The Home Improvement Store diverts millions of pounds away from area landfills and works with deconstruction companies and our Housing Center for Excellence is the hub of construction for HFHGLA and a regional center for innovation and education to develop, support, and advance best practices in new construction technologies and sustainable building.

HFHFH and HFHGLA continue to look for creative and groundbreaking ways to work with the entertainment industry and we welcome any and all ideas for new programs and partnerships.

Please feel free to contact me at for additional information and to find a way to get involved. It is an honor to be a part of the Habitat family and I hope that you will join us as we build hope, lives and communities.

Industry Interview: Bruce Robb, Founder of Cherokee Studios

Pictured above: Bruce Robb behind one of Cherokee Studio's famous Trident A Range consoles

We sat down with Bruce Robb, Founder and longtime owner of the former Cherokee Recording Studios, the site where the Lofts @ Cherokee Studios will now reside. This piece of Rock-n-Roll history right smack in the middle of Hollywood was one of the grooviest places to be if you were a rock star back throughout the last three decades. It went on to continue a long legacy of remarkable recording, opening its doors to everyone from Chaka Khan to David Bowie, Ice Cube to Christina Aguilera. Bruce Robb gives us his personal take on the legacy that Cherokee Studios left us, and exciting future of things to come.

BR on founding of Cherokee Studios:

We (me and my brothers Dee and Joe) believed that our approach to a recording studio was unique and different enough that there was an opportunity in the industry for us. At the time we started Cherokee, the emphasis was so much on the technical recording process and not enough on the art and the music. Studios were being run from a corporate mentality… “sign in, sign out” and then here’s all the rules. Artists don’t tend to respond well to all that confinement.

What people used to say about Cherokee was that we had this incredible “vibe” and that it was creatively inspiring. But what they didn’t notice was that yes we had the relaxed vibe, but we also had one of the largest technical staffs of any studio. We had 7 full time techs working back in the day, but they were not in your face. We intentionally kept it that way so that the focus was on the music. In spite of how we may have looked with our colored lights, incense and laid back setting, we had the best techs and designers working on new gear and tweaking out everything we had around the clock.

Bruce Robb playing Hammond B3 as member of 'The Robbs' in the mid-60s

We weren’t studio owners from a managerial sense – we were artists who became producers and engineers years before we even built the first Cherokee ranch. We actually got in to the technical side in order to defend our own music. There was a time when “rock-n-roll” was not welcome in recording studios and the engineers would intentionally sabotage the recordings. We were forced to learn how everything worked. So, by the time we had Cherokee Studios, we were in the rooms all the time. We knew what was working and what wasn’t firsthand. We were our own biggest customers. When we took over what became “Cherokee,” it was a Westlake designed studio. The rooms were beautifully constructed, but acoustically dead. We called our old friend and acoustic genius – George Augspurger – who we had known since our days at the ranch. Working with George, we acoustically redesigned the studios and control rooms. That is when it became “Cherokee Studios.”

BR on Cherokee’s run:

We thought we could be successful, but we did not expect it to do what it did. We never imagined the studio taking on this legendary status. We already had a small clientele from our ranch – artists like Rick Nelson and Steely Dan. So, we hoped to continue to grow that. We had no idea that we would inherit the previous studio (MGM) clients like Frank Sinatra. And, Bowie literally just showed up one day in a limo, walked in to Studio One, played a chord on the piano and said, “Cherokee… this will do nicely.” Rod Stewart was much the same way. I guess he heard about us over at Record Plant and decided to come see it in person. My brother Dee and Rod hit it off and Dee engineered several records for him. Rod ended up doing something like a dozen gold and platinum records with us.

Cherokee Studios conference room

BR on selected Cherokee stories:

There were a couple of decades when owning the studio was like owning the best nightclub in the world. You could go there literally any hour of the day – any hour – and something exciting and creative was going on. If you couldn’t sleep at night, you could just head to Cherokee and find KISS in one room, the Cars in another and Duran Duran in another. We didn’t have the closed doors, private lounge policy. One group would need a guitar lick and would just go grab a famous player from another band to come in and play. It was so creatively open at that time. (I really miss that.) Some really great relationships were forged at Cherokee because of the shared lounge and open atmosphere. For example, this is where David Bowie met Frank Sinatra. And I remember one day coming in to the lounge to find Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme sitting at one of our big restaurant booths with Motley Crue. Steve was teaching them the proper technique to light a cigar.

Long time Cherokee Studios client, Joan Jett of The Runaways pictured above with Bruce Robb

BR on what he has been doing since Cherokee’s closure:

Before Cherokee officially closed, I had already been preparing for the transition. We had a great run. I had the best experience of my life – maybe of many lifetimes... But I was also ready to migrate away from running a large commercial recording facility. Things have changed so much in the last two decades. Ironically, the way we landed at MGM was because we had been locked out of our little ranch studio by the Sheriff’s department in Chatsworth on the grounds that we were “running an illegal home studio.” And, now thirty years later, things had come full circle and I was ready to fold back down to a great one room private facility, much like I had at the ranch.

Cherokee Studios will continue in to the future, but now it will be more of a hub for my other creative endeavors. I have several offshoot companies that I formed with my partner Tiffany Downey in the last few years. We have a production company (Bruce Robb Productions), a boutique indie record label with publishing entity (Quarter 2 Three Records & Quarter 2 Three Publishing), a studio design firm with George Augspurger (A&R Studio Design + Construction), and I’m about to announce a new audio equipment company that I’m very excited about that will offer a line of high-end class A analog recording products that are being built by hand here in the U.S. And, we are hoping to announce the location of that great one room studio by Cherokee very soon.

In addition to my own projects, I continue to stay busy producing, engineering, recording and even playing. Yes, I still play B3 as much as I can. It is always just about the music with me.

BR on the preservation of the history of the Cherokee landmark:

I find it very sad when culture landmarks disappear like The Derby, Chasen’s, The Tropicana (the infamous rock hotel on Santa Monica Blvd. where every famous musician lived when they came to L.A.) and The Weiner Factory – now that one may not qualify as a landmark, but I can tell you that my friend Steve Cropper cried when I told him it was gone. The prospect of Cherokee becoming a fruit basket store or one of the many different scenarios that were being proposed was a little depressing. I couldn’t be happier with the choice to take the property in a direction that pays homage to the historic relevance of the site. This truly is a Hollywood landmark. In addition to the musical heritage from Cherokee, MGM and Don Costa Studios (Frank Sinatra’s producer), this building began as one of the earliest studio’s soundstages – Republic Pictures in the 1920’s. Now instead of becoming a gourmet grocery store with a little plaque on the wall, it will hopefully spawn another generation and more of art and music as the Lofts @ Cherokee Studios. If you are one of the lucky ones who end up living here, how can you not be inspired by the association with Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, David Bowie, Michael Jackson… are you kidding?

BR on how the Lofts @ Cherokee Studios project was conceived:

Our facility was a difficult building to sell as a studio – we were too big for most artists looking for their own room and the commercial studio business had been in a contraction for a decade by the time we went on the market. One day my girlfriend Tiffany drove me over to a couple of sites where live/work lofts were being developed and the idea was born there. We didn’t know anything about zoning, setbacks and all that stuff, but we just started pacing things off and penciling sketches based on our lot size and figured we could fit about 12 units (ironically, that ended up being the real number). We presented the idea to my brothers and the concept of live/work lofts designed for musicians got everyone really excited. At that point we told our broker to bring us developers only. Our second developer meeting was with REthink – the rest is history. Steve and Greg came in with the green approach, which took the project to a whole new level.

BR on his involvement with the lofts:

Once REthink came in to the picture, it really became their development. We have remained involved with our brand and the aspects that relate to any of the use of the space for music related purposes. Through our company A&R Studio Design + Construction, George Augspurger and I have consulted on construction techniques for increased isolation and acoustic treatments for the units being prepped as potential music production spaces. The future buyers will be offered the opportunity to work with George and I to complete these spaces that have been given preliminary treatment in order to reach the appropriate level for their needs and acoustic tastes. For these musical buyers, George and I will take the room to final tuning and even assist with selection of equipment if desired.