— From the pages of FLL#37 • Photos by Chris Ruch
Underneath the Trust Performing Arts Center, at the end of a sterile hallway with high school drinking fountains, behind an ordinary door, there’s a portal. At least, I think that’s what it is. When you step through that door, you don’t end up where you would expect to. It feels like somewhere else—whether that’s Nashville or Narnia, I don’t know. There’s just that sense of crossing a threshold into a place that’s both familiar and unknown. It’s a studio called Forgotten Genre Productions.
SOUND MAN OF MYSTERY
What was really otherworldly, on the afternoon that I ventured through this portal, is the music that was playing inside: it was the exact same album I’d been listening to at home before I left, Dire Straits’ self-titled album. I’m no audiophile, but I could tell that it was playing on vinyl—the sound was certainly richer than the mp3s on my computer. The opening chords of “Down to the Waterline” greeted me upon entry, and left me with a feeling of déjà vu.
Beyond the door there were various musical instruments, recording alcoves, and towers of audio equipment—a Ground Control fit for Major Tom himself—and Anthony Guyer standing in the midst of it all. Guyer is a musician, a roadie, a sound man, a producer, a professor, an audio engineer, and possibly a wizard. For 20 years he’s been honing his craft, touring with bands like Sixpence None the Richer and recording the local acts that he’s passionate about, like St. Elouise, The Stars Are Spies, and The Go Particle. His studio, Forgotten Genre Productions, is essentially an extension of himself.[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“This studio is a haven for creative people,” says Guyer. “I have a desire to go deeper than the surface to seek the truth, a passion to make the music sound right. This space is conducive to that.”[/pullquote]
Guyer enjoys cultivating an air of mystery and secrecy around his studio. What is it? What does Forgotten Genre mean? Who would be crazy enough to put all this together? “I want people to dig for answers,” he says with a grin. The funny thing is, they usually end up unearthing more about themselves than the studio. In music, or any form of art, that can make all the difference.
The availability and affordability of modern technology is both a blessing and a curse. We can do more than ever with the powerful computers in our pockets, however we often sacrifice quality for convenience: a selfie instead of a studio photo, a Tweet instead of a letter or a phone call, an iPod Shuffle instead of a DJ. These are not equal substitutions. Your iPod will never be the life of the party like a DJ can be, and I bet your grandmother doesn’t want to hang a framed selfie on her wall.[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“We live in a disposable society,” Guyer observed during our meeting, “a society that is obsessed with instant gratification. We want things quick and easy.” Pausing, he indicated the walls of equipment around us. “What I do is not quick or easy.”[/pullquote]
Analog methods might appear old school compared to digital frontiers, but Anthony Guyer embraces them unapologetically. “The analog world has mystique; it’s tangible,” he says. “There’s just a mojo to it—a nostalgia that’s part of the experience.” If you can remember holding a new album, tape, or CD in your hands, studying the cover art and liner notes while you listened to it for the first time, then you can relate. Analog media isn’t perfect, but that’s part of the appeal; digital is a little too clean, too free of imperfections.
When Guyer meets with musicians, he makes sure they understand what they’re getting into. “I’m not interested in helping you sound like someone else,” he says. “I’m interested in helping you sound like you.” Forgotten Genre isn’t in the business of churning out shallow pop soundbites. Guyer searches for artists who bring passion to the table and honesty into the booth, then he strives to lay bare the essence of their art. It’s not a guaranteed recipe for success, but it does produce music that is timeless and true.
Creating art isn’t easy. The experience can be painful; it may expose raw nerves or call forth uncomfortable truths. Sometimes it feels like you’re alone in your efforts, like there’s no one who shares your passion and inspiration. But when tackling your album feels like sculpting The Thinker with just a spoon, Anthony Guyer is the one who will show up with a whole drawer of silverware… and chisels, too.[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I want them to feel the love—to know that somebody cares about their artistic endeavor,” says Guyer. “I’ll be the one saying, ‘Let’s go deeper! Let’s find the truth in this song!’”[/pullquote]
Music doesn’t materialize in a vacuum; it’s a soulsearching collaborative endeavor. At Forgotten Genre Productions, you’ve always got a partner who will weather the storm with you, who will work as hard as you do to bring your vision to life.