Touring Tiny Telephone Studios

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Photo & Article by: Stefan Aronsen

Yesterday after breakfast John Vanderslice invited the breakfast crew to tour his studio. This was not an opportunity I could turn down.

Located off of Potrero, behind the skate park, Tiny Telephone is located in an area where people were getting shot by the San Bruno St. Gang 18 years ago. When they moved in the neighborhood was not safe, you didn’t walk through the park, not even during the day. Today the feel is much different, you can feel the culture of old, but it looks much safer.

From the second you enter Studio A of Tiny Telephone you notice the very eclectic collection of stuff. John explains, this didn’t just happen, it took a long time to collect … and everything is useful in one way or another. Plus the sound in this front room is amazing. (Partly due to the reclaimed wood boards on the wall.) When you continue deeper into the studio, it’s clear their set up is mostly analog (with some support from digital). The really hard work is done by hand and on equipment from the 70’s. (Or older!)

As we continued to walk with John through each of his studio rooms, my impression of him slowly formed. This is a guy who is passionate about music … and more importantly musicians. His desire to help musicians survive was clear in everything he said. He is somebody that loves what he does.

If you haven’t seen Tiny Telephone or all the equipment in his studio … YOU SHOULD. I couldn’t help but be like, “I don’t know what that is … But I want a photo of it!”

In addition to me, four other breakfast crew went on the tour of Tiny Telephone, including Cadet, Devin, Kendra and Ted. I thought it would be fun to include all of our thoughts in one blog:

CADET EDAC: “Getting a tour of Tiny Telephone by the man himself Mr. John Vanderslice was quite frankly a dream come true. This tour let me know the pedestal I’ve put T.T on since I was back in Wyo is indeed an accurate one. I got the sense that this studio’s priority is not just business first and letting morals/artistic integrity take a back seat to the almighty dollar, but rather the exact opposite. You can tell how much Mr. Vanderslice cares about giving artists the best possible bang for their buck at Tiny Telephone. He sold me (not that I needed much prodding) and I will definitely look into recording at Tiny Telephone a reality in the not too distant future. Thank you Tiny Telephone for doing your part to help musicians capture an accurate representation of their art and expression through music.”

DEVIN NELSON: “Tiny Telephone seems to be somewhat of an avant-garde recording studio. It functions under a pseudo non-profit mentality, offering its services to help artists get quality production and access to unique, esoteric, and valuable instruments for an affordable price. Though his pitch seemed well-practiced, John Vanderslice used a contrasting combination of philanthropic passion and reverse psychology via a charming “I don’t care if you record here” attitude in addition to an immense knowledge of all the equipment that made me to want to book dates. On top of the awesome inventory of gear, both studios have a cool artsy vibe that I can imagine inspiring creativity.”

TED MAIDER: “Today I did something I never do. I lied to my employer. With any job I have, I always try to maintain a healthy relationship with those who provide my finances, but today I lied right to their faces. Standing outside, pacing back and forth awaiting our tour guide, I was stressing the entire beginning. Once John Vanderslice opened his mouth though, and began to pour his heart out about the studio he loved so much, nothing else mattered. Missing two hours of work to get a fantastic experience was 100% worth it. Vanderslice dazzled me with his stories of the studio, his high bar that he has set for quality, and the instruments that lay about the studio. Experiences are priceless, always remember that.” And it was totally worth it. It was worth it because I got to see Tiny Telephone Studios from a perspective that was on par with touring Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.”

KENDRA MCKINLEY: “We were like a crew of children wandering through WIlly Wonka’s Chocolate factory only the sweets were substituted by vintage keyboards, guitars, and drums which John kindly allowed us to play and salivate over. John guided us through the studio decorated with multi-colored wood panels, meticulously placed portraits, and an assortment of unique lighting fixtures (one of which was a sousaphone with light bulbs dangling from the bell!) as we all stared wide-eyed at the incredible scene.”

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Tiny Telephone

Address: 1458 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

Phone: (415) 334-1970

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Stefan Aronsen

Stefan Aronsen

Band Aid, Art Director & CEO at SF INTERCOM see his design portfolio at Stefan Aronsen

Stefan Aronsen is a graphic designer that specializes in helping bands & brands become more viable utilizing his 5 P’s – Plan, Personify, Promote, Plug-in, Play.

Stefan Aronsen

Stefan Aronsen

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