I made mention of Inside Home Recording recently, and I thought it might be fun to reflect back on the podcast that gave a voice to a community of home recordists online.
I can’t take credit for its beginnings, nor can I really speak to the experience of most of its hosts, including Paul Garay, James Devon or Derek K. Miller, though I have immense respect for each of them.
However, I did have the chance to develop a friendship with Dave Chick, and I will get to that a little later.
My involvement with the podcast was first as a guest co-host, and then as an official co-host, but unfortunately it was all towards the end of the lifespan of the show, and I was only part of a few episodes.
In this post, I’m not sure that I can really do justice to the impact that the show had, the community that rallied around it, or the tremendous amount of work that surely went into every episode, but what I can do is share my experience, so here we go.
How I Discovered the Podcast
I began my personal growth journey back in 2007, and ever since then I have continually affirmed the value of self-education.
I don’t think school teaches you everything you need to know about life. In fact, things like people skills, leadership, budgeting, coping with stress, and a myriad of other critical subjects were merely glanced over (if they were mentioned at all).
Consequentially, I found a lot of value in podcasts, and in 2010 – when I first discovered IHR – I was at a point in my life when I wanted to learn more about home recording.
I don’t remember what keyword I used to find it in iTunes, but in retrospect, it was the perfect thing. I needed to know more specifically about home recording.
At the time, I was somewhat skeptical that anyone could teach me something about audio recording via the audio format (more on that in a second), but I was nevertheless open to giving it a go.
So much of the nitty-gritty of home recording is acquiring gear, connecting cables, installing software, finding kit that plays well together, setting up mics, and other otherwise un-sexy technical things.
And when you’re all set up and ready to go, the hands-on aspect of recording is so much more tactile, visual – and in my case – instinctual; especially when we’re talking about mixing.
So, even before I started listening to the podcast, I think I was aware of its inherent limitations, and the fact that it probably couldn’t teach me a lot of the “un-sexy” technical things.
My First Impressions
As I started listening, I immediately liked and related to the hosts – James and Paul – and was simply astounded by the immense following they had right out of the gate (I had been podcasting for a year at that point; why in the world didn’t I have an audience!?).
Moreover, the hosts were entertaining, and they covered subjects that were genuinely exciting and fun to think about. I think I can get into this, I thought.
And, surprisingly, I was actually learning something! Sure, they weren’t teaching me anything about cabling, but I picked up a lot about sound frequencies, microphones, acoustics, VST plugins, outboard gear, and more. I took a lot of that with me, and it has benefited me greatly.
I started devouring the content, and I found out that it was only a few episodes in that James left the podcast and Derek came onboard.
Derek may not have been the most talented guy, but he certainly was relatable. What he lacked in knowledge or talent, he more than made up for in enthusiasm, and his homebrew projects could get anyone excited about getting their own creative projects rolling!
This is a quality I greatly admired about him. I grew up in Japan, and without telling that entire story right now, this is something I also observed and appreciated about the Japanese culture. They could get you excited about virtually anything, because they would get really granular with it. I think maniac (maniaku) is the term they used to describe that.
Anyway, I never had a chance to get to know Derek, but he will be sorely missed. His bout with cancer lasted a while, and he usually wasn’t too shy about sharing how much it sucked.
My Journey as a Home Recordist
It’s a bit of a long story, but it’s worth noting that I was already the owner of a home studio when I started listening to IHR. I just didn’t have much of an idea of how to use the gear.
At that point, I had certainly messed around with GarageBand, and did some basic podcast recording and editing, but that was more or less the extent of my knowledge.
I was co-founder of Academe Design, a graphic design company, and since Adam – my roommate and the other co-founder – and I shared a mutual interest in music, we also started a subsidiary called Red Flame Records.
So, we had our own home studio, and Adam was generally the one who oversaw the music projects. I was always ready to contribute as a session musician or producer, but as far as sound engineering went, I was pretty green.
I suppose that’s not the whole truth, because Adam and I did a lot of recording leading up to that point, and even had a digital 8-track recorder for several years before we ever moved over to a software solution. When I really think about it, the new part – at least for me – was the software.
Fortunately, thanks to my experience with podcasting, I was progressively getting a lot more efficient at editing. When I learned about VST plugins, a whole new world opened up to me. As I started taking on a few clients, I grew more and more confident in my ability as an engineer.
When I stop and think about it, a lot of that fell into place because of the time I spent listening to Inside Home Recording. It really paid off when I had the chance to mix, master, engineer and co-produce an album.
Eventually, as Adam got married and started a new life with his wife, he decided that he wanted to leave the company in my (shaky) hands. It wasn’t easy for me to figure out what to do with it, but in time I decided to ditch the graphic design part of it, and that’s how I became the sole proprietor of Red Flame.
With Red Flame, I attempted to find a new partner, and also had a podcast that was beginning to sound a lot like IHR. I guess I liked it so much that I almost modeled my own podcast (which was intended as a lead generation tool for the business) after it.
Today, Red Flame is simply the umbrella under which I operate and create various projects (like this one).
How a Vision Became Real
2011 was a bit of a blur – especially the early part – because my three roommates “systematically” got married one by one and moved out of my home (from about 2008 to 2010). I was not in a good place financially, and was getting behind on mortgage payments. That’s how I ended up working five jobs.
I was pulling 55-hour weeks, but in a way it was much more than that, because I was driving all around the city tending to different matters and working weekends too. The time at home was no joyride either, but that’s a whole other story.
I couldn’t seem to get ahead, and things were looking desperate. However, the tide started to turn in July of 2011.
I met some people who helped me to get a business education, I heard an audio program that changed my life, I was able to refinance my home and put some money back in my pocket, I had an exciting new idea for a business, and I was going to be going on a mini tour with up-and-comer Jonathan Ferguson.
Everything was hitting me fast and hard. Opportunities started coming left, right and center. Because I had been gunning it in the first half of the year, I opted to take a two-week vacation in August. The first half was the previously mentioned mini tour, and the second half was time alone outside of the city.
Most people have heard of a Canadian Rockies tourist trap called Banff, even if they’ve never been to it. However, in between Calgary and Banff, there’s a nice town in the mountains called Canmore (which also appeals to tourists, but not as much), where I decided to take some time to recoup (I later headed out to Red Deer).
While in Canmore, I found a trail to explore, and went for a walk. I listened to podcasts on that walk.
I remember that day, because I ended up walking for much longer than I ever intended to. I had read that the trail was essentially a big circle, but I never stopped to figure out how long it would take me to complete that circle, and somewhere along the line, I completely lost track of where the main path was! Then, it started raining too. Long story short, I ended up having to turn back.
But there’s another reason why I remember that day. As I was walking along, I was listening to IHR.
My mind does this thing sometimes – and maybe you’ve experienced it too – where it’ll begin constructing a day-dream so real that you can’t distinguish it from reality.
On that day, I was imagining being a guest on IHR. I can’t tell you why, but it just felt so real that I thought it was inevitable that it would happen.
I know that this all sounds really woo-woo, but it set into motion a sequence of events that pulled it all together.
You can call it God, the Universe, the Higher Power… whatever you want. I truly believe in the power of focused visualization. However, I’ve found that it has to be all-consuming. You can’t casually visualize and expect something to happen. You have to add more fuel to the fire (and take action)!
First, I asked Dave Chick to be on my podcast. I think I had tried getting in touch with the guys at IHR before, so I had no idea if I would get a reply, but to my surprise, Dave promptly responded (in fact, it sounded like I was actually on his list of people to touch base with).
First, I had him on my podcast. Then, he had me guest host on IHR. Clearly that experience left a lasting impression on him, because he felt I was a good fit for the show.
I didn’t necessarily feel I had the experience to justify it, but when I thought about Derek and how relatable he was, I figured maybe I could do a good job too. Moreover, I could spend time in research, and I could keep upgrading my skills.
If Derek was sort of the jack-of-all-trades but master-of-no-thing, I was the amateur home recordist heavily weighted towards guitar player. I had done a ton of experiments with guitar tones, and that was really my main thing.
Anyway, I really enjoyed my time working with Dave. Up until that point, I wasn’t really part of any one online community (especially as a podcaster), but had sort of found a nice niche with IHR.
When Dave and I were recording an episode that never saw the light of day, I was just about to move out of my house, and that was an emotional event, partly because it meant leaving my home studio behind.
Refinancing allowed me to elongate my time at that house, but it seems I was ultimately destined to change focus and pursue different avenues for a while. Despite my best efforts, expenses continued to mount, and selling my house became an inevitability.
Sadly, the WordPress install on the IHR domain became corrupt, and neither Dave nor I had the patience, time, or technical knowledge to dedicate to it. Dave was also hired to do some traveling and blogging work if I remember correctly.
Ultimately, who am I to say that that wasn’t the best outcome possible? Maybe IHR would have taken away from my life or Dave’s life (or both of our lives). Podcasting is fun, but it can also become a burden when you’re trying to meet regular deadlines.
So that’s my take on IHR. I guess I could have gotten more granular, but I felt it more important to relate to you the key points of the story.
What do you think?
James, Paul, Dave or Steve (Herringer) – if you guys happen to read this – what are your most cherished memories of IHR? What are you guys up to now?
I’d love to continue this discussion in the comments below!