Interview with Jesse Mangum of The Glow studioMay 6, 2007
The Glow is a relatively new studio, and occasional show, space near the corner of Park and King in Riverside, at 2746 Park St. It’s owned and operated by Jesse Mangum, whom I caught up with via email for an interview. I’m really excited about this new space where local bands can record.
First off – who are you and what do you do?
I’m a local musician/engineer who is doing everything in his power to bring a sense of community and life to the Jacksonville music scene. It sounds cheesy, I know, but when I think about it, it’s really what I’m trying to do.
Ok so.. does the name of the place have anything to do with The Microphones “The Glow” album?
No, the name of the studio has nothing to do with that album, nor does it have anything to do with the Bonnie Raitt album of the same name! “The Glow” was the end result of a drunken scramble to give the place a suitable name before the grand opening! I had strung up a bunch of those tiny paper ball lanterns in the main room, which gave it a strange “glow” that people kept commenting on… the name just stuck. Meanwhile, if Phil Elvrum want’s to record/perform at The Glow, he’s certainly welcome!
What is your background in both recording music and the music scene at large?
I grew up in a recording studio… literally. My dad (Larry Mangum) was the co-owner of Mangum/Alford Recording Studio (M.A.R.S.) in the 80’s. I remember going there almost every day during my elementary school years. I wasn’t all that interested in the recording process then, but I think the environment rubbed off on me. By age 14 I had a pretty decent project studio set up in my bedroom, and I spent all of my free time working on music… creating sounds… emulating sounds… messing with sequencers and samplers. It never stopped. I still spend every free second reading about/talking about/experimenting with music. I’ve played in a few bands, but I think my career as a performing artist has yet to take flight. Right now I’m focusing on producing/recording other artists/bands.
What are you short and long term goals for this space? Is this something you’ve been wanting to do for a while?
I’ve always wanted to have a place like this; somewhere where I could have all of my gear set up, all of the time… somewhere I could practice drums in the middle of the night without having the neighbors call the cops. Originally, that’s all I was using it for… it was my practice space… my experimental music lab. I had been using the space that way for months before I realized that it could be used for so much more… that there had to be other musicians in town who didn’t have a place to record or experiment or perform. With reasonable effort, I was able to transform my private practice space into a modest-but-presentable studio/performance venue.
The show this Sunday (May 13th – Shawn Lightfoot, The Kettles, Anastasia, Chase Capo) is a benefit for the Humane Society. Are benefit shows, or just show in general, something you plan on doing often? In having this space do you feel a sort of social responisbility? ie. using it, in-part, for the community.
First and foremost, I’m treating the space as a recording studio. Hosting shows there takes a lot out of me… organizing and promoting… reconfiguring the space for “live sound” vs. “recorded sound”… it’s just so much to take on. The post-show cleanup is also a daunting task, and I’m usually left to do it alone… and that’s okay! I don’t mind! But it’s just not something I can do every week, or every month for that matter. Furthermore, studio sessions are starting to run back to back… so it’s rare that I have enough downtime between bands to host a show. I will, however continue to have shows there, and they will generally be to raise money for some cause or event. There will be a fundraiser show for the upcoming Tomato festival toward the end of this month.
In a previous email, you referred to this project as “a modest enterpreneurial venture at best.” Can you explain that a bit more?
The Glow is NOT a state-of-the-art recording studio… there are plenty of those in town, and they do what they do. The Glow is for those people (like myself) who don’t like working on art in the sterile enviroment of a conventional studio; for people who don’t want their recording to sound like everything else. The environment and equipment sub-standard by choice! I can’t stress enough that I’m not looking to compete with other studios… my aesthetics, and those of my clientel, are simply… different.
You recently recorded the new Black Kids material, and are planning on recording the Yusge. These are both your friends bands, no? Are you planning on recording non-friends bands? What problems do you forsee with this? Possibly a lack of bands, or lack of bands wanting to record, in Jacksonville?
Actually I was just really impressed with the Black Kids’ live show… they had some fully realized songs… they were ready to record but hadn’t yet. I didn’t really know anyone in the band at that time. I practically begged them to come record a single at my studio, and they finally did… the end result was the version of “Hurricane Jane” that’s up on their MySpace page. So really, it was me wanting to get involved in something I was genuinely impressed with. It’s pretty much the same withThe Yusge… I met John Paul years ago, but didn’t get to see his band perform until recently. Again, I was truly impressed… I knew they would produce a great recording, so I made them the same offer. Honestly, I hope I can keep working with bands I really believe in… I would like to put 100% into what I do every time, and it’s a lot easier to do that if you respect who you respect what your client is trying to do. I also feel that if I keep delivering a good product, there will never be a shortage of artists/bands wanting to record with me… and there is no shortage of talent in this city… these people just need more exposure.
Do you know people from other studios in town? What sort of relationship do you have with them?
I went to highschool with Izak Leon, one of the owners of San Marco Music. We worked on quite a few projects together back then, and I’ve done some mixing for him over there. I know there are other studios in town, but my approach is far removed from industry standards (no Pro Tools, no Auto-Tune, no acoustical treatment to the recording rooms, etc. – I just don’t believe these things aren’t necessisary for good recordings) so I can’t really compare what I’m doing to what they’re doing. I’m certainly not trying to compete with any other studios… I’m simply trying to do things differently.
What do you think of the Konkurrent “In The Fishtank” series /concept? Is this something you’d be interested in doing?
I think the premise of that project is ingenious… and those are some incredible collaborations! Almost all of those recordings present a sound in which the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. I’m really into musical experimentation, and I think collaborations between artists/bands, especially ones that explore different genres, can do a lot to push musical conventions forward. Ideally, The Glow would be THE haven for such projects in Jacksonville. I’d love to see collaborative efforts between local bands, especilly if their styles are “conflicting.” Maybe Phil Elvrum and Bonnie Raitt could do a record together…
What do you think is the largest factor hurting the Jacksonville music community both introspectively and abroad?
I’m not too concerned with what kind of reputation Jacksonville has in the eyes of the rest of the world right now… it’s still a developing city. I’m not impressed with our city’s history of musical exports, but I’m also thankful that we haven’t been pegged as a “nu-metal” or “southern rock” city. I wouldn’t mind Jacksonville being the “Noise Music Capital of the South,” and I keep hearing that we have a huge noise scene here, but I can’t seem to find it. I recall one or two “noise festivals” in recent years, and I know of a few local noise bands, but that doesn’t constitute there being a real scene here.
What do you think is the largest factor helping the Jacksonville music community both introspectively and abroad?
There are some really ambitious people in this city right now who are doing a lot to bring about a sense of community in Jacksonville, and what’s so incredible is that they’re all young… 18-20 something’s who are putting together art shows, opening live music venues, and even planning large-scale, all-day festivals. These people are largely
responsible for any sense of a “scene” developing in Jax, and I hope more people, especially those with more resources, catch their fever.
Very awesome. Thanks Jesse.You can contact Jesse Via email at email@example.com