Creating low key sound in an urban bunker

When the mood strikes, Sandy Groulx, a.k.a. SandyG, steps into a fortress of blankets and belts out hip-hop rhymes.

Easily accessible and relatively inexpensive technology has allowed Victoria natives Philip Turcotte

The setup is simple: heavy blue blankets on scaffolding square off a makeshift sound studio in aging house on North Park Road.

Over the past year, when the mood strikes, Sandy Groulx, a.k.a. SandyG, has stepped into the fortress of blankets and belted out his hip-hop rhymes. Outside the bedroom turned music studio, Philip Turcotte mans the recording gear – which these days amounts to a few flatscreens and a PC computer.

The age of professional recording studios armed with banks of soundboards certainly isn’t dead, but technology has collapsed music engineering to within reach of most  emerging artists.

Turcotte’s Bunker Productions and Groulx’s first album Low Key are a product of a microphone, a computer, a few sound-dampening blankets – and tolerant neighbours.

“Recording has transformed dramatically in the last 10 years,” Turcotte says. “The technology is accessible and allows us to create quality sound.”

“Neither the producer or artist are paid. It’s all volunteer,” Groulx says with a laugh. “It’s amazing we can do this so cheap. We were probably under the $1,000 mark.”

Friends from Keating elementary through to Stelly’s secondary out on the Saanich Peninsula, Turcotte and Groulx, both 26, grew up influenced by the rap and hip hop music that filtered into mainstream culture. In Grade 10 they started rapping and producing music in a basement room they called the “bunker,” as it blocked cellphone signals.

“As a teen I fell in love with (hip hop),” Groulx says, citing influences such as Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre’s The Chronic. “We started trying to freestyle but never took it seriously, but never stopped either. Now we’re putting time and effort into it.”

“We recorded stuff back then. Nothing of high quality and using other people’s beats,” Turcotte says. “Now it’s reached a point where we are treating it like a second job, and not as a hobby.”

Turcotte admits that after completing a university degree in sociology, his academic field held little interest for him. He’s learned the tricks of sound engineering since recording with Groulx back in high school, but learning sound recording software such as Reaper and FL Studio has been a constant source of distraction for the past few years.

“I realized I had a degree from university in a field I didn’t want to work in,” he says. “The only thing I was passionate about is working in the music industry. In hindsight I would have gone into music out of high school.”

Groulx says he usually wanders into nearby forests or parks to compose lyrics, a creative process that’s slow but effective. His rhythms are based on personal stories of growing up in the region, not glamourized hip-hop culture .

“A lot is personal stuff … family, friends and personal strife. Ups and downs in life is where it’s coming from,” Groulx says. “The music is a product of your environment. Guys in the Bronx will rap about the way they grew up. We grew up here. We’re not talking about guns and gangsters.”

Breaking into the music business isn’t easy, but the duo is launching the independent label and its first production, Low Key, online on Feb. 28. Most of the marketing will be online through hip-hop blogs and connecting with college radio stations, the lifeblood of any small independent label.

“Hip hop doesn’t really get on mainstream radio programming ever,” Turcotte says. “College radio stations are invaluable.”

Check out bunkerproductions.ca for more information.

 

Just Posted

Saanich pedestrian incidents reflect recent trends

76% of crashes involving pedestrians happen at intersections

Group pushing to preserve Saanich Hydro land as park

Neighbours petitioning to buy surplus land on Kings Road

Two people rescued after falling from lifeboat at Ogden Point

Crew members of the Explorer of the Seas cruise ship fell into the water Thursday night

View Royal Park sign taken down after glitch redirects to pornographic website

Resident looking to learn more about workout equipment discovered the problem code

Online blasting video helps ease Sooke residents concerns

Complaints of dust ongoing since 2017

Here’s what you need to know about Day 1 at the BC Games

All 18 events kick off on the track, riding ring, fields, courts and lake in the Cowichan Valley

Five fun things to do this weekend

From a paint in to festivals, there are lots of fun events taking place this weekend

Crosswalk vandalism leaves black mark for Cowichan as B.C. Games begin

Rainbow crosswalk defaced just days after being painted

Saanich balances need for sewer with rural protection

A Saanich councillor says the public does not need to be concerned… Continue reading

Seal attacks kayakers off northern Vancouver Island

‘It has to be one chance in a million of this happening.’

BC toddler with ‘allergy’ to sun waiting for bone marrow transplant

Charlie Lock, 2, needs treatment for damage caused by rare disorder EPP

Photo gallery: BC Games Day 1

A brief look at action from the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

Anti-pipeline campers digging in as eviction deadline expires

The City of Burnaby had ordered the Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters out for violating bylaws

Trump was taped talking of paying Playboy model: AP source

Source says former personal lawyer Michael Cohen secretly recorded discussion prior to 2016 election

Most Read