For anyone who doubts that the music industry is all about connections…we’ve got a story to tell you.
RC apprentice Tanner Bjorklund (a.k.a. “T-Strix”)
(stage name “T-Strix”
) was a teenager with a gift for rap. He wanted to record his music, so he signed up, did an apprenticeship in a studio, and began engineering his own songs at his home in Temecula, CA. Although he was learning a lot, he found it to be a challenge. “I was doing all my own engineering,”
he said. “It’s hard to do it all on your own, trying to be an artist and manage all the other stuff.”
Masters apprentice Rodolfo Lopez (a.k.a., “R-Łö”)
) was an aspiring audio genius with a dream to “change the game” in hip-hop. Having a gift for engineering, he was thriving as a recording studio apprentice, completed his basic course, and had started on the advanced master’s program.
Their connection? Both of them were Recording Connection
students, apprenticing with mentor Donny Baker
of ES Audio
in Glendale, CA. Donny thought the two would pair well together.
Rodolfo picks up the story. “Donny was like, ‘There’s this kid who is pretty good at rapping. Maybe you should record with him.’ So we set up a session. I met Tanner, we recorded one song and I said to myself, ‘This kid has potential.’”
“When I was in Recording Connection, I came across Rudy,”
adds Tanner. “I was like, ‘Dude, I need an engineer because I know I have potential and I want to make this a career and to do this. I need to have somebody with me all the time.’”
Connection made. But it gets better. The two hit it off so well that when Tanner asked him to make a move to Temecula, Rodolfo didn’t hesitate.
“He made a move out here to Temecula with me,”
Studio B in ES Audio
says Tanner, “and as soon as that happened, we built a studio here in my house.”
Rodolfo elaborates, “We built a 4 x 8 space, we insulated it. It took a lot of time—blood, sweat and tears were put into it…It’s more of a vocal booth, and the place where I mix, we have it acoustically treated…We get very solid mixes in the studio we work in.”
It’s proving to be a very fruitful collaboration: the raw talent of a young rapper and the dream of an engineer to turn the industry on its head. As a duo, they dub themselves “Clever Empire” because they have a goal to bring “cleverness” and what they call “that raw sound with that lyrical flow” back into the genre.
“Hip hop, where it is now, it’s so repetitive,” says Rodolfo. “All they talk about is women, money and drugs…The reason I really like Tanner’s flow is because he raps about different things. He raps about real events, his life. He questions life in his raps, you know, like very underground hip-hop and raw lyrics, and you don’t really hear that anymore.”
Tanner’s admiration for his musical partner is mutual. “Rudy records me and he engineers it,”
he says, “and it’s better than I’ve known how to do it… He likes to experiment, and always finds a way to create a different sound, that you just don’t hear nowadays, and it’ll make you keep listening to it…What we are getting is sounding really professional.”
In fact, with the help of Tanner’s producer, Mindstat3
, the collaboration has resulted in a completed EP which releases July 21 (preview album below).
“The album is ‘The Future’s Present’, which means the future is now,”
says Tanner. “The picture is actually me unwrapping a present that says ‘future’ on it.”
“The album is gonna be very diverse,”
Rodolfo adds. “You’ll hear one and you’ll hear the next, and you’ll be like, ‘Wow, this is really different!’ It just has a vast variety.”
Even with the variety, Tanner says he wants people to understand what’s going on in the songs. “What I love when people talk to me,”
he says, “is a when someone asks me about my lyrics in a song and what the song means. I love to explain it because I put so much meaning into every song, and I love unfolding each line of the verse, and telling them what that means.”
T-Strix and R-Łö. Two talented individuals with a shared dream to revolutionize hip-hop. They didn’t know each other, but through the Recording Connection they wound up apprenticing at the same studio. Their mentor, Donny Baker, paired them together—and the rest, as they say, is history. And they are just getting started.
“We are gonna keep making as many songs as we can a week, and pick which ones we think are the best,”
says Tanner. “We’ve been making music every day, living the dream.”
The music industry is all about connections, connections that enable creative interests to align and careers to get made.
— Congrats on the building the future you want one track at a time!