Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

RZA headlines 5-year anniversary party for Echo Park's Bedrock Studios

by Alex Cohen and Lauren Osen | Take Two®

The mural decorating the outside of Bedrock L.A. in Echo Park, a rehearsal space and recording studio for local musicians. Ken Scarboro/KPCC

This weekend, RZA will headline a block party in Echo Park. It's a celebration of Bedrock Studios' five years in the neighborhood. Part rehearsal space, part recording studio, part pinball machine collection, many have called the studio space a Disneyland for musicians.  

Alex profiles the 5-year-old space that has hosted the likes of Beck, Divine Fits, and Janelle Monáe, in addition to many working musicians in L.A. 

RELATED: Tickets and more info about Bedrocktoberfest here (Promo code: BED50) 

This weekend, RZA will headline a block party in Echo Park. It's a celebration of Bedrock Studios' five years in the neighborhood. Part-rehearsal space, part-recording studio, part-pinball machine collection, many have called the studio space a Disneyland for musicians.

The 40,000 square-foot former jewelry factory is hard to miss. A massive mural of colorful snakes wraps around the brick exterior, which sits on a quiet street near the 2 freeway. 

It was around noon on a weekday, far too early for most respecting musicians to be up, but just walking down the hallway, you get the idea about this place. 

In addition to the dog that greets you on the way in, and the pinball machines in the lobby, one of the first things you notice about Bedrock is its vending machine.   

"We put some drumsticks and guitar strings, and some teriyaki bites and there's a 9-volt battery," said Bedrock co-founder Kamran Valanejad, who goes just by 'Kamran.' "It's mostly just what you need when you need it."

Before opening Bedrock, Kamran spent years working with musicians at venues in Silverlake and Echo Park.

He said he began to notice a demand for affordable rehearsal space nearby. Sure there were places in the San Fernando valley and downtown LA. But they were often hard to schlep to, and  there were often expensive. 

"Not every band can afford to rent something month-to-month, and they don't like hauling around their gear, so we said, 'what do we like about rehearsal rooms and what don't we like?'" said Kamran. "We have parking, air conditioning, gear that works, people that are happy to be here." 

And he said Echo Park is an ideal location for many reasons. 

"I think in LA, if you want to be a creative person, you have to just figure out what works for you and for lots of reasons, Echo Park seems to be a great place for creative work," said Kamran. "The people around you are supportive, there's lots of places to play, there's lots of places now with us to rehearse, people like coffee, there's coffee everywhere and it's fairly inexpensive compared to being in other parts of Los Angeles."

There are over a hundred rooms at Bedrock, like the Madonna Inn, many are decorated with their own themes. 

"There's sort of a psychedelic Partridge Family-looking room, there's a dark horror-themed room  with posters and there's an Echo Park room that has the newspaper from the day that we made it, from Echo Park."

Bands can also record at Bedrock. There's a shop where they can rent gear and instruments, and a workshop where they get instruments, mics and amps repaired. 

Not long after Bedrock opened, a number of notable musicians started dropping by. Beck, Janelle Monae, The Eagles of Death Metal, and Divine Fits have all spent time there. And those are just the bands he knows about.

"There was a rumor that Thom Yorke had been here singing and we could all hear him early one morning and there's no way it could have been anyone else but...things like that just happen," said Kamran.  

But he said he's perhaps most impressed by the bands that haven't made it big yet. Everyday he is able to see just how hard aspiring musicians in Los Angeles are working to do what they love. 

"The amount of working bands that not only are just like, 'I'm gonna be in a band and I'm gonna play,' but are actually touring and playing and making this a living is really impressive," said Kamran. "You know, even if some of them will bartend at night or whatever they need to do to get by, this is a massive commitment. I mean we had one band, it was a couple, and we found out they had actually been living in their car mostly so they could afford to rent a room here, which isn't that expensive, but that's the level of commitment that a lot of people have out here to their art. We're lucky that this seems to be the playground for that."

This weekend, that playground opens up to the public. On Saturday, Bedrock Studios will host the first Bedrocktoberfest, with beer,  music from RZA, Liam Finn and others and several magicians from the Magic Castle. 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Enjoy Take Two®? Try KPCC’s other programs.

What's popular now on KPCC