A Life Full of Sound

My father loved music. When I was six years old he brought home a Mongomery Wards Airline console stereo with an LP changer and put it in the living room. I would sit and listen to Disney music soundtracks that my mom would let me pick out at the record store. The stereo later was moved into my brother’s room and he joined the Columbia House Record Club, receiving an album a month for his membership. My brother joined the Marines and was shipped overseas. His records continued to come to the house and I got to “make sure they worked” while he was away. At eight years old I was spending my day listening to The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Rolling Stones and Frank Zappa.

There were two major life influences that occured in my childhood. I went to visit a friend one day. He was from a wealthy family and they had some very nice hi-fi equipment. His brother was listening to a new record he had picked up called Switched On Bach. It was the music of Bach being performed on a Moog synthesizer. I was immediately intrigued with the synthesizer. I would save my allowance and look for any album that had synthesizers on it. I requested information from Moog, Arp and their dealers and started gathering everything I could find about these machines. Intrigue had suddenly become what would be a life-long obsession.

The second major influence was a christmas present. I received a Radio Shack 100 in 1 Electronic Projects Kit. I spent endless hours constructing all the projects. I was most taken with the projects that made sounds. There was one in particuler that created changes in pitch as you moved a coil closer or further from a transformer. I would imagine myself making music with my new “synthesizer”. This eventually gave me the confidence to try building some rudimentary synthesizer kits.

My high school and middle school years revolved around music, hi-fi, electronics and associated gear. I was starting to play in rock bands and began writing my first pieces of music. When it came time to think about college, I knew I wanted to study music, and It was imperitive that I study somewhere that had a true heavy-weight synthesizer. I found that Texas Tech, my home town school, had an Arp 2600 synthesizer in their music department. I spent the majority of my time at TTU camped out in the Experimental Music Lab, a small recording studio with the Arp 2600, a Teac 4 track reel to reel and a few ancilliary mixers and tape machines. I would take every unused minute I could schedule in that space. My grades in all classes outside of music composition were beginning to show my lack of attention.

My Sophomore year I found out that a community college less than thirty miles away had established a recording engineering program. It took one visit to know I had found the education I wanted and needed. I began attending the Sound Technology program at South Plains College - a brand new program with a new built for purpose recording studio, a pro 16 track tape machine and a large format MCI console. And the fine arts department just happened to have a little used Arp 2600. I was in heaven.

After graduation, I found myself working for a regional live sound company. There I learned how to build racks and the best practices for wiring and connectors. Within a year I received an offer to take up an engineering post at Don Caldwell Studios where I served as staff engineer under musician/producer Lloyd Maines. I eventualy built my first computer based music composition/MIDI studio in one of the spare rooms. Some years later, I went freelance, but kept my room at Caldwell’s. To suplement the move, I picked up some teaching gigs at my alma mater. I also found myself working with some of the other studios in town and eventually moved my office to Jungle Studios.

Mark Murray productions was my new moniker and I was doing a little bit of everything - engineering, producing, writing jingles and music beds, teaching, developing curriculum and providing tech services to all the local studios. After fifteen years I reached a plateau where there was no more upward mobility, so I started looking at relocating. I had been doing some freelance work at a studio in Dallas, and I liked the overall vibe of the city. I applied at many of the studios, but couldn’t nail down a full time job. I knew if wanted to secure a gig in Dallas, I needed to live in Dallas, so I took a job as a project manager for a systems contractor. It was a cool opportunity and I learned a ton about cabling infrastructure and the marriage of audio and video, but I always had an eye open for a studio gig. One day that opportunity dropped into my lap.

The A/V contractor I was working for asked that I design a post production system for one of their clients, a branding agency called The Richards Group. While visiting with the client, I discovered they were in the initial planning phase of adding audio to their in-house production group. I made sure they got a copy of my resume. As luck would have it, I was a good fit and within months I started building the first of several audio production rooms that I would have the pleasure of operating for over two decades. During that time I honed my skills in the world of Audio for Post Production. I had the extreme pleasure of working with some of the greatest minds in advertising. I also had the extreme fortune of working with some truly great celebrity talent. But the best part was knowing that my work was being heard by millions of television viewers and radio listeners. As cool as my gig at The Richards Group was, after nearly 24 years the scenery had changed and it was time for me to move on.

The next opportunity seemed like an accident but it was clearly a direction that was being presented to me for a reason. Bruce Faulconer gave me a call out of the blue. He and his wife Lisa have a beautiful, spacious studio in North Dallas that I had looked at as a possible space for rent when I needed to work with talent or clients in-person a year or so earlier. Bruce opened a discussion about perhaps joining forces with them. I thought about the possibilities with the Faulconers and realized this was my opportunity to work with my agency clients as well as my music clients. At long last I have found a fully appointed space that is quite simply amazing. It’s called CakeMix Recording Studio and it is my new studio home. I can’t wait to share it with you.