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Musician and producer Greg Kurstin
The Listening Room at Sonos Studio
Singer/songwriter L.P. plays her ukulele in the Hollywood Hills.
Music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas of South Pasadena’s Chop Shop
Sounds of the City
The Grammys return to the Staples Center this month and the spotlight is once again trained on our city. Here, we round up this year’s most award-worthy local artists, venues and players. Rock on.
Jeff Miller, Mackenzie Wagoner and Jeff Weiss | Photo: Lindsey Byrnes, Matt Perko, Tamzin Brown and Andrew Stiles | January 18, 2013
Despite all the indie bands who have earned Grammy nods this year, pop music is not going gently into that good night. Just count the number of nominated projects musician and producer Greg Kurstin worked on this past year. Chart-topping pop darling Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) could win four golden gramophones and Pink’s The Truth About Love is up for one. But the Silver Lake-based L.A. native also works with artists as diverse as The Shins, The Flaming Lips and Lily Allen. These days, when Kurstin isn’t recording with his own lounge-pop band, The Bird and The Bee, he’s at work on upcoming projects for Sia and Lykke Li. It’s all part of his selective oeuvre that strikes a balance between hook-heavy pop and music he describes as “left of center.” No matter the genre, Kurstin is always pushing to make songs that, in his words, “just nail it.”
Odds are you’ve never listened to an album in an acoustically calibrated private studio. But Sonos Studio in La Brea’s Art and Design District is looking to change that. Designed to celebrate the experience of listening to music, the space contains a gallery for musician-curated art exhibits and performances from the likes of Solange and deadmau5. Toward the back, you’ll find the Listening Room (which also serves as a VIP room during events), where guests can kick back and enjoy their favorite tunes through the wireless sound system. “It’s intimate. We wanted it to be a comfortable place where you’d want to spend time, with cabinetry, books, tapestry and a hidden bar,” says Adam Goldstein of Studio Collective, which oversaw the design. Keep an eye on the performance calendar. 145 N. La Brea Ave., L.A., sonos.com/studio
After signing a record contract and getting dropped, then working her way back up to the big leagues with the same exec who originally championed her, singer/songwriter L.P. is on a roll. She initially drew the industry’s attention at her lauded live show at The Sayers Club. The singer—who has the expressive, broad pipes of Florence Welch; the demeanor and androgynous style of Patti Smith; and, charmingly, the mouth of a sailor—spent months at the Hollywood speakeasy and parlayed her performances into a range of gigs. Now she’s writing with a variety of artists, from Rihanna to Joe Walsh; playing Lollapalooza; selling out clubs like the Troubadour; and releasing her first major label full-length album this year. Her gig at The Sayers Club is the stuff of music industry lore. It came about as a favor; L.P. filled in for a friend and was asked to come back repeatedly. “I feel like, when I came to L.A., the sun just came out,” says L.P., who’s been living here in town for four years. “Literally and figuratively.”
A Song is Worth a Thousand Words
Alexandra Patsavas spends her days looking for magic in a few seconds of the perfect song. “But how do you quantify magic?” she laughs. If anyone can figure it out, it’ll likely be Patsavas, the music supervisor for Grey’s Anatomy, Gossip Girl, Mad Men and The Twilight Saga. Striking a balance between cutting-edge cool and familiar favorites, Patsavas has created the soundtrack for some of the most memorable pop culture TV moments of the last two decades. “It’s about using a song to enhance dialogue and location—to tap into emotions the show runner or writer wants the audience to feel,” Patsavas says, explaining the most important aspect of her job. Some artists she’s helped break include Snow Patrol, The Fray, and Peter Bjorn and John. With her South Pasadena-based label, Chop Shop, the Chicago-born Patsavas has also helped launch the careers of Scars on 45 and Milo Greene. Her next project is The Carrie Diaries, the Sex and the City 1984-set prequel airing on the CW. “I researched college radio station playlists in New York from the early ’80s, but we’re also having current bands cover songs from the era,” Patsavas says of her approach to finding music for the show. “The most rewarding thing is to be able to create something for a project and to watch it come to life.”
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