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January 10, 2013 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Nestled in a Neighborhood of North Columbia is a quaint two-story home with clean white siding. It fits in perfectly, matching the shape, layout and colors of its neighbors. Nobody would ever know that on the second floor of Tim “Heez on Fire” Hanson’s cozy abode is a recording studio, Heezers Palace.
Hanson is a Columbia native who’s been working with music for much of his life. His father taught him to play the piano, and Hanson’s been a producer for about 10 years. He also works in vocal coaching, instrumental composition and beat making.
Where: Norwalk Drive
Cost: $25 per hour or $200 for 10 hours
Hanson’s studio isn’t a typical commercial recording studio. There isn’t a long table full of buttons, knobs and gadgets that light up, and there’s no windowpane separating the producer from the recording artist.
Instead, Heezers Palace is a simple bedroom-turned-beat-laboratory with beige carpet, black walls and a few desks that house Hanson’s equipment. The walls are papered with colorful flyers featuring the names and faces of local artists. They’re all from clients’ shows that Hanson has helped book, promote or plan.
A keyboard sits atop a glass desk and creates a workspace for Hanson’s clients to write lyrics and play music. The main desk in the studio is home to the bulk of Hanson’s equipment. He has a computer set up with Pro Tools, recording software Hanson says is standard in the industry. As he demonstrates his mixing skills, lines dance across the screen like an EKG monitor that ebbs and flows with the music.
Next to the screen is a stack of equipment that includes an analog mixer, DJ mixer, drum machine and turntable. These machines allow Hanson to produce beats, add instruments to tracks or sample music from old vinyl records.
Rapper Teeper T sits in the leather chair in front of the keyboard. He scribbles lyrics into his notebook for a song he’s working on for his second mix tape.
Dressed down in jeans, an IndyGround T-shirt (he works for the record label) and an Oakland Athletics hat, Hanson sits behind his master setup. Despite his casual demeanor, Hanson has worked to establish many professional connections that he uses to help clients sell CDs in stores or book shows at local venues.
Teeper T and Hanson have known each other since junior high, but Hanson began recording with the rapper around 2004. Teeper T has worked with several local producers, but he says Hanson is the best in the area.
One of Hanson’s strengths, Teeper T says, is his ability to provide clients with a realistic set of goals. Although many young artists have dreams of instant fame and fortune, Hanson knows it takes a lot of work to get there. “People who come in here are misguided,” Teeper T says about artists who go to Heezers Palace. “He gives clients a realistic approach.”
In the past four years, Hanson has recorded approximately 5,000 songs with 200 to 300 clients. His customers aren’t all local; they come from as far away as Florida and New York. He’s even worked with Bastian Killjoy, a hip-hop artist from Melbourne, Australia.
“He enjoyed working on the project, which really shines through when you listen to our album,” Killjoy wrote in an email. “Maybe passionate people are so far and few that I had to find someone on the other side of the world who relates to what I do.”
Hanson records the artist’s vocals first, mixes it with beats or instruments, then masters it by tweaking the sound and adding the final touches.
The finished piece can then be sold on iTunes or in stores locally.
“Being a good mix engineer is half having good tools to do it and half having the know-how to do it,” Hanson says.