Soft Cult Studio - Startup Fundraiser

Our Project:
Soft Cult Studio is a collectively-run group of audio engineers that is working to open a new music recording studio in the Twin Cities. Rather than starting a traditional for-profit business, our aim is to create a shared community resource that will make professional quality recordings accessible to as many musicians as possible. We believe recording your music should be empowering, fun, fulfilling, and affordable, and we will create a space that honors those values.
Once the studio itself is up and running, membership in the collective will evolve over time. We hope to include members that represent a wide range of musical backgrounds as well as a wide range of past experience with engineering, both experts and beginners. The studio space will be shared equally among all active members, giving us all a chance to use these tools to learn, work, and create.
The collective will also serve as an educational resource for those who want to learn more about the technical side of audio engineering. This will take multiple forms: collaboration between active members, internships for those interested in learning this trade, classes and workshops for the public, and more. Our goal is to democratize this knowledge, promoting inclusivity for people of all skill levels to thrive in a creative environment.
While music production and engineering will be our main focus, we are currently exploring other ways to use the space. Let's collaborate together! Many musicians we have worked with over the years also create art using other mediums, such as painting, photography, sculpture, drawing, videography and more. We would love the opportunity to support them by using our resources to help showcase this work.
Our Current Progress:
We’ve spent the summer detailing our vision for the studio and how we will put it to use, as well as creating the framework that will govern the internal operations of the collective. We’ve also spent time touring a handful of spaces available for lease. However, we won’t be able to secure a space and start building the studio until we have some money in the bank, which is why your financial support through this fundraiser is so critical. Our goal is to raise enough money this fall that we can afford to sign a lease for a space and start renovating it by the end of the year.
How We Will Use The Funds:
This fundraising campaign will provide the startup costs needed for building the new studio. This money will primarily be used for renovating a space to suit our needs. Recording studios have a very specific set of physical requirements; specially constructed walls, floors and ceilings to maximize sound isolation, electrical service that won’t create unwanted electrical noise in our equipment, room dimensions calculated and built to provide a pleasant acoustical environment, a very quiet but effective HVAC system, and more. This is projected to cost anywhere from $10,000 – 20,000, depending on the size and condition of the space we rent. After that is the cost of the sound equipment itself. While we are getting most of our equipment at well below typical market value, it still represents a significant piece of our startup costs, roughly $10,000.
How You Can Help:
Right now we are asking for financial donations to help us cover these startup costs.
And of course it would also help us if you spread the word about the collective and our goals. We hope this studio can be a way to grow community, so if you know anyone who might want to donate money to our effort, record their music with us, listen to the records we produce, or learn to produce records themselves, please steer them our way!
Who We Are / The Founding Collective Members:

Katie Thorton - Katie is a musician and audio/print journalist from and based in Minneapolis. She has been playing, touring, and recording in DIY bands since she was 15. Her current and recent bands include Constant Insult, Miracle Debt, Anxious Living, and Epic Downtime -- many of which recorded at A Harder Commune Studio. Katie spent years working and volunteering at a slew of community radio stations and radio organizations across the country, and in 2018 made the switch to journalism and podcasting. Most of her recording and production experience is in podcasting and sound design. Her audio stories have run on 99% Invisible, NPR, the BBC, Minnesota Public Radio, WNYC, Atlas Obscura, and others.  She's not particularly proud, though also not ashamed, to say that her most listened-to artist of 2021 was The Jam, and that she ranks within the band's top 0.5% of listeners. How's that for credentials?
Dave Rupel – Dave spent three years operating Blank Wall Recording Studio, out of a garage, with the unparalleled help of friend Trent Urness. With his degree in Sound Arts from MCTC, and thanks to a lot of math and hard work, they constructed a space to make great sounding recordings at a fraction of the price of other professional studios. Together, they engineered and produced albums, singles, and compilations for many bands, musical groups, and solo artists in and outside the Twin Cities DIY and punk communities, including genres in Jazz, Metal, and Punk, to name a few. Dave has also played drums, bass, and guitar in all kinds of bands throughout his life in Minneapolis, while being a part of many different grass-roots collectives that challenged capitalistic ideals, and helped to facilitate growth in his surrounding communities.
Mariel Oliveira - Mariel is a musician, recording artist and audio engineer based in Minneapolis. They have a decade of experience repairing woodwind, brasswind  instruments professionally during the day, and do their music by night. Currently a student of Sound Arts, at the Minneapolis College and performing with their bands IE, The Controversial New Skinny Pill, and XOXOTECH. These bands can be heard throughout the underground experimental music scene of the Twin Cities, and have performed near and far at public events such as the Franconia Sculpture Park Summer Festival, Big Ears Experimental Music Festival, and Drone Not Drones.
Mickey Shaw – Mickey has been making and recording music and sound for close to two decades. He recently attended Minneapolis College, graduating in 2021 with a degree in sound arts. Mickey is eager to share his love and knowledge of the recording process with others and to give back to a community that has helped get him to where he is today. He is grateful and excited to be part of Soft Cult Studio!
Jaxon Vesely - Jaxon began recording music as a high schooler in Western Massachusetts recording his own bands. Later, he studied classical guitar and received a Bachelor of Music in audio recording and production from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Jaxon moved to Minneapolis in 2014 and continued to work with a wide variety of musical genres, from classical to hip hop to metal. He has years of experience as a freelance engineer and currently works as an audio engineer and music teacher.
Matt Castore – Matt spent twelve years operating A Harder Commune Studio out of his home, producing many well-loved albums by bands such as Color TV, Bib, Frozen Teens, Kitten Forever, Real Numbers, and many more. In that time he also developed the skills needed to repair/maintain/build much of the equipment used in his studio. Matt has played in various local bands, including Condominium and Scrunchies, and spent seven years volunteering at Extreme Noise Records, a collectively-run record store in Minneapolis.
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Matthew Castore
St. Paul, MN

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