Studio Spotlight: Dream Machine LB
Photo Above, Left to Right: Derek Poulsen, Scott Holmes, Dustin Lovelis
Dream Machine LB is a local full service recording studio in Long Beach, CA. We caught up with all three owners to find out a bit about how they got involved in the Long Beach music scene, their favorite gear around the studio, and much more
Who are you guys and where are you all from?
Derek Poulsen: Hey! We’re the 3 lads over at Dream Machine. I’m Derek. I grew up in Orange County but have since been bouncing around LB.
Dustin Lovelis: I’m Dustin. I was born in Long Beach but mostly grew up in the Temecula area. LB drew me back in.
Scott Holmes: And I’m Scott. I grew up in Laguna Beach and have been in Long Beach for 20 years now.
How did you get involved in the Long Beach Music Scene?
Dustin: We all kinda found our way in through going to and playing shows at local venues and parties. I moved back here about 15 years ago and started a band called The Fling and now a solo project under my own name. Scott started a band called Highlands and Derek plays bass in Kiev. We’ve all had the good fortune to tour and play shows with tons of great local bands.
What's your educational background in music / record production?
Dustin: I've never had any formal education. I would just take notes from engineers and producers while recording in various studios. I eventually started recording my own stuff.
Derek: Music was always just a natural part of my childhood and adolescence. Eventually I studied formally at CSUF and informally via being in bands all my life. Touring, making records and being around highly talented people in and out of the studio pushed my boundaries and continues to be a preferred method of education. Scott: I started out recording songs at home. That eventually lead me to going to Cal State Dominguez Hills for Audio Recording. After, I landed an internship at Big Bad Sound in Los Angeles, that further inspired me to open my own recording studio.
Any Mentors you’d like to mention?
Dustin: Eli Thomson, Frank Lenz, Sam Cohen are all producers and engineers I've picked things up from. All amazing Producers/Engineers.
Derek: Spending time in the studio with Darrell Thorpe and Chris Walla was always eye opening. Sonically and creatively I really admire engineers and producers like Tchad Blake, Conny Plank and Aphex Twin.
Scott: Rollie Ulug, Josh McKendry, and Zach Fisher are the first that come to mind. Rollie recorded my bands for years, then trusted me to record some of his as well. Josh was my professor turned friend, and Zach gave me my first industry experience. I'm grateful for all of them.
Correct me if I’m mistaken, but Dream Machine was formally Sanctus Sound, Correct? What was the transfer like, What has stayed the same, and what’s changed?
Derek: Yes! It was very serendipitous and something we couldn't pass up. Pete was super helpful in passing the baton. And once we got the studio we spent a lot time continuing to dial in the acoustics from what Pete did, added our own gear which continues to grow, and aesthetically vibing it out with the help of local mural wizard Dave Van Patten who christened the studio with his work.
Scott: Yeah! We even grabbed a few mics from Pete that we still all use to this day.
Dream Machine Live Room Mural by Dave Van Patten, Photo Credit: Jay Diebel
Primary Services and Clientele?
Derek: Primarily tracking and mixing and between the 3 of us there's a good range of production where needed as well. Local artists and inter-dimensional sound makers of all kinds are welcome.
Unique aspects of the studio?
Dustin- The 3 of us have different approaches and influences when it comes to recording so we can cover a lot of ground sonically and stylistically.
Derek: And there’s a pretty eclectic range of instruments to experiment with from the Wurli 200 to Indian tablas to Juno 60, etc...
What makes a session at Dream Machine so special?
Dustin- Since the studio is owned by 3 local musicians that care about perpetuating a thriving music scene, we put a lot of care into the recordings we make. Personally I like trying to become an extra member of the band when recording. I get obsessed. Probably to a fault!
Scott: When you walk in, you get a vibe. You can be yourself. I personally think that's super important for something so personal. We've managed to figure out the sweet spots in the live room and get tasty tones, while keeping it comfy and professional. Derek : Yeah there's definitely a lot heart in the studio and intention put in that makes it a comfortable and pure space for creation and exploration.
Long Term goals for the studio? Where do you see the studio in 5 years?
Scott: Keep growing the gear collection and helping people make great records!
Derek: Continue learning and growing from our experiences. With the constant change of how music is created and shared globally there’s a lot of nuances to adapt with along with the needs of local musicians. We’ll listen to those as closely as we can and link them up with allies in the community to help further elevate the music they make. There’s also a possibility of expanding the physical space here in the building so that would be sweet to see that happen! But for now just very grateful for what we do have and how we can best share it.
What equipment is Indispensable during a session? What makes it special?
Dustin- Stereo pair of Coles for drums. I just started using them. Now I like recording drums again.
Derek: Yeah the Coles for sure capture a natural representation of anything you put in front of them. And the API 2500 is awesome on a drum buss to exude more punch. It has a way of taming some high end while bringing forward things like the snare. Lovely on a mix buss too for certain genres. There’s also a pretty fun quiver of vintage analog and digital synths to play with for adding flavor!
Scott: I like a mono drum kit mic that’s heavily compressed.
live Room, Dream Machine, Photo Credit: Jay Diebel
What advice would you give to local musicians about to make a record?
Scott: First, I’d say come check out the space and see if it suits what you're going for. Dustin- Be super well rehearsed if you're on a tight budget. Invest in some of your own gear and do overdubs at home. Saves a lot of time/money.
Derek: Pre-production. Get your songs, parts and arrangements down as much as you can beforehand and of course leave room for spontaneity while in the studio. If there is that luxury of time, then it's always worth going down a few paths of exploration.
What projects have been completed at the studio that you’re proud of?
Dustin: My previous record was recorded between home, Dream Machine, and Sam Cohen's studio in Brooklyn.
I also recorded a kind of lo/mid fi record with a local favorite previously known as Karenn Campbell (now called Chorus Pedal) in 2019. All recorded at Dream Machine.
Derek: Jane Free made a really cool 7 song cycle album and a film to go along with it. Avant-garde themes with a backdrop support for suicide awareness.
The Video recently won an award at the Montreal Independent Film Festival for "Best Experimental Music Video & Best Composer 2021"
Re-emerging songbird Stella Moon. We tracked, mixed and produced a few of her songs. Her sweet voice is so gentle and comforting.
Improv Synth Duo, Hot Snacks. Get em while they’re hot!
Scott: Blackout Transmission recorded their first full length with me back in Dec of ’19
I also produced and recorded my brother Jeff Holmes, during lockdown.
Any upcoming projects you’re excited about? Why?
Dustin: I have a new record coming out on Park The Van sometime this year that was mostly recorded at Dream Machine. Some other new projects in the works as well.
Scott : Assquatch’s upcoming full length and Highlands upcoming EP
Bonus Round, all points are worth double:
What advice would you give someone starting up their own studio today?
Scott: Be ready to record anyone! Recording different genres will be extremely beneficial and you’ll learn a lot.
Dustin: Start at home and upgrade slowly.
Derek: You don't need thousands of dollars of gear to make cool records. And there is no one magic piece of gear that makes everything sound good, it's how you use what you got. Start small and build, learning each piece as you go. Ultimately, just have fun with it and experiment any chance you get.
Shout out to anyone in special in the community?
Dustin: Terry Prine for loaning us some gear in the early days.
For booking or general questions about Dream Machine LB, email email@example.com or click here
Studio Spotlight is a monthly blog that will focus on a local Recording Studio in Long Beach, CA. If you have any recommendations or want to put a new facility on our radar, please give us a shout!