Dave Carnahan doesn't particularly want to own a business, but does because it allows him to do what he loves.
Carnahan and co-founder Alan Steedman own King Street Creative - a studio which specialises in recording, audio post- production and video.
Carnahan admits that all he really wanted to do was engineer, but says owning the business was a necessary step to pursuing his passion.
"When I first arrived here there was no- one here for me to work for.
"I don't want to sound disingenuous, but if someone came in tomorrow and said I want to buy your studio, and employed me to just engineer, I'd hand over the key tomorrow."
The New York native arrived in Taranaki in 2003, and hooked up with Steedman shortly after. The two hit it off and in 2005, opened their doors under the name Studio15.
After five years of hard work and good fun, they felt the name Studio15 didn't reflect their vision and in early 2010 King Street Creative was born.
Since then, Steedman says things have progressed well, and they have been heavily involved with Taranaki's music and creative scene.
"While there has been a lot of hard work involved, I'm really happy with where we are at. I think we are offering a studio at a level higher than Taranaki has ever previously had."
Naturally, Steedman would still like to see more local musicians coming through the door.
"I'd like to see us involved with more local music growth projects. We already have good things going on with Singer Songwriters, Waves, and courses for various high schools - but I would like to see more networks built between local creative people," he says.
The business has also worked on sound for films such as Hiding Behind the Green Screen and Last Paradise, as well as programmes for TVNZ and Maori TV.
The overall concept of King Street Creative, Carnahan says, was to create a place where people could come to do more than just record.
"As much as there is a music community here, there needs to be somewhere that I guess is not just for recording. We wanted to make it so people can do anything here, whether they want to use it for rehearsing or workshops, whatever they like."
With more than 20 years' experience in the industry, Carnahan says while he appreciates how technology is developing, it is becoming a hinderance in some aspects of their trade.
People are now able to go and buy a microphone and computer and have an instant studio at home, which isn't necessarily wrong, but lacks expertise, he says.
"I prefer the old school because the onus was on the musician more.
"Now you can say 'oh fix that, fix that,' and you have this laundry list of stuff. Sometimes I think 'well if you just played it right, it would have only taken five minutes'.
"And it's not that they're not good, it's just easy to get lazy."
The computerised process takes over the creativity and the performance, Carnahan says.
"Fixing it isn't artistic, that's like a giant safety net, and that's the computer to me.
"In some ways it's good, because it allows people to be creative in their own space, but in some ways I think it's made it so the craft is suffering."
Despite the invasion of technology, the two men are continuing to hone their own skills, and facilitate the success of those who come knocking on their door.
Seeing that success is one of the biggest perks for Steedman.
"The thing I love most is hearing an artist I have recorded at the studio played on the radio," he says.
"It's a pretty great feeling hearing someone's music getting airplay and knowing I had a hand in getting it there."
The fact they are both passionate about what they do has helped Carnahan and Steedman to develop a cohesive relationship, both at and away from work.
Steedman says that is down to them each having a different set of "complementary skills".
"Dave does tend more to the people side, whereas I am probably my happiest with a soldering iron in my hand - installing new gear, servicing, or adding more functionality to the place.
"Aside to that, a mutual respect for each other's mixing abilities, and the fact that we both implicitly trust each other means we do get on really well," he says.
On top of their studio work, Steedman works fulltime for TSH, while Carnahan teaches a music technology programme to Taranaki high school students - which teaches them how to record, not how to run a computer programme, he laughs.
Helping high schools is a big part of the King St facility. They have provided many students with free studio time, and plan to compile records that feature local, secondary school talent.
Working with the younger generation has also allowed them to educate as they go.
"A lot of people think you come in, stand there, play your guitar and out pops a CD, and so you have to kind of educate people through the process and how it works," Carnahan says.
Looking ahead, he says the main goal is to simply keep helping people produce music they can be proud of - no matter what the style or genre.
"I like any music that I think people care about, which is weird, but I think a lot of people do generate music that they don't really care about - they're just trying to make a product," Carnahan says.
Steedman believes Taranaki is lucky to have the talent around that it does, and feels he is lucky to be a part of it.
"For the most part, I'm doing what I do now through a mix of good luck, hard work, and the dogged motivation to earn my living doing something I love."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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