By Zach Collier
Provo, UT has no shortage of quality studios. June Audio, Pleasant Pictures, Noisebox, Bone Shack. But one in particular has played a key role over the last few years in shaping an emerging alternative scene: Studio Studio Dada. The brainchild of producer Stephen Cope, the studio has hosted live concerts, provided musical training to aspiring musicians, promoted social change and acceptance, and churned out an impressive number of sound recordings since it opened in October, 2013. Unfortunately, Studio Studio Dada will be closing its doors next month as Cope relocates to Athens, Georgia.
“These past few years of cool friendships, sick ass jams, and positive community outreach have been A++++,” Cope posted to social media in an announcement about the move. “I’ve seriously been so lucky. Now it’s time to do some things somewhere else.”
In Cope’s time here, they have welcomed touring acts from places like the eastern US and Buenos Aires, Argentina. The studio has also sponsored and promoted regular shows featuring female and non-binary fronted bands. Increasing the number of women and non-binary individuals involved in the local music scene has been a key goal, and the closely affiliated Medusa Collective hosted its annual MEDUSAFEST at the studio. MEDUSAFEST is a truly novel concept. Musicians who sign up to participate in MEDUSAFEST are randomly assigned to a band with two or three other musicians. After only a month to write songs and rehearse, the groups would then meet at Studio Studio Dada to put on a show. Studio Studio Dada encouraged pushing boundaries and embracing unbridled creativity. Musicians at Dada would sometimes choose chord progressions based on a dice roll, or write and record an album in under 24-hours.
“The thing that bums me out most,” Cope told Reach Provo when asked for observations about the Provo scene. “[Is] worrying too much about our image, not giving each other a chance. I mean, you gotta have your brand, but you can’t be too precious about it.” Cope and Dada had a remarkable influence. A fearless confidence and willingness to accept others for who they are and their art for what it is. That’s something that will definitely be missed.
It’s important to note that Studio Studio Dada wasn’t all social activism and optimistic music theory. It was a practical studio that put out solid work. Cope as a producer has engineered, mixed, and mastered over 40 EPs and albums and hundreds of one-off tracks from artists like Quiet House, Sen Wisher, and Bat Manors.
“Honestly, I’ve learned so much from everyone I’ve worked with, and it’s been hella fun,” says Cope. Cope has fond memories of Provo. “My favorite memories of Provo are the ones where I’m hanging out with friends, talking about Provo and people in Provo, drinking seltzer, talking about Provo music, getting phó, talking about Provo drama, biking around, talking about Provo politics.” Cope’s Provo-centrism says a lot about how involved they were in the city’s scene.
While Cope may be moving on, they’ll always be remembered. The Daily Herald, KSL, SLUG Magazine, City Weekly, and now Reach Provo – they’ve all written about the work that’s come out of a home studio from a talented producer and a passionate group of creative friends. I can foresee a day when some local historian or college student, for whatever reason, has to sift through local news archives for information on the history of Provo’s art and culture. They’ll see Cope’s name. They’ll read about the concerts, the albums, the seminars, the “cuteness.” Out of all the studios in Provo, Cope’s will stand out for being unique. Dada has left its mark.
Studio Studio Dada is still available for booking October 3-8 and October 10-20 at a discounted rate of $350/day (or $45 an hour for 8 hours). For more information, visit StudioStudioDada.com. You can also read our interview with Stephen Cope by clicking here. Watch Quiet House perform “Norma Jeanne” at Studio Studio Dada below.