Head in the Clouds: Inside and Out Of the Sean Anderson Studio of Infinite Possibilities
A pattern of crisscrossed clouds cutting through the sky in the shape of a disassembled diamond aligned with adidas Originals trefoil are placed around Sean Anderson's Studio of Infinite Possibilities. The two images balance each other as they both represent what can happen from following your dreams to accomplishing them. The sky itself represents the ultimate infinity Sean has always #ImaginedBy and reached for and that the students of Cass Tech are meant for. Unrelenting and moody, the studio is a fortress of solid attitude complete with the most cutting-edge, top-of-the-line equipment. The Raven MTI touch screen controllers and a Native Instrument equipped Macintosh desktop that illuminate each guests' faces with their glowing screens ensure that each student will be able to properly learn the ins and outs of professionally recorded music.
Ellen Rutt, a local artist and graphic designer, was approached by adidas Original to supply the soon to be iconic imagery that lines the walls of the studio. Like Big Sean, she has worked for years at perfecting her craft of capturing and identifying images that speak to people of all ages. Her decision to use a friend's photograph for the studio design drew on Sean's album artwork for Dark Sky Paradise for inspiration. "I just layered a geometric pattern (of my friend's photo) and played with foreground and background relationships as I'm interested in that," she notes. The juxtaposition of the distinct black and white sky feels like being catapulted from the studio into the stratosphere of stark, surreal surroundings. As the students enter to record, they face Rutt's sky adorned by adidas Originals logos, a fusion of two unique innovators into a superlative future that every new student can look toward.
As the designer of the studio's recording system, local audio engineer Christopher Koltay hand-picked the most accessible and futuristic devices to propel Cass's kids forward. Scotty Iulianelli, a salesman at Vintage King Audio who also helped curate the technology for the studio, recalls his own education back in 2001: "When I was first in a recording studio learning these things my teacher told me 'in the future you'll be moving the faders on a glass screen.'" Now Cass Tech students will have that technology available to them at any given time. Several students entered the studio after the recording sessions to test out the new equipment and learn how to use MIDI controllers and Logic software. Their faces filled with glee as they listened to the sounds of beats and bleats of synth blast across the studio.
Rutt and Koltay have been #ImaginedBy the very city that gave them these opportunities to create contemporary imagery and audio design in the first place. Like Detroit, their work defies expectation and motivates the students to create the best, most honest sound they are capable of. The way the designers have worked so hard to make the most compelling, face-forward sonic and visual programs proves that Detroit is not only inspiring but also, with sdidas Originals and Big Sean blessing the city, unstoppable.
Rutt qualifies that Detroit was instrumental in her being able to leave a career in advertising in order to pursue her dream of focusing on art creation. "What's been really incredible is I'll do one project, and that leads to the next, and that's being an artist in Detroit by how quickly that spiraling effect happens. And here it can happen so rapidly (because) that network is so small and powerful."
Koltay says that with the high schoolers in the studio, being especially "tactile using touchscreens for the studio" was a must. "I was really blown away with how good those kids (who performed for Big Sean) were," Koltay said after watching them. Kids began to jam afterwards as Koltay and Iulianelli instructed them how to use the MIDI interface. "One girl just pushed Scotty out of the way and went to it. It was great!"
Koltay believes that, with unprecedented access to this equipment, one day "there's going to be a rock band that comes out of here who is going to make a record that is some fierce-sounding stuff. Or the dude who goes to school here who plays acoustic guitar can go in there and make a record. I want this to be like anyone can come in here and record, if you've got the determination and vision, and you can play whatever music you want to play." Like Detroit at large, Cass Tech is a homegrown community where everyone is connected by feeding each other's inspiration with new ideas. However, the studio will be open to any Detroit Public School student who would like to utilize it. Koltay plans to instruct a teacher on the technical aspects of the studio, but "if they offered me a job teaching here I would seriously consider it." What better way to imagine the future each day then by teaching students how to create music from the best beat forward?