Umbrella Local Connections – Coronado Edition FEB 2022

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Sluka / Figure It Out Though he doesn’t perform often locally, there is no doubt that guitarist Sluka (aka Christopher Sluka) has been making an impact on the worldwide level. A pilot by day, he’s spent the last several decades amassing a significant catalog of tunes. His latest album, Figure It Out, is his fourteenth release overall since 1989, and has picked up major interest. A festival tour of Europe and the U.S. is set for this summer, including an appearance at Togfest 2022, a UK event just north of London, on Saturday, June 25th. In advance of the tour Sluka has released a string of videos from the album, most recently for the song, “What Else.” He’s received considerable airplay, but it’s through videos where his music has had the biggest impact, with the title track at over 1.2 million views and numerous others with half a million views and climbing. How important does he feel his videos have been to spreading the word about his music? “Lately, during the pandemic, they’ve been very important,” he acknowledged. “Especially since our last scheduled tour for 2020 was cancelled as the worldwide lockdown began. They’ve allowed us to connect visually with everyone who follows us.” He prefers a scripted video to online zoom concerts, etc. “Zoom shows just don’t have that magic vibe of an in-person

concert,” he said. “So, if we can’t do concerts, we can at least try to make interesting videos.” Pragmatically, his latest videos are all his own productions. “Anna Eppink (bassist) and I got a camera, some equipment, and editing software,” he recalled. “We buckled down and learned to do what we could in order to meet the deadlines for all the promoters and industry people. While they probably could always be better, I think they visually convey the essence of the songs.” Sluka’s music is hard to pigeonhole. It’s certainly rock, but there are many influences that filter through each tune. How would he describe his music? “It fits into the Progressive Alt Rock genre,” he said. “The music that I release are songs that I think may resonate with others and perhaps help them reflect on their own lives. But all my songs just pop into my head, kind of like a song you hear on the radio and then you can’t stop singing it. That’s what happens to me, only it is an original song. And the only way for me to move on

is to understand the arrangement, learn the instrument parts, and then record it.” What’s Sluka’s favorite thing about being a musician? “It’s the happy accidents that occur, especially in the studio working with talented musicians, like Anna, who comes up with completely unexpected bass parts and sounds,” he said. “And working with Alan Sanderson as producer/engineer for the past two albums has been incredibly rewarding given my past unpleasant experiences with producers who were not on the same plane as


I (pun intended). But being a musician is simply part of my identity.” He considers music to be an essential part of his life. “Growing up, although my parents were supportive of anything educational, just about everyone in my life felt I had almost zero chance of making a living and that it was more likely I’d wind up destitute. And they were right! It was more likely,” he recalled. “But it’s who I am, and I felt I had no choice. I couldn’t stop being a musician any more than I could stop being human.”

Jeff Berkley / Satellite Recording Jeff Berkley has opened a new studio, Satellite! in Kearny Mesa. He has been trying to find his studio a permanent home for several years, most recently temporarily located at Jason Mraz’s Mranch in Fallbrook. “The studio was homeless for awhile,” Berkley said. “We were so lucky to have a friend like Mraz who opened up his beautiful space for us to continue to work till the new digs were done. We ended up at his place for 3.5 years, made two Mraz records and a little under 40 other records up there. I honestly don’t know where we’d be without his kindness.” What sets Satellite apart from earlier rooms Berkley has worked in? “It’s incredibly outfitted with a Neve Console, an outrageous, world class and versatile mic and outboard collection as well as a priceless instrument and amp collection,” he said. “There’s an immediate vibe when you walk in the place. It’s been designed from the ground up to create a space for artists to be inspired and create magic. The live room sounds amazing, there’s tons of isolation but great sight lines, so the musicians can groove with each other and there’s nothing standing in the way of collaborating. It’s the best studio I’ve ever worked in. We’ve got the place set up to be able to walk in and be recording in just LOCAL NEWS |

a short time. It’s a place where artistic dreams can come true. I’m so excited to help folks make their music here.” The first recording artist to avail himself of the facilities is keyboardist Josh Weinstein. Beyond studio work, Berkley’s two main musical projects, Berkley Hart, as well as his solo band, Jeff Berkley & The Banned, will soon have new albums out. How does he juggle so many projects? “Well, it’s not always easy,” Berkley said. “It’s a fulltime job to schedule my full-time job but I manage. Google calendar is my constant companion. I’m not always successful at it but it seems to work out ok. I’m very lucky to be busy.” Which does he prefer – performer or producer? “I need them both in my life,” he said. “I can’t imagine life without one or the other. Berkley has worked in numerous studios around the country. What is he happiest about with Satellite? “The way it feels to be there and make music. The gear and the construction and all of that are huge sources of pride for all of us. However, all of it was done with one thing in mind. To make it a place where timeless, magical art are effortlessly created with an abundance of joy in our hearts. So far, that’s just what is happening there! I’m so blessed and thankful!” he said. /LocalUmbrellaMedia



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