We think the world needs more great music! Cirina Catania, the host of OWC RADiO, joins the guys from Jam in the Van and talks with Jake Cotler, the founder of the innovative recording studio. With him today is Jack Higgins, the studio’s executive video producer & content creator.
Jam in the Van is a mobile, solar-powered recording studio that is changing the way the world discovers new bands as they travel around the country producing live music videos inside their mobile studio and making them available online. OWC is a major sponsor, and the guys attribute much of their technological successes to the equipment they use from the family of Other World Computing products.
Jake Cotler created the concept for Jam in the Van in 2011 along with partners Dave Bell and Louis Peek. Today, Jake oversees all creative aspects of the company as well as the programming and business development.
Jack Higgins rums production, directs, shoots and edits the video and photo content as well as the live streams. Jack has been with Jam in the Van since starting as a college intern in 2014.
Listen in and find out more about this extraordinary recording studio concept that’s changing the way new music is discovered!
Today’s music features The Marcus King Band and their track, “Side Door.” Thanks, Marcus. You Rock!
Write to us at OWCRADiO@catania.us or comment below.
For more information about our amazing sponsor, Other World Computing, go to MacSales.com or OWCDigital.com, where you’ll find hardware and software solutions and tutorial videos that will get you up and running in no time.
For more about our host, filmmaker, tech maven and co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival, Cirina Catania, visit cirinacatania.com.
If you enjoy our podcast, please subscribe and tell all your friends about us! We love our listeners. And, if you have ideas for segments, write to OWCRadio@catania.us. Cirina is always up for new ideas!
In This Episode
- 00:32 – Cirina introduces Jake Cotler, started Jam in the Van in 2011. Jack Higgins runs Jam in the Van’s production.
- 04:22 – Jake shares the story of Jam in the Van’s official launch way back in 2011.
- 07:37 – Jake tells the story of when their old van broke down in Fort Stockton and they sold it to a police sheriff.
- 12:23 – Jack explains how OWC products make his work more efficient and effective in terms of production.
- 15:42 – Jack shares how SlingStudio is responsible for recording their multi-camera angle using a Camera Link Wi-Fi pack and creating a Premiere Profile ready to edit.
- 21:04 – Jack shares each of the team’s roles: director of photography, sound and mixer engineer and camera guy.
- 27:00 – Jake shares advice for people in the music industry on how to build their own team to work with in order to reach success.
- 31:25 – Jack shares the quality equipment they use in the van provided by their sponsors; Audio-Technica, QSC, Orange Amps, and Vessel Drums.
- 36:00 – Jake and Jack tell an interesting story of their life on how they started their journey with Jam in the Van.
- 43:38 – Like and follow Jam in the Van on their social media accounts to keep up with all their activities and watch their amazing featured artists.
We’re jammin’ with the guys from Jam in the Van. Times like this, I have to say I love my job. So come on in, we’ve got the inside story right here, right now. Jack Higgins is the executive content creator of Jam in the Van. He oversees all the aspects of production. I’m going to be asking him questions about the gear and how they do it and what they edit in. And Jake Cotler started this along with Dave Bell and Louis Peek in 2011. I think it’s a great idea, you guys. Welcome aboard.
JC: Thank you. I think it’s a great idea too.
Let’s talk about this for a moment just so we can set it straight. The van is actually docked for the moment because of all the isolation that we’re all undergoing, right? Is it not on the road?
JC: Nope, it is sitting at our headquarters in West Los Angeles, in the back lot.
Yeah. Well, I just don’t want anybody to freak out and think that you’re taking risks on the road. But let’s talk about how all this started.
JC: Me and my buddy Dave, we were working in LA. I was working at a law firm, he was working at a comedy production company. We would take trips to the Bonnaroo Music Festival every summer because I grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. Tennessee was right there. We used to go to the festival in summer. Moved out here, kept the tradition going. My friends, and I would rent an RV, and we would go to the festival and stay in the RV. So we were just messing around and looking at cheap RVs on Craigslist. He was at his job, and I was at mine. And to date, we were using what I think might have been AOL Instant Messenger, if it wasn’t G Chat.
Wow, that’s been a while.
JC: Then, there’s these links to old RVs that you could buy for- anywhere from like $800-$1,000. And we had the idea, “let’s just have a festival in an RV in our own yard.” We reached out to our buddy Louis Peek to jump on board and help us fund the thing. And we bought, I want to say it was an $800 RV out somewhere in the valley. I forgot the exact place. I bought the RV, drove it home to my parking lot in Venice. On the way home, the brake went through the floor or something, and we had to jackknife it across the road.
Oh my god.
JC: So it almost didn’t happen. When we got back to the house, I gutted it with a crowbar and some tools and stuff, and we bought a bunch of stuff in downtown LA to do up the walls. We went around all the poster shops, record shops, and got gig posters from all the venues and decorated the walls. We made a “jam van” and started shooting bands in Venice’s backyard, which was 2011.
How did that morph into being on the road in a mobile studio? That’s actually solar-powered, right? Everything in there is solar power. So tell us about that. I know you guys do a lot of interviews, and you talk to a lot of people, but I think some of the people that are listening in may not have heard of Jam in the Van. So I just want to make sure we’re setting the stage for them. Also, this is radio. You’ve got a great trailer on jaminthevan.com, and by the way, people can go. They can see how great this van looks, but let’s explain to them how you morphed your backyard to a mobile van?
JC: Yeah, admittedly, I have told this story way more times than I can remember.
I know, I can tell. But just know that there’s a lot of people out there who haven’t yet heard it. And I’m trying to reach them because this is awesome.
JC: And it’s a good story.
Yeah, it’s a great story.
JC: We bought it in February, and we started shooting bands in April. Then by June, we’d amassed enough episodes that were ready to launch. And we originally launched on Vimeo which again, dates it, because YouTube was just starting out, and the idea of making money on YouTube was a very new kind of thing. And so we went to Bonnaroo that year just to go and hand out stickers and cards of our website. And that was kind of like our official launch. It was June 14, probably around 2011, and then we did backyard shows for until the next year in March 2012 was the first time we went anywhere and went to South by Southwest. But we started doing shows in the backyard and quickly people were into it.
JC: Not just those I mean, those are fun, the first ones are cool. I mean, all my friends would come over and we take over the parking lot in the back of their apartment complex. And he would make frozen pizza and chicken nuggets, and we have a beer. Everybody had a good time. So we did that in the backyard. All the while, we were working on the engine for this old van. We always knew we wanted to get it on the road and go to festivals with it. That was always the goal because there are also so many bands that go to these festivals. You can film a lot of bands all at once, and when we do it in the yard, we would have like two or three bands, four bands come out for the day and film with us. So it was like a mini festival, putting it up on Vimeo at first. Then we switched to YouTube at some point where we figured out, “Oh, YouTube will pay you to do this video.” We were buying the gear at Guitar Center, DIY, and everything. We didn’t have solar panels at that time, we did have skylights that we cut in the roof.
Oh, that’s cool.
JC: It was pretty funny, but we did that for lighting purposes for the camera guy. And by 2012, we were ready to take the road. We actually started to get some interest from companies that wanted to work with us. I think the first company that wanted to work with us was MXL Mics. And their rep., a guy named Scott, discovered us through a band in LA and reached out to us and said, “We’re interested in sponsoring this project.” It was a micro company, which was so huge to us because we were buying stuff at Guitar Center, and now these guys were giving us whatever mics we wanted. And they were gonna pay us to go to South by Southwest, so that was really exciting. We did that when South by Southwest for the first time, we thought we were actually on an official park of South by Southwest. It wasn’t the most fun situation for us because we were in a convention center. It was a trade show, and the Jam in the Van’s experience is more of outside having fun, not trade shows.
JC: So we went to South by Southwest, we must have had to stop on the road every 30 minutes to an hour to fix something with that van. It was just a real piece of crap and should have never gone on a road trip. But we filmed a lot of bands at the time it seemed like a lot, now we film a lot quicker, but it was quite something like 25 bands over the week. We were really stoked about that. We went back home, and the van actually broke down on the way back. It broke down in a town called Fort Stockton. We had no choice but to sell the thing to a police sheriff, the highway patrol guy that pulled us over. He was like, “I’ll buy it from you. I could pull some stuff in it.”
JC: And we’re like “Okay,” and he offered us $300, and we’re like “Aw c’mon man! Really? Let’s have 500” he goes, “Who else is gonna give you more than 300 bucks literally in the middle of nowhere in Texas?” Fort Stockton is like, they have a Walmart, essentially. And so we’re like, “okay, it’s a good point.” So we sold it to him for 300 bucks, but all the equipment and took all the posters off the wall, put it in a U-haul and drove back to LA. A couple of weeks later, somebody reached out to us from a talent agency. They were like, “Hey, Bonnaroo is interested in bringing you guys aboard their content ship.” They wanted us to the festival. They wanted us to be part of this channel they were launching. So that was cool. That was like the festival we used to go to, and kind of come full circle and they want us there. The problem was we didn’t have a van anymore.
JC: Yeah. So we were faced with the choice of like, you shut it down, or you figure out how to keep doing it. So we did this whole “Save the Van” campaign where we had fundraiser parties, donation websites, Kickstarter, or what’s the other one? Indiegogo or something like that.
JC: Where you get a T-shirt, stuff like that. From donation, we raised enough money and got another van and made it to Bonnaroo. And then we were kind of off and running from there. Once we figured out one company was interested in it, we figured out how to talk to more companies. We then figured out what event was interested in and figured out how to talk to more event companies and more places. And then eventually started doing our own events, which is where we find ourselves today.
Do you think they’re gonna have Bonnaroo this year? I was planning on going. Of course, it’s not till…
JC: They pushed it till September, which, interestingly enough, is like the week of September 24th. I haven’t been in years, it actually kind of got less enjoyable as it got much bigger, I guess. Going to it since 2002 or 2003 it changed a little bit. We just go to so many festivals that I haven’t been in a while. On the week of September 24th, we’re going to be in Nashville the week before because we do Americanafest. So we have our own event during Americanafest at a bar in Nashville. So we’ll be there right before Bonnaroo, which is interesting.
So the weather in September should be pretty good. It should be beautiful there, right?
JC: I hope so. It was horrible last year.
JC: It was 102 degrees, like got up to 100 and 106. Sometimes just brutally hot, humid, it was horrible working conditions.
Uh Oh, hmm.
JC: So fingers crossed. It should be nice, but you never know anymore.
Well, I might meet you there because I’m planning on going. I’m gonna camp out. It should be fun.
JC: Oh, wow. Oh yeah, Bonnaroo. The weather’s always, you gotta cross your finger on the weather.
Yeah, so tell us about some of the wonderful groups you’ve had over the years, and you’ve had so many it’s hard to pick them out. But are there some that resonate with you that you’ve had recently?
JC: Well, Marcus King just did one of our quaranstreams with us. He’s become a friend of the company over the years, a really awesome guy. It’s great to see him kind of skyrocket and same here, he was just in town, right before everything started getting really bad with the Coronavirus stuff. He was hanging out at Sunset Marquis, riding for a week, and we noticed he was there, shot him a message, and said, “Hey, you want to come out and do a live stream?” and he came over. So those sessions we have were solo sessions. He played like a full set almost.
JC: But he also has I think, what is it Jack, two or three other sessions with the full band with us?
JH: Yes, three additional sessions.
JC: The one that we shot at our HQ in Los Angeles, one in Austin, Texas, and actually a second one at our HQ as well.
Wow. Jack, I’m curious about how you manage all of this. Can you tell us a little bit about the gear that you use and the NLE? And how do you edit all this, and what do you use?
JH: Absolutely. It’s interesting because before we partnered with OWC, it was quite messy about how we kept our media organized. We have almost 100 terabytes worth of content that we’ve shot since 2011. And all of that was spread out on small one terabyte hard drives. And we would use post-it notes or stickers or a piece of tape to write on that hard drive and say, Okay, this is from SXSW, 2012 or 2013. So since partnering with OWC that has changed quite a bit, now we have all of our media centralized on two 72TB ThunderBay 6 RAID.
Those are great machines.
JH: So we have all of each Jam in the Van archive accessible at the touch of my fingertips. Whereas I’d be working on editing projects or archive projects, I’m trying to find some footage from 2011 and edit that footage from 2017. And that used to take me just an hour and a half to two hours just to be able to find the clips that I needed. Right, whereas now I can just have everything on one drive. I open it up, and I’m able to access everything very quickly. The speed that they provide is also incredible. These are the fastest drives that we’ve ever worked with. There’s no lag in editing, we use Premiere Pro and Adobe Creative Cloud, Photoshop, After Effects and Media Encoder. These are some of the main programs that we use, but specifically Premiere, and we do a lot of multi-camera source sequence editing. We have all of the cameras playing simultaneously on the screen, which takes a lot of RAM, and it takes a lot of speed. We used to have a lot of problems with some of those smaller hard drives that we used to work with that can’t keep up.
That’s a lot of processing power.
What kind of cameras are you using to shoot, what’s your format?
JH: We upgraded to Canon 5D Mark IV, we also have a bunch of GoPros that we use like the GoPro Hero4s and 3s. They’re a little out of date, but we are talking to GoPro more recently. We’re hoping to get some of their newer cameras integrated into our studio. We use Canon 5D Mark IV. We actually upgraded because we got this whole new live streaming setup. Now we’re actually able to live stream multi-camera edit using our DSLR cameras. We can publish right to YouTube and Facebook, and any other streaming service in real-time. And we chose the Canon 5D Mark IVs because they have a clean HDMI output.
Another really cool thing, and another cool way that we integrate OWC into our live stream setup are that we use SlingStudio. They have these Camera Link Wi-Fi packs that you connect to each individual DSLR camera. Those send a wireless camera signal to the SlingStudio. It then sends all of that to an iPad and out to the internet so you can edit from there. In addition, you’re able to plug in a hard drive into the SlingStudio. And it will record not just your program recording, but each individual camera angle. And then another cool thing that it does is it actually will create a Premiere Pro project file that you can drag into Premiere, open it up. It will have all of your camera angles, as well as your edit, ready to go. And an issue that we used to have is we weren’t using OWC hard drives. Recording that many, sometimes we’ll have four or five camera angles and the program record being processed at the same time. We have some other hard drives crash. But since partnering with OWC, they’ve made it really easy for us to integrate SlingStudio. Now we’re able to record those camera angles straight to the hard drive and have our edit ready to go on Premiere Pro.
Are you releasing it as 1080P, or what’s the format? Are you shooting on 1080 or 4k?
JH: I’m shooting 1080, we stream in 1080. Unfortunately, that’s the limitation of the live streaming, but our Canon 5D Mark IVs do have 4k ability. We will shoot 4k for some larger projects. We recently had a concert that we shot in the warehouse space with Elle King, Lauren Ruth Ward, Andy Frasco, and Chali 2na. We shot that in 4k. Anything that’s going to be maybe not just streamed on the phone, but that we might want to integrate into maybe a longer form type of editing in the future. We’re definitely gonna be shooting 4k, and that’s another reason why OWC has been really helpful is the processing. Keeping up with those 4k files is really tough on some other hard drives, but working with OWC has made it really easy and fast.
Yeah, those things are workhorses. Do you use any of their portable solutions like the Envoy Pros or anything like that? Or the ThunderBlade?
JH: Yeah, absolutely. So we have six 2TB Envoy Pros, Thunderbolt 3, that we use. The 72TB ThunderBay 6 RAIDS are very bulky and heavy, not very portable. But the Envoy Pros are exactly what we need on the road. Because sometimes, as Jake said, we’re working in really harsh conditions, it could be 106 degrees, and we’ll be inside the van, or we’ll be on the road, it’ll be bumpy, we’ll drop the hard drive. But the Envoy Pros are great because they’re super durable. They’re super fast, and they allow us to mobilize our production across the country, as we travel in the band and fly around to meet demand. They’ve been a great solution that will help us collect that media. And then, once we get back to our HQ, we throw up everything on the RAID system.When working in harsh conditions and while on the road, invest in heavy-duty equipment. The Envoy Pros for example are great because they're super durable, fast, and they allow you to mobilize production. Click To Tweet
Are you on a laptop in the van? I’m assuming.
JH: Yes, we have a MacBook Pro. I believe it’s 2018.
Yeah, so those don’t have HDMI for the monitors, are you using a travel dock at all? I know I use my travel dock a lot because it’s got the HDMI connection. And also as a Thunderbolt 3 connection. I’m just curious about whether or not you’ve tried that one.
JH: Yeah, we have that. Actually, a really cool feature using the SlingStudio is that you can send an HDMI feed out of the back of the plane studio. We have up to six TVs running at the same time outside the van. If we’re at a festival, we’ll have the TV feed going, and we’ll have the speakers out so people can still enjoy the music as it’s happening inside of the van. What we’ll do is record that to the hard drive from SlingStudio, and then put that into our computer so that we can then play it back for the band to enjoy. And yes, unfortunately, the MacBook Pros no longer have the HDMI hookup, but we do use an OWC dock that helps us to send that feed up to upwards of six TVs for the band to watch back and listen to the performance that they just performed five minutes before
Their new Pro dock is a real workhorse. It’s pretty amazing, and it stays cool too. You can’t even hear the fan. I can’t hear it. Can you hear them? Have you used the new pro dock?
JH: We haven’t used the new Pro Dock, but I’ve heard many good things. We’re definitely interested in trying it out. Yeah.
Yeah. So inside the van, you’ve got these groups, you’re sitting in the back, Are you mixing or do you have somebody else that mixes while you’re recording? Who does the mixing?
JH: Personally, I have done everything that I can do in the van.
Oh my god.
JH: I’ve played the role of an audio engineer, while simultaneously being the live technical director for our live stream. I also will play the role of director of photography, which is where I’m most comfortable. And while I’m playing the role of director of photography, I also simultaneously work the live stream and then the technical director of the live stream.
You can’t see me. I’m bowing to you right now. I’m bowing
JH: Yes. When you do that, we have an engineer, his name is Ethan Glaze, and he’s been with us for a long time. He’s an awesome sound engineer. And the funny thing about Ethan was we actually hired him out of a candidate pool of few guys. What stood out the most was that before he became a sound engineer, he was also an auto mechanic.
Oh, that’s awesome. So he can fix the motor.
JH: So typically it would be me, the director of photography, will have Ethan on sound and then our camera guy Wolfe Ramirez helping out as well. So it’s usually a team of three of us in the van, two camera guys and one audio engineer. But a lot of times we’ll have interns who are helping out and learning as well.
How big is that van? What’s the size of it?
JH: 35ft Jake, is that correct?
JC: It’s 38 ft. So it’s 30, but the walls actually slide out.
It’s just really a cool thing. I saw a picture on your website of a band recording. How do you manage the sound in that? It’s gonna be awfully loud in there with a band playing inside the van. I don’t know.
JH: Yeah, well, one of the questions we get a lot is, “how do you soundproof it?” and we tell them the posters and stickers. We haven’t added any extra soundproofing. For some reason, our audience praises us for having the best quality recordings for a lot of these bands. Definitely some of the higher quality recordings for a platform like ours. Recording sessions, you’re right. There’s definitely a lot of bleed in the microphones, and we have to work around that. But Sean P. Jones, our audio and mixing engineer, has a studio in Studio City where he mixes all of his audio. We actually recently did a live stream with him on our channel, going over mixing tips and tricks for a mix we did with Marcus King band. And we partnered with OWC for that live stream. And he talked a lot about how we integrated OWC into our audio workflow, and how it’s been super beneficial to us.
That’s awesome. Tell me about the solar aspects of all of this, you run on solar, right? Am I correct with that?
JC: Yes, we do have the capability to run on solar, and we oftentimes do. But if there is a plug available, we’re going to take the plug because it just helps you troubleshoot. But we do have the capability. Actually, the […] was the first band that we retrofitted with solar capabilities. Somebody gave us domestic solar panels because there are RV panels, and we actually put many big panels that you would use for a house on top of this jam van.
Oh my gosh.
JC: We ran it to a battery bank because we ripped out the propane tank and replaced it with a battery bank on that original van. And with this one we had somebody help us with solar, but we DIY a lot of that stuff. The newest van, Mike Thompson RVs, did all the upgrades and the solar installation, and now we have actual RV panels.
I love solar. I have to tell you I have it at my house and my electric bill average is $20 a month.
JC: Nice. Mine does not average that much. That would be spectacular.
JH: Yeah, our solar capabilities are great. A lot of questions, a lot of times, people will be like, “Oh, does it move on solar?” and unfortunately, that’s not the case. But when we park somewhere, we can pull over on the side of the road in the middle of the desert and say, “You know what, let’s record fully plugged in live fans.” It gets a little more tricky when we start having to plug in fridges and multiple TVs and power kind of our activation or front of house activation. If we were at a festival that takes a lot more power. That’s where we start to run into some power issues. Unfortunately, our solar panels aren’t as strong as they need to be to support our entire activation, but it’s definitely been in situations where all we’ve had is solar power. We’ve created some really incredible and unique content.
Well, kudos for even trying. I think it’s awesome.
JC: Yeah, and also on the road, comes in very handy. We play a lot of video games, then we use solar power to run all of that.
Yeah, you gotta keep your beer cold. So I know people that are listening to this, who are musicians, are going to want to ask you, how do you find good musicians? And can you give any of these people who are trying to make a living being a musician? Can you give them some tips about how to better sell themselves and how to present themselves to potential agents or potential booking agents? What advice can you give them?
JC: Good question. At this point, musicians come to us. If we like somebody, we go to them, we shoot them a message on Instagram. We reach out to their team on Instagram and has actually become a fabulous way to be on Instagram and Spotify. Like your Spotify discovery will suggest the band to you. If you like it, you go type their name on Instagram, and you can send them a message and be of contact with them within 30 seconds. And they get a message from Jam in the Van, a lot of these bands like “Wow, hey, yes. We want to do this,” and it’s awesome. So, a variety of ways now, like when we were supposed to go to SXSW this month, obviously that didn’t happen. Lots of management companies, publicists, and record labels all reach out to us and want to make content with their artists. So we have the luxury of that.At this point, musicians come to us. If we like somebody, we go to them, we shoot them a message and reach out to their team on Instagram. Click To Tweet
JC: Back in the day 2011 and 2012, we were in LA, which we’ve always said is a blessing and a curse because there are many musicians here. But in terms of the good ones, there’s a lot of other things that they were doing at the time. When we were just starting out like good bands coming to town, they’re going to do Jimmy Kimmel, stuff like that. So we really were fortunate that we picked a lot of upstart bands at the beginning to record that became well-known bands now. We had a track record that became what you would call it a “tastemaker.” And also had stock videos from popular bands, that we were able to then take to other popular bands and say, “Hey look, Gary Clark Jr. filmed with us, you should too.”
JC: And so in terms of what I would say to artists, I think there’s no one way to go about it. Like some musicians just have an awesome song, they throw it up on Soundcloud or Spotify, and it just goes crazy. I’ve seen that a lot of bands like ours did a band called Mt. Joy that was like a year and a half ago, and they’ve just skyrocketed since we first filmed them. This was just a local LA band, but their songs were just so good.
JC: Every song was like a radio hit. People will recognize that it’s the rare one out of a million, and other bands just work incredibly hard. We had Zach Lupetin and The Dustbowl Revival do a live stream with us the other day. Dustbowl Revival was a band in 2011, and one of the first bands ever recorded with us. We met them at a Farmers’ Market, they were playing at the farmers market in Venice. It happened coincidentally enough to go to college with the guy. And we were in the same program in college, we didn’t know each other. But today, Dustbowl Revival, they’re a 10 piece band or something that travels the world playing shows nonstop. And that’s how he makes his living, and that’s how they support themselves. And they do fairly well with big festivals, and they click big shows, people come to their shows, and he got there. It seemed like he’s relentless. When they were starting up, they played nonstop and took every opportunity that came their way, and they just didn’t quit at it. And so that’s another way to do it. Obviously, both those things are things that you can present to teams. What you would call your team, which would be your managers and your agents and your people who are publicists, will help you succeed. Obviously, those kinds of people are going to want to work with people that work relentlessly hard. I think it goes without a saying for most things, like even if you have great songs, you’re going to work relentlessly hard as soon as possible as you have that. Nobody really succeeds at anything unless they work hard, so I think that’s a big part of it. And that makes people really want to work with you to know that you are actively wanting to work and put in the work to be successful.When starting out, just play nonstop, take every opportunity that comes your way, and don’t quit. Click To Tweet
Yeah, so you have to work very hard for many years to be an overnight success.
JC: Yeah, exactly.
Hey Jack, I forgot to ask you. What kind of sound equipment are you using to record in the van? Or did the groups bring their own because I know people are really picky about microphones and sound setups? I’m guessing you have something there, but that a lot of times they’ll bring their own gear. What do you have that you supply in the van?
JH: Sure. We have all Audio-Technica Microphone, a partnership with them, and they’ve provided us with all sorts of mics, instrument mics, condenser microphones, and vocal microphones. So unless a band is a very high-profile or very, very picky about their sounds, we ask them to use our microphones. We also have a partnership with Orange Amplifiers, they provide the backline for bands. Sometimes some bands will be persistent and have their own sound dialed into amplifiers that they’re using. So we’ll allow them to use that, but we’ll just have them off-camera. And then another thing, we also use a QSC TouchMix-30 Pro, that’s the mixing board, it’s a digital mixing board. And we run all of our audio through there. It also has Wi-Fi capability, which makes it really cool because you can have it on an iPad so I can go out into the studio and be right next to the musicians. They’ll be like, “Oh, can you work on this EQ for me? Can you mute this? Can you mute that,” and so I can be right there in the room with them. And so QSC TouchMix-30 Pro has been really, really helpful in that regard. We also work with Vessel Drums, Preston Parsons is the owner and founder of Vessel Drums, he works with us and is a very small company. He makes all of the drums handmade, he wraps them, some of them in seaweed and throws them in the ocean, he’s very creative. I would say, probably, about 99% of the time, musicians who come in the van will end up using his kit. Because they’re so impressed by it even if they would have brought their own, so I think that covers all of our gear sponsors in the van. Did I miss anyone, Jake?
JC: No, but I was gonna say all these companies are sponsors, and they support Jam in the Van. Then all the people that we’ve linked with to start these relationships are awesome. And the compliment we get over and over again is that our sound is amazing for a live sound. So if you like what you hear on our channel, we have all the sponsors listed in the videos. We frequently post about them and do giveaways on our Instagram, which is @jaminthevan. And again, Audio-Technica, QSC, Orange Amps, and Vessel Drums they’re fantastic companies. So if you’re looking to get great sound, give them a check.
Vessel Drums sounds really interesting. Don’t you love that kind of creativity when somebody just tries something completely different? They have no fear.
JC: He’s got a snare drum that he makes out of skateboard decks. That’s really cool.
JH: Yeah, that one’s cool.
Out of what?
JC: Skateboard decks. Used skateboard decks.
I have to check that out.
JC: And we definitely pride ourselves on the quality of our audio, and we trust all of our partners and their equipment. When someone brings their own microphone, we’re very hesitant because we know that Audio-Technica is the best of the best and that we put out the best in the best content. So we definitely want to maintain the quality of the person in production across the board.
You know we all depend on sponsors. OWC sponsors this radio show, and I couldn’t do it without them. And they also are sponsoring one of the films that I’m working on. They provided me with hard drives on loan, which I couldn’t work without some of this equipment. It would be incredibly expensive to buy everything that you need when you’re independent. I’m really grateful to them. Larry O’Connor and that whole team over there really support creatives, like you guys and others. I always want to thank them at some point during the show for letting me do this, and I’m doing that now. Thank you, guys. I really appreciate it.
JH: It’s awesome.
Yeah, they’re amazing people. So did either one of you have any kind of musical background? Because Jake, did you say you were working at a law firm when you first started all this?
JC: Yeah. So I went to school for a number of things. I went to film school, and I went to law school to grad school. So I was working just kind of like a job at a law firm. I never took the bar exam. But hopefully, the lawyers that I used to work for will listen to this, because I thought I did. I came in one day, and they were like consoling me, and I knew what was up, […] pulled me aside. He’s like, “The bar results came out, man. You didn’t pass.”
Oh, my God. So you were the inspiration for the TV series Suits. Right? That’s funny, and Jack, you studied film?
JH: Yeah, so I have that interesting story.
I’m sorry, what did you say, Jake?
JC: I was rounded back to the question. I did none of those things that I studied or had a music background, I was just a music fan.
JH: I actually have an interesting story about my involvement with Jam in the Van. In college, I actually designed my own thesis. I focused my major on creating and producing a two day Music and Arts Festival at my college, free and open to the public. I was the head of the committee there. We raised over $40,000, and then I created it as my thesis by creating live music videos for all of the bands performed at the festival. As well as creating live music videos for the student bands that competed in a battle of bands contest to be able to perform at the festival as well as kind of like a documentary about throwing a festival like that. And it’s interesting because I reached out to Jam in the Van initially because I wanted them to come and bring the van to the Kohoutek Music & Arts Festival. I went to Pitzer College in Claremont, California. So I reached out to them in 2014 and said, “Hey, Jam in the Van. Do you guys want to come to my college and record sessions at the music festival?”
JC: Did you really?
JH: I did. Yeah.
JC: What did we say?
JH: You were definitely interested because you enjoyed the lineup. I talked to Dave Bell, he was another one of the founders, but unfortunately, it was during a Jazz Fest and Jam in the Van was already booked to head down to Jazz Fest that year. But I followed up with Dave, and I asked him if I could have an internship with Jam in the Van, and he told me to come by the next weekend. I took the bus, well sorry, I took a train and three buses to get to the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles where Jam in the Van was filming some really awesome bands. I met the crew, I met the team. And then I just put my heart into it from there on out, graduated from Pitzer, and I went right into working for Jam in the Van full time. I’m also a commercially certified drone pilot. And it’s very interesting because Jake actually bought a drone for the company in 2014, when I was still an intern, and he gave me a call. And he says, “Jack, we just bought a drone, you’re the intern, It’s your job to learn how to fly it.” Within 10 minutes of getting that call, I walked into my media studies production department at Pitzer College. I set up a drone for the students to learn how to fly.
Oh my gosh.
JH: It just worked out perfectly. And I think that, correct me if I’m wrong, Jake, but I think that was kind of one of the first things that I was able to impress Jake and Dave and the Jam in the Van team with is what I showed up, and I knew exactly how to fly a drone.
JC: Yeah, I remember because I tried to fly it and I crashed in the middle of Sunset Boulevard. And from then on out, I wasn’t allowed to fly.
I hit myself with a drone. Oh, forget it, we’re not even going to talk about that. That’s just really embarrassing. Oh my gosh, well, you guys are doing such great work. I wish you all the best. What’s next for you? You’re gonna wait for this isolation to be over for all of us.
JH: Yeah. Well, so we’ve got a lot going on. During the isolation wherein it’s like a silver lining here. We’re in the fortunate position that we’re doing all right because people are watching our content. More than ever, many people are sitting in front of their computers, TVs, and iPhones right now. So we’re seeing people watching Jam in the Van, follow Jam in the Van at numbers we’ve never done before, which is really exciting. To take advantage of that and also to provide people and artists with stuff to watch and stuff to do and stuff to help support them. We’re doing a bunch of stuff right now. So we’ve got the next two weeks every night at seven-thirty, right, Jack? Seven-thirty Eastern time.
JH: That varies, but for the most part across the board, it’s going to be 7pm Eastern Standard Time, 4pm Pacific Time.
JC: We’re doing Jam in your Van, where we go live with bands from their twin vehicles. So we’ve done two of those so far, and those are going to support the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. It’s a fun set up to help artists during this time when they don’t have work whether or not the tour. Every night giveaways are going on OWC. They’re actually giving away hard drives to the high donor from every stream this week, so we’ve got those going on. We’ll also be hosting Band Happy Hours on our Instagram Live, the band’s gonna take over Instagram, play some songs, take questions from fans. All of these are about hour-long sets. So every night you can tune in on a couple different things and watch an hour of music and talk with some of your favorite bands. And then we have another series called Band Appétit that we do, which originally started as Band Cooking with a Chef at our outdoor kitchen at our headquarters. We can’t do that right now. So we’re having bands do it from home.
JC: We’re completing those videos soon, too, because I know everybody’s at home cooking all the time, so those are fun. So we’re doing a lot now. We’re hoping we get through with this soon and get back on the road. Because we did have really exciting scheduled events that we were going to do. We were supposed to be at South by Southwest, with OWC and all our partners, but that’s not happening. So we’re going to pivot and hopefully go to the Underground Music Showcase in Denver. But again, that’s a July event. So I don’t know if everything’s going to be happening by then. Still, if not, then we will be in Nashville in September for Americanafest. And then we’ll be at Jazz Fest whenever the rescheduled Jazz Fest dates come about. I think that’s sometime in October. And we are also looking at doing GoPro Mountain Games in Vail. They recently had to postpone, hoping they postponed to date around August or something like that. Everything’s up in the air, but I will say as soon as LA lifts the stay at home, we will get going with live streams from the van very soon.
You guys are doing amazing work. I’m telling everybody listening, go to Facebook, Jam in the Van on Facebook @jaminthevan on Instagram,
JH: YouTube, type in Jam in the Van on YouTube. And if you type in Jam in the Van on Spotify, all the stuff you can listen to, and if you follow that Instagram, we do giveaways all the time. We post everything new that’s coming out, so it’s a good resource to keep up with us.
Awesome. Jake Cotler and Jack Higgins of Jam in the Van. Thanks for spending time with us today. This is Cirina Catania with OWC Radio, I’m signing off. Remember what I tell you guys every time, get up off your chairs and go do something wonderful today, even if it’s in your own home. Have a great day, and thanks for listening.
And we’re gonna leave you with a little song today by Marcus King called Side door.
- Jam in the Van
- Jam in the Van – Vimeo
- Jam in the Van – YouTube
- Jam in the Van – Spotify
- Jam in the Van – Instagram
- Jack Higgins – Instagram
- Dave Bell – Twitter
- Bonnaroo Music Festival
- AOL Instant Messenger
- G Chat
- Guitar Center
- MXL Mics
- Save the Van campaign
- The Marcus King Band
- Sunset Marquis
- 72TB ThunderBay 6 RAID
- Adobe Premiere Pro
- Adobe Creative Cloud
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe After Effects
- Adobe Media Encoder
- Canon 5D Mark IV
- GoPro Hero4
- GoPro Hero3
- SlingStudio CameraLink
- Elle King
- Lauren Ruth Ward
- Andy Frasco
- Chali 2na
- 2TB Envoy Pro
- Thunderbolt 3
- Thunderbolt 3 Pro
- MacBook Pro
- Ethan Glaze
- Sean P. Jones
- Jimmy Kimmel
- Gary Clark, Jr.
- Mt. Joy
- Zach Lupetin and The Dustbowl Revival
- Audio-Technica Microphone
- Orange Amplifiers
- Vessel Drums
- Preston Parsons
- Larry O’Connor
- Kohoutek Music & Arts Festival
- Pitzer College
- Jazz Fest
- Bootleg Theater
- Sweet Relief Musicians Fund
- Band Appétit
- Underground Music Showcase
- GoPro Mountain Games
- Everything starts with an idea. See if you can turn what you love doing into a feasible career. Most successful businesses began as a passion project or a hobby.
- In the beginning, Find out which areas of the business you can do yourself. This will help you save costs and use that money for better investments.
- Focus on getting exposure. Start by letting your friends and family know about your passion project. They will always be your first supporters.
- Make enough noise to spike up some interest from other companies and businesses. Collaborating with others will help in your business’ progress.
- Be present at events when the quarantine is over, and everyone can safely go out, have fun, and network.
- Take advantage of funding sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, etc. These are great platforms to throw your ideas out there and see how much the public is willing to support.
- Reach out to other companies through email, social media, or cold calls. Let them know about your advocacy in the hopes of building partnerships with them.
- Invest in quality gear, but be wise in where you spend your money. Equipment, tools, and software can be quite expensive. It’s helpful to know what you really need before making a huge purchase.
- Take advantage of online media. Let this be your tool to connect, promote, and engage with your supporters, especially now that everyone uses their phones and computers to communicate.
- Check out Jam in the Van for some fresh and super cool content.
If you work in tech and haven’t heard about Other World Computing (OWC), you’ve may have had your head in the sand. OWC, under the leadership of Larry O’Connor since he was 15 years old, has expanded to all corners of the world and works every day to create hardware that makes the lives of creatives and business-oriented companies faster, more efficient and more stable. Go to OWCDigital.com for more information.
Here’s the company’s official mission statement:
At OWC, we’re committed to constant innovation, exemplary customer service, and American design.
For more than 25 Years, OWC has had a simple goal. To create innovative DIY solutions to give you the most from your technology.
Beginning with 100% compatible memory upgrades, reliably exceeding Apple’s maximum RAM specs, OWC’s product offering has grown to encompass the entire spectrum of upgrade and expansion possibilities, all with a focus on easy, DIY setup and installation.
Our dedication to excellence and sustainable innovation extends beyond our day-to-day business and into the community. We strive for zero waste, both environmentally and strategically. Our outlook is to the long term, and in everything we do, we look for simplicity in action and sustainability in practice.
For us, it’s as much about building exceptional relationships, as it is about building exceptional products.