Youth on Record just got a big boost in its mission to train and support the next generation of Colorado engineers, producers and musicians, courtesy of Big Gigantic.
The Boulder-based duo decided last year to donate all funds raised in the second half of 2017 by their A Big Gigantic Difference Foundation to building a digital music computer lab for the Denver nonprofit.
And at the lab’s unveiling Wednesday afternoon, Big Gigantic’s Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken were joined at Youth on Record by another big-name guest: U.S. Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Pam Patenaude.
“This day has turned into a a wild realization of a dream from 10 years ago,” executive director Jami Duffy told Denverite, recalling the early days of Youth on Record when she and founder Stephen Brackett of the Flobots were imagining a future Youth on Record with headquarters and a well-equipped studio, “and we’ll get a band that sells out Red Rocks and maybe somebody from the president’s staff will come visit us.”
Kids were already busy at work on the new equipment during the unveiling, pausing briefly so Lalli and Salken could say a few words and sign the wall.
“We’re just super happy to be able to give back to our community,” Lalli said. “We hope you guys are gonna be the next generation of people playing at Red Rocks and living out your dreams just like we are.”
It’s the first time A Big Gigantic Difference Foundation has donated an entire year’s worth of funds to one organization. In the past, the money has been divided amongst multiple local-level organizations.
Ninety percent of Youth on Record’s kids fall below the poverty line. Twelve percent are black, 79 percent are Hispanic and 18 percent live in Youth Residential Treatment Facilities. They all need the credits Youth on Record classes can provide to graduate high school. The new digital music lab opens up a huge musical world of opportunity to them.
Here’s the full rundown, via Youth on Record:
YOR’s Youth Media Studio was in need of specific tools and funding support to provide more access to industry standard equipment for its 1,000 teen users. Proceeds from A Big Gigantic Difference Foundation totaling $35,000 for the computer lab funded the purchase of multiple stationary iMac desktops with Ableton Licenses and Adobe Creative Cloud installations, custom desks and chairs, and one-year salary for the Open Lab Instructor. German company Native Instruments donated Komplete Audio 6 Controllers to round-out the equipment needs. Remaining funds will be used to build-out the YOR staff and artist office space, and will support building for a new B-Side Studio, in collaboration with funding from the band’s friends and musical comrades, The Motet. The final contribution will update the current control and tracking rooms, expanding the studio to accommodate the organization’s future projects, and add a drum isolation booth.
“We want to make sure that every kid has access to high quality equipment, industry standard equipment, so we make sure we are building Colorado talent and not importing talent,” Duffy said. “That’s really exciting for a group of young people who wouldn’t have access to that equipment.”
The new studio will double Youth on Record’s programming capacity and the amount of recording artists it can host. It’s expected to be ready this fall.
“Essentially this increases our capacity for students to do not only their own assignments,” Director of Programs Brent Adams said, “but their life’s work.”
Youth on Record was founded in 2008 and officially opened its facility at 1301 W. 10th Ave. in 2015 with the help of $1 million from the Denver Housing Authority and another $1 million from DaVita, The Anschutz Foundation, Denver Public Schools, Boettcher Foundation, Gates Family Foundation and others.
It’s recent growth and success is what brought U.S. Secretary of HUD Ben Carson to the headquarters during his tour of Denver in October 2017 and what brought his deputy to Wednesday’s unveiling. Youth on Record sits on the ground floor of a building with 93 units of HUD-assisted family housing, and Duffy said she thinks Youth on Record’s partnership with HUD will be looked at as a national model.
Up next for Youth on Record: a new podcast, My Youth on Record.
It’s being produced by Duffy and Brackett with the help of three students and will be hosted by DeVotchKa’s Shawn King and a student. The guests will be local and non-local musicians, and rather than asking them traditional interview questions, they’ll have them bring in music they wrote as teenagers to dissect, talk about and laugh about.
Lalli and Salken were the first guests, but episodes won’t be released until August.