A Handmade Sign At A Metallica Concert Moves Windsor Musician Into The Choice Of A Lifetime
Some people coast through life, putting dreams and passion aside to pursue the common goal of a good education leading to a great job, leaving behind a hidden passion or talent.
Martin (Marty) Bak is one of the brave who abandoned the conventional road to pursue the rough, unknown path less travelled called “the music industry”.
Make no mistake, Bak, a 2018 Biz X award winner for best recording studio, is a multi-talented man with a musical plan.
I interviewed him in late summer and now . . . drum roll please . . . here is the transcript of what we discussed, reflecting on how he became involved in the music industry to owning SLR Studios (Sound Labs Recording) and what he has planned for the future.
BIZ X: What was your path from musician to sound engineer to global product distribution?
MB: My parents immigrated to Canada from Poland when I was two years old. My dad was a wedding band musician and my brother played drums in a band. Before my dad bought us a drum kit, I remember playing with wooden spoons on pillows. Later we found my dad’s guitar and began practicing for hours daily and became a band. A few years and many bands later, we went into a recording studio, Spectre Sound Studios (SpectreMedia.ca) owned by Glenn Fricker. I was hooked and Glenn gave me a copy of his recording applications for my computer. Whenever I watched recording footage of band documentaries, I tried to absorb their information and techniques. I purchased gear and started to record my band, improving my “sound” over time. Eventually, bands wanted to book with me. It initially was not to start a business, but to make my band sound great. One of the first bands I recorded was Ashes of Soma — almost immediately after the band hit radio they took off. At this time, I was taking Tool & Die Automotive Product Design at St. Clair College, but my affinity towards music excited me more. My defining moment for my career happened three months into the course. My friends took me to a Metallica show and I made a sign reading: “Lars, let me play your drum kit” and I got to play “Seek & Destroy” with Metallica in front of 25,000 people watching. It was incredible. I soon dropped out of school to become a record producer.
MB: After many years of working in the studio, I noticed a few tools missing. I researched heavily online with no success in finding what I needed. One of my clients was in the mould trade, so I approached him, and a year later, we released the world’s first dual-microphone clip called “The X Clip,” which is now available worldwide. We (SLR Studios) paired up with a prestigious microphone company called Royer Labs in Burbank, California. We designed a microphone mount that paired their most popular microphone combination — a Royer 121 with a Share SM57. It will be available across the world from various companies such as Long & McQuade musical instruments, Guitar Centre, Vintage King, Sweetwater, Musician’s Friend, and many more. This is the equivalent, in the music industry, to someone coming up with a product and having it available in every Walmart. It’s funny how I started in the mould industry, gravitated to the music industry, and now have come full circle to work in both worlds.
BIZ X: Do you have any advice for young artists, sound engineers or entrepreneurs?
MB: The key to being successful is persistence. The constant pursuit of achieving your desired ultimate goal, or many little ones that eventually will lead to massive success. You don’t have to be the most talented person in the world to be successful, nor have the best product/idea in the world. You just need drive and ambition. With a clear goal, incredible drive and persistence, you can achieve anything you want, but you can’t give up.
BIZ X: What made you decide to stay in Windsor and produce instead of relocating to a music hub like Los Angeles or Nashville?
MB: I almost made the move at one point, but higher overhead, re-location/start-up costs, leaving behind a business with steady clientele and my family and friends changed my plans. The great advantage of living in Windsor is that it doesn’t limit anyone from accomplishing their dreams when the United States is 10 minutes away, and Toronto is only 3½ hours away. Another great part about our city is that one of Canada’s biggest Youtubers, Glenn Fricker lives right here.
BIZ X: What has contributed to your success with SLR Studios?
MB: Many hours of working late, missing birthday parties, dinners, and girlfriends to serve the artist as best as possible to give them the highest chance of “making it” in the music industry. We’re priced very reasonably considering it’s a world-class recording facility. You go to any major studio in LA or Nashville and see their gear. We have the same or at least the same caliber of gear at a fraction of the cost available for artists right here in Windsor.