Putting a good ear to good use

Jeremy Cays was born to play music.

Cays, who grew up in the Sequim pioneer family, got to work on his first record at age 14, traveling frequently to Seattle and paying an arm and a leg for studio time.

"It took me three years and cost a lot," Cays said of his first album. "But I loved it ... I've been taking different sounds on keyboards, blending, layering ... I grew up doing that."

After graduating from

Sequim High School, Cays attended Edmonds Community College because he knew it had a respectable digital sound and recording program. His experience, Cays said, was incredibly positive.

"My teacher was encouraging," he said. "I started realizing that I could move back to Sequim and open a recording studio."

Cays returned to the peninsula during the summer of 2001 and performed with the Port Angeles Symphony. He got a job at Hurricane Coffee and began saving; by 2003 he had accumulated enough recording equipment to have a "very simple home setup." That, said Cays, is when he began to really get a feel for recording.

"I learned a lot in school, but learning by doing is the best way to learn," he said. Cays then had a tiny recording studio at Paul M. Creech Pianos but when the company decided to move, Cays thought it was the perfect opportunity to open his own studio. He is putting the finishing touches on his Carlsborg studio and planning for a Labor Day weekend open house.

According to Cays, his main reason for opening the studio is to give back to Sequim what he didn't have when recording his first album - a nearby studio with charges about half those of many larger studios.

"I thought of moving to L.A. or Nashville, but I like Sequim and I know there are people here that have quality and want to record but don't have hundreds of dollars," he said. "As this town has been growing, there are a lot of musicians, more than people realize."

The multitalented Cays isn't just providing a space, although the space is ideal. The studio has a large equipment room, an isolation room where singers can sing in complete silence and a lounge for bands and singers to take breaks. Cays also is providing his own skills as a recording engineer, a producer and even as backup musician if needed. He said many musicians need second opinions or help getting started and Cays is happy to assist.

"That's what makes it fun," he said. "I can be helpful to local musicians and use my gifts fully. You get the whole package."

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