Bedrock.LA Studio Survived Pandemic Hurdles, But Structural Issues Close Its Doors
Bedrock.LA, the 100-room recording and practice studio, made a name for itself in the Los Angeles music scene with concerts, hosting the recording of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Mandatory Fun, and more. But after a structural issue led to what was supposed to be a temporary closure in October 2021, their landlord ultimately decided not to repair the building and to demolish it instead — which now means an end for the studio.
“We are closing our doors forever,” co-founder KamranV told LAist.
Much of their equipment was sold off in a public sale this past Saturday, including instruments, amps, cables, and more.
KamranV explained that their building problems started when an air conditioner leak created a hole in the roof, and that caused a crack in a truss. The landlords shored up that truss, but then told the tenants at Bedrock that they would need to leave because the building remained unsafe. According to KamranV, landlords Echo Park One/The Standard Oil investment group said that it would take four to six months to repair.
“We hadn’t seen them making any attempts at repairs,” KamranV said. The staff repaired the damaged roof themselves, he added, in order to prevent any further damage. “There was flooding, rivers of water going through our building.”
A Community Of Musicians
The studio was at the location for 13 years, hosting 40,000 square feet with more than 100 rooms, and 2,500 musicians working in the location each week. Eighty of those rooms served as what’s known in the industry as lockouts, with artists getting their own dedicated studios. Bedrock prided themselves on offering affordable rehearsal space for emerging musicians, including a $10/hour rehearsal room.
“It was meant to be accessible for anyone, no matter if they’re super famous or just starting out,” KamranV said. “What Bedrock was made for, was purpose-built, to have a space to make noise. The recording studio is really made to record drums and do things that you just can’t do in an apartment, have a whole band play.”
Bedrock also focused on having staff to provide services for musicians who recorded there. That even extended to having a retail space open late, so that bands playing at venues like the Echo or the Echoplex could come buy a cable or a set of strings without going all the way to Hollywood, according to KamranV.
“We actually ended up being the third highest-selling carrier of guitar strings in Los Angeles, and had the largest selection,” KamranV said. “We had maybe a hundred different kinds of strings.”
Short-Lived Pandemic Victory
They retained their staff over the pandemic, both to support their employees and the likely difficulty of rehiring people in the future, according to KamranV. Bedrock had also received pandemic funding from the government, which helped them to survive and maintain their staff for as long as they did, he added.
“Also to be fair, our landlord was relatively flexible at that time,” KamranV said. “Out of the pandemic, we actually had our best few months in our history, because of how lean we had to be. … And there were so many people coming back.”
They continued to keep staff on after being forced to leave the building for repairs late last year.
After six months, they were told that their landlords weren’t interested in doing the repairs. Bedrock staff had also gotten their own estimate for how much it would cost to repair, which would take around six weeks with an estimated cost of $104,000, which is about two months of what Bedrock paid for rent.
But according to KamranV, their landlords decided they’d rather tear the building down. Bedrock hired lawyers to attempt to contest this decision, but their efforts proved both unsuccessful and costly.
“So it was especially depressing to be asked to close after we survived all of that successfully, and came out so strong,” KamranV said. “We saw really bright futures of what may be next. We had lots of ideas of where we could go.”
Bedrock spoke out strongly in a statement released on Instagram.
“Real estate developers consistently market arts culture to sell and rent properties in neighborhoods like Echo Park, only to simultaneously extinguish these very communities in favor of their bottom line,” the post read.
But KamranV noted that, in some ways, this was always going to happen.
“To be very fair, it’s an old building. And inevitably, there would be some development,” KamranV said. “With this situation, it’s how it came about, and the process, has been really demoralizing. There was a different way, and we really tried to encourage that different way, so we could have a better end for everyone.”
The Standard Oil investment group did not return a request for comment Tuesday.
While they’d love to be able to open another space, “It’s just not possible,” KamranV said. Either finding another space where they could afford the rent or buying another building wasn’t something they could pull off, with an equivalent space’s rent costing around six times what they’d been paying.
“We tried to buy this building. We tried to pay more rent. They weren’t interested,” KamranV said.
He reflected on what Bedrock was known for.
“It was a safe space to be yourself, be creative,” KamranV said. “There are thousands of stories that were happening in there all the time — some that we were part of, and some we were not. And that was the beauty of it.”
He even held his own wedding reception at one of the venue’s music festivals. Shortly before the pandemic, they held their 10th anniversary music festival. It was also a celebration of the 20th anniversary of nonprofit radio station Dublab and the 30th anniversary of artist Shepard Fairey’s Obey.
“Looking back, that was kind of the best sendoff we could have hoped for,” KamranV said.
What Comes Next
The team behind Bedrock hopes it will live on in some way — they’re still selling T-shirts and other merchandise online. Along with the people and the space inside, the building features a 12,000-square-foot mural on its exterior by defunct art collective Cyrcle.
The landlords have said that the space may end up as a multi-residential structure with condos, according to KamranV, though they’ve also noted that they might not end up tearing the building down.
“Which is weird, but we really don’t know,” KamranV said.
KamranV co-founded the space with two partners, though he remained in charge of most of the studio’s day-to-day operations. With Bedrock not continuing on, much of the staff has already gone on to other gigs, KamranV noted.
“But we’re all sad. It’s a big part of our life,” he said. “And it’s not just sad for us, it’s sad for creative work in Los Angeles.”
It’s far from the only arts space that’s run up against landlords who want to do something different with their property. The Complex Theatres in Hollywood — a popular space for small productions, rehearsals, and classes — is closing its doors at the end of this year for similar reasons.
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