Meet the young recording studio owner who will be producing the next album from Calgary alt-rockers The Dudes
“I just talked to Danny Vacon, and he said it was okay to talk with you about this.” Kirill Telichev told me, with a gleam in his eye and a broad smile beaming across his face. “It’s official, I’m producing the next Dudes album!”
From across a bench in downtown Calgary, Telichev slaps me an enthusiastic high five as he spins the tale of his first meeting with the lead singer of The Dudes, Danny Vacon, and how much it means to his career as a music producer to work on an album for one of Calgary’s most influential rock bands.
He speaks of the long hours needed to figure out who can shotgun the most beer, the answer being Danny Vacon. He also speaks about how he stalked Vacon’s shows and pitched a free recording session to the Calgary music icon long before they ever worked together.
“I didn’t take him seriously,” Vacon said. “This young kid comes up to me at Broken City and offers to record at his home studio for free. I wasn’t sure if he was drunk or joking, but he had this ’80s movie villain, super thick Russian accent.”
While his first meeting with Vacon didn’t go as smoothly as Telichev might have hoped, it didn’t discourage the young music producer. It takes guts to walk up to the singer of a rock band that is famous across Canada and pitch him a recording deal; in fact, Telichev prides himself in taking the first step when seeking out musicians to work with.
“I think just approaching bands I feel a connection with is really important,” Telichev said. “Just a little more of an active approach, as opposed to sitting in the studio waiting for clients to walk through the door.”
His persistence at networking within Calgary has allowed Telichev to fill his portfolio with recorded music from popular local headliners like Throne of Vengeance, Frankie McQueen and Go for the Eyes. He even managed to get some radio airplay on four different songs through the X-Posure contest offered by X92.9, Calgary’s Alternative radio station.
With those connections established, Telichev’s next meeting with Danny Vacon proved to be much more productive.
“A year goes by and I start a new band, HighKicks.” Vacon said, “Kirill comes up to us again after a show and says he’d love to work with us. We had nothing recorded and nothing to lose, really. We met at his house, drank a ton of beers and crushed three tracks in a day. It sounded exactly like we wanted.”
Photo by Jodi Brak
These days he is working alongside names as big as The Dudes, but Telichev’s career as a music producer traces its roots back to a time when a twin reeled cassette recorder was a technological wonder for the young musician.
“I remember my parents getting this double tape deck and realizing I could record one part and then another part over top of it.” He said, “That just blew my mind; that was the best thing I had ever done. I’d be cooped up in my bedroom and just be recording, that’s how it all started.”
While he might not have realized it back then, Telichev’s encounter with that tape recorder was a fateful one. The decision to pursue music production as a career inspired him to learn more about the industry and push the limits of what he knew about recording music.
“I got really interested in the stuff, and I figured I should get proper schooling for this,” he said. “So I went out east and studied at the Ontario Institute of Recording Technology, which is in London, Ontario. Then two years ago I quit my day job and somehow convinced Long & McQuade to give a 23 year old a ridiculous amount of recording gear on a finance plan.”
After returning to Calgary and securing this unlikely deal with Long & McQuade, Telichev set to work opening his own studio, The Sound Priory, with partners Ashtyn Beaudette and Kaitlin Gibson.
The studio is built into a grey sided, peaked roofed townhouse amidst a whole neighbourhood of near identical dwellings in Calgary’s southeast. On the surface, it appears to be just another home. After descending a flight of unfinished plywood stairs, past a long row of guitars hanging from the wall like axes in an armoury, it’s clear that the basement of this townhouse offers more than the leather sofas and flat screen TVs you might expect in a typical suburban home.
Here in the Sound Priory a thick pane of glass sits where you might expect a television to be, but through this screen there is only a drum kit and a handful of microphones sitting idly. Just outside this isolation room is a massive soundboard that looks like it would be more at home on the bridge of a battleship, with hundreds of blinking LEDs and tiny screens casting a faint glow in the dim light of the studio.
While it’s obvious that it would take a fair amount of technical training and expertise to use all of this equipment, Telichev says that some of the most important lessons he learned while studying at the Ontario Institute of Recording were about the social aspects of the music business.
Photo by Jodi Brak
“When you exit any sort of technical school, what’s on your mind is how well you know the gear, that you know what each piece of equipment does.” He said, “but at the end of the day, it’s just about creating an atmosphere where the musicians feel completely open to being creative and don’t feel judged. A huge part of the job is psychology and providing an open and creative environment.”
Telichev’s attitude, and his ability to make bands feel comfortable, is quite an asset to his work as a producer and has helped him secure work with artists like Danny Vacon and The Dudes.
“I don’t know if he’s different with other bands, but he picked up on our vibe pretty quick and everything sounded exactly like we wanted.” Vacon said, “The guy works hard, and my favourite thing is that he actually cares, a lot.”
Having a good relationship with clients, especially in tightly knit communities of professionals and creative types, is extremely important for any entrepreneur looking to build their network. Despite taking his schooling in London, Ontario, not far off from one of Canada’s music hubs in Toronto, Telichev insists that he wants his career to remain in Calgary where he is busy creating strong support networks.
“I think that, especially when everyone knows each other in the industry, if you don’t treat other people well it’s definitely going to come back and bite you,” he said. “I’ve set up my shop in Calgary for a reason. The scene is great, there’s lots of talent here, lots of venues and there’s tons of infrastructure when it comes to Alberta Music and other organizations that really try to educate and help out bands.”
As one of the strongest supporters of Calgary’s music scene, and with a career built upon the backbone of that scene, Danny Vacon believes quite strongly that Telichev’s roots in Calgary will pay off.
“The music community is just that. A community.” Vacon said, “You can’t be a gypsy in this business. You need roots. I’m glad Kirill has made Calgary his home. We’ll all benefit. The only people who leave their community for good are people with secrets or delusions.”