Grammy Award-winning producer Alan Sanderson, owner of Pacific Beat Recording studio on Turquoise Street, believes his studio will attract some of the biggest names in entertainment because of the appeal of Pacific Beach.
Photo by Bart Mendoza
San Diego’s music community has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years, and nowhere is this more evident than in the businesses that have been established surrounding the performers themselves. Of particular note has been the number of world-class studios that have opened up. There’s a reason artists from U2 to Keith Richards have spent time in San Diego for recording sessions.
The newest location to open up is also one of the longest running — Pacific Beat Recording (926 Turquoise St.). The room opened in 1974 as Seacoast Studios and has had several owners in the years since. It is now owned by Grammy Award-winning producer and engineer Alan Sanderson.
Working behind the board for such artists as Fleetwood Mac, Elton John and Madonna, Sanderson has spent time in many of San Diego’s and Los Angeles’s best studios. But now, after 20 years of nomadic recording, he has a place of his own. While he said he’s pleased with the work he’s produced at other rooms, Pacific Beat’s address is what held the biggest appeal.
Although the bulk of Anderson’s clients will be local, he hopes to attract major-label attention.
“Location is everything. Most of the San Diego studios that I’ve worked at are in business parks. Why would someone want to record someplace like that when they could be in, for example, Hollywood? So, here, we have a centrally located room in close proximity to the beach. It’s got a great vibe.”
Sanderson said Pacific Beat’s proximity to the airport and major music venues is a plus. “It’s great when a chosen studio is just a hop, skip and a jump for an artist to get to. That’s especially important, as a lot of times recording is scheduled when a performer is on tour.” In 2005, he worked with Keith Richards and Toots Hibbert (of reggae icons Toots and the Maytals), when the Rolling Stones stopped in town for a show at Petco Park.
“I had to put the whole together in two days, but what I think surprised Keith the most is that he had to drive to Rancho Bernardo from downtown San Diego to do the session.”
At 1,050 square feet, Pacific Beat is smaller than some of the areas other major studios, which, depending on amenities, can even include living accommodations.
“This is manageable,” Sanderson said. “There’s a lot of overhead on a 3,000-square-foot room,” he said. “This is perfect. It’s got a nice feel to it. It’s a comfortable room for the artists.”
It’s been widely reported that the music business in general is in a downward spiral, but Sanderson sees things as pluses and minuses.
“Budgets aren’t what they used to be. But, on the other hand, a lot more people are recording. There are also a lot more studios around, so doing a project is a lot more affordable these days,” he said.
Having spent time over the last few years working in Africa and Brazil, he said San Diego’s music scene is healthy. He’s an enthusiastic supporter, citing a range of notable locals from 15-year-old Jason Mraz protégé Cody Lovass to legendary tunesmith Jack Tempchin as indicative of the area’s burgeoning pool of talent.
“There’s a lot of great talent in this town and the great weather helps to keep it happening year round,” he said.
Though he still works on projects around the world, Sanderson is happy to have his own home base.
“I’ve done a lot of traveling,” he said. “But I always keep coming back because San Diego is, as we know, paradise on earth.”