Walk past the unassuming Charleston single that houses Hello Telescope, and you’d likely think it’s a typical college-student rental. And that’s exactly the point.
There, in the heart of the peninsula, Jay Clifford (singer/guitarist of Jump, Little Children fame) and Josh Kaler (one half of the musical duo Slow Runner) have created a laid-back indie recording haven that reflects their philosophy: “modesty and enthusiasm within a relaxed environment makes the recording of great performances possible.”
Inside, just off the foyer, in what would normally be the living room, is one of the main recording studios. A caribou head, complete with huge antlers, overlooks a bank of Apple computers and monitors, while microphones, amplifiers, and various instruments stand at the ready. Down the hall, in the former dining room, wooden sound baffles hang from the walls and ceiling, and a well-insulated vocal booth takes up most of the space. Further back, next to the kitchen—which Kaler half-jokingly calls “probably the most important room in the place”—an impressive collection of vintage amps are on display.
Jay Clifford (left) and Josh Kaler in the main recording studio. Clifford, singer/guitarist for Jump, is well-known in the industry for his song-writing and arrangements; Kaler, of Slow Runner, for his mixing and production skills.
Clifford says the studio’s name “comes from a positive approach to record-making and using the space like a telescope to see (or in this case, hear) things more clearly.” For the past two years, both men have used their varied experiences—from Clifford’s national tours with Jump to song-writing for himself and the likes of Howie Day to Kaler’s work with Slow Runner and reputation as a gifted multi-instrumentalist—to nurture artists who arrive at their doorstep. A number of nationally known musicians have sought out the studio: William Fitzsimmons, Chase Coy and Colbie Caillat, and Brendan James looked to Hello Telescope for recording songs or string section arrangement on their most recent albums.
In addition to working on their own projects, Clifford and Kaler have recorded, mixed, and/or produced songs for other artists, including Bill Carson and The Green and Bold. For Carson, whose release, The Great Whale-or, Say It, Don’t Spray It, was mixed there, the decision was easy. “They’re friends,” says Carson, “and I felt like it was a good balance of knowing they had the gear and the skills, and that they were open to my aesthetic, which is very rustic and lo-fi. They have a great bedside manner, a good balance of professionalism and open-mindedness.”
Albums recorded and produced at Hello Telescope include those for Clifford—Silver Tomb for the Kingfisher (2011)—and Kaler’s band with Michael Flynn, Slow Runner—Damage Points (2011)—as well as Illinois-based singer-songwriter William Fitzsimmons’ album Gold in the Shadow (2011) and Brooklyn-based artist Laura
DiStasi’s eponymous album (2011).