The music makers

Jack “Landis” Chisenhall, Chet Himes and James Campbell of Cibolo Studios.

The music makers

by Dan R. Goddard

A pair of Sound Recording graduates follow dream, open studio

Two 2012 Texas State University sound engineering graduates, James Campbell and Jack “Landis” Chisenhall, are building what promises to be one of San Antonio’s premier recording facilities, Cibolo Studios.

Campbell, who plays guitar, and Chisenhall, a drummer,  began writing music and doing projects together while attending the university. Campbell studied jazz at University of North Texas State  in Denton before entering the sound recording technology (SRT) program at Texas State. Chisenhall studied music at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio and Marshall University in West Virginia. Both men said Texas State changed their lives.

Texas State established the state’s first bachelor of science in sound engineering program in 1992, which is limited to just 15 students a year.  SRT majors learn live and multitrack recording, production,  mixing, mastering, nonlinear recording, and editing at the university’s Fire Station Studios, a multipurpose recording facility and television/film sound stage.

Their mentor is another Bobcat, multi-Grammy winner Chet Himes, who has worked in Austin and Los Angeles with artists such as Christopher Cross, Ry Cooder, Joe Ely, Eric Johnson, Carole King, and Jerry Jeff Walker. 

“We were always dreaming of having our own studio,” Campbell says. “I am fascinated with how bands make music in a studio together. The SRT program taught me how to capture signal in an accurate, knowledgeable way. Now I’m developing my skills with artists and technical gear. Hands-on experience building the studio has taught me acoustics, woodworking, and connection types. Chet Himes has been an integral part of all of that. My philosophy on recording is trying to best create what the artist has in mind.”

Himes and Chisenhall’s father, Jack Chisenhall Sr., were roommates at Texas State in the 1970s. Himes earned a degree in physics and began his sound engineering career working with Cross (“Sailing” and “Arthur’s Theme”,) which took him to Warner Brothers Studios in Los Angeles. Chisenhall Sr. earned a degree in industrial design in 1970, and is now president of Vintage Air, which designs air conditioning systems, in San Antonio.  

They have been in the process of building Cibolo Studios for the past three years. The 1,850-square-foot studio features a live tracking room for controlled “live performance” recording, two isolation sound rooms, a Baldwin Baby Grand piano room, and a control room equipped with a classic 1989 Solid State Logic console. Already they have worked with artists such as The Canvas People, David Beck, Jay Bleu, Crypt Trip, and Brian Volante.

“We had some great professors at Texas State,” Chisenhall says. “It’s a tough, heavily math-oriented program, but there are only a handful of sound engineering programs in the country and Texas State is one of the few where you can actually get a bachelor of science degree. We were all kind of mad scientists. But we feel we have the experience and know-how to make Cibolo Studios one of the best sound recording studios in Texas.”  

For more information:
Cibolo Studios, 10305 N. IH-35

Christopher Dunston: Analyst by day, music producer by night

With a lifelong passion for music, Christopher Dunston, a 2009 Texas State graduate with a master’s degree in geography, has taken a do-it-yourself approach for his state-of-the-art studio, Big Chrizzle Productions, in his San Antonio home.

Dunston has been playing and recording music since he was in the band at Judson High School in Converse. But he majored in geography, earning his bachelor’s at The University of Texas at Austin before getting his master’s degree  at Texas State, which he says has one of the best geography programs in the country. That eventually led to his current day job as an analyst at United Services Automobile Association.  

These days, music remains a big part of his life since he established Big Chrizzle Productions in 2005. He’s produced music for MTV shows as well as working with artists such as Dom, Gabriela Soul, T.A., Teresa Cole, and Darryl “GI” Jackson of H-Town.

“I started in high school making ‘beats’ using a Yamaha keyboard,” Dunston says. “Now my primary Digital Audio Workshop (DAW) is Cakewalk Sonar Platinum, which I’ve been using for 20 years. I like to record each part of a song individually so there are fewer mistakes. I can mix more than 500 tracks if I want to. 

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