Lewis Pesacov is living the dream. Not only has he learned to make a career out of being a musician, but he's learned to separate his personal projects from his work, and therefore never lose his passion.
A member of music collective Black Iris and its label division White Iris — as well as a co-founder of bands Fool's Gold and El Sportivo and the Blooz — you can find hints of Pesacov's work all over the Los Angeles music scene.
Over oysters at the Ace Hotel in New York City, where he was preparing to kick off the first night of Fool's Gold's tour with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Pesacov and Black Iris co-founder Daron Hollowell explain what frankly sounds like a magical formula for creating a sustainable musical community.
Of the early days of Black Iris, Hollowell notes, “We had a bunch of people working separately in their own spaces. We had Asa [Taccone] and Cornbread [aka Matt Compton], who are in Electric Guest, working on stuff; Lewis was working on his own, but once we got a studio it really solidified a community.”
The studio he refers to is housed within Echo Park's Bedrock Studios. An enormous warehouse filled with practice spaces and recording studios and tucked against a rocky hill just off Alvarado St., Bedrock is the kind of place, these days, where you can walk in at any given moment and see members of three or four LA bands smoking cigarettes in the parking lot, giving interviews, or conspiring on musical matters.
Moving into the space pushed Pesacov to the next level. When the collective was just getting started, he says, “there was a novelty to recording.” A self-taught producer, he didn't go to recording school. As he has produced more and more of both his own projects and other people's records — including quintessential L.A. babe Bethany Cosentino's debut album as Best Coast — he has grown more comfortable behind a board.
“There's something really unknowable about a studio, with all the knobs and faders,” he says, “but I'm comfortable enough that the older I get the more I can control the craft.” This skill and control is essential to both Pesacov's growth as a producer and as a musician.
Most surprising of all is the fact that Pesacov still somehow finds the time to pursue ambitious creative projects outside of the realm of his bands, his producing and his work on commercial music.
He's coy at first, referring to his personal projects as “more classically based,” and citing his schooling as a more traditional musician and composer. After much prodding, however, he reveals that he is working on a musical performance art piece based on the Mayan calendar (there's also mention of a “puppy opera” but we don't get too far into that). The performance will take place in December of this year, and when I joke that he'll be performing at the end of the world, Pesacov quickly corrects me.
“People think the Mayans predicted the apocalypse but really it's just the birth of a new age,” he imparts. The performance, which involves the use of a custom made sound generator that creates sine tones and looks like a cross between an early computer and a reel to reel tape player — a photo of which he shows me on his iPhone — is but one of Pesacov's many toys. Now that he's living the dream, it seems, he still has plenty of time for dreaming.