Combat Center entrepreneur’s recording studio offers professional audio to aspiring High Desert musicians

17 Aug 2006 | Cpl. Brian A. Tuthill

High Desert musicians looking to have their work professionally recorded now have the opportunity to make their dreams a reality thanks to a Combat Center Marine and a former sailor who teamed up to open a local recording studio.

Heat Rock Recording Studio, located just across Adobe Road from Santana’s Mexican Restaurant in Twentynine Palms, Calif., opened in March as a joint venture between Sgt. Xavisus “Xa” Gayden, 1st Tank Battalion career planner, and William “Cuz” Campbell, a former Navy corpsman with the Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital.

The entrepreneurs saw potential here and have already turned the business into a money-maker, despite being weeks away from their Sept. 16 grand opening.

Their studio, which doubles as a clothing retail store, has already recorded and shipped one full album, recorded six others and worked on commercials for local businesses since its inception.

Although both Gayden and Campbell both have a rap and hip hop background, they said they are completely open to any type of music.

“Right now, we are looking to reach every audience,” said Gayden, who ran a recording and engineering business as DJ_Xa (pronounced “Zay”) while he was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. “I’ve already had three guys tell me they wanted to do a salsa and Latino album, a reggae album – as long as it’s music, we’ll do it.”

“My plan is to connect the whole Inland Empire and then invade Los Angeles,” said Campbell, a Panama City Beach, Fla., native, who started a similar business while stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.  “My goal is for us to end up in L.A. and take over. In the meantime we’d like to get more connected and have bigger artists come here to work. I also want to work this area because it’s very closed right now.”

One ongoing project for the studio is to compile a mixed album of various styles of music and artists from the High Desert to put together on an album for release. It will include hip hop, R & B, rap, rock, jazz, Latin, heavy metal, country, gospel and others, and will represent the variety in the High Desert, said Gayden, who hails from Monroe, La.

For Gayden and Campbell, starting the store together has been an adventure they said they weren’t sure where it would lead. The two met last year while both running competing small recording business in the area.

“I met Xa in November when we had our rival studios,” said Campbell. “I remember I snatched up some of his posters he had put up. But it turned out we live right up the street from one another. We started talking and just hooked up. I had all the artists, he had all the nice equipment.

“One of the hardest things about running the place is to stay on the same page with each other,” he continued. “Everyone has their own ideas and we disagree sometimes. So, either with angry compromises or happy ones, we have to have one because the business has to keep going. But I think working with Xa will be a lifelong partnership.”

Heat Rock’s business has steadily picked up since March, and recently customers have shifted from Marines to more and more local residents, said Gayden.

“I had not planned on making any profit at all for at least the first six months of opening the studio, but little by little people have been coming in, and it’s picked up for us,” said Campbell, “The city has started coming in.

“This is a start to a dream and going through this whole process has been amazing for me,” Campbell continued. “We’re always looking for advancement, but right now we’re kind of the kids next door who decided to buy a studio. It’s not going to move unless we move it. This is the middle of the desert, but life can spring up if you plant it.”

Campbell and Gayden both had advice for anyone trying to start their careers in both music or as an entrepreneur.

“For anyone looking to lay down an album my best advice to start is just to start,” said Gayden. “The longer you put it off, the harder it is going to be to get it done.”

“My advice for someone who wants to open a business of their own is to hold on to that dream and step out and make it happen,” said Campbell, who has been signed twice to record labels. “Don’t wait for anybody to do it for you. Don’t depend on anybody because it’s not going to move unless you move it. It’s hard work, but if it’s your passion, you have to work harder for it.”

The two also said those interested don’t need to wait for the grand opening celebration to come visit the store. They are open weekdays 6 to 10 p.m. and welcome anyone to drop in.

“I invite anyone to just stop by the store and even to just hang out with us because we’re just regular guys,” said Campbell. “If you’re interested you can see what’s going on, and if you like it, we’ll make it work.”
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