Liz and Kenny Vasko keep taking leaps of faith and landing firmly on their feet.
The first jump was when the couple — a former urban planner and accountant, respectively — bought Dog House Music Studios in spring 2019, saving it from demolition. The second jump came immediately after when they retrofitted the studio with modern engineering, production and videography services.
When the pandemic shut Colorado down in mid-March, the upgrades meant Dog House was already prepared to pivot to the livestreaming model that has become the lifeline of live music in our socially distant world.
“The day we got the stay-at-home order was the first day that we even tried to do a livestream with Dog House,” Kenny Vasko says. Front Range EDM artist Dirt Monkey had asked if the Lafayette studio and recording space could help him stage a livestream since all his tour gigs had been canceled.
Liz and Kenny and their sound engineer, John Remington, were happy to oblige.
“Five thousand people tuned in,” Vasko says. “That was a great proof of concept for us. We spent the next six weeks formulating, if we had to turn this into a business, what are we missing? What do we need to make this a better experience than people who are doing this in their basement or garages can have? For us, it came down to feeling like some sort of VIP experience, with real stage lighting, a real backline, having your own monitor mix in front of you, and engineers making sure the stream is optimized for phones or Airpods as opposed to huge PA speakers. Creating that VIP experience for the fans and creating that elevated experience for the artist is something that we’ve been able to pride ourselves in.”
These days, Dog House is a one-stop shop for livestreaming shows, logging more than 70 hours of live streaming since May 15 with around 30 different artists, from death metal bands to School of Rock students.
With COVID here to stay and the return of concerts as we knew them still too far away to see, Vasko hopes to continue to connect musicians with their audience.
“Our real claim to fame is plug and play,” he says. “We want [musicians] to be able to come into the studio, do sound check, and we’ll take care of the audio, camera, lighting — all you have to do is play.”
For fans looking to support local music, there’s Underdogs, a $5-a-month subscription plan where patrons can access all of the videos that Dog House has streamed live since the beginning of the pandemic, and any future streams. Donations help keep Dog House “kicking,” as Vasko puts it.
“In our complex we have 80 artists and residents, and they are the lifeblood of the underground music scene,” he says. “There aren’t too many rehearsal studios out there in the Denver metro area … where bands can be as loud as they want because we have a full backline. It’s very important that these spaces stay alive for the music scene because eventually your neighbors are gonna call the cops and you’ll need a place to play.”