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In the Studio with Cardiknox

The electro-pop group lifts the curtain on making their debut album

When the Los Angeles-based band Cardiknox releases its debut album on March 11, it’ll have some big shoes to fill. After all, the addictively upbeat album of dance pop was recorded at L.A.’s Henson Recording Studios, which in previous lives was home to Charlie Chaplin’s film operation, A&M Records and Jim Henson’s Muppet workshop. 

These days, the Hollywood building is home to the recording studio of Grammy-winning producer John Shanks, who the band—made up of Lonnie Angle and Thomas Dutton—tapped to produce Portrait. And to hear them tell it, time in his studio was integral to capturing their singular sound. “I think it definitely felt cozy and intimate,” Dutton says. “The lighting, all the stuff on the walls and all the old gear just made it feel— especially because we were there for so long — like our little home. At the same time, being in such a prestigious facility with all of these incredible other world-class musicians walking down the halls, it kind of like makes you step up your game a little bit and be like, “Okay we really need to bring it.” Angle backs him up: “It was like, holy shit,” she says. 

While the band did share the building with acts including Coldplay, Slayer, Bonnie Raitt and Justin Bieber, they’re quick to point out that Shanks’ studio is second to none. “I think there are six recording studios, and most of them are rented out on a weekly or monthly basis,” says Angle. “Our producer is the only resident producer there, so he’s actually had his room for 15 years. It is well loved because of what it has become, you know, it’s like this second home.”

Cardiknox in the studio

It became a second home for the band also as they wrote and recorded the album there. “We wrote most of the songs there with John in the studio and then recorded them,” says Dutton. “I think it was really inspiring and motivational to be able to play somewhere so renowned.” 

Cardiknox spent six months in the studio making the record, and even now the band members say it was difficult to say goodbye to the space. “In this instance we had the luxury of time because it’s not often you get that long to record an album,” Angle says.  “We were very prolific over that period, and we wrote more than we were able to put onto the album. That’s where it gets very hard, because you’ve got to get strict with yourselves and start thinking about which of these songs should be out, living on the album. It was tough, there are still songs that make me think, Damn! I wish the album could’ve been 20 tracks long!”

Main image by: Jiro Schneider