Front and Center: Candace Stewart, Studio Manager, EastWest Studios
By Myki Angeline
To say it’s an honor to work at EastWest Studios is an understatement. With a historical background spanning over 80 years, this iconic building started out as a grocery mart, then a casino before turning into a music studio.
Candace Stewart is the Studio Manager at EastWest Studios, and has been a faithful employee since 2010. Her extensive music experience began back in 1984, when she worked for her older brother Steve Smith at the old Kendun Recorders, in Burbank, CA. Since those days she has worked with a wide variety of iconic artists like Johnny Cash, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty, Rage Against The Machine, and Tupac. Her intense love for music, dedication to her clients, and immense respect for EastWest Studios are what make Stewart a perfect candidate for our Front and Center feature. She is also a 2018 She Rocks Awards recipient!
You can learn more about EastWest Studios at eastweststudio.com.
WIMN: What attracted you to the music industry?
CS: I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina and I have three older brothers who are musicians who were prominent in the local music scene. They decided to make their way to L.A. in the early 1970’s. All three of them got jobs at The Record Plant Studios on 3rd St in LA. I would come out to visit them in L.A. during high school and as they rose up in the ranks from runners to assistant engineers, I saw how cool the work they did was. My two oldest brothers Rick and Steve Smith worked on Songs to the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder and I thought that was amazing. They actually worked with many high profile artists of that time. Many of their co workers who were also runners, then assistants at The Record Plant are still my clients today, like Mike Clink and Jim Scott.
My brother David who lives here in L.A. was and is a photographer and artist, lending his talents at The Record Plant by helping then owner Gary Kelgren. David also help create the “vibe” at the Record Plant with paint and carpet designs.
WIMN: Are you a musician? If so, what instrument do you play?
CS: I am not a musician but LOVE music. I am surrounded my musicians, including my husband Brian, who is an amazing guitarist and my job gives me the opportunity to facilitate artists everyday.
WIMN: What is EastWest Studios doing to reach out to female artists and musicians?
CS: We don’t seek anyone based on gender or musical genre, we have a naturally very diverse clientele. Most of our projects come to us from Producers, Engineers, and A&R staff. Studios are basically hotels with technology and anyone that can afford our rates are always welcome to come work here.
WIMN: What was your career prior to working as the studio manager for EWS? What made you make the switch, and how do you feel your previous experience has helped you with your career in the recording industry?
CS: I was a bartender working my way through college pursuing a Psychology major with a Business Minor. I thought I wanted to be a marriage counselor, haha! I worked for several large hotel chains including Hilton and Marriott in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Working in the hospitality industry is perfect training for the studio business, they are actually VERY similar and well, the Psychology training being helpful is obvious. I moved to L.A. in 1984 and began working for my older brother Steve Smith. He leased rooms at what was the old Kendun Recorders in Burbank, which he operated as Take One Recording. This studio is now the site of Glenwood Place Studios.
I learned about assistant engineering and helped in all aspects of the studios operations; I was a runner, answered phones, did bookkeeping, etc. Whatever was needed I did it. Steve is actually the person who recognized that I might be good at the marketing and management side of things. After Take One Recording, I moved across the courtyard to Red Zone Studios, where I met a producer who became a very dear friend, John Porter.
I worked at Red Zone from 1989 until 1994. We did a lot of cool records there especially with John Porter—Otis Rush, Taj Mahal, and more. In 1994 I moved over to Soundcastle Studios in Silverlake where I worked with a lot of high profile gangsta rap artists like The Wu Tang Clan, Tupac, and Snoop Dogg. John Porter was really instrumental in my career. He is the person who brought me to Cello, which is now East West, located at 6000 Sunset Blvd. You may know John’s name from Roxy Music, The Smith’s, Buddy Guy, BB King, etc. He lives in the UK now, and is still actively working with artists. I came to Cello in December of 1998 and was the manager until it closed in 2005. I spent the 5 years between Cello and East West at a great facility in Pasadena called Firehouse Studios, which was owned by Tena Clark—a great lady, great musician and producer.
WIMN: What is your favorite aspect of being the Studio Manager for EastWest Studios and how long have you worked for this company?
CS: I love the helping the clients and I LOVE my staff. I truly enjoy seeing all the young engineers learn the craft/art of engineering and watching them move up to Freelance 1st Engineering. I welcome them back as beloved clients when they get projects of their own. I also take running this VERY historic facility seriously and consider it to be both an L.A. historical treasure as well as a currently world class facility. I have worked at East West since January 2010.
WIMN: Tell us about one of the most exciting artists you’ve worked with.
CS: That’s really hard there have been so many over the last 30 years!
Tom Petty was a treasured client during Cello. The Red Hot Chili Peppers as well. In the early years Guns and Roses from the Appetite for Destruction sessions, at Take One. But one of my all-time favorites was working with Don Was and Roy Orbison many years ago at Take One. Johnny Cash was also another highlight. Rick Rubin did many, many projects when it was Cello. There were so many wonderful sessions from those years.
All the Audio Slave Records, Rage Against The Machine, Goo Goo Dolls, Sum 41. But for recent thrills: The Foo Fighters are my favorites now along with Frank Ocean, and Miguel. The new Justin Timberlake record is killer too.
WIMN: What do you think is the biggest key to success in the recording industry?
CS: Listen…. to everything especially music, to Producers, and Engineers. Be cool and be a good hang.
WIMN: Have you ever faced adversity in the music industry simply for being a woman? If so, how did you overcome it
CS: No. Quite the opposite, most of the major studios in the world are managed by women. I wouldn’t acknowledge chauvinism if I encountered it.
WiMN: Congratulations on being a recipient for a She Rocks Award! What does it mean to you?
CS: Thank you very much, I am grateful to be acknowledged. It means I get to share a wonderful evening with my colleagues friends and family for a worthwhile cause.
WIMN: What is a little-known fact about you?
CS: That I started out as an engineer, before I was a manager. I also love surfing, and am a mean soul food cook.
WIMN: Do you have advice for young women who might be considering a career in the music recording industry?
CS: Please don’t focus on the fact that you are a woman, learn whatever job you are interested in to the fullest of your ability.
Be the very best you can be and give 150% to anything you pursue. The women in the movie Hidden Figures who worked for NASA didn’t focus on the fact that they were women—only that they were proud to help get an astronaut to the moon! Reach for the stars!