Houston may not be as musically relevant in America as juggernauts like New York City and Los Angeles, but a three-man band of producers is determined to change that. Russell Guess, Justin Lewis and Michael Hobdy, also known production trio Analogue Escape, aim to do so by creating a label committed to helping artists make a successful living through their passion and purpose. That new label is Dreams iN Stereo. It's housed in the historic SugarHill Recording Studios, which itself has been Houstonians record their dreams for over 70 years.
At first, the trio was strictly focused on production, which eventually led to an opportunity to start their own label. “We ended up just helping artists in certain ways that it became inevitable what we needed to do,” said Guess. But, said Lewis, the group struggled to make progress early on. “We were doing records for people and it would sit on their laptops and we would never see any follow through with it,” said Lewis. “We were doing the work of nine people all of which would normally get paid to do the work but we were doing it because we loved the music and we wanted to be heard.”
Five artists are currently working with Dreams iN Stereo, including Houston-based singer-song writer Michele Thibeaux, up-and-coming alternative R&B artist Eimaral Sol, and folk/soul singer Chris Crump, known for his performances on the ninth season of The Voice. “Our relationships, whether business or personal, with the artists are different because we work on a case-by-case or project-by-project basis,” said Guess. Their sound is multi-genre in essence. “Like Duke Ellington once said, ‘we just create great music,’” said Hobdy. Even within one song, Guess added, "you’re going to get touches of rock, pop, soul, hip-hop and folk."
All three men could have gone elsewhere with their talents, but chose to combine their skills with the hopes of creating a record label that could build a lasting infrastructure within Houston. “There are artists of certain genres who left town because there is really no defined market for that here,” said Lewis. A major goal of Dreams iN Stereo is to set up those markets in Houston. “Without an infrastructure you end up plateauing at a certain point,” said Guess. They believe that this problem will become obsolete with the introduction of the proper infrastructure.
"You have outlets where people can get to know you,” said Lewis. "You have a pipeline system where you’re getting known, you’re getting played, and you’re getting promoted properly. Houston lacks all of the above at the same time.” The men hope that their new label will grant them the status needed in order to reverse this current state of Houston’s musical foundation.
Aside from the major goal of building a well-oiled, musical infrastructure in Houston, the trio is also committed to helping artists create a good standard of living for themselves off of their talents. “I would love to see really talented people be able to make a respectable living off of their art,” said Lewis. “If we can help people to be able to make a solid living off of their passion, to me we would have achieved one of our biggest goals.”