We had the good fortune of connecting with Justin Longerbeam and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Justin, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think that learning when and how to take risks has a huge role in both success and personal happiness. I certainly believe hard work and patience are the things that carry us through the bulk of our growth and lives, but that they are also preparing us for the next milestone of risk. When I think back on my own life and career to this point, it’s the moments that I was able to bet on myself and take a leap of faith in to my future that have yielded the most valuable results. Whether that has simply been moving to a new city, or leaving a job that wasn’t building towards my goals, shaking myself out of comfortable routine and diving headfirst in to uncertainty is what has forced me to make the largest advancements towards becoming who I want to be.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m an audio engineer and musician. A lot of my work focuses on producing, recording, mixing and mastering records with artists. I’ve spent most of my life as a musician, and also now as an audio engineer for more than a decade. I’ve come to blend those into a skillset to help assist artists realize their vision. I think there is a very particular type of language that a lot of artists use to describe how they want their art to be represented in the world. One that is often very flowery and oblique. In engineering we’re mostly using technical and precise language to describe our processes. I love being a translator between the two. Sitting with an artist and having a discussion about the intention behind what they’re putting into the world, and making sure those intentions are represented at every level, both artistically and technically, is my main goal.
Since moving to LA about a year and a half ago, I’ve joined a collective of audio engineers and producers, the Iconica Recording Group, that has a few studios around town. I’m working out of the Hollywood location. Most recently I was the recording and mixing engineer for Siren and the Sea’s latest record, ‘For Bathing’, and I’m currently in production on the next record for post rock / jazz duo, Volcanic Pinnacles. I’m excited for both of those records to be out in the world.
Getting to this point has been a long road. For years I was casting a wide net and doing as many things related to music as I could, until the pattern started to emerge that more and more people were coming to me for engineering. I had been doing it for free out of bedrooms for a long time, and decided to build a studio in my basement, and started inviting every band I knew to record for cheap or free. I did that for years and it eventually resulted in me being offered a job implementing and running a recording studio for former NBA player Martell Webster, who was starting a new business. That opportunity completely changed my life and let me experience receiving a steady income from doing this thing that I loved, for the first time. There is the saying that “luck is when preparation meets opportunity” and that was certainly true for me.
Aside from working as an engineer, I also have an ambient music project with Cristina Cano, called Volcano Lazerbeam. We released our first EP, “Long Walks”, last year and are currently working on a follow up.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Actually, one of my best friends, Gabe, did just visit for a long weekend, and he was the first guest I’ve had since I moved here. I’m still new to the city, so it was fun to explore with a guest. Here’s a general overview of how that went down:
We went straight to Canter’s on Fairfax from the airport and had pastrami reubens. Everyone involved was real jazzed. I live in Santa Monica right now, so the next day was sandwiches from Bay Cities and a cooler of drinks on the beach. That afternoon and late into the night we ate and drank our way around Koreatown. Dan Sung Sa was the standout. The next day we rented bikes and explored the bike path out on the beach. We went into Venice and checked out the canals, the skate park, and had a nice time getting lost for a while. We ended up in Ocean Park for drinks and food. The next day we spent some time in Hollywood, did a tour of the studio I work at. He wanted to get some gifts for his kids so we walked to the Soap Plant + Wacko and explored that area. It was a blast!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I could never speak on this without first mentioning my parents. They’re loving, hard working people that I admire and they have always been supportive of me chasing my interests as a career. I certainly wouldn’t be doing, what I’m so proud to be doing, without them.
I have always credited my elementary school music teacher, Mr. David Zarefoss, with helping me find my love and passion for all things music. He lit a spark for how beautiful and important music is in the world, that has turned my life into a mission to help create it. I still remember the moments standing in a room full of my classmates and creating rhythm as a group, or singing songs as a group for the first time, and feeling very connected to something larger than myself. It’s a consistent reminder to me of how influential our teachers can be.