Even in the confines of the Skype window connecting me to Indiana, I was impressed by the vehicle’s spaciousness, not to mention its cleanly-renovated interior – which, as I soon found out, had been no small feat. Its work-in-progress status was no secret, but on the whole, it already looked better than some studio apartments I’d seen in Manhattan. My long-distance tour of Silver Machine Studio – the solar-powered, full-service recording studio housed in a 1986 Gulfstream RV, its peeling logo still visible on the side – was led by the musician currently building it: Colin Lime, aka Future Lover. His psychedelic debut album, Summoning, really mesmerized us last year, so we were curious about the unique automotive project that’s been keeping him busy since then.
“There are so many cool bands in little towns who are putting out like two-song demos, but then that’s as far as it goes, just because they don’t have access to someone who can mix their record or the songs they’re writing. I want to take the scenes that are around the country like that and actually physically connect them,” said Colin, shedding light on his vision for the van. “So, a year down the road, when I’ve been enough places and met enough bands, and collaborated on stuff, I want to be able to release a record of the best songs, and call it the Silver Machine Sessions, or something like that.” He also mentioned his plans for bringing Silver Machine Studio to festivals and recording sessions onsite – an idea that seems to have endless applications.
“I also wanted it to be as sustainable as possible. The whole tiny-home movement thing, and the van-life thing – it’s all about leaving a small footprint. I mean of course, this is a large vehicle, so I do guzzle some gas. Down the road if I ever do another one, I would love to have one be biodiesel, but that’s a little further down the road,” he admitted. “But RV solar is actually a pretty well-documented segment of the RV community, so there’s a lot of information out there. I just taught myself, really; the same way I learned how to fix my car. I think I’ve even surpassed where I thought I could ever see myself going with these trade skills. Because I’m doing carpentry, I’m laying floors, I put up the new ceiling. It’s like renovating a tiny house.”
Like many arduous house-flipping projects, the ‘Before’ was far from the ‘After’ when he first purchased the RV. “It was rough,” Colin laughed. “It’s come a longggg way. It had this really ratty-ass carpet on the floor. It was kind of sooty, and there was nasty Pepto-Bismol pink-colored carpet. But the only places where it was actually that original Pepto-Bismol pink were under the furniture. The rest of it was like this nasty, washed-out tan. Awful. I pulled out the carpet, and there had been mice living in here. This guy had it on Craigslist, and I was watching it for two or three weeks before I decided to finally just pulled the trigger. I knew that I wanted to put an old RV back together and make it my own – build it exactly the way I thought it should be from the ground – so I wanted to start with something classic.”
“This thing is pretty classic,” he added. “When I’m finished with it, I think people are going to be like, ‘Wow, I didn’t think an 80s RV could be this awesome.’” Of course, given Future Lover’s musical sensibility, we had to ask if the final ride would include any trippy swirls or flowers on the exterior. We discovered that his plans are even better. “It’s gonna be a little more sleek and space-age – silver, like the name. I’m going to do the outside with a Rust-Oleum roller bomb job, and the color is satin aluminum; a little darker than silver. I’m going to have a friend who’s an artist do the name on the side in big black script. I think it’s going to look real nice.”
“I wanted to make sure that along with bridging distance and access gaps for musicians, I was also bridging the gaps of time and incorporating classic analog warmth and tradition – while still maintaining independence and forward-thinking attitudes towards recording technology,” he explained, diving into some specs. “I’ll be bouncing mixes through an all discrete electronics Harrison console and a fully restored and maintained Otari MX5050 tape deck at client request – and of course, all my future Future Lover material, as per my request!” In fact, there’s a new Future Lover album in the works, and he just revealed its catchy first single, “Death Save,” which no doubt foreshadows another strong LP. And we can’t wait to hear the production, knowing where it’s all going down.
To learn more or plan a session with Silver Machine Studio, visit the GoFundMe page, where you can also help support the cause! And for all the gearheads who have been patiently pondering the setup, see below for a list from Future Lover himself – one that we’re proud to note includes alcohol.
– Aston Spirit large diaphragm condenser mic
– Focusrite 18i20 interface
– Focusrite RedNet 3 Dante ADAT interface
– Focusrite AM2 Headphone/Monitoring interface
– 16 stereo channel Harrison Mixbus with onboard bus compressor
– Otari MX5050 mastering tape deck
– hand-built ribbon microphones, ala HoboRec Sweden
– DIY modded microphones, effects pedals and 500 series rack gear (some DIYRE)
– also: 10 guitars, amps, percussion instruments…and tequila.
– 4 255-watt panels, roof-mounted
– Morningstar TriStar solar controller
– Victron Multiplus 12/3000 120v hybrid inverter charger
– currently: lead acid battery bank, at 624Ah (8 batteries = 480lbs) salvaged
– as soon as funds allow: 4 180ah LIFEPO4 Lithium Ion cells (12 lbs each)
– lots of wires, head-scratching and swear words…and hopefully no fire.
Article: Olivia Isenhart