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Production Series: Citysleep II

I want to write a series of blog posts about my production credits, mainly for myself to capture the memories. I won’t write about every album I’ve done, just the important ones.

The first album I fully produced by myself was by a new electronica band named Citysleep for their second album, Citysleep II.

When I was in university, a friend of mine invited me to play at a show she was putting on for Oxfam at Cafe Koi (now renamed to Koi). At the show, I met the guy working the sound board, named Jerrick. Jerrick liked my music and told me about a new band he was forming named Citysleep, and invited me to have some part in it. He also invited me to Tuesday’s open mic at Koi in which he was one of the hosts.

At the open mic, I was greeted by some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. I discovered that this pokey little restaurant on the corner of a downtown street in Calgary had a strong and vibrant community around it. And a few of the most notable musicians from Calgary started out here, including Wyatt C. Louis, TAYLR, Moël (now based out of Toronto), and Jae Sterling.

I continued to go to Tuesday’s open mic every week, even though I had classes on that night. I graduated that summer, and Citysleep (at the time consisting of Jerrick de la Rosa, Dexter Mabanta, Mico Javier, and Jae Sterling) put out their first album, Citysleep I, with a release show at the Quickdraw Animation Society.

At the show, Jerrick asked if I would produce their next album, Citysleep II. They had a very clear vision for Citysleep. They would put out three EPs representing the three colours that made up the dance floor Jerrick and Dexter were on when they came up with the idea for the band.

A low-light photo of Jerrick and Dexter from Citysleep standing on a blue, red, and green lit dance floor.

We got to work on II right away. One requirement for the band was that they needed to record their album at night. It’s in the name, this is music for the night time. We were recording at Dexter’s house in Airdrie, so I would pack up my studio, go to work for 8 hours, drive 45 minutes to Airdrie, record all night, pack my stuff back up in time for sunrise, and head straight back to work. Some days, I’d stay up for 36 hours. The others could sleep for a few hours during the night (which must not have been too comfortable, since I was using speakers) to be woken up when it was time to perform, but the only one who had to stay up all night was yours truly!

Still, as tough as those sessions were, they didn’t last long. One thing I learned about Citysleep was that they work fast. Like, really fast. A couple of weekends, and we were done tracking.

We spent a lot more time mixing, and a few months later, it was finished, released about 6 months after the first EP.

An upright piano with two microphones capturing its soundboard.

My childhood piano at my dad’s house. We used it, with all its creaks and poorly-tuned keys, on the song Bedrest.

The Citysleep band members sitting on a couch. From left to right: Mico, Kyle, Jerrick, Dexter, and Jae.

Mico, Kyle (who joined the band later), Jerrick, Dexter, and Jae.

Sadly, our home, Koi, closed its doors in the summer of 2022 due to a leasing buy out. Koi’s spirit, though, continues to exist through The Attack Bar & Stage where they host their Legendary Open Mic Night every Thursday.

My entire career as a musician and record producer came from the amazing community and people I met at the Koi open mic. The values, memories, and community Koi gave to us will always live on.