Tyler Potts prepares a disk for recording in his makeshift Seattle Center studio (Josh Kerns/MyNorthwest.com)
If you could record something for the future, what would you say or sing? Tyler Potts wants to hear it.
As Seattle Center was gearing up for its 50th anniversary celebration, the Seattle artist and musician got an inspiration. He stumbled upon an old turntable and lathe used for making records, and got Seattle Center to allow him to set up a portable recording studio in a shipping container behind the Intiman Theater.
He’s invited anyone who wants to come in and record anything they want for free. So far, over 100 people have taken him up on the opportunity to take part in his project he called “Put the Needle on The Record”.
While he’s excited about sending sounds to the future, it’s the present he’s found most satisfying.
“The most that we know if it’s important or not is whether or not people are enjoying doing it right now,” Potts says as he surveys the growing stack of disks.
Potts likens it to an open mic or jam session, never knowing what he’s going to get.
“Some of those songs can be really endearing, a little quiver in the voice, some sort of honesty to the performance that’s been conveyed to me,” Potts says.
But Potts says he’s been most moved by the simple moments, such as a conversation between a mother and young boy about the future of music.
“What do you think it will be like?,” she asks. “It will be like silence, but different kinds of silence. Maybe people will have evolved so that they can hear it, but you can’t hear it,” he responds innocently in the scratchy recording.
The audio quality can leave something to be desired. That’s because Potts records onto used laser disks instead of vinyl, partly for cost and partly for speed. But it adds to the quaintness of his homespun project.
Ultimately, Potts says he’s discovered the quality isn’t nearly as important as the spirit behind the recordings. And whether anyone ever listens to them in the future doesn’t matter nearly as much as the experience.
“I feel like people are opening up just for the project and sharing something they normally wouldn’t have shared,” he says.
You can share with Potts as well. He’s hanging out at the Seattle Center studio most Fridays through Sundays until October, and you can book a time on his website for a session.