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Chris “Classick” Inumerable On The Classick Studios Journey And Expansion

Written by on March 20, 2023

Chris “Classick” Inumerable is a producer, engineer, manager and studio owner based in Chicago. His enterprise Classick Studios recently announced their expansion into Soundscape Studios; to discuss the expansion and his multifaceted work, Inumerable sat down for an on-air conversation with Vocalo mornings host Bekoe.

“Every decision I’ve made has always been the best decision for myself. Even the wrong ones.”

– Chris Classick

Chris “Classick” Inumerable had been interested in purchasing a space to expand Classick Studios, housed in a Ukrainian Village loft space, for the last five years when Michael Kolar, owner of East Garfield-based Soundscape Studios approached him. Innumerable said it was August 12, during Classick Studios’ 10-year anniversary party at Logan Square bar Easy Does It.

“All I remember was Kolar congratulating me, and then saying, ‘How would you feel if we weren’t neighbors anymore?’” Inumerable noted. “And he’s like, ‘…Would you want to rent or buy Soundscape?’”

Inumerable said he thought Kolar was joking at first. But finding the offer was serious, they started the process immediately. In December 2022, after 26 years of operation, Michael Kolar decided to close Soundscape, and the deal closed to expand Classick Studios in February. This resulted in the opening of “The Compound” in the three-story Soundscape building.

With humble beginnings in his parents’ basement, Classick Studios has grown from a small home recording booth to a custom-built recording facility with a team of 10+, boasting collaborations with dozens of artists including Chance the Rapper, Noname, Jean Deaux, Vic Mensa, SZA, Saba, Taylor Bennett and Jeremih — and the list goes on. Inumerable even helped engineer SZA’s critically-acclaimed 2017 album Ctrl, but he takes the most pride in fostering a creative environment and working with artists in the community. He notes he’s willing to work within artists’ budgets, if he feels connected to the music.

Chris “Classick” Inumerable outside the Vocalo studios on March 8. Rakim Winfert for Vocalo

“When I would hear people taking buses and trains, taking the trip to my house… I felt like I made something special,” Inumerable recalled of Classick’s early days. “I created a space to cultivate a sound… or cultivate a community.”

Inumerable is also the manager for several artists, including Smino, who is set to perform at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom with JID on March 21 on their dual “Luv Is 4Ever” tour.

At his core, Inumerable is motivated by his desire to make his parents proud, especially his mother, who passed away in 2005. 

“She’s seeing every single step of the way,” he said. “When you go into my studio, the first thing you see is a painting of my mom, to this day. She is the reason, the why, the confidence. She’s the one who put all of that in me.”

Recently, Inumerable stepped into the Vocalo studios during Mornings With Bekoe to sit down with Bekoe — whose music he produced back in the early days of Classick Studios — to further discuss Classick Studios’ journey, working on SZA’s music, how he got involved with Smino and the ways his mother is present in everything he does.

Find more information on Smino and JID’s tour and show at the Aragon Ballroom on the artists’ site.

Chris “Classick” Inumerable and Bekoe got connected years ago, when Bekoe was recording his own music at Classick Studios. Rakim Winfert for Vocalo

Bekoe: Chicago, y’all recently heard Smino with “No L’s” off his album Luv 4 Rent. He’s gonna be in town on March 21 at the Aragon Ballroom alongside JID. You never know who’s gonna pop out! But I tell you who just popped in: the one, the only Chris Classick is in the building! How you doing, my brother? 

Chris “Classick” Inumerable: What’s good?

B: I gotta get you some claps, man, you’ve been working hard. Now, you know, Chicago, you all don’t know this, but I was on my artistry a little while ago. Some time, time ago, and one of the studios that I visited to help me record my project was Classick Studios, some years ago. And just seeing the growth of the studio, in general, my brother, it’s been phenomenal to watch, you as a person it’s been phenomenal to see your growth. The team around you, seeing Smino’s growth, Monte’s growth, you work with another artist known as, what, Developing Jazz. It seems like everybody that gets around you, once they touch you, they turn into gold, my brother. So I just want to salute you on that and give you your flowers early, before we even start, my man. 

CI: Hey, love. Thank you so much, bro. Before I came here, I was actually trying to see if I had any of your music that I recorded.

B: Really? I don’t even have any of my music! Well, I do, but I don’t have it over here.

CI: I was really trying to find it! 

B: You slick! You tried to put me on the spot in front of everybody! It’s all good. One of these days. One of these days…

CI: Love! Appreciate it. I always want to appreciate the journey and everyone that’s been a part of it since the beginning. Because you’ve definitely been there since the beginning, too. 

B: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I haven’t been there since the beginning, beginning. The basement days, I always hear about, like when the studio was born in a basement. I mean, let’s take it back to the beginning, man. What’s some of the things that you miss about the beginning stage of Classick Studios?

CI: Being naive, being very naive. Because it allowed me to really explore and just try things, without overthinking. Now that I’m… beyond 30, I feel like I’ve experienced so much and I’m trying to learn how to communicate even more, how to create the journey for artists, you know? And I feel like I’ve just been in it so much. So it’s like, day by day, it’s all about action. I’m not thinking about… I’m not trying to talk too much, more so than trying to prove to you what I’m trying to do, you get what I’m saying? So, now it’s been a lot of me talking, and, as an engineer… I talk less and do more. We’re problem-solvers at heart. You know what I mean? So, when we try to figure out the source of the problem, the next thing we want to do is like, “How do we attack it?” So now it’s like, I’ve been learning how to communicate the process a little bit more, in my beyond 30. I’m gonna just say that…

Chris describes how the expansion of Classick Studios has been a long time coming; he had been looking to expand for the past five years but nothing was quite right until he got the opportunity to take over Soundscape Studios. Rakim Winfert for Vocalo

B: That’s growth, real growth. 

CI: Yeah, my beyond 30 years!

B: I’m beyond 30, too, and trust me, I wake up every morning and I’ll pop my one vitamin a day, okay? It’s that real. But I heard you say a key word. 

CI: Yeah. 

B: Engineering. You know, you, to my knowledge, you kind of like let go of engineering to manage. 

CI: I did.

B: So, to hear you still say the word… to still hear you take engineering at heart and say you engineer, I mean, how do you look at things now? Do you still engineer?

CI: I do. 

B: You do? 

CI: I do. I think it depends on the project. I always ask people to send me the music and see if I really resonate with it. And if I do, then I’m down to work on it. And I’m also down to work with people’s budgets. I mean, of course, I’m going to be on the higher end of things, but… my time is money, like, it’s valuable. It’s valuable right now. 

B: You can do that. 

CI: Right. 

B: I mean, you’ve proved to the world that, yeah, that it costs to get that quality. 

CI: Yeah, but I’m also willing to work, like… at the end of the day, it’s like, if I’m a fan of the music, I’m gonna give it a chance.

B: You gave me a chance, man. 

Chris Classick sitting in the studio. Rakim Winfert for Vocalo

CI: Oh, all day. All day.

B: And I think a lot of my homies a chance, too. 

CI: Look at where you’re at right now! 

B: I know, right?

CI: You have the voice! 

B: I still had to beg you to get on that wall of fame! 

CI: But check it out, it’s the voice, bro! You’ve got the voice.

B: Appreciate the love, man. And let’s actually chime in on what even started… what even led you to become an engineer in the first place?

CI: I started off as a producer. I used to go to beat battles every day, or every other day, every other week. I used to be out, all my friends were DJs, parties… So I was producing a lot. And a lot of my friends, early on, were all producers. So my closest friends, early on, was Stefan Ponce, to Tapes, to Nascent — shotout to Nascent. Seasick. Like, these were the people who were coming to my house. Ronzell, you know, like Them People. Everyone was coming to my house. And, mind you, my house is not close to a lot of people’s houses. So when I would hear people taking buses and trains… taking the trip to my house, and I felt like I made something special, where I created a space to cultivate a sound… or cultivate a community. For real, for real, that was like my first step in all this is, let me see what we have, altogether. And what are we missing? And I felt like, in me being a producer, I learned the process of being an engineer, and I loved that process way more. And I felt like that was the thing… that’s what I gravitated towards. So I went to school for it. I went to Columbia, graduated 2011… I think there was only 10 people in my class. One of, yeah, one in 10. 

B: Wow. 

CI: It’s always like 100 people in your class at Columbia, and then it… yeah, it’s like…

B: Dang, do you feel like that’s because of the budget, or was it tough? The curriculum was tough?

CI: I think it’s — well, engineering is intimidating, if you’re trying to learn the aspect of the actual science behind it. But I think a lot of people who went to Columbia, they were there to network, honestly, and after their first year, they would find somebody that they connected with and would make music with them. And would be like, “I don’t really need this right now.” You know, like, “We could just create freely and make something out of this without me trying to graduate.” So it’s like… at the end of day, I wanted to graduate, just for the sake of my parents… my mom passed away from cancer in 2005. And, I really wanted to get that degree for her.

“She is the reason, the why, the confidence. She’s the one who put all of that in me… When you’re talking about my mom, I am my mom. You’re experiencing her right now… She’s talking to you right now.”

– Chris Classick

B: And we gonna chime in more about your parents, as well, a little bit later on in our conversation. I’m gonna actually jump into a music break right now. JAAS, love her voice.

RELATED: Jaas Delves Into Soul-Filled Debut “Unavailable”

CI: I was just talking to her! 

B: Love her voice.

CI: Before I came here.

B: She’s so cold, and I know you all linked up. Did you all link up for Unavailable? Because I’m going to get into a single off of Unavailable

CI: Yeah, I put that playlist together with her. 

B: Oh wow! 

CI: Yeah, that whole album was like, I was like, “Hey, JAAS, these are the songs, add in what you want. These are the songs that feel the strongest, and it tells a really strong story about what you’re going through.”

B: So before I get into “Why,” how did “Why” impact you when you first heard it?

CI: When I first heard “Why”? 

B: Yes.

CI: First, of course, the production, but what she was also, her songwriting on that was… She did things that I didn’t expect her to do. Because I was already listening to her music prior, and then when she gave me “Why” I was like, “Woah, what’s that?” And like, I always look for something that throws me off a little bit, because I know that other people, when they engage with it, they’re gonna feel somewhat of the same thing, you know? So I try to pay attention to that.

[Continued on next page]

Keep up with Chris Classick on Instagram, and learn more about Classick Studios here.

Interview conducted and edited by Bekoe

Photography by Rakim Winfert

Written introduction, transcription and editing for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca

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