Local record label, singer-songwriter team up


Brittany Masloski (left) and John Klezmer (right) sing at The Bear for the record release party. Photo credit: Matthew Manfredi

Matthew Manfredi

Last Thursday the upstairs poolroom of The Bear was packed as people crowded for the record release party put on by SOTA, Chico State’s School of the Arts.

Closing the event, the evening’s headliner, KLEZ put on a set with his backing band playing smooth and soulful rhythms and harmonies behind him.

KLEZ being his up-and-coming but quickly renowned stage name, John Klezmer, third-year recording arts major, has been involved with SOTA along with many other outlets of the music department.

His sound remains unique to the Chico area — a powerful mix of pop, soul, R&B and a bit of rock ‘n’ roll. The aspiring but modest musician’s songwriting and musicianship is charismatic and captivating, truly a niche sound in the Chico scene.

Since enrolling at Chico State in 2014, Klezmer won two of SOTA’s Unplugged competitions, which led him to work with producer and manager Roger Gisborne of Sound x3, a record label started in Los Angeles with a remote office here in Chico.

“It has been a great learning experience for me,” Klezmer said.

Sound x3 has found a way to create an intimate experience with artists that seems to be lacking with major record labels. Working with creative executives and major label recording supervisors, Sound x3 is at the forefront of upcoming talent in the Chico area and beyond.

“We’re trying to brand Chico as more of a music school and less like a drinking school,” said Javier Nino, Sound x3 intern and fourth-year recording arts major. “We literally have the best recording arts program in California for a reason.”

Anita Rivas, part-time faculty and music production professor, is the woman responsible for starting Sound x3 in Los Angeles. Having met Gisborne through music, the two eventually married, became music professors and began to build the record label as an asset to the recording arts program.

Rivas, born and raised in Chico, started the company with an initiative of working with real artists, composers, recording professionals and DJs to create award-winning songs for multiple media outlets and major record labels.

“Not only does she (Rivas) want to put Chico on the map,” Nino said, “She really believes in the music scene, and she loves the Chico vibes and wants to brand Chico as a good place for music.”

Now, years after the indie label’s inception, the outlet features many artists from Chico State beginning to make a future in music. The “high quality production house” covers all the multitudes of the music industry, making it possible for artists like KLEZ to start a career in the right direction.

“We do everything from social media, press releases, photography and videos,” Nino said. “Our goal is to develop the artist’s vision, brand and image.”

Klezmer spent most of last summer in Los Angeles recording the final production and mixing the songs of his first EP, “Here Right Now.” Saturday, May 14, at 1078 Gallery, he will be performing live for the EP’s release party. He will bring the songs back to Chico where everything started for the singer-songwriter.

“It’s a great time for music in Chico and I’m glad to be a part of that,” Klezmer said.

Matthew Manfredi can be reached at [email protected] or @matthewmanfredi on Twitter.