Big Break | Butler Stories

Big Break

Megan Ward MS ’13

from Spring 2016

Guns N’ Roses. Senses Fail. Thomas Rhett. Florida Georgia Line. All are musical influences of KaraKara, a band out of Louisville, Kentucky, who has opened for The Ataris, Asher Roth, and Walk the Moon among others. KaraKara also is the latest to sign with Butler’s Indyblue Entertainment. Chris Allen ’89, who has scouted many great bands and is a Vice President of A&R for Global Music Publishing, connected KaraKara with Cutler Armstrong, Creative Media and Entertainment (CME) Instructor at Butler. 

The whirlwind process of making an album hasn’t been without its challenges for KaraKara. The biggest being writing every song “long distance without a single band member being in the same city. We had only one weekend of rehearsals with everyone in the same room before we recorded,” said member Sam Varga. 

And the biggest surprise? “The talent and insights of the [Butler] students involved with the project. Not only is the studio amazing, everyone behind the board was awesome. We never felt like we were missing out on anything [by working] with the students and Indyblue,” added Varga. 

In fact, it was invaluable to KaraKara to get the feedback of their peers—and target audience—while recording. During the intense three-and-a-half days of recording, Butler students pushed KaraKara to experiment with different sounds—“a cool experience” according to the band. 

Each year Butler students produce a full album— everything from finding talent and recording to mixing and mastering the final product—as part of their capstone course in the Recording Industry Studies program. Past artists include locals Jenna Epkey and Jai Baker Band. 

“I believe it’s better to have hands-on experience versus learning from a PowerPoint,” said Armstrong. 

He isn’t alone. Two grants—one from Butler’s Innovation Fund (earned by CME Department Chair Ken Creech), and one from the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association—were awarded to create Indyblue Entertainment. 

Throughout the recording process, students work with Armstrong and Technical Services Coordinator Mark Harris—both vital to the recording process, listening and providing valuable feedback to the students. Visiting Professor Richard Ash also was instrumental in the recording process, even demonstrated various mixing techniques. Ash is a multiple gold- and platinum-record earning mixer/producer and former Vice President of Guitar’s Center’s professional division. 

At Indyblue, students also get to collaborate with other industry pros like mastering engineer Andy VanDette and Indianapolis-based lawyer Robert Meitus. Names not familiar? VanDette has worked with Whitney Houston and the Beastie Boys (to name a couple) and Meitus specializes in entertainment contracts and intellectual property. 

KaraKara has hopes of working with industry heavyweights as well. “Dreaming big” Varga said he hopes Scott Borchetta or Shane McAnally take a listen to the band’s album. 

As for the album release, it’s slated for early 2016. While there aren’t any concrete plans, Varga promised, “There will be a party. There is always a party.” 

About Indyblue Entertainment

Since its launch in 2013, Indyblue has released six albums. Along with a full-length album, each year students produce and market other recordings, including a music sampler of local artists and various audio productions for radio and internet. Any profits go toward funding the next year’s project. CCOM has two, industry-standard professional recording studios on Butler’s campus. 

Indyblue Student Team 

Recording and Mixing Engineer/ Producer: Ryan Hallquist 

Assistant Engineers/ Producers: Marco Rosas, Phillip Tock, Jesse May, Jordan Fuchs, Matt Brooks, Dan Fuson, Charell Luckey, Javier Perez 

Assistant Mix Engineers: Marco Rosas, Jesse May, Phillip Tock 

Album Artwork and Photography: Cate Pickens 

Liner Notes and Credit Coordination: Matt Brooks 

Social Media Coordination: Grey Gordon