What’s up everyone, my name is Chris Inumerable. I run Classick Studios and manage Smino, Monte Booker, Phoelix, and a few other engineers.
How was Life growing up?
I had a very good upbringing. I was an only child. My parents were two hard-working immigrants from the Philippines’. They worked a lot to make sure that I had a good future. They really pushed me to do what I wanted and my dad was a firm believer that I should be doing whatever made me happy.
When did you first begin to witness you had creative talents?
Honestly, growing up I was always surrounded by music. My cousins and I would head over to my uncle’s house because he had a studio in the basement and I would try to learn how to use all his gear. I also had hella friends who were making music. Some were rappers and some were producers. When I was 12, I started making beats. One of my homies gave me FL, the demo version and you had to finish a beat from start to finish because you couldn’t save the session. I just remember working at it and getting decent at it. I also learned how to engineer at the same age. There was this program called sonar cakewalk and I learned how to shorten up songs, drop echoes here and there, etc. It was all very interesting to me and at that point I wanted to pursue just engineering.
Who was the first artist you worked with that you had a very 1 on 1 relationship with?
I would say Dave Coresh. I knew his family. I knew his brother, his aunt. We were close. I would go to his house for Thanksgiving. I don’t normally do that.
How’d you meet Dave Coresh?
As I was engineering, I was growing as a producer as well and met a lot of people who were doing music because of that. Everyone would just come over to my house and we would just vibe out. I think what really started the momentum of everything happening was when I was working at TCF bank in college. During the weeknights, I would go to beat battles and slam poetry events (LTAB). S/O to Kevin Koval! The first time I went to LTAB, I met Dave Coresh. I arrived in a suit because I just left work at TCF bank. Imagine I’m some Filipino kid going to events handing out business cards telling people to come to my studio. I ended up handing a card out to Dave and he actually came by. We worked one session and I was like damn, this dude is raw, I didn’t even want to charge him. Still to this day Dave and I stay in contact with each other. I’m very thankful for Dave. He really helped my clientele grow tremendously and I was just getting better over time.
While in college you decided to switch your focus from business to audio. What caused that transition?
I was in my accounting class at Depaul and I’m just sitting there bored. I was like this is not working for me and I already started to have this feeling of not wanting to be there anymore. I ended up leaving the class and I never came back. I walked out the door and thought, damn, what am I going to do now. I started walking and I saw Columbia, walked inside, and asked how I could register. I ended up registering and attended Columbia for Audio arts and acoustics.
After you lost your Mother, you said that’s when you found comfort in music and became inspired to pursue your passion. Talk about that.
My mom passed away in 2005 due to breast cancer. I was devastated. I was 17/18 trying to figure out my life. That’s one of the worst things you can really experience, I feel. I had my down time trying to figure shit out and at the top of the year 2006, a lot of things started going up for me. I started to think positive. 2006 is when I started to feel fearless. Nothing mattered to me anymore because I couldn’t fail. I already felt the worst pain in my life and I would never feel pain like that ever again. I started building a bigger clientele on my own. New faces were in my house everyday. One day, my Dad came up to me and gave me a $10k life insurance check from my mom. My dad told me to do whatever I wanted to do with it. I thought the best thing I could do is invest in this music and really put a strong meaning behind this money. It forced me to do this even more. It motivated me 10x more knowing my mom invested in my studio. I bought a bunch of studio equipment that I didn’t even know did what. But, I knew this was something I really wanted to do. I built the entire studio in my basement. That’s when people started to really come around. I had Naledge from Kidz in The Hall, Vic Mensa (before KTD), Christopher Smith Jr (Smino), and many more.
When did Classick studios move out of the basement and into the location you’re in now?
It eventually got to a point where we just couldn’t be in the basement anymore. Everyone in my neighborhood thought I was a drug dealer so I had to leave. People were sleeping at my house every single day and even my dad was like, “Chris it’s getting too loud.” I told my Dad I was going to move out. It all happened because of this dude named Tapez. Tapez came to my studio one day and never left, he stayed in my studio forever. He brought up the idea of us moving out. I drove around one day and found a whole crib. Tapez, Brett Stone, Roger, Chuck L.i. and I moved into this crib together. Bari and Smino would always be over as well. That crib really helped us all move forward. After I graduated, it was time to grow up and move out. I went broke leaving that crib (on berenice) and moving into what is now Classick Studios on Chicago Ave. I hit up my realtor and was working at it for some time. We started looking around for a place and found the space we are currently in. I remember coming in to the building and checking it out and not really liking it as much. It was only half of what we have now. What really sold me was when I looked out the window and saw the skyline. If that skyline wasn’t there, I would’ve said nawww but August 12th, 2012 we moved in. We had an opening and it was beyond packed in here. I think we had a good 100 people in here coming in and out. We also had a bunch of people I used to look up to come to our opening party.
Since starting Classick, you said, “I’ve always wanted Classick Studios to be a platform for artist to grow & find themselves; more of a creative space than a recording studio”
I think it started off as just my experiences growing up in the Chicago scene. I always felt like there was a missing hub that allowed people to grow as artists and allow them to figure out who they really are. I was never into just booking sessions with people, get them in and get them out type mentality. My mentality was around the fact that we needed to understand our clients and really get to know where they come from. I chill with my clients from time to time, still to this day. If I see them out we’ll chill and get drinks. I want to fully understand who they are because I want to encourage individuality. The way that I work with my clients, engineers and artists is different from others. My main thing is always asking them what they want to do. What is your reason for doing this? Without me asking that, I won’t know what they want to do. Them as artists, as engineers, as producers, they need to understand that this is for them, not for me. Once they figure that out, I can then help their reach. Here at Classick Studios, we’re trying to extend your reach, not just hand it out.
You talked about how you Manage Smino & Monte. How’d you first meet them?
I met Smino first through his cousin Drea. I was really cool with her because of just being in the scene. While Smino was attending Columbia, Drea suggested to Smino that he should come to my studio when it was in the basement. I met him for the very first time and I completely forgot we had a meeting. I was hooping with some of my homies and I saw that he was calling… I picked up and told him to walk to the basketball court around the crib. I told him I had one game, to just wait a bit. After the game, we walked back over to my place. I finally got to show him around the studio. He played me some of his beats and I was like, damn, this shit is cold. I remember telling him come to my studio anytime. What really sold me was when Stefan Ponce had a beat he needed a hook on and Smino wrote it in less than 30 minutes and smashed it. I was blown away. We just continued to build and grow after that. That’s my brother. I’ll do anything for him.
I met Monte through everyone in the studio. Monte came down one day because one of the engineers invited him over. Monte played some beats for one of our producers Pat Pryor and he was like man, this shit is hot. Funny story, Smino comes into the room and Pat told Smino that he should let Monte get on some of the beats he had. Smino was reluctant because he didn’t know Monte, but out of that they ended up building a relationship due to being in the studio all the time. I remember coming back to the studio and just seeing them and just being like man, y’all are really close now. That was really tight to me because I can’t stand that interaction of going like, yo this is a producer, this is an artist, you guys work. The best way to do it is if you just put people in a room and see what happens. If they vibe out and they do exactly what you expected them to do without even saying anything, that feels way better than forcing a relationship together. The most genuine relationship formed out of that and I truly believe it is one of the best things that has happened to Smino and Monte. Smino needed to concentrate on being an artist, but he had no producer and Monte was concentrating on being the best producer of all time. Now this man got the bounce and is killing it.
When did you then become Sminos Manager?
Smino asked me if he could stay at the studio because he didn’t want to move back home. He literally made this room into his crib. This was his dorm room. Him and Monte would just cook every single day. All I remember was them just building and building and making music. They dropped this one song “Smellin like a re-up” and I was like man, this is crazy. Anytime I was in a session I would play it for people, genuinely. I did that because I genuinely fucked with the music. From that point on, a lot of things started happening for him on his own. Onetime Goldlink’s manager e-mailed him and said he wanted to meet him at SXSW. Smino told me about it… funny thing is though; Smino had never been on a flight. I ended up buying two plane tickets to SXSW and a hotel for us. I didn’t think anything of it. I did it because I was genuinely trying to help him out. While at SXSW, we went to the illmore and we met Henny and in the midst of all of the partying and chilling…Smino came up to me and told me that I should just be his manager. I was like, sure. My main concern back in the day was to just build my studio. I even got asked before to be a manager for another artist, but it just didn’t feel right. With Smino, it just felt right. I’ve known him for a long time and I really wanted to help him out. My life completely changed at that moment. In that moment it made me start to look at the bigger picture in life.
Another guy you watched come up from the beginning is Elton. How proud are you of Elton?
Man, I am beyyooondd proud of him. I know his girlfriend and back in the day she reached out to me and told me Elton wanted to intern for me. I was like, foreal? I knew Elton was going to kill in this engineer game because on the first day of his ‘internship’ he came down to the studio with his bag filled with cleaning utensils. He literally cleaned the entire first floor on berenice without me even telling him to do that. The crib looked spotless. I knew from that point, Elton was going to get to where he’s at today because of the mindset he had. He always did more than what he had to at all times and his attention to detail is crazy. I remember him being in the studio at times and telling him that he didn’t have to be here and he would always say, “but I want to be here”. To see everything he has acquired over the years has been amazing.
“I always tell everyone, chicago is a blank canvas. You can do whatever you wanna do.”Chicago is in a current renaissance era. What do you like most about the city currently?
I really like seeing that all the people I came up with in this creative scene are getting what they deserve. That’s beautiful to me. Seeing my homie Joefreshgoods have his own store. I’ve known him since high school. Seeing Chance winning is awesome as well. He used to just stay at my crib sometimes. Even L10, going from an intern to a grammy nominated engineer. It’s awesome to me. Back in the day brands wouldn’t even mess with us & we weren’t given any opportunities. We would do it all on our own. Now, it’s great to see these brands and companies accepting us into this level we weren’t allowed into before and way more opportunities are coming our way. That’s amazing!
When it’s all said and done what do you want to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered as someone who helped other people recognize their purpose and passion; someone who inspired others to go after their dreams fearlessly, and to use their talents to turn their dreams into reality; someone who helped guide others to become their most elevated (or best) self.
Written by: Nico Rud