Year of the Workhorse - Page 2

Different Fur Studio owner Patrick Brown saddles up for 2014

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Patrick Brown in Chinatown. Guardian photo by Erin Conger

"I didn't pick a career where I would make a million dollars and I didn't pick a 9-to-5," he says. "I work long hours for crazy people — musicians — and in the process, I've become one of those crazy people."

Brown's career path followed a nomadic, diverse education: he studied architecture in Paris, English and psychology in New York, and advertising and film in SF. He repeatedly found himself failing, bored, and planning his escape to the next shiny curriculum.

By the time art school had begun to lose its appeal, he'd begun recording a few low-key recording projects with musician friends. The needle dropped: He did a year at SF State for Music Business, following it up with two years at Ex'pression College. He was hooked.

"People always ask me if listening to the same three-minute track for 12 hours on repeat drives me nuts," he says, shaking his head, and takes a sip of round two: a pink Mai Tai. "I love it. It was my cue — that's how I knew I actually wanted to be a sound engineer."

The more diverse his repertoire can be, the better: A long list of recent projects includes an Armenian classical quartet, a dance hall remix, darkwave, and a Brazilian pop group. ("They all inform each other," he says.) Brown is also a member of the Grammy board, plays host for the Converse Rubbertracks sessions, and occasionally makes music with his buddy Robert Pera as Woof Beats. He loves throwing events, like a recent listening party for the Grouch and Eligh. His latest addition is sound consulting for GitHub, a partnership aimed at creating fruitful connections between music and tech.

To put it lightly, he's a workhorse. The horse is, of course, the latest Chinese zodiac sign to come into its 12-year rotation and, as a 1978 baby, Brown claims stallion status. The timing is right, too, since 2013 proved rough: Steve Brodsky, one of his closest friends and cohorts, passed away, and two much-loved Fur employees gave their notice. Brown's mood shift was palpable, the year of grieving slowly eroding his usual sarcastic banter.

But the new year is freshly upon us and there's already a notable difference in his mood. His hooves are shiny, so to speak — geared up for the gallop ahead.

"This year I want hang time with my girlfriend...I can't sit in front of a console for 16 hours a day," he says with conviction, then contradicts it all by admitting he also doesn't want to work less. He laughs. "I'm not sure how it's going to work exactly. All I know is that I'm in a better mood about it all."

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