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Meet Adam Vida of Experimental Sound Studio in Edgewater

Today we’d like to introduce you to Adam Vida.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was hired as the Studio Manager at ESS in 2008. My role at the studio quickly expanded as I began to take on more event coordinating and live programming responsibilities in addition to running the day-to-day activities. Last year I moved into the Managing Director position as part of a collective leadership model when ESS co-founder and longtime Executive Director, Lou Mallozzi, retired from his role at the studio. Today ESS is run by a team of four Directors that oversee all areas of this multifaceted, non-profit arts organization.

Has it been a smooth road?
While working at ESS is truly a labor of love for the staff, it certainly comes with its fair share of challenges along the way. In 2010, among a financial downturn, we needed to regroup and devise a plan for bringing in more earned income to the studio by becoming more visible to Chicago’s creative community. The dedicated staff donated their time for almost half the year while heading an effort to increase ESS’ live programming in hopes to bring in more eyes to our lovely studio on the north side. The plan worked as things turned around quickly and ESS become much more visible as a place to come watch live music. These new visitors soon became paying clients for recording sessions, tutorials, and workshops. Our donor base began to grow as more people became aware of the studio and became new ESS members.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Experimental Sound Studio story. Tell us more about the business.
Experimental Sound Studio (ESS) has occupied its Edgewater location since 2006. The facility is home to a full-service recording, mixing, and mastering studio for hire; Audible Gallery, a small public space for exhibitions, meetings, workshops, performances, and artists’ projects; and the Creative Audio Archive—an invaluable collection of recordings, print, and visual ephemera related to avant-garde and exploratory sound and music of the last five decades. ESS presents eclectic performance and installation programming, workshops, and artist talks year round—both in the various spaces around the studio (including its beautiful garden) and at various partner venues around Chicago.

ESS has become a hub for Chicago’s creative community. We welcome diverse artists from all disciplines and genres working together, always pushing the envelope and continually redefining the meaning of “experimental”. It’s our chief mission to support artists in any way we can; through engineering, live performance, technical expertise, artist residency programs, or in whatever way the ESS team can assist artists in making great work. There is no other organization in Chicago quite like ESS.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Looking forward to the future of ESS in the next 5-10 years, I see it sustaining its support to artists and fans with top notch programming and recording services, while continuing to expand through partnerships, artist commissions, and large-scale projects. The dream is to someday have sister ESS organizations in other major cities throughout the world, all focused on diverse programming, and anchored by professional archival practices, building capsules of recorded documents from artists all over the world for generations to come.


  • ESS membership: starting at $40/year
  • Studio use: $50/hour (engineer included)
  • One-on-one Tutorials: $75/hour

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Image 1: Adam Vida – ESS Managing Director, SummerSonic 2015
(photo credit: Dan Mohr)
Image 2: Rob Mazurek, Artist Residency 2017
(photo credit: Colin Morris)
Image 3: Nina Dante and Kathryn Schulmeister, Oscillations 2014
(photo credit: Dan Mohr)
Image 4: William Parker interviewed by Ken Vandermark, Option 2016
(photo credit: Dan Mohr)
Image 5: Kathleen Baird and Taralie Peterson, SummerSonic 2015
(photo credit: Dan Mohr)

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