Sam and Jerome work in a converted medical clinic near the intersection of Wilshire and Bonnie Brae. In the former examination room, drum machines and samplers rest on sawhorse tables. A black-and-white American flag hangs over a mixing desk made from gray block and plywood. Outside their window, the green concrete stairs are coated with scars. An immense stump supports a pile of deceased fronds and deserted wet mops. The pulse of MacArthur Park pushes through a tangle of bushes and barbed wire.
In January, 2015, the duo learned by phone that the building was being sold. A reaction was hammered out on keyboard. Simple chords, frustrated but motivated. Nothing was settled, nothing certain. Within two days, the piano loop became a complete demo for "You Don’t Have To Be Alone.” It set the tone for nine more. Together, those songs became Stand Up And Speak.
Inspired or not, they convened in the room five days each week. Locals nourished the music. The man who sings the title track works as a doorman at a downtown hotel. Live drums were recorded in the living room of a Filipinotown mansion. The city’s sounds were sewn into songs. A Korean church’s morning din. Nighttime traffic headed west on the 10 Freeway. Sidewalkers passing the Body High studio without awareness of anything inside.
Stand Up And Speak was completed in September. Beneath Sam and Jerome’s studio, a team of seamstresses makes dresses through the night. Next door, a community organizer counsels Salvadoran immigrants. To not disturb the religious services he holds in his cramped office, DJ Dodger Stadium breaks on Sundays. The building has been sold, but no one has left. Together they wait for whatever change comes next.