Flowers Studio

Flowers Studio logo

Flowers Studio is a recording studio in Minneapolis founded by Ed Ackerson, leader of the alternative rock bands Polara and the 27 Various, and co-founder of the Susstones Records label. Many notable musicians have recorded at the studio, including the Jayhawks, The Replacements, Motion City Soundtrack, Brian Setzer, Golden Smog, Mark Mallman, Soul Asylum, the Old 97's Rhett Miller, Clay Aiken, the Wallflowers, Pete Yorn, Juliana Hatfield, Free Energy, Lizzo, Jeremy Messersmith, and Joseph Arthur.[1][2][3]


The Flowers building, located in the Lowry Hill East neighborhood of Minneapolis,[4] was formerly a greenhouse and floral shop before being used as a warehouse space for a guitar store.[1] A self-described "gear freak,"[5] Ackerson had been a sound engineer at legendary Twin Cities club First Avenue[1] and had already collected a wide variety of recording equipment on his own before deciding to start his own studio.[6] Ackerson founded Flowers largely through money earned from his band Polara's contract with major label Interscope Records in the 1990s as well as an otherwise unsuccessful deal with Chris Blackwell's Palm Pictures.[7] After Polara was dropped by Interscope, Ackerson went independent both as a musician with Polara and other bands, and as a producer at Flowers.

Ackerson got advice on constructing Flowers from veteran recording engineers including Glyn Johns and Fort Apache producer Paul Kolderie, and worked with acoustic designer Dave Ahl, who was the drummer for seminal punk band Suicide Commandos.[2] The second floor of the building was partially removed to create high ceilings for capturing an acoustically friendly environment.[6] The control room was built from the blueprints of Kolderie's studio, Fort Apache, in Massachusetts. The greenhouse space became a lounge.[3] The studio's large, open space is designed to accommodate either a full band playing together or isolated multitrack recording.[2]

Ackerson died of pancreatic cancer in October 2019.[4] The studio will remain open.

Approach to production

Ackerson took a holistic approach to making music, viewing composition, performance, recording and post-production all as steps in a single process of creating a song. He told an interviewer in Guitar Player magazine, "It's all part of the same thing—amps, guitars, effects. You're playing it all."[8] In an interview for Tape Op magazine, he said that the energy and vibe of a performance was more important to him than technical perfection, saying that as a producer "sometimes you have to be willing to get out of the way of the moment."[9]

Selected discography

  • Polara, Formless/Functional (1998)
  • The Jayhawks, Smile (2000)
  • Mark Mallman and Vermont, Mark Mallman and Vermont (2001)
  • Mark Mallman, The Red Bedroom (2002)
  • Polara, Jetpack Blues (2002)
  • The Jayhawks, Rainy Day Music (2003)
  • Limbeck, Let Me Come Home (2005)
  • Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, Exploration (2005)
  • Brian Setzer, 13 (2006)
  • Golden Smog, Another Fine Day (2006)
  • The Replacements, Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? (songs "Message To the Boys" and "Pool & Dive," 2006)
  • The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Wolfgang's Big Night Out (2007)
  • Golden Smog, Blood On The Slacks (2007)
  • Metro Station, Metro Station (2008)
  • Polara, Beekeeping (2008)
  • Sing It Loud, Come Around (2008)
  • Motion City Soundtrack, My Dinosaur Life (song "History Lesson," 2010)
  • Farewell Continental, ¡Hey, Hey Pioneers! (2011)
  • Joseph Arthur, The Graduation Ceremony (2011)
  • I Was Totally Destroying It, Vexations (2012)
  • Mark Mallman, Double Silhouette (2012)
  • Motion City Soundtrack, Go (2012)
  • Soul Asylum, Delayed Reaction (2012)
  • A Great Big Pile Of Leaves, You're Always On My Mind (2013)
  • Houndmouth, From The Hills Below The City (2013)
  • Joseph Arthur, The Ballad of Boogie Christ (2013)
  • The Replacements, Songs for Slim (2013)
  • Mark Mallman, The End Is Not The End (2016)
  • Hippo Campus, Landmark (2017)
  • Hippo Campus, Bambi (2018)
  • The Jayhawks, Back Roads and Abandoned Motels (Legacy, 2018)[10]
  • References

    1. ^ a b c Riemenschneider, Chris (5 October 2019). "Minneapolis 'musical wizard' and Polara frontman Ed Ackerson dies at 54". Star Tribune. Minneapolis-St. Paul. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
    2. ^ a b c Hoenak, Dave (6 February 2013). "Ed Ackerson on Flowers Studio: We let stuff come to us". City Pages. Minneapolis. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
    3. ^ a b Bruch, Michelle (18 May 2018). "Inside Flowers Studio, a landmark hiding in the heart of Uptown". Southwest Journal. Minneapolis. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
    4. ^ a b Gabler, Jay (5 October 2019). "Ed Ackerson, pillar of the Minnesota music scene, dies of cancer". The Current Blog. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
    5. ^ Deborah Russell (February 25, 1995). "Polara Defines New Scene: Restless Set Mixes '80s Pop, Synth". Billboard. p. 5.
    6. ^ a b Brown, Janice (June 1, 2006). "Flowers Blooming All Year 'Round". Pro Sound News: 38.
    7. ^ Riemenschneider, Chris (May 10, 2002). "Polara's star rising with new CD, new business plan". Star Tribune. Minneapolis.
    8. ^ Kenneally, Tim; Jennings, Steve (July 1997). "Electro-Harmonizing Polara's Stompbox Serenades". Guitar Player. 31 (7): 47.
    9. ^ Marx, Jr., Wally (July–August 2011). "Ed Ackerson: A Minneapolis Institution Goes Solo". Tape Op. No. 84.
    10. ^ "Flowers Studio". Retrieved 2019-11-04.

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