The week we’re pleased to introduce you to one of a handful of female lathe cutters we’ve met. Cara Potiker out of California, is a singer / songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who owns and operates a small recording studio, The Comet Theater, that conducts live sessions. She cuts on a Presto 6N under the lathe label, Dusty Mars (website coming soon).
When she isn’t making music or recording and cutting, Cara spends time with meditation, exercise, playing shows, writing music, and traveling.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you to get into it?
Music has been the cornerstone of my life for as long as I can remember. I started collecting vinyl and attending a lot of shows as a young teen. I co-wrote and performed in a grunge band as a teenager. We ended up getting a decent amount of traction and gigged around Southern California. I was a very emotionally turbulent kid, and music was the ultimate outlet for me. I really resonated with bands like Hole, The Pixies, Sonic Youth, and Smashing Pumpkins. I repressed my sexuality and dealt with generalized anxiety and OCD and performing really became my saving grace.
As I got older I became more fascinated with the production side of music. I started working with really experienced producers in a studio setting, and sort of just picked up tips and tricks through observation. I joined an electro band in my early twenties, and we were constantly performing, tracking, and fine tuning. Eventually, I ended up signing the lease on a popular hidden DIY venue in San Diego, and built my personal studio space. My passion towards analog gear and mediums continued to grow as my knowledge of recording expanded. At the beginning of quarantine I decided to pull the trigger and learn how to make records myself.
What is a day in the life like?
I try to commit to a daily practice, whether it’s researching stuff about lathe cutting, or playing an instrument. I also maintain a meditation practice, and commit myself to taking care of my body. I’m currently working on booking live to lathe or cassette recording sessions at my space, The Comet Theater.
In your opinion what has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
I did a really cool short run for a local band called EST. I really enjoyed staying up all hours of the night and getting that project done. I also just recorded an album for my unreleased project called moondaddy at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas with the most amazing producer, Manuel Calderon. I’m looking forward to cutting the record.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
Honestly, lathe cutting with a Presto has quite the learning curve. It’s a test-y and imperfect machine, but every time I get a decent record it feels absolutely amazing. I’m looking forward to continued growth.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Just dive in. As women, we are constantly kept from information that could improve our lives and empower us. Even in the lathe cutting world, the art is very gate-kept by men who over-complicate everything to serve their own ego. Guess what? You’re as capable, if not more capable, than they are. Do not get discouraged by male ego driven word salads that aim to keep you from getting your hands dirty and really learning an important craft.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
I am a huge vinyl collector. There is nothing as cool as a record. Being able to capture manipulated air with vibrations on a solid disk that lasts forever…BONKERS!
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about?
Vinyl is increasing in popularity, and with good reason! Of course, many plants are having supply and production delays which is leading to an increase in demand for lathe cut records. It’s a good time to be in the industry.
During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?
Keep buying records. Buy lathe cuts from small companies. If you’re in a cool band, get some short runs to sell as limited edition merchandise.
Anything else you want to share? If not, tell me what you’re listening to:
I’m really digging Angel Olsen and Beach House right now