Founder & Chief Engineer
From brain to speaker, Michael Kolar has been guiding the vision of talented artists for over twenty years. Raised in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, he developed an ear for music at the age of six, landed an internship at Bzipp Studio at fifteen and had set up his own studio by sixteen. At twenty one, Michael was leading artist relations, logistics and acting as audio engineer on the road for George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. After some time on the road, he returned to his hometown to hone his craft, earning a degree in Recording Arts & Sciences from Columbia College Chicago. Upon graduation, his focus switched fully to his studio in Chicago and he began recording albums for some of the world’s biggest artists. What began as a small production studio in his childhood home is still called Soundscape Studios—and has since recorded albums for artists and groups including Zane Malik, FKA Twigs, M.I.A., Chance The Rapper, George Clinton, Ludacris, Action Bronson, Raekwon, 2 Chainz, Naked Raygun, No ID, Wyclef Jean, Talib Kweli, Vic Mensa, Jamila Woods, Chingy and others. Michael is the Former Vice President of the Engineering & Recording Society and his mixes boast a combined total of over 100 million streams. In 2009, he co-founded an indie record label called Closed Sessions. In his time away from the studio he enjoys dinners with his wife, traveling and collecting obscura. He believes life is better soundproofed, but adds: “really loud music fucking rules.”
Senior Audio Engineer
Jabari Rayford grew up on Chicago’s Southside and started singing at the age of two. By seven, he’d entered The Merit School of Music to study voice, piano, percussion and cello—a passion fueled by a family full of musical talent. He split his youth between Chicago and Memphis at his cousin’s recording studio where he would learn to produce music, run the boards, man the booth and mix it all down on his own. At fourteen, Jabari recorded his first song, becoming instantly infatuated with the process. He attended Columbia College Chicago to study for a degree in Audio Arts and Acoustics, with a concentration on Live and Installed Sound and is now an established engineer, working with various artists—in and outside of Chicago. He stays involved in TV and Film through his own production company, RMP LLC and spends his days at Soundscape Studios working as Senior Audio Engineer and exclusive Vocal Production Engineer. He teaches Chicago’s at risk youth songwriting and music production through his nonprofit, Rhyme Room Incorporated, and still makes time to record original music.
JP Thornewell has been writing and recording his own tracks for most of his life. He attended public school in both Michigan and Key West, realizing a love of music in his school choir. He enrolled at SAE Institute to better learn how to record his own songs—and soon discovered a love of helping others realize their musical visions. Upon graduation, he landed a position at Soundscape Studios as an Audio Engineer, where he works today. In his time away from the studio, JP enjoys being on the water and he still finds time to record all his own tracks.
Jeff Arenson grew up in Illinois in the era of physical mixtapes & rap city: the basement—and it was music from then on out. He earned a degree in Audio Arts and Acoustics from Columbia College Chicago and began interning at Soundscape Studios. As a highly-skilled engineer, Jeff works to incorporate a wide variety of influences into his mixes to capture a unique and dynamic sound. He joined the Soundscape staff officially in 2014, accepting the role of Audio Engineer and has since worked with artists like Chance The Rapper, Vince Staples. Lil B, Zayn Malik and FKA Twigs.
Aidan Sigel-Bruse was born outside Minneapolis in Saint Louis Park, Minnesota. He found hip-hop at sixteen, taught himself how to DJ and began booking gigs in his hometown. When he started to run the soundboard at a local theater: he was hooked. He taught himself production, packed his bags and enrolled at Columbia College Chicago to study Audio with a concentration in Studio Recording and Fundamentals. After two years in the program, and six months as an intern at Soundscape Studios, he was hired on as Audio Engineer. In his off time, Aidan is known as a DJ and Producer by the name of Boathouse and has played both Pitchfork and Lollapalooza. He cites trust as a main factor in his work and has a great respect for multifaceted artists. He spends time teaching kids how to DJ, will gladly admit his love of pop music.
Victoria Olivares Kolar
Operations & Publicity Director
Born to a Spanish-Americana and a Mexican immigrant, Victoria Olivares Kolar grew up the oldest of two in the Northwest Indiana town of Highland. After high school, she moved to Chicago to attend DePaul University, completing a BA in Communications and Latin Studies. She remained in the city, working for boutique PR agencies while contributing thoughts and articles to local and national media outlets, before accepting the role of Director of Marketing and PR for Marshall Pierce & Company. She handled all public relations and marketing efforts for the luxury retailer, culminating in a successful store opening on Michigan Avenue. Ready for another challenge, she packed her bags for Los Angeles to accept the position as Marketing and Public Relations Manager for Michael B. Jewelry. After time in Los Angeles, an engagement brought her home and she married Michael in Chicago, surrounded by family and friends. Victoria now leads operations, marketing and partnerships for Soundscape Studios and splits her time between LA and Chicago.