Aj Case is a man of many hats – songwriter, musician, promoter and entrepreneur – family man.
Over the years, you may have seen him in one or more of these capacities along the Grand Strand – perhaps performing a set at a local venue, bringing his brand of acoustic guitar-driven hip-hop center stage, putting together benefits and events for other performers or jamming with other local musicians. Maybe you have been to a spot where he has been in the role as DJ – or heading up karaoke shows – or showcasing his songs at places like Klocker’s Tavern or the Boathouse.
But lately, Case has been busy at his brand new enterprise, iT Recording & Mastering Studios in Surfside Beach, an undertaking that keeps him busy, sometimes as much as 100 hours a week.
Originally from Sumter, Case said he has been on the Grand Strand for 17 years, having snuck down with a group of friends.
“I didn’t really decide on the Grand Strand,” he said. “The Grand Strand kind of decided on me.”
He originally came here to visit his sister, who has since passed away.
“She was working at a beachwear store. I saw her at her store and we all walked down the Boulevard.
“This dude just came out of his store and was like – ‘hey you, want a job?’ That was the most random thing,” he said. “All of my friends looked at each other and a friend of mine was like, ‘you need to stay,’ and that was it.”
Case got into music, especially songwriting, at an early age. His uncle was Bill Pinkney, an original member of The Drifters.
“He taught me the music business, but by the time he was teaching me, music had already flipped from what he knew – even the way things were recorded,” he said, adding that when a young Case brought home a four track recorder, the concept of home recording amazed Pinkney.
iT Studios is a full-service outfit that actually grew from another studio Case had in the back of his house.
“I wanted to do something bigger,” he said. “Everything that has to do with audio, we do it.”
But it doesn’t stop there. Case also handles contracts and other paperwork for artists and songwriters who might need a hand. He has long been plugged into the music publishing industry.
“We do little bit of everything, and I always believe that a studio should do everything musical. I don’t believe in studios that are like, ‘Hey, we are going to record your projects for you. I am going to sit here with my laptop and hit record while you play – and this is what we are going to call working.’
“I believe that if you run a studio and you hear something messed up – you should stop. Because that’s what they are paying you for. If they didn’t need that, they would stay home and do it themselves.”
Case has also integrated his karaoke business with the studio, creating something called the Ultimate Karaoke Experience, allowing folks to record their favorite songs in a professional setting.
“We are doing so much karaoke stuff, it’s crazy,” he said. “This is for people that normally would not have a chance to know what it’s like to come into a studio – or have the knowhow or the musicianship – but they can sing. Sometimes people want to know if they can do it or not. That’s why I put that in.”
He said that sometimes entire families come in for this.
“Everyone has a great time. I have had families stay here for like 10 hours, having the time of their lives.”
Case lives in Conway with his wife and 6-year-old daughter.
“It’s been so busy that we really don’t have the time to go anywhere. But for family time, we will grab some food and a movie and we will make a big palette in the middle of the floor,” he said. “We’ll get some fans and make a big old tent bubble and stick the TV inside it.”
And what of plans for the future?
“I just want to spend time with my kid. That’s the whole reason I started the business, the whole reason I didn’t go on tour and the whole reason I never took a record deal. When she was born, that was it.”
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