The building most recently served as the home of Moon Magnet, a combination art collective, studio and residence led by music impresario Reed Fuchs, whose goal is to foster a more colorful music community in Denver.
Early on, the house had been run by resident/musician Matt Tanner, who had dubbed it Snozberry Studios. Fuchs visited the space in 2010 and admired the recording studio Tanner had set up; when Tanner moved out roughly two years later, Fuchs took over the lease.
“The studio was a collective already, and it’s almost as if I was just a vessel to carry it onward,” says Fuchs. “I feel like this place has a life and energy of its own, an entrepreneurial and creative energy.”
In fact, Fuchs’s landlord, John Paul Bardeen, came from a line of entrepreneurs and is one himself. His father, Paul, a safety engineer, created childproof pumpkin-carving tools and designed a method for transferring paper designs onto pumpkins. Paul Bardeen passed away in 1983; two years later, his children founded Pumpkin LTD to honor their father’s work. Television shows, including Monday Night Football, Roseanne, Wheel of Fortune, Seinfeld and Home Improvement have showcased the company’s wares.
Some of Pumpkin LTD’s operations took place in the Moon Magnet house and four others that are also slated for demolition. Bardeen, who has enjoyed the artists who call his property home, sold the house for personal reasons, not to cash in on Denver’s booming property market.
“[Bardeen] came to our house one night, and Carl Rivers played ‘Clair de Lune’ for him, and he started crying, saying his mom used to play that for him,” recalls Fuchs. On another occasion, a neighboring business complained about some glass-and-doll-head artworks that Jackson Boone, former resident and former member of psychedelic-rock band Tantric Picasso, had displayed outside the house. Bardeen warded off the critic, saying that it was his property and his tenants could do what they wanted to.
When Bardeen gave Fuchs notice that he would have to move, the news came as no surprise. During the time that he and fellow musicians have collectively occupied the house, they’ve lived under the terms of a monthly lease and knew that it could be terminated at any time.
“If anything, I was more afraid that I would be here for twenty more years and not grow and expand,” says Fuchs, characteristically cheery. “The fact that we have to move out is kind of a liberating feeling. I’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere, but it’s a beautiful thing to change.”
In 2016, Fuchs’s experimental pop band déCollage released its album Magnetize through Misra Records, the imprint that is also home to the band Land Lines. It wasn’t long after Fuchs announced that Moon Magnet would be demolished that Land Lines’ Ross Harada offered the band’s old practice space — a soundproofed and carpeted two-car garage that he wanted to keep in the Misra Records family. Fuchs will be moving his project there soon.
“I just started deejaying three months ago, and now I’m obsessed,” says Fuchs. “It’s so creative, and you can remix songs and mash them together in ways that I never would have imagined. It’s also way easier to get people to dance as a DJ than with a band. Making people dance is one of my favorite things to do.”
Fuchs actively cultivates the creativity and joy that adulthood too often whittles away. “I feel I gravitate toward childlike feelings, emotions and aesthetics,” he says. “I think almost everything can be boiled down to having a sense of curiosity and wonder. Those are the driving forces with my art, at least.”
That same curiosity informs Fuchs’s interest in the business of music, which he feels is a path to realizing whatever creative endeavors he can dream up. He studied the music industry at the University of Colorado, worked for an audio company doing sound and lighting for concerts, and built up his business chops through the Rocky Mountain Microfinance Institute, where he conceived of Moon Magnet and learned how to make it profitable.
At first he kept the name Snozberry Studios. But after a period of recording bands full-time and allowing groups to practice in his space, he redubbed it Moon Magnet to cement his own legacy.
Under his leadership, the space hosts workshops. Past events have included Madeline Johnston of Sister Grotto teaching people how to turn a telephone into a microphone, and gear-hacking nights led by other musicians. Fuchs and his partner in the effort, Mona Magno, bring in local music-industry experts to teach business seminars the fourth Saturday of every month, through a local chapter of a San Francisco music-business group called Balanced Breakfast.
This month’s speaker will be Harry Tuft, founder of the Denver Folklore Center, co-founder of Swallow Hill Music and Colorado Music Hall of Fame inductee.
“My dad collects records, and I sell them with him at record shows like the Denver Record Collectors’ Expo at the Ramada in Broomfield,” says Fuchs. “And Harry Tuft always sells records at them. My dad said I should ask Harry, and he said, ‘Yeah!’ He’s kind of a legend.”
One Moon Magnet project that has been under wraps is Cosmic Pineapple, a surrealistic video series that will debut on YouTube in June. Shot two years ago, it will be released in twelve two-minute episodes. A second season is in the works and will include footage of the demolition of Moon Magnet’s old home.
“It’s basically about life at Moon Magnet, but it’s way trippier, because it’s about this band called Cosmic Pineapple,” Fuchs says. “The idea is that they’re the biggest band in the multiverse, because Sun Ra showed them the touring circuit to Saturn.”
Reed Fuchs will host a free music-business seminar with Harry Tuft from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, January 28, at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street.