Sherpa embodies the spirit of collaboration


Courtesy Nigel Grimmer

Alexy Erouart (left) and Thomas Fertsch (right) added a new piece to Krono Studios every week this summer, according to Erouart.

By Copy Chief

Musical collaboration takes place every day at Columbia, but a student and a former student have taken the next step by starting a recording studio as well as forming a musical duo.

Alexy Erouart, a sophomore business & entrepreneurship major who goes by the name X-Ray, and Thomas Fertsch, who attended Columbia until Spring 2015, met in 2014 in The Dwight, the Columbia dorm at 642 S. Clark St., and have since formed the musical duo Sherpa and founded Krono Studios.

“When I ran into [Fertsch], I was just this rapper, didn’t know s–t about actual music,” Erouart said. “I am very inspired by DIY hip-hop.”

Erouart said combining his and Fertsch’s contrasting musical backgrounds created a cool clash.

Fertsch, a classical music fan, said studying film composition at Columbia influences his work. He said he often writes music on the train and then returns to play his compositions for Erouart.

“I’d describe Alexy as the ear,” Fertsch said. “At the end of the day, if Alexy thinks it sounds good, it sounds good, and that’s what we’re going with. He acts as an objective ear, whereas I try to get very actively involved in the process.”

Sherpa’s single “West Covina” combines rapped verses with California vibes. Erouart said Fertsch’s words brought an honesty that is rare in hip-hop.

“Hip-hop usually is so macho and aggressive,” Erouart said. “[Tom’s verse is] just honest. That’s always what I thought made hip-hop—honesty.”

Fertsch said the duo created Krono Studios because they wanted to make music independently, and Erouart said the pair was frustrated with how some local studios operate.

“I’ve been a rapper for a few years in the Chicago scene, [and] I’ve visited a few studios,” Erouart said. “[In] most of them, either the engineers were hard to communicate with or it was like, ‘Come in, pay us, record and get out.’”

After their first year at Columbia, Erouart and Fertsch decided to leave the dorms and move to their own place. Erouart said the Wrigleyville house that is now Krono Studios was already suited to musicians because a band previously lived there.

“On top of the garage, there’s an entire space the band [had] acoustically created just for practicing and recording,” Erouart said. “My eyes lit up.”

Fertsch said his primary reason for leaving Columbia was a need to work so he could afford the equipment necessary for Sherpa and Krono Studios to produce music.

“We had the vision, but it still took three months to get the studio operational—much less making it sound good,” Fertsch said.

Fertsch said Krono Studios is still in its beginning stages, but junior business & entrepreneurship major Fred Jones—a hip-hop artist who goes by Anak1n—is already recording his album Wish Wisely there. Scheduled for a Halloween release, the album is being mixed and mastered entirely by Erouart and Fertsch, Jones said.

“We started about three months ago, and they’ve been very quick about mixing and mastering,” Jones said. “I can record a song and it can be mixed and mastered in about two days.”

Jones said recording at Krono Studios has been a positive experience because he knew Erouart and Fertsch personally. 

“You come in [to Krono Studios], you tell them what you want and they do their best to provide it for you,” Jones said. “Sherpa has been like the do-it-yourself kid.”

Aside from Krono Studios and Sherpa, Erouart said he is also working toward starting a club called the Columbia Music Collective, an extension of AEMMP records focused on networking. Jones said the collective will fill a void that is present in the musical community.

“That’s a great thing that Sherpa’s doing because nobody’s really done that—nobody wants to help each other,” Jones said.