Atmosphere: Easton’s entertainment networker makes a production studio into a success story

Text and Photos by Caroline J. Phillips

Santiago Almodovar in his Easton production studio

It all started with a dream for Santiago Almodovar — a dream to work in the rap music industry. Now, after almost 30 years in the business, Almodovar has started Dreamland Entertainment Group, a studio focused on producing the talent on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

In the early 1990s, 16-year-old Almodovar met rap artist LL Cool J while mixing some tracks with his friends. Soon after, he left his home in New Jersey for New York City, not finishing high school and trying his hand at the music business full time.

“I told my parents — if I don’t do this, I won’t be any good to you because I won’t be any good to myself. You have to let me try.”

Almodovar has always believed in the power of networking and called up LL Cool J when he needed help finding his way after leaving home. Soon after, Almodovar was producing songs for LL Cool J’s artists. While he was supposed to be finishing high school, Almodovar was working in New York with some of the best in the business.

“I got to be a part of something iconic from the beginning. I was a kid, happy to be working with the biggest rap artist in the world.”

Almodovar continued to network and prove his producing skills. He got connected with new artists and started working with A&M Records, where he helped produced the song “The Posse (Shoot Em’ Up)” for the soundtrack of the film, “Posse” (1993). This was his big break.

Two more of his songs ended up on movie soundtracks — “Street Fighter” (1994) and “Panther” (1995). This led to publishing deals and more top selling songs.

Recording studio and equipment at Dreamland

At this point, his “noise turned to music.” At the age of 19, he was able to work full time in the music industry. At this point his parents, and Almodovar himself, realized that his dream had become a reality.

“I was afforded the ability to dream.”

All of this focus paid off for Almodovar. When he was 21, he made the cross-country move to Los Angeles where he worked once again for A&M Records. He took advantage of more opportunities in the years to come — including meeting and working with his ultimate inspiration, Prince — until he was asked to come back to the East Coast in 2015 help his father after a home fire in New Jersey.

In 2016, Almodovar met his now wife, Doris Chase-Santiago, an Eastern Shore native. When Almodovar and his wife officially moved back to the Eastern Shore in 2018, he created Dreamland Entertainment Group. Dreamland was meant for the community to have a place to come and record. Almodovar liked the landscape of the Eastern Shore for his business, noting that there is “prosperity, acres of land, fresh air, and nice people.”

“What is there not to love?”

Dreamland was created for the community to have a place to come and record. Santiago liked the landscape of the Eastern Shore for his business noting that there is “prosperity, acres of land, fresh air, and nice people.”

He chose the town of Easton for Dreamland, finding a prime location right on Route 50 between Dover and Goldsborough Streets. Dreamland is a record label and music production studio, as well as a place for artist development, management, song writing, video production, media training and all that encompasses entertainment. Drawing from his 30-year experience and all the amazing people he’s worked with along the way, Almodovar said he is ready to help the Eastern Shore community produce something truly incredible. As one of the very few music studios on the Shore, Dreamland is equipped with all that local talent could want: a main control room that is serene and high tech, where the artist and engineer can produce their music, and a vocal booth and isolation booth, where the top music equipment is ready for use.

Dreamland is all about making dreams happen for the community, Almodovar says. He wants the space to be community-driven and kid-friendly. Almodovar has big plans for Dreamland and the Eastern Shore and counts himself as very lucky to have the space to make their dreams come true.

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