Session Buzz: Who’s Recording In & Around NYC — A Monthly Report

April 17, 2012 by  

GREATER NYC AREA: This month’s buzz finds a number of amazing singers recording around the city – from Diane Birch to Trixie Whitley, Dianna Krall to Glasser – as well as a wealth of new releases by acclaimed rappers like Kanye West, Theophilus London and Childish Gambino, new work by prolific producers such as DJ White Shadow, Phil Ramone, Chuck Harmony and Darrell Brown, and a wave of large-ensemble tracking sessions in Midtown. We also discover (another) new recording hive in Williamsburg, and check in on some big recent sessions at some of the newer studios in Brooklyn…

Let’s start at Avatar Studios…where the legendary Dionne Warwick has been recording her upcoming album with producer Phil Ramone and engineer Lawrence Manchester, assisted by Charlie Kramsky, and another R&B great, Billy Ocean, recorded his upcoming project with producer Barry Eastmond and engineer Phil Magnotti.

“Carney” is a rock band featuring Reeve Carney (2nd from left), the star of “Spider-man Turn Off The Dark.”

Also at Avatar…Diana Krall has been tracking for her new project – produced by T. Bone Burnett, and engineered by Mike Piersante, assisted by Bob Mallory. And rock band Carney – led by Reeve Carney of Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark – has been recording with engineer Chris Rondinella.

Finally, NYC-based producer/composer Paul Brill and engineer Robert Smith tracked portions of the score for Tribeca Film Festival documentary Knuckleball! (directed by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern) in Avatar Studio G.

More “legends” were recording down at Germano Studios this month…between Mariah Carey recording with Brian Garten, and John Legend working on new material with Dave Tozer, Rick Nowels and Doc McKinney producing, and Jason Agel engineering.

Also at Germano, Rob Thomas was in to record vocals on a LeAnn Rimes project with Darrell Brown producing and Niko Bolas engineering. DJ White Shadow (Lady Gaga) was in working on a new project with Kenta Yonesaka engineering, Fat Joe recorded vocals with engineer Fabian Marasciullo, The Verbs continued recording with Steve Jordan producing, and Jamie Squire was in mixing with Jordan producing and Dave O’Donnell engineering.

Miniboone. Photo by Aidan Sleeper.

Down in SoHo, based out of the former Sorceror Sound space, Singing Serpent has been hosting band recording sessions in addition to the original music composition work for which the company is known. Virginia rock band Over The Ocean was in to record their full-length album with Jeremy SH Griffith producing/engineering. And blues-rock trio The Dukes of Brooklyn recorded an album at Singing Serpent as well, with producer/engineer Joel Khouri – who recently joined the Singing Serpent team as a mixer/engineer and composer.

Nearby at Serious Business Studios, studio owner/head engineer Travis Harrison has been busy producing and drumming on the forthcoming debut full-length by Brooklyn rockers Miniboone. Harrison has also been working with a steady stream of local rock bands including Gold Streets, Clouder, Weird Children, Money/Paper/Hearts, and Apache Beat, and projects with Benji Cossa, and Secret Dakota Ring (featuring studio co-founder and OK Go guitarist Andy Ross).

Serious Business continues to host two BreakThru Radio shows: BTR Live Studio and Serious Business on BTR – welcoming bands such as She Keeps Bees, Crinkles, Beast Make Bomb, Snowmine, Housse de Racket into the studio of late. Serious Business continues to open its doors to outside engineers as well – Charles Newman has run several sessions for various projects, including The Magnetic Fields and Jon de Rosa; Shannon Ferguson has been continuing work with the band A Million Years; and Hansdale Hsu has been working with Vensaire.

Next, mixer/producer Neal Pogue mixed Kanye West’s latest single “Mercy” (ft. Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz) in NYC… at MSR Studios in Midtown.

MSR hosted some banner sessions last year, including Q-Tip mixing Kanye and Jay-Z’s Watch The Throne out of Studio C with engineer Blair Wells, recording/mixing sessions for Madonna’s MDNA, and a whole host of cast albums, film score mixes (Francis Ford Coppola’s Twixt, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Tower Heist.)

More recently, MSR hosted Southern rapper Waka Flocka Flame cutting vocals with engineer Finis White; Keyshia Cole cutting vocals with engineers Bojan Dugic and Lee Kalomiris, and producer Ray Angry; mixing for Jazz bassist Marc Johnson‘s upcoming album by Joe Ferla; Louis CK producing new music for his FX show Louie with engineer Adam Tilzer; Producer Steve Epstein and engineer Richard King mixing the cast album for Once; Dean Sharenow producing the cast album for Lysistrata Jones; Kurt Deutsch producing the Newsies cast album with Frank Filipetti engineering, and Derik Lee on Pro Tools; and Tommy Krasker producing the cast album of Porgy and Bess in Studios A and B for PS Classics with Bart Migal engineering.

Up at the Brill Building, KMA Music has been hopping with songwriting and production sessions for: J. Cole for Roc Nation, with Mez engineering vocals and Jay-Z coming through; Eve working with hit songwriter Claude Kelly, and engineer Ben Chang tracking/mixing for her upcoming album; Chris Rene in writing/recording/mixing sessions with Chuck Harmony and Jon Jon Traxx for Epic Records, Ben Chang engineering; and Fabolous recording and mixing with Lenny S producing and Serge Nudel engineering for Island Def Jam.

Theophilus London, NYC

Also at KMA, Theophilus London came through to mix the track “I Wanna Kiss You” with engineer Ari Raskin; and Chrisette Michelle tracked a new song with Chuck Harmony producing and Ben Chang engineering.

And next, to Sear Sound where a number of large-scale sessions have been tracking lately, including: Pianist/composer/arranger David Matthews and the 20-piece ‘MJO’ (Manhattan Jazz Orchestra) ensemble tracking a new album with Bryan Pugh engineering; the cast album for a new multimedia show – 35MM The Musical – tracked (15 musicians/ 12 singers) with engineer Dean Sharenow, and producer John Johnson; and a video shoot and tracking session with rock group Halestorm, with six cameras shooting the group performing while Sear’s chief engineer Chris Allen engineered. Phil Botti and Michael Thelin produced.

Also at Sear, composer Paul Cantelon conducted a large string ensemble, piano and harp for an upcoming Hallmark feature, Firelight, with Gary Chester engineering, and Suzana Peric and Cantelon producing; HBO’s Boardwalk Empire returned to track some 1920′s dixieland jazz, with Stewart Lerman engineering, and Randall Poster producing; And a large ensemble gathered to track some of jazz musician/composer Eric Person‘s latest compositions in sessions produced by April Smith and Person, with James Farber engineering.

Rufus Wainwright also tracked music for a Starbucks commercial at Sear, with Allen engineering and Wainwright producing and playing the Steinway C in Studio A; and Diane Birch tracked for her upcoming S-Curve Records release, with Allen engineering and Homer Steinweiss (The Dap-Kings)  producing.

Further west at MasterdiskAlex DeTurk and Scott Hull were mastering a vinyl release by The Eagles’ Glenn Frey – After Hours.

During the Glenn Frey LP cutting session at Masterdisk (l-r): Alex DeTurk, Bill Levenson, Josh Bizar, Elliot Scheiner, Scott Hull

Hull has also recently mastered the new Donald Fagen album (for CD, vinyl and iTunes) – produced by Michael Leonhart for Warner, the new Lettuce album (due out June 5), which was recorded at The Bunker in Williamsburg, and cast recordings of Calvin Berger and Lysistrata Jones for Sh-K-Boom Records.

Meanwhile, down the hall, Vlado Meller was mastering All The Young‘s new album Welcome Home – produced by Garth Richardson, and mixed by Rich Costey and Andy Wallace.

Also at Masterdisk…Tony Dawsey mastered Machine Gun Kelly’s Half Naked and Almost Famous EP for Bad Boy; Mark Santangelo mastered Abby Bernstein‘s Talk In Tongues – co-produced by Bernstein, Chris Camilleri, Justin Goldner, Will Hensley, Adam Stoler, and mixed by Chris Camilleri; Matt Agoglia mastered Terry Syrek’s new album Machine Elves – mixed by Jeremy Krull; and Michael Tucci mastered The So So Glos new album, Blowout – produced by Adam Reich, and recorded and mixed by Kyle Johnson at Fancy Time Studios in Philadelphia.

Glassnote artist Childish Gambino was recording songs for his next mixtape up at Quad Studios in Times Square – in studio Q1. Also at Quad…Island Def Jam recording artist Jenna Andrews recorded material for her new album with Lady Gaga producer Brian Lee; Andrew Lloyd Webber was in Studio Q1 working on a special new project; and DJ  Khaled, French Montana, Wale and Busta Rhymes were up in Q1 and Q2 working on various projects.

Meanwhile, rapper Trey Songz was working downstairs at Premier Studios, with engineer Anthony Daniel in Studio B. A number of other hip-hop stars were working out of Premier’s multiple writing/recording and mixing studios, including B.O.B. working with engineer Sam Giannelli, Yo Gotti recording material for his upcoming album with engineer Angelo Payne, Birdman recording with engineer Fareed Salamah, Wale working on his latest with engineer Anthony Daniel.

And NY-based production duo Espionage (Beyoncé, Chris Brown) has been working out of Premier’s Studio E, producing new tracks with engineer Francis Murray.


Blondie is back at it, and has been working on their latest with producer Barb Morrison (producer on Deborah Harry’s Necessary Evil) out of Casa Nova Studios and Morrison’s studio, The Superposition – both in Williamsburg. Tommy Mokas has been engineering on the sessions, which have involved instrumental and vocal recording and production/sound exploration.

Andy Baldwin and his new setup at Rola Pola

A South Williamsburg studio complex we recently discovered…houses a new incarnation of Andy Baldwin’s Rola Pola Studio, the new Bufflebear Studio, Jean Grobler’s (of St Lucia) studio space, and The Dap-King’s Dunham Studio.

At Rola Pola, Baldwin has recently installed an SSL AWS900+ and the prized Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor. And Baldwin has been mixing some tracks from that aforementioned Diane Birch album, being produced by Homer Steinweiss of the Dap-Kings; tracking drums for St Lucia’s forthcoming album; mixing/mastering Celtic rock band The Mickey Finns‘ new album; mixing Stephanie Carlin‘s new album; and mixing the debut album for classical/freestyle/thrash band Huff This!

Meanwhile in the new Bunker Studio A, clarinetist/composer Ben Goldberg tracked some new music with Nels Cline, Ches Smith, Ellery Eskeline and Rob Suddath in sessions engineered by Aaron Nevezie; ?uestlove and Ivan Neville came in for a late-night tracking session for soul singer Nigel Hall‘s upcoming album on Royal Family Records – Nevezie recorded, and Soulive/Lettuce’s Eric Krasno produced; and Nevezie also tracked and mixed an album with New Zealand artist Tama Waipara out of the Bunker Studios A and B.

In DUMBO at the happening Saltlands recording collective, singer/songwriter Trixie Whitley has been tracking for her new album with producer Thomas Bartlett (Doveman), Steve Salett engineering and Nick Smeraski assisting; artist/engineer Dawn Landes engineered on a session with Kristin Andreasson for a children’s project; and producer/engineer Gary Maurer is working on a film project – tracking and mixing music with the band Little Silver.

Last month at Saltlands, the Yellowbirds tracked basics with Jim Smith – who also recently did some mixing for The Well-Informed. In other sessions: Saltmines resident producer/engineer Devin Greenwood tracked horn and piano overdubs for Yoni Gordon, and earlier in the year, with Sufjan Stevens; Jan Bell was in mixing a bunch of tracks with Jason Mercer; and Whale Belly tracked basics for their sophomore record with engineer/producer Nick Smeraski.

Up at The Isokon in Woodstock, D. James Goodwin has been mixing a “haunting and lush” new LP for rock band Georgiana Starlington, with Josh Kaufman (of the aforementioned Yellowbirds) producing. Goodwin’s also been tracking and mixing a full-length with Vuvuzela, “an amazing band, winding together harp, upright bass and piano in the form of progressive math rock.”

Just up the road from Saltlands, engineer/producers Daniel Lynas and Frans Mernick have been installing a new Neve V55 console at ishlab. Since being involved with ishlab, Lynas has recorded there with A$AP Rocky, Das Racist, and mixed I’m in the Forest by Das Racist affiliate Lakutis; and Mernick worked on the Hoodie Allen album All American.

Dinowalrus at Let ‘Em In Music

Even more recently at ishlab, Cameron Mesirow aka Glasser stopped by to record some vocals on a track for Chad Valley – Lynas engineered; Empty Chairs frontman Peter Spear has been tracking drums, guitar, synth, trumpet, string quartet, and vox for their upcoming full-length; and Chaz Van Queen has been working on his second full-length – doing a lot of production and recording at home and bringing stuff in to ishlab to do additional recording, tweak arrangements, and mix.

Psychedelic dance-rock trio Dinowalrus has been back at Let ‘Em In Music in Gowanus recording the followup to their recently released album Best Behavior – also recorded and mixed at Let ‘Em In by owner/engineer Nadim Issa. The band recently recorded six new songs with Issa over five days in the studio.

Indie rock band Bridges and Powerlines have been recording their new EP with Kieran Kelly producing and engineering – tracking at both The Clubhouse in Rhinebeck, NY, and Kelly’s own The Buddy Project in Astoria.

Kelly’s also been producing/engineering the second album for Danish folk-rock duo Skipper. Tracking sessions for the album have been happening at STC Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark, and out of The Buddy Project.

Amy Lennard at Grand Street Recording

Back in Williamsburg at Grand Street Recording…pop singer/songwriter Rachel Platten recorded and mixed an exclusive EP for her upcoming national tour with Martin Rivas on guitar and bass, Craig Meyer on percussion, and Tomek Miernowski engineering; the Stick Against Stone Orchestra recorded an album of music for an upcoming documentary about the late 80s band from Pittsburg, Stick Against Stone. The album – recorded and mixed by Ken Rich and produced by William Kreth – features Denny McDermott on drums, Jesse Krakow on bass, Dave Terhune on guitars and Joe McGinty on keyboards.

Also at Grand Street, multi-instrumentalist Jared Saltiel recorded and mixed an EP The Dogs at Nighttime with Tomek Miernowski and Ken Rich; Amy Lennard is recording and mixing a full length album with producer Andy Stack, and Rich engineering.

And we know there’s so much more going on out there! If you’d like to be featured in “Session Buzz,” please submit your studio news to

  • Rhymes and Reasons

    If you like hip-hop, you might like my blog, Rhymes and Reasons. It’s a series of interviews with hip-hop heads who discuss their lives and a few songs that matter to them. Pretty powerful stuff. Check’em out here:

  • Vin and Omi

    Barb Morrison and Debbie Harry – the perfect combo. CAN’T wait for the outcome. Barb’s the best. !