Console Switch: How The Bunker Installed Its SSL 4000 E — Step by Step

May 19, 2013 by  

Waaay back in the ‘80’s, the Fixx famously proclaimed “one thing leads to another.” And before that, the 17th Century philosopher Spinoza could have told you the same thing.

The journey begins -- John Davis helps to unload the newly arrived SSL 4000.

The journey begins — John Davis helps to unload the newly arrived SSL 4000.

Undoubtedly, the founders of one of Brooklyn’s flagship studios, The Bunker Studio, would concur with all of the above. No sooner did they complete their 2012 move into an expansive 3,000 sq. ft. space then an inconvenient truth revealed itself to the founders, John Davis and Aaron Nevezie: They had outgrown the 26-channel Auditronics board that they had built their business around.

Swapping consoles is no easy task, but before long this heavy mission transformed from notion to necessity. Read on for a step-by-step rundown from Davis on how The Bunker recently thought through – and then executed – the complex process of locating a new board, and then switching it in:

Phase One: Outgrowing a console

For years, our Auditronics 501 console was a great center piece for our studio.  It sounded awesome, and had a ton of vibe, and fit our space and workflow perfectly.

After building our new space, and putting the 501 back into service in Studio A, we had no idea if or how quickly we would outgrow it.  It turned out that after about a week of tracking in a huge space with 56 mic lines and enough room to easily accomodate 20-30 musicians, we were convinced that a 26-channel vintage console with limited routing wasn’t going to cut it, no matter how cool and great sounding it was…

The discussions ranged from sidecars to custom returns sections to a big discrete desk, to an SSL.

Phase Two: Picking a desk

Loading in...

Loading ‘er in…

After all these discussions, it seemed us that the perfect solution for our room was a small frame SSL 4000.  We talked to Sonic Circus (who have supplied us with gear over the years) and David (Lyons) had just purchased a few SSL and was getting ready to refurb them.

We decided that instead of running the risk of getting a cheap SSL from some closing post house, or a beater from a dormant midtown studio, we would pony up the extra budget to buy a fully refurbished desk from Sonic.

We decided on a 40-channel frame that had previously been installed in Sony Studio in Toronto.  It is a late E series, and we decided on an E after researching the records made on various SSL revisions over the years…  It turned out that some of our favorite records from NYC in the early ’80′s (Roxy Music’s Avalon, David Bowie’s Scary Monsters and Let’s Dance, Blondie, etc…) were made on the E series console that was apparently installed in Studio C at Power Station (now Avatar) during the time.

Phase Three: Planning the Install

We like to be prepared, so we were extremely dilligent in this regard.  We mapped out a 40-input patchbay, to the DL’s, and then made a chart that corresponded to every tie line in our facility, to determine how we would integrate the desk with our wiring infrastructure.  The multi pair to be cut and the DL’s were ID’d and numbered to the corresponding DL on the desk, so that as soon as we could cut our Auditronics free, we could begin pinning the DL’s in advance of the console’s arrival.

We blocked out a bunch of days between decommisioning the Auditronics and the arrival of the SSL to allow John Charette (Charette Electronics) to prepare and crimp all the DL’s in an empty room, allowing us to organize all the wires and dress them nicely.

For the physical part of getting the desk in, we made a wooden mock up of the exact footprint of the console as it would be on it’s back for transport.  We tried every possible possibilty to determine the best route to take the console in, where it would have to turn, etc.

We found one problem…  a corner that was a few inches too small, however it seemed that lifting one end up about 3 feet would let us clear it.

Phase Four: Load In

A box o' channels, exposed to their loving new home for the first time.

A box o’ channels, exposed to their loving new home for the first time.

This part sucked.

SSLs are really really really really big and heavy.  We did not split the frame, in order to reduce the chance for electronic issues at the install.

Everything went pretty smoothly right up to the point that we knew was going to be a problem.  It was incredibly rough, but we got it through.

Thanks to a few really really strong friends on our crew, we were able to deal and lifted one end of a 9′, 800lb frame about 5 feet in the air and swing it around a corner.  We got through with a barely scratched console leg edge, and a small tear in some tolex on the back of the meter bridge.  A bummer on a console that looks factory fresh, but nearly invisible.

After that, it was smooth, and by the end of the day, install tech Steve Laisi was running a fault list on the desk.  After a few days of thorough testing and dealing with some minor problems (normal for a large console commissioning) the desk was up and running.  John started mixing a record immediately (while the tech bench was still set up instead of the couch) and it’s been rocking every day since.

The Auditronics is happily kicking ass in Studio B.

(l-r) John Charette and Aaron Nevezie see to the pre-wiring.

John Charette (l), Aaron Nevezie (center) and Bunker engineer Kahil Nayton see to the pre-wiring.

Surveying the Studio A control room one last time before moving in the board. "We were just thinking, 'Holy sh*t, we're moving an SSL.' There was definitely a lot of that feeling that day," says Nevezie.

Surveying the Studio A control room one last time before moving in the board. “We were just thinking, ‘Holy sh*t, we’re moving an SSL.’ There was definitely a lot of that feeling that day,” says Nevezie.

Getting the SSL on jacks, prior to moving through the studio.

The SSL on jacks, prior to wheeling through the studio.

Moving a big machine through the halls and into the control room required finesse.

Moving a big machine, resting on its back panel, through the halls and into the control room required finesse.

Progress! Safely into the control room.

Progress! Safely into the control room.

Now the 4000 is upright.

Now the 4000 is upright.

 

Unwrapped, plugged in, and in command!

Unwrapped, plugged in, and in command!

The Auditronics board in its new home -- the Bunker's Studio B.

The Auditronics board in its new home — the Bunker’s Studio B.

– David Weiss

Visit the Bunker on SonicSearch.

Event Choice: Off the Record with Scott Hull at City College, Thurs. 11/15

November 12, 2012 by  

Ready to get together?

(l-r) Join Scott Hull, Aaron Nevezie, and John Davis this Thursday for a free event at City College.

NYC mastering house Masterdisk is co-sponsoring a compelling – and free — event at the Sonic Arts Center at City College this Thursday, November 15th, at 7:30 PM: “Off the Record with Scott Hull.”

This informal talk, hosted by one of the industry’s top mastering engineers, is an up-to-the-minute look at music production, focusing on best practices in making great recordings. But this will be more than just tech talk — the artistry involved will take center stage in this casual but highly informative forum.

Joining Mr. Hull will be John Davis and Aaron Nevezie, producers/engineers/co-owners of the Brooklyn studio known as The Bunker.

Again, the event is FREE and open to the public. In addition, attendees can enter to win a $250 gift certificate to Alto Music.

Full Coordinates:
Off the Record with Scott Hull at City College
Thursday, November 15 at 7:30 p.m.

City College Campus
Shepard Hall, Room 95
Southeast corner of 140th Street & Convent Ave

Detailed directions to City College can be found here.

Music Spaces Hit Hard By Sandy – Here’s How You Can Help

November 8, 2012 by  

Music community spaces including WFMU, The South Sound, Norton Records, New Amsterdam Records and Tape Kitchen were devastated by hurricane Sandy last week. Find out what you can do to help.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern seaboard last week, it brought with it 90-mph winds, 40-foot high waves, and in some areas, 15 inches of rain or over 2 feet of snow.

All told, Sandy caused roughly 7.5 million power outages, at least $30 billion in damages and over 100 deaths in North America alone.

Although charity organizations large and small, including The Red Cross, Occupy Sandy, Rebuild Staten Island, and Red Hook Recovery have mobilized in the hardest-hit areas, parts of the northeast still struggle to come fully back online.

Currently, expectations are for over $20 billion in lost economic activity – a full $12 billion of which will be concentrated in New York City alone.

So much of this damage was caused before the hurricane even made landfall. Perhaps most devastating of all were the rising tides caused by the storm’s surge, which exceeded all expectations and brought catastrophic flooding to low-lying areas, far ahead of the winds and rain.

An Overflowing Canal Destroys Dozens of Studios in Gowanus

Andrew Schnieder, Mike Law and Jeremy Scott were among those who were caught off guard by the early floods.

Their studios, Translator Audio and The Civil Defense, were part of a newly-opened 7,000-square-foot music space called The South Sound. Barely two weeks before Sandy hit, they enjoyed a spirited grand opening along with the inhabitants of about a dozen rehearsal spaces and small production rooms that shared the building.

Destruction at The South Sound

The worst-case scenario in their minds was that several inches of flooding might damage carpets and force them to turn down business for a couple days as they cleaned the place up. Just to be extra-safe, they stacked expensive microphones and other hard-to-replace items high up on shelves and the tops of furniture.

In the end, it did no good.

The last thing they imagined was for a 5-foot wall of water to come crashing into the building with enough force to turn over furniture, break solid-wood doors in half, and throw a full-sized piano from one side of a room to the other.

Toxic floodwaters from the Gowanus Canal had quickly turned the parking lot into a freestanding body of water. This put insurmountable pressure against the newly renovated building, and eventually, a sturdy steel grate buckled and gave way, letting torrents of saltwater gush in.

Everything that mattered was picked up by the currents or completely submerged: Consoles, tape machines, and entire racks of gear.

But they weren’t the only studios to be damaged in the area. Mark Spencer’s Tape Kitchen, just a few dozen yards from the banks of the Gowanus was devastated as well.

Although Spencer had a little luck – he had access to some storage on the second floor and could stash some things there – the majority of gear and personal items couldn’t make it up to relative safety. The entire studio, along with Spencer’s car, was essentially destroyed.

Translator Audio control room

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the music community has begun to band together around these rooms, offering them help to get back on their feet.

Joel Hamilton of Studio G brought his crew together to try and help salvage some rarest pieces of vintage gear from The South Sound, and studios like The Bunker have opened their doors to sessions displaced by the damage.

If you’d like to help in an even more straightforward way, each of these studios are accepting donations to help them stay above water, so to speak, as they begin to re-book and rebuild.

Donations for The South Sound, Translator Audio and The Civil Defense can be made at here, and a benefit page for Mark Spencer and Tape Kitchen can be found here (and here for donations).

Floods Damage Thousands of Rare Records in Red Hook

New Amsterdam Records is a non-profit label that gives 80% of revenues directly to their artists. Just this year, they moved into a 3,000-square-foot space in Red Hook, and spent six months converting it into a new multi-use record label, warehouse, office, venue and rehearsal studio.

New Amsterdam HQ after the flood.  All rights reserved by NewAmsterdamNY.

Sandy hit this space hard as well, soaking amps, vintage synthesizers and more than 70% of their catalog of discs. It also destroyed essential documents and partially submerged their donated Steinway grand piano.

This performance space and record label specializes in jazz and new classical and has programmed shows that featured the likes of Dan Deacon, Nico Muhly and tUnE-yArDs. They are now accepting donations through their hurricane relief fund and have high hopes for rebuilding.

Nearby, Norton Records‘ old red brick warehouse was ravaged by a full four feet of water with enough pressure behind it to bend their thick metal doors.  

Billy Miller and Miriam Linna founded Norton over 25 years ago and have been collecting and reissuing raucous and rare mid-century garage rock and R&B ever since.

Ultimately, thousands of rare records were soaked in the flooding. But a meaningful portion of them may be salvageable. Norton Records has a call out for volunteers, and so far Miller says that well over a hundred have come to their aid.

Those who can lend a hand are encouraged to call 917-671-7185 or email nortonrec@aol.com. And put “VOLUNTEER” in the subject line.

For those who want to contribute financially, an undamaged shipment of new Norton releases is scheduled to arrive and go on sale November 13th. Sounds like a good time for some record shopping.

Saving Norton Records after Hurricane Sandy from Dust & Grooves on Vimeo.

Storm Destroys Transmitters at WFMU and Leaves Station a Quarter Million in the Hole

Music spaces don’t need to flood themselves to be put out of business temporarily.

Atlantic Sound Studios, Joe Lambert Mastering and ishlab studio, which all occupy the same waterfront building suffered no direct damage, but had to do without power for several days, like so many New Yorkers.

They recovered quickly when power came back, but not everyone was so lucky.

Ken Freedman (WFMU General Manager) bikes in Hoboken. Photo by Chris Costa.

At WFMU – one of the most eclectic and influential community radio stations in the country – both FM transmitters and a whole bank of live-streaming servers fried due to brownouts.

Manager Ken Freedman says that the “real problem” is that the station’s power didn’t go out all at once. “A drop in voltage is worse than a blackout,” he says, and it left some of their essential equipment beyond repair.

After 12 hours of complete radio silence, temporary web-streaming stations were set up in home studios in New York and New Jersey, and by November 5th, WFMU was on the air again, finally broadcasting from one of its two downed transmitters.

The damage to the hardware itself is only one-half of the problem. Freedman expects that replacements and repairs on that front will set the station back $100,000

This shortfall, however, is only compounded by the fact that the station’s annual Record Fair, a multi-day fundraiser that attracts hundreds of vendors and thousands of record collectors, was cancelled due to the storm. The event, which is usually responsible for a sizable chunk of revenue for the small, community-supported non-profit went from fundraiser to $150,000 loss.

WFMU Record Fair Cancelled

Between these two challenges, WFMU finds itself nearly a quarter million dollars in the hole, and in the midst of what Freedman calls a “financial disaster.”

As bad as it sounds, the station has been through times just as trying, and they hope to make it through again. WFMU is now hosting the aptly named “Hell and High Water” fundraising marathon and needs all the listener support it can get.

If you’re not a fan yet, start listening now. WFMU is a true grab-bag of broadcast diversity and a welcome respite to the homogenized Clear Channel radio empire.

It’s also one of the last deeply relevant community free-form radio stations standing, with die-hard fans like Matt Groening, Ric Ocasek, Lee Ranaldo, Lou Reed, Jim Jarmusch, and the late Kurt Cobain.

And if it’s going to survive this storm, like the other music spaces mentioned above, it’s going to need your help.

Do what you can.

Justin Colletti is a producer/engineer, professor and journalist who lives in Brooklyn. He is a regular contributor to SonicScoop and edits the musician magazine Trust Me, I’m a Scientist.

The South Sound

Ravaged MCI 528 channels at The South Sound

Keyboards at New Amsterdam. All rights reserved by NewAmsterdamNY.

Tape Machine at The South Sound

 

NYC Studio Tour: North Brooklyn IV

October 11, 2012 by  

In this 9th edition of the Brooklyn Studio Tour, we return to the Northside to visit the quintessential Brooklyn tracking and mixing room: Studio G . We also visit a pair of its most successful offshoots and a synth-head’s paradise near Kent Ave.

Studio G

Studio G of Williamsburg is one of the busiest, and now, one of the biggest recording studios in all of New York City. It’s also one of the most quintessentially Brooklyn studios you could ever imagine.

The Bosendorfer grand piano in Studio G’s new A room

The original Studio G was launched in the mid-90s by Tony Maimone, who was best known then – and perhaps now – as a bassist for wildly prolific cult artists like Pere Ubu, They Might Be Giants and Frank Black.

Maimone had moved into the neighborhood in 1986, back when Williamsburg was an epicenter of the crack epidemic, and the kind of place where you could still find a New York City apartment for a few hundred bucks a month.

At the time, crime rate in the neighborhood was roughly 400% of what it is now, but Maimone’s location was good. His space was just a few blocks from the 90th precinct, and sat on a busy, central corner right across from the famous Kellog’s Diner where cops parked their cars daily for meals.

Perhaps most crucially, the studio’s door sat directly atop the step of the staircase that leads up from the G train below. Anyone who visits the area regularly has probably passed the front door of the original Studio G dozens of times without knowing it.

Maimone became a fixture of the neighborhood, and he is still one today. He’s like the mayor of every block he walks down, always finding some familiar face to wave to or smile at.

Tony is midwesterner by birth, and those smiles come easy for him. He speaks slowly, entreatingly, with a cadence like a California surfer, and he has a round, ragged face deeply lined with decades worth of wide, boyish grins.

For a half-dozen years or so, Tony Maimone made a decent go of things by himself and with a series of short-lived partners at Studio G. But the story of his studio’s rise truly begins in 1999 when a young Joel Hamilton, then in his late-twenties, came knocking on Maimone’s door looking for work.

The Rise of Studio G

It would be too easy to cast Studio G as a place that was simply built on the right spot of ground at the right time, merely riding the rising tide of a gentrifying neighborhood.

While there is certainly lot of luck that factors into the success of any space, the story of Studio G’s growth is as much the story of Joel Hamilton’s growth as anything else.

Tony Maimone and Joel Hamilton in the original Studio G

“He’s really my biggest influence as far as engineers and producers go,” Tony Maimone says of the young engineer who quickly became his partner. “Joel Hamilton is right up at the top of the heap.”

“I mean, I haven’t met a ton of engineers,” he adds, qualifying his statement, searching the room for words before beaming at me again. “I mean, I haven’t met George Martin. But I have met some top guys. He’s on that level.”

Normally, this is the part of the article where I’d add some tempering words of clear-eyed skepticism. But I have to admit that on the topic of Joel Hamilton and Studio G, I’m completely biased. I’ll even go as far as to say that Joel is easily among my own personal heroes.

Part of his success comes from taste, talent, and hard work, but part of it is because he’s consistently looked to build up communities where others have looked to build up walls.

Hamilton seems to talk to everyone he meets like he’s known them for fifteen years, and has the assertive, but genial presence of a master politician. He’s just over 40 now, with the build of a college athlete and the eyeglasses of a 1990s proto-hipster.

He speaks regularly at conferences, has done volunteer work in AIDS-ravaged South Africa, and became a fixture of the Tape Op community, writing regular reviews and actively moderating their online messageboard at the peak of its popularity. He’s also a damn good mixer.

The original Studio G, which still operates today, measures in at a bit under 1,000 square feet. Maimone, Hamilton, and an evolving cast of assistants and interns ushered it from the days of ADATs and DIGI 001s, right up to its current iteration as a climate-controlled yet thoroughly vibey space decked out with a Neve console and racks full of esoteric and boutique audio gear.

Even the acoustic treatment at the original G is spirited and unique: The control room’s diffusers are comprised of countless hundreds of vinyl records. The ones in the live room are built of salvaged scrap wood pieced together over the course of a decade. Up above, glass bricks line the south side of the building near the ceiling, allowing natural daylight to stream into the space while maintaining complete privacy and sound isolation.

Studio G 5000

As the G became busy enough to warrant an expansion, Maimone and Hamilton set their sights on a new space just North of McCarren park, a few doors down from Nicolas Vernhes’ studio, The Rare Book Room.

A view of the racks in Studio G’s new A control room

The New Studio G is 5,000 square feet in total, with three ample, high-ceilinged production rooms. The flagship A room is home to an SSL G Series console and some of the choicest pieces of kit from the original G.

And as the space has grown, so has the crew:  An in-house tech and a “small army of interns” have joined in at the new space, and a few new engineers, Jeff Hill, Hector Castillo and John White have been helping to keep all the extra rooms busy.

In addition to a museum-worthy collection of vintage mics and a wall of rack gear that would suit three studios its size, the A room comes equipped with a Bosendorfer grand piano. Taken by itself, an instrument like that could be reason enough to book the space.

But what the owners of Studio G know better than most is that the studio world does not operate on an “if you build it, they will come” basis. Decades worth of work and career development went into warrant building a studio like this one. If Maimone and Hamilton keep up their pace, it’s easy to imagine that the new G could have an even longer run than the original. I’d bet money on that, and clearly, so would the studio’s owners.

To that point, there’s plenty of forward-looking infrastructure built into the new G. A rooftop covered in state-of-the-art solar panels promises to push the studio’s electric meter back in the other direction. It should save them on day-to-day expenses, but it’s the kind of investment – much like a grand build-out and an SSL console – that could take more than a decade to pay off.

I’m fairly certain they’ll get that chance.

The Bunker

Tony Maimone and Joel Hamilton have gone through a significant number of interns, assistants and protégés over the years. One of them, John Davis, has gone on to help create what’s probably the second-biggest new studio in North Brooklyn.

His Bunker Studio measures in at an impressive 3,000 square feet, with vaulted ceilings designed by Rod Gervais. At first glance, it’s reminiscent of Avatar’s iconic flagship tracking room across the East River. But the sound of the space is all its own: full-bodied and well-controlled with alternating stripes of wood paneling and absorptive material.

One of the enormous “isolation” booths at the the new Bunker studio

The appeal of this cavernous live room extends beyond its neighborhood, and is easily among the most expansive and most flexible in the city. The main space can fit dozens of players if it needs to, and two glass-doored isolation booths alone stand larger than the ones at many of Brooklyn’s mid-sized tracking rooms.

Between John Davis and partner Aaron Nevezie, the studio has been churning steadily for about a decade.  The original location was set into a basement on the south side of Williamsburg, right across the hall from the original Strange Weather Studio – which incidentally, is also run by a one-time Studio G protégé, Marc Alan Goodman.

The pair learned more than a few things watching Studio G grow, and they even own Joel Hamilton’s old Audiotronics console. But Davis and Nevezie have come to be a driving force in the Brooklyn music scene in their own right.

The Bunker 2.0 may be an ambitious new build, but it’s no fly-by-night development. Davis and Nevezie slowly and steadily outgrew their old space, only shaping The Bunker into the new, world-class room it is today once it made practical and financial sense for them to do so. They keep their prices reasonable-but-sustainable and do memorable work as constantly as they upgrade their gear.

The A and B rooms at The Bunker lean on a collection of vintage Neumann, Gefell and RCA microphones, and the space comes equipped with a 1969 Steinway grand – a genuine source of pride for producer/engineer Aaron Nevezie. Add to that an extensive collection of vintage keyboards, drums and guitar amps, and it’s no wonder the studio is becoming one of the busiest in the city.

Vanity Sound

There’s one more studio I’ve been meaning to include in this series for quite some time: Vanity Sound, owned and operated by Myles Turney and Joel Arnow.

Like the owners of The Bunker and Strange Weather, Myles Turney is also an alumni of Studio G, where he interned years ago. He and partner Arnow built a decent-sized tracking room and a substantial mic collection just a few blocks from the original G, and carved out a niche working with seasoned, sometimes virtuosic players, for several years.

Vanity Sound racks. Photo by Christopher Duff.

Earlier this year, their building was sold, and when their lease did not come up for renewal, Turney, Arnow, and their clients found themselves out on the street, with sessions scheduled and no place to go.

But luckily, there’s always a studio around the corner in Brooklyn. The pair began taking their sessions to Hugh Pool’s Excello Recording, and Oliver Straus’ Mission Sound, two of the earliest full-scale tracking rooms in the area, which stand directly across the street from one another just a couple blocks from the original Vanity Sound.

Turney says that he and Arnow originally planned to build a new, full-sized studio of their own, until they realized that this new arrangement suited them just fine.

Ultimately, the two decided they were happy to bring their big tracking dates into some of the best rooms that already exist, and focus on developing a small production suite of their own to help keep their clients’ work on-track and in-budget.

Turney has gone all-in on this new approach, and even sold off his console and moved his pair of Studer multi-tracks into Mission Sound, which has become a regular location for his full-band sessions.

“There’s so many great studios in this area, it almost doesn’t make sense to open another full-scale tracking room,” Turney tells me. “We can go to Mission or Excello to get a great recording. What people really don’t have in this area is a smaller space with some great mics that we can use for overdubs, edits or mixing. No one really needs a $1000/day room just to sit around doing vocal edits.”

For his own smaller-scale production room, Turney has finally made a leap he never thought he would: He’s picked up a Dangerous Summing Mixer and a Euphonix control, and has been thrilled with the results:

“I never ever ever thought I’d be the guy with a summing mixer and DAW controller, but after I met and got to be around Jon Kaplan and hear what he does with practically zero outboard and no console… well, that was kind of it.”

“It’s definitely a different workflow, but the first time I sat down, opened a session, and it came up just as I had left it with no time or fuss was totally mind-blowing. No more flipping back and forth from the last print to get the EQ’s set right.”

The new Vanity Sound is a streamlined setup compared to the original, but it still comes equipped with the overstuffed racks of gear Turney has put together over the years. Turney’s extensive mic collection has also made the trip to the new smaller-scale room, and it includes a pair of vintage ELAM 251s, a Neumann M49b, and one of the most complete collections of SONY microphones I’ve seen.  But the available gear doesn’t end there. Turney knows that if he ever wants to track or mix on a vintage Neve, there’s at least two of them just around the corner.

Ground Control Studio

In any music scene, once-disparate communities seem to grow and cross-pollinate and combine. In elite circles, it sometimes appears that everybody knows everybody else.

But although we’ve focused today one studio and its offshoots, the truth is that Brooklyn – contrary to what some outsiders may believe – is anything but one big monoculture.

Ground Control’s Trident + Neve sidecar

Sure, there may be more plaid here than anywhere this side of Scotland, but if there’s anything that I’ve learned from this tour of Brooklyn’s cottage industry of recording studios it’s that there are dozens of self-sustaining mini-scenes, each with their own audiences and frames of reference.

Murray Trider and John Bosch of Ground Control Studios, for instance, have carved out their own niche on the south side of Williamsburg, where Kent meets Broadway. It’s only a few blocks away from the other the studios we’ve profiled here, but over a decade of working side-by-side the two groups have yet to cross paths.

Tucked away in the basement of one of the most beautiful brownstones in their corner of the borough, Trider and Bosch have created a veritable synth-head’s paradise. It’s a clean, brick-lined space, filled with vintage analog classics from Moog, ARP and Roland. Rounding out that keyboard collection are some of the most rare and coveted iterations of the Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric pianos ever made.

In the center of the space sits a Trident console and a pristine Neve sidecar, the latter of which was found at a fire sale auction, then painstakingly wired for the new space by co-owner Murray Trider. On one of the far ends of this long rectangular space, a small army of vintage guitars guards a cozy isolation booth, and on the other, a golden Buddah sits atop a honky-tonkin’ upright piano.

Recently, Trider has been working regularly with Reggie Watts, a brilliantly scattered performer, and one of the most absurdly dynamic musicians and comedians working today. Bosch splits his time between recording music and doing sound mixes for independent films from genre-bending documentarians and mumblecore luminaries.

Although Bosch comes from more of a guitar-based background while Trider is a DJ-turned-producer, the two bonded over their shared love of early krautrock records and other perennial favorites of white music nerds the world over.

It reminds me that even in a musical culture as kaleidoscopic as Brooklyn’s, there’s always something to connect over. When I ask Bosch how they met, he tells me that he was having a drink at a bar where Trider worked, and the two bonded over the tunes Trider was spinning. The band that he was playing? Pere Ubu. I’ll have to remember to tell Tony Maimone.

Justin Colletti is a Brooklyn recording engineer and studio journalist. He is a regular contributor to SonicScoop and edits the music blog Trust Me, I’m A Scientist.

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

September 19, 2012 by  

GREATER NYC AREA: For recording studios, this past summer had its typical ups and downs. But heading into Fall, bands like The Killers, The Vaccines and OneRepublic as well as artists like Tony Bennett, Kurt Vile, Sean Lennon, Rufus Wainright and more had been in NYC-area studios cranking on new and upcoming releases.

Outasight (third from left) with NYC-based production team The Elev3n

Starting in Murray Hill, Electracraft Music Works @ The Fireplace Penthouse hosted sessions with Mark Foster, of Foster The People, recording vocals for “Polartropic” – a soundtrack song for Tim Burton’s new film, Frankenweenie. Warren Babson engineered the session.

Also at Electracraft…Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost of the band FUN were in to work on some new material, with Matt Morales engineering…Melanie Fiona came through to record some live acoustic tracks for Cricket Mobile, with Sam Katz engineering…hip-hop artist Outasight recorded with producers The Elev3n and Morales engineering, and Liz Gillies (of Nickelodeon’s Victorious) recorded some new music with Babson engineering.

Downtown, The Killers recorded and mixed their new album Battle Born over the summer at Germano Studios – with Alan Moulder mixing (various producers). OneRepublic has also been recording their latest at Germano – tracking guitars, keyboards and mandolin with singer/producer Ryan Tedder producing and engineering

And in other Germano sessions… The Goo Goo Dolls were in writing and recording new materials with John Shanks producing and Dan Chase engineering… Chris Shaw mixed an Ozzy Osbourne live DVD release, with Bruce Dickinson producing…Robin Thicke recorded vocals with Paul Falcone engineering, as did Mary J. Blige (also with Falcone)… Singer Jessica Sanchez (American Idol) recorded vocals and programming with Harvey Mason, Jr. producing and Andrew Hey engineering…and tracking sessions for a new John Legend album (recording guitars, vocals, piano, harp, keyboards in Studio 1 & Studio 2) with Dave Tozer producing and Jason Agel engineering.

The Killers went from recording and mixing at Germano, to The Lodge Mastering where Emily Lazar and Joe LaPorta mastered Battle Born. The Lodge’s mastering engineers Lazar, LaPorta and mastering engineer Heba Kadry have also recently mastered records by Dum Dum Girls, Imagine DragonsNegramaro, Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds, James Iha, The Sea and Cake, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead and Sarah Blasko.

Meanwhile, rapper Wale has been recording an upcoming project in Studios A and C at Manhattan Sound Recording Studios (MSR) in Midtown – with engineer Kevin Spencer and MSR assistant Gloria Kaba.

Also at MSR…Jazz artist/bassist Christian McBride has been mixing two upcoming albums – with Joe Ferla on the Euphonix System 5 in MSR’s Studio B, assisted by Brett Mayer…the cast album for Broadway’s Bring It On was tracked in Studio A by engineer Derik Lee and composer Alex Lacamoire for Sh-K-Boom! Records, and then mixed by engineer Tim Latham…and Derik Lee also recorded some cues for the film Greetings from Tim Buckley.

The Ghost Of A Sabre Tooth Tiger: Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl

Sean Lennon brought his Ghost of the Sabre Tooth Tiger project to Sear Sound last month. Tom Schick mixed the album – for Lennon’s label, Chimera Records – on Sear’s Neve 8038 to ½” 2-track on the ATR-102 machine.

Also at Sear Sound…Rufus Wainwright tracked new material on Sear’s Steinway “C” grand piano for Verve Records, with Sear’s Chris Allen engineering…jazz bassist Dave Holland and his ensemble tracked a new album with James Farber engineering…Ron Saint Germain produced and engineered a new recording by classical pianist Tania Stavreva on the Steinway “D” concert grand…and vocalist Keiko Lee tracked via the custom Avalon/Sear console in Studio C with Jay Newland engineering and producing for Sony/Japan.

Tony Bennett was back at Avatar Studios – this time to work on his Latin duets project, in Studio A. Bennett recorded vocals with Juan Luis Guerra, Romeo Santos and Ana Carolina. His son Dae Bennett engineered and produced the sessions, assisted by Aki Nishimura and Charlie Kramsky.

In other recent Avatar sessions…The Young Presidents tracked with producer /engineer Rob Fraboni, assisted by Bob Mallory and Tyler Hartman…Jennifer Hudson recorded for NBC’s Smash with producers Marc Shaiman and Harvey Mason, Jr., and engineer Andrew Hey…Bobby McFerrin recorded with producers Linda and Gil Goldstein assisted by Charlie Kramsky…and Esperanza Spalding was videotaped for ASPiRE TV with producer Nicole Bentley assisted by Aki Nishimura.

And all the way downtown at Engine Room Audio, 50 Cent was in the studio working with mastering engineer Mark B. Christensen to master his latest single, “New Day.” The track – released on iTunes on July 31 – features Dr. Dre and Alicia Keys, and was mixed by Eminem.

Christensen also recently mastered NYC alt-rock band Weep‘s new album, Alate, and the new Trey Songz album, Chapter V, which came out in August and hit #1 on the Billboard 200 chart in its first week.

Meanwhile In Brooklyn…

Yuka Honda (Cibo Matto, Yoko Ono) booked time at Joe McGinty’s Greenpoint synth studio, Carousel Recording, to record keyboard overdubs for Martha Wainwright’s new album, Come Home To Mama, which she is producing. Keyboardist Jared Samuel recorded on Carousel’s Moog Modular, Rhodes, Yamaha Organ and Hammond during these sessions.

Composer/producer Bryan Senti on the Mellotron at Carousel

Chiara Angilicola’s Bird Call project also came to Carousel to record the Mellotron and other assorted keys for an upcoming full-length album – produced by Bryan Senti (Rufus Wainwright).

DJ/producer Kid Koala collaborated with composer/producer/engineer Joel Hamburger on music for a new animated series and puppet show – both developed by Jhonen Vasquez – at Hamburger’s Park Slope studio, GödelString. For the animated series, Kid Koala (aka Eric San) and Hamburger worked off of a theme composed by Vasquez, and for the puppet show score, improvised recording sessions with James McNew and Amy Posner of Dump on guitar and keyboard.

“For me, the thrill was in working as fast as possible to set up and capture the moment and then being able to enjoy the magic of having these sketches being transformed into fairly complete pieces and soundscapes,” said Hamburger. “I also got to break out some of the great vintage keyboards we have at the studio.”

At the new Degraw Studios in Gowanus, rock band The Skins recorded and mixed an upcoming release with producer/engineer Ben Rice. Rice also mixed a new EP for Elliot & The Ghost – produced by Jared Dodd, and recorded/mixed new material for indie-rock band Chainwave.

Also at Degraw…banjo master Tony Trischka recorded with a bluegrass ensemble including guitarist Michael Daves, banjoist Noam Pikelny and mandolinist Mike Compton – with Matt Werden engineering.

Out of his Glassfactory studio in DUMBO, mixer/engineer Alex Aldi co-produced and mixed a Passion Pit song for the upcoming Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn – Part 2. Aldi also worked on the radio mix of The Hundred In The Hands’ “Come With Me” off their new album on Warp Records.

RCA hip-hop artist K.Flay at The Bunker

And back in Williamsburg, hip-hop artist K.Flay spent two weeks at The Bunker, writing and recording tracks for her upcoming RCA record – with Justyn Pilbrow producing, and Chris Mullings engineering. Singer/songwriter and pianist Johanna Cranitch also brought her band project Johanna and the Dusty Floor to The Bunker to track and mix a full-length album – with Chris Berry on drums, Rob Gentry and synths/programming, and Aaron Nevezie producing and engineering.

And in other Bunker sessions… Nevezie engineered a “monster tracking session” for a 30-minute piece called “Drummer’s Corpse”, led by  drummer/bandleader Mike Pride and featuring seven drummers and multiple other musicians and vocalists…and 11-piece Afro-beat band Zongo Junction tracked their new full-length album live to the Bunker’s 24-track Studer machine over two days with Nevezie engineering.

Meanwhile, engineer/producer Matt Boynton has been busy at his Williamsburg studio, Vacation Island. Over the summer, Boynton mixed a track for Rainbow Arabia, a project that continues there this month, and finished the new Vietnam‘ record – coming out early next year on Mexican SummerFree Blood and Wild Yaks also mixed their latest with Boynton. Fred Nicolaus of Department of Eagles mixed his solo release with Boynton as well.

On the recording front, Boynton recently tracked and mixed two new songs for Hospitality and recorded (with Rob Laasko) a new song for Kurt Vile. Most recently, Boynton tracked a new song for UK artist Amy Studt, and The Vaccines came through while in Williamsburg between shows to track and mix a new song.

Sky Pony at Grand Street (l-r): Lauren Worsham, Megan Stern, Jesse Suzuki and Kyle Jarrow recording group vocals and claps around an AKG C24.

Also in Williamsburg, Grand Street Recording (<– new website) recently hosted the 8-piece indie-pop band, Sky Pony – led by Kyle Jarrow – to record and mix their new EP with engineer/producer Ken Rich.

Also at Grand Street, acoustic punk band The Narrowbacks recorded a full-length record with Tomek Miernowski…Noe Venable has been constructing an acoustic album “filled with unexpected sounds and compelling arrangements” – recorded by Ken Rich, and featuring Mathias Kunzli and Todd Sickafoose

I’m In You finished mixing and mastering their third full-length release with Rich…and TV On The Radio‘s Kyp Malone stopped by to record vocals with Emily Long & Velta on their latest record, with Miernowski engineering and mixing.

Grand Street also recently added a pair of Mohog MoFET76 limiting amplifiers and an AKG D30 to its ever-growing collection of vintage microphones. In drum-land, the studio added a 1959 Ludwig WFL Badge 6 ½” x 14″ Snare that still has the original Ludwig calf-skin resonant head – serviced by John Fell over at Main Drag Music.

The new Mohog MoFET76s (in red) at Grand Street

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 submissions@sonicscoop.com.

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