EAST VILLAGE, MANHATTAN — There’s a new tracking room in town, thanks to record producer, mixer and audio technology aficionado, Fabrice Dupont, aka Fab. “There’s nothing quite like this,” Fab proclaims, walking into the newly restored Dangerous Room. And, he’s right about that.
Located on 2nd Street in the East Village, the Dangerous Room is part of Fab’s Flux Studios, a facility that also houses his fanatically-equipped mixing and mastering environment, the Fabulous Room. A studio once run by the guys who started Dangerous Music and thereby named, the Dangerous Room has hosted sessions with The Rolling Stones and The Black Crowes. There’s legacy in its design and vibe, but Fab and the Flux team have fully spruced up this studio for today’s music business.
“This room has been restored to what it was when the Stones recorded here, but it’s actually more controlled now, and has zero street noise, where there was a lot of noise before,” says Fab. “There’s really no classic analog room, built and equipped at this level, in this phenomenal location, at the prices I’m asking.” [Call Meredith at 212-475-7031 for quote.]
An 1895 Steinway Model A Parlor Grand Piano sits in the center of the naturally-lit live room, notably accompanied by an upright piano “that sounds so Beatles-y it’s almost painful,” 50s, 60s and 70s-era Rhodes, a Wurlitzer, a Hammond B3 with Leslie, and a collection of classic amps. Baffles stand tall near the windows, symbols of the room’s multiple configurations. “We’ve recorded bands 100 percent live in here, with no editing and no overdubs, and it really sounds amazing,” says Fab.
For proof, Fab cues up the latest from a Brazilian band he’s been producing called Forro In The Dark, a five-piece NYC-based troupe that makes traditional Brazilian dance music with a modern twist. It’s a joyous track, carried by a dance-heavy groove and frolicking lead flute.
“It’s one hell of a killer band,” says Fab. “And the room sounds bananas [on these recordings]. We used the baffles to keep singers in the room during the full-band performance. Forro did a track with Jesse Harris, where I placed him in the middle, on a Neumann U87. I put Forro’s band members, baffled in their respective spots in the room, on a Lauten Audio Horizon mic and other condensers for background vocals.”
For their upcoming record, Forro also enlisted Sabina Sciubba (Brazilian Girls) on vocals, for the song “Silence Is Golden,” a brooding hybrid of Tom Waits and Mitchell Froom. “We’re doing 14 songs for the record, which is coming out on Nat Geo Music,” Fab informs.
Demonstrating the room’s versatility, Fab plays a track by NYC blues-rock band Blood St, recorded by staff assistant engineer Ben Lindell in the Dangerous Room. “We used the live room in half-layout on this,” notes Lindell. “We put the gobos up across the middle of the room and did drums on one side, piano and guitars on the other.”
Engineer/producers will find lots of treats in the Dangerous control room, and a very unique hybrid analog/digital setup built around a Neve 55-series broadcast console retrofitted with a Euphonix DAW control surface and a Dangerous Monitor ST. The Neve console, Dangerous monitoring and analog summing, Mytek Cue system, Lynx A-D-A converters and racks of specially selected processors come together to form Fab’s ultimate analog front- and back-end for the DAW (Pro Tools HD3 or Logic) or tape machine of the client’s choosing. (Click To The Tech Scoop).
Back in The Fabulous Room, Fab cues up another track, and out of a jack-in-the-box carnival intro flows the latest by NYC-based hip-hop group MetroSonics, recorded by Flux chief engineer Meredith McCandless and mixed by Fab. It’s live-band hip-hop and like Forro In The Dark, is mixed to put you right in the room with the performance. “That’s how I produce records,” Fab assures. “I do very pure, open sonic stuff, where there’s not much compression involved.”
Musically, Fab brings a distinctive world-pop palette to his production work, which has lately taken over on what was a typically mix-heavy schedule. “I mix a lot, but this Spring has been all production,” he says. “Everyone’s coming to me to produce their records now, which means five times the work without five times the pay, since these days it’s basically impossible to recoup any back-end. But producing is a labor of love for me — I only do it on projects I believe in musically or commercially, and if the two coincide, awesome.”
Fab’s current gig with the French band, Mam, falls into that “awesome” category. “I think this music will license like crazy,” he says of Mam, a Paris-based group he’s producing as well as touring with, on keyboards and electronics.
Playing a track (Click to hear MAM’s “Penthème”) off the new record, Fab shares, “This is some of the most musical stuff I’ve done in a long time. It’s a real hybrid of acoustic music and electronics.” The track is driving and cinematic, an eclectic romp crossing modern classical and jazz instrumentation with electronic production.
“I’ve gotten nothing but really good music to work on for a solid year and a half,” Fab mentions, cuing up a final example. “This is an R&B singer from Brooklyn named Shu. It was the very first track recorded in the Dangerous Room. He’d heard something I’d done and wanted to do R&B with my French touch. It’s all real [Korg] MS-20, Prodigy, Rhodes, live percussion.” Here, the chiming synths and world-beat percussion provide an unusually organic sonic atmosphere for Shu’s slick and modern R&B vocal. “We’re going to do some more songs together,” Fab adds, “And next time, go even more acoustic, get a band playing on it.”