When we last checked in with producer/engineer Ben Rice, he was working out of a “glorified home studio” called Newkirk Recording, where he tracked indie rock bands like The Mooney Suzuki, as well as an assortment of aspiring singer-songwriters and small jazz groups.
Since then, business has been brisk enough that Rice has decided to take the plunge and build out a full-fledged commercial recording studio. His new space, Degraw Sound, occupies a modest 1,100 square feet on the Gowanus/Park Slope border, but feels larger thanks to a crafty design dreamed up with help from David Ellis – the man who helped create The Lodge Mastering, Engine Room Audio, LoHo Studios and Saltlands.
In addition to a control room large enough to house Stratosphere Sound’s old Trident 24 mixing console, the new studio layout includes a spacious 450-square-foot live room, dedicated isolation booth, lounge, and even a small B-room that is operated by longtime friend and former client Gian Stone.
“My overhead has gone up maybe fifteen-fold over the old space, but I think it’s still competitive,” Rice says about his new studio’s rate. It falls firmly in the affordable “mid-priced” category.
Aside from the new console, compressors and Pro Tools HD rig, much of the outboard gear and microphone collection has been transplanted from Rice’s old room. A small wall of amplifiers and guitars, an old Wurlitzer and a vintage Ludwig drum kit round out the equipment list, and nothing feels lacking.
What’s most strikingly new is the sheer space as well as the upgrade in amenities and décor. Rice’s old control room at Newkirk would barely fit into Degraw Sound’s studio B, much less house a full 24 channel desk. The feel of the new studio is professional-but-casual, in much the same way that a classy Park Slope barroom is. Vintage-style Edison bulbs hang from the live room’s ceiling, glowing like so many vacuum tubes, and richly stained barn doors hide all the cases and cables from view.
“People have just been bugging out about the new space,’ Rice tells me. He says that old clients like indie rockers The Reckless Sons have already returned to work with him at the new studio during the two months before his grand opening party late last week.
There have been new clients too, from across genres. In between tracking sessions with indie bands like The VeeVees and The Courtesy Tier, composer and historian Allen Lowe recently brought in an “epic cast of musicians” including pianist Matthew Shipp and free jazz saxophonist Maurice McIntyre.
“He actually heard about me from the article you wrote, I think. So yeah – SonicScoop works,” Rice laughs. “It definitely gets the word out.”