Recording Studio Sweet Spot: Four Foot Studios – Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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Hidden amongst the residential blocks of Williamsburg is a distinctive studio. Part Millennium Falcon, part time warp, part laboratory, part art gallery, its Four Foot Studios.

The first thing that strikes you about Gabriel Galvin’s recording and mixing facility is, well, everything. He leads you through a labyrinth to get there, past an online radio studio, a private rooftop patio, to a space with old Brooklyn roots. When you enter the control room, you’re struck by the uncommon 36-channel Wheatstone tv1000 analog desk, and piece after piece of intriguing outboard that you keep on finding.

A Wheatstone analog broadcast board is at the hub of Four Foot Studios.

A Wheatstone analog broadcast board is at the hub of Four Foot Studios.

Enter the sufficiently-spaced live room, and there’s art nestled within the intriguing acoustic design – spectacular lamp sculpture hybrids by the artist Celino Dimitroff, who melds strange new meaning into found objects, transforming them into fascinating new forms.

But then hit the ‘60’s Sonor drum kit that’s set up, and WOW: a delicious ‘70’s sound reflects back to your ears. Dry in a classic way, but with its own character, it’s a much-needed retro room that’s ideal for throwback and contemporary styles alike. From Gabriel Galvin, here’s the rest of the down low on Four Foot.

Facility Name: Four Foot Studios


Location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Neighborhood Advantages: It’s a great neighborhood with a beautiful community garden next door. There is a wonderful community of artists and studios and everybody plays nicely. There’s lots of great places to eat and a great balance of bars and venues without an overflow of party animals.

I would have to say that the best thing about our neighborhood is that the pizza place down the street has “Manhattan Special”. It’s nearly impossible to run a session without Manhattan Special (and 600 pots of coffee).

Date of Birth: Four Foot Studios has been around in name since around 2001, that’s what I used to call the 4×4 cinder block shed in my backyard where I played the drums and got bitten by spiders. I brought the name with me every time I moved. I have been in the current location since 2010. This time it’s more than four feet and no spiders.

Facility Focus: Our main focus is on tracking, mixing and production for sure, but I have been known to do some scoring and composition here and there, mainly with my songwriting partner/best friend Stirling Krusing.

Transport yourself to a delectable decade in the live room.

Transport yourself to a delectable decade in the live room.

Mission Statement: Our mission is to make the most honest, deliberate and expressive record possible for the artist, the listener and the world. Also, to do all we can to help artists get where they need to be, whether it’s with the recording, the rehearsal spaces we are building downstairs or playing their music or live performance on our radio program

Clients/Credits: I’m lucky to have worked with some very talented artists over the years. These are some of the artists that I felt a great connection working with this past year and that left a unique impression on me and my studio:

Ann Pragg — This is the solo project of Matt Radick (Holowpaw, Blood river, Cassette). He released a record, Bitter Fruit, on Wonderland Archives earlier this year. Most of the tracking was done at Boyd Shropshire’s house on an 8 track cassette multitrack, a Yamaha MT8X I think). Then it was brought here for a few overdubs and for mixing. It’s an amazing record and quite a fun experience giving an appropriately polished mix while still maintaining the intimate quality and tone of the cassette recorder. I listen to this record at least once a week. It’s like a soft melancholy feeling that you never want to let go of.

tiger dare — These guys came in to do some basic tracking and they ended up having me produce the record. We just went for it and had fun locking ourselves in the studio till 5 AM for days on end and just let sleep deprivation, coffee and creation take over the record. It’s called Wires Over, Wired In, and was recently mastered by Paul Gold at Salt Mastering and is out early 2014 on Wonderland Archives. A poppy dream-scape of wintery night time nostalgia.

Black River Quartet — This instrumental trio (led by guitar genius Aodhan O’Reilly) came in to record an EP, Hitman Blues, and I would have to say this was one of the easiest sessions I have ever run. They came in, set up, we got levels and then they just tracked the whole record live from beginning to end with maybe a couple takes. The whole session was over in a few hours and then we just spent one night mixing it. Those guys make it look easy.

Right now I’m producing an EP for Joseph Sant (of Backlights) and I don’t want it to end. We are just finishing up right now so I don’t know when it will be released, I bet if I could just work with Joe forever I would be a pretty happy guy. His songs are absolutely beautiful and he is a real treat to work with. He comes in with rough demos of just acoustic guitar and vocals and then he’s like, “Let’s see what it pulls out of us,” and magic happens. I have never worked with an artist that puts that amount of trust in me as a producer. It’s been refreshing and rewarding.

Guitars are well represented.

Guitars are well represented.

Key Personnel:

Gabriel Galvin – engineer/owner
Stirling Krusing – assistant engineer
Baldwin – the studio bunny

System Highlights: Our main tracking and mixing desk is a vintage 36-channel Wheatstone tv1000 analog desk. The Wheatstone desk is a very clean and precise analog desk with an extremely
musical and articulate EQ section — it started its life as a broadcast desk designed to feed multiple independent mixes to four different studios simultaneously. This routing flexibility was my original attraction to the board and opens a world of possibility when mixing. The 20 super clean preamps, the flexible EQ and the 16 stereo/mid-side channels just sweeten the deal.

I have Pro Tools for clients that specifically ask for it, but I prefer to use Cubase 7 (I have been using Cubase since 1998).

I have a 16-track tape machine that doesn’t seem to get much use lately and lots of vintage and modern outboard gear. Way too much to list, but most of it is listed on the website.

Some of my favorite things that I have in here and end up using on 90% of my mixes would be the ADR ex-press limiter, Moog 10 band graphic equalizer, Eventide H3000, TK Audio BC1m2, my four Chandler Tube Drivers — they each sound distinctively different. And my tape delays, I can’t live without my tape delays: Roland RE-201, Echoplex ep-3, Dynachord, Univox ec-80a.

I’m building a reverb chamber downstairs, so that’s going to be fun and I have a gigantic Echo-plate plate reverb on its way. I’m really excited to hook that thing up.

We have lots of instruments and eclectic noise makers also. Lots of little things like melodicas, bass harmonicas, accordions, theremins, and whatever interesting little doohickeys I can find.

My 1967 Sonor drum kit records so beautifully and there are plenty of snare drums to choose from, including a Sonor designer series (my favorite), a 1959 Gretsch progressive jazz model, a 1965 solid shell Slingerland and a few more.

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  • Four Foot Studios

    Nice place if I do say so my self (wink).

  • Sounds interesting…