Recording Studio Sweet Spot: Swan7, East Williamsburg/Bushwick

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EAST WILLIAMSBURG/BUSHWICK, BROOKLYN: The three little bears aren’t there, but Brooklyn has a studio that’s juuuuust right: Swan7.

Where the musical porridge gets mixed -- the SWAN7 control room.

Founded by the busy producer/engineer Matt Stein, Swan7 expended as little energy as possible on nomenclature so it could get straight to tracking and mixing for its clientele. “Swan7 stands for Studio Without A Name,” Stein explains, “and 7 because Swan7.com was the first available domain name that sounded good. It’s better than Swan3 for instance.”

Step inside, and find a serious equipment list in the comfortable control room, connected to a live room that’s, you know, just right for a rock band. It’s an ideal slice of high audio standards with a very adventurous spirit mixed in, exactly where a buzzing beehive of artists and producers – indie and major label alike — need it.

Read forward for all the facts…

Facility Name: Swan7

Website: http://www.swan7.com

Location: 268 Meserole Street, Brooklyn “East Williamsburg/Bushwick”

Neighborhood Advantages: Apart from being a block and a half from the Montrose stop on the “L” Train, the street and the building in particular is a growing music scene unto itself. The studio is located in the Danbro Music Building which currently houses the Sweatshop rehearsal studios, Bushwick Supply/Main Drag, Newtown Radio and 50+ monthly rehearsal rental spaces housing some 90+ bands.

Underway in the same building (which covers nearly a city block) is construction on a nightclub that will have a bar and DJ room that’ll hold 250 people, a live performance area that can accommodate close to 1000 people and an outdoor area where they plan to have seasonal outdoor concerts for 2500+ fans. Also there is a microbrewery/beer garden rumored to be coming as well.

That’s just the one building. Add to that, Yummus Hummus, Shea Stadium, Anchor Bar, Jessie’s Sandwich shop (home of the best breakfast burritos) and so much more within one to two blocks of Swan7.

Date of Birth: April/May 2010

Facility Focus: Swan7 is really a full-service studio capable of doing everything from live tracking and mixing of bands, to singer-songwriters who need music to post production audio for film and television.

Mission Statement: It has always been a goal to provide the quality of service and equipment to artists that is associated with having major label backing, at a price that the independent artist can afford. The studio was designed and built based on the years of experience working in world-class rooms, but scaled down (in size) to something affordable.

Clients/Credits: In the last year and a half we’ve had a wide range of bands come through including So So Glos, Oh Land, Chelsea Wolfe, Dive, Minks, Computer Magic etc… A number of projects for Atlantic Records (Trey Songz, Rumer, Laura Izibor), Massive Media have also been here. Equally important are a number of extremely talented young artist financing their own projects… Matt FX Feldman, Andi Kristins, Nasty Ness, Tica Douglas, Thee Shambels

Before Swan7 I worked with tons of great artists. When I was starting out I did a number of projects with producer Bill Laswell (who was a huge influence and inspiration). I did a lot of hip hop in the early ’90’s with groups like the Jungle Brothers, Brand Nubian, Positive K and since have worked on 100’s of projects including executive producing and producing three tracks on a reggae/hip hop album called Def Jamaica (Island/Def Jam) which received a Grammy nomination in 2005.  A full list of credits and discography are available on the Swan7 website…

Room to get it done -- you can rock out in SWAN7's live space.

Key Personnel: Matt Stein – Owner/producer/engineer,  Zach Botham – engineer

System Highlights: Tough question. It’s like asking a parent which is their favorite child! The studio features Pro Tools HD 3 rig with 2 192’s for a total of 24 I/Os. We also run Logic and Cubase and Digital Performer. We have a nice selection of pre-amps/EQs including Neve 1084’s, Amek 9098’s Purple Biz Pre’s, (2) UA 610’s (4) API 560’s. We have lots of compressors including UA1176LN and (2) Purple MC77’s, (2) Distressor EL8’s, Neve 33609/J, Altec 438a, Classic dbx stuff, 165, 160x, 166 original and 166a’s, URIE LA-4, Valvotronics Gain Ryder etc… It’s all a nice mix of the old and the new…

Distinguishing Characteristics: While the studio is not huge, the live room (13′ x 15′) can comfortably accommodate 3-4 musicians and a drum kit. Larger bands can be accommodated by isolating the lead singer and one or two other players in the vocal booth and/or control room.

We do a weekly live radio show with Newtown Radio where we record bands live in this manner. The whole thing takes about three hours and the end product has been fantastic. Check the broadcasts out at youtube.com/newtownradio.

The building is on fire, you only have time to grab ONE thing to save, what is it? Such a tough question. On the one hand, you want to take the rarest, most irreplaceable item you can think of and on the other hand, what would you take in order to keep working. I want to say my HD rig because with it, I can do just about anything from mixing to creating tracks. But now that I think of it… I guess I would grab the hard drives because that’s where all the content is and ultimately, that’s the most irreplaceable thing in the studio.

Rave Reviews: Clients say they love the vibe at Swan7. They feel at home and are comfortable to be creative. Not for nothing, clients are impressed by the speed and quality of the work we do both recording and mixing.

Most Memorable Session Ever: So many memorable sessions, but the one that qualifies was in the ‘90’s, I was hired by Elektra to remix/re-purpose several Blondie songs, so I got to spend a week in the studio with Debbie Harry. We had to get all the 2″ tapes baked and had to retrofit a Studer A800 with a 16-track head so we could transfer to fresh tape. We did songs like “Tide Is High,” “Call Me,” “Detroit 442,” “Rapture,” and more.

Most Forgettable Session Ever: How does one answer this question without ending up with a price on their head? There was a hip hop session I did for a very powerful hip hop producer who was not present at the time, so the people he left in charge were going back and forth with him on the phone.

Since they were screwing up all night and unable to complete their assignment, they told the producer the next day that I had erased the main vocal track. Needless to say, they were lying but since I wasn’t present to defend myself, I never got paid…

Dream Session: I’m a huge David Bowie fan. If I could go back in time and have David Bowie in my studio during the Heroes-Low-Lodger period with Brian Eno, Tony Visconti, Robert Fripp, Adrien Belew etc… life would be complete.

When I was young, I read an article about how they recorded Bowie’s vocals on the track “Heroes” that completely blew my mind. They set up three mics… one close to Bowie and then one 15′ away and another 30′ away. The two mics in the distance had gates on them and were set to open as he sang louder. As he got a bit louder the one 15′ away would open and then the one 30′ away when he got really loud. The louder he sang, the more room tone was introduced. Pretty damn cool…

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