Studio Sweet Spot: Douglass Recording — Gowanus, Brooklyn

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Good things come to those who wait.

In the case of Douglass Recording in Gowanus, Brooklyn, the beneficiaries of said patience are twofold: it’s fearless founder, Myles Rodenhouse, and all those who come to record there. As it turns out, his five-year journey to perfect Douglass’ live room – a 450 square-foot beauty with 15-foot ceilings — has paid off. It created a versatile and highly natural space that hosts a landmark Steinway B grand piano, is “absolutely perfect” for drums, and ideal for just about everything else.

But making Douglass Recording a reality took more than patience. It also required resilience, with the studio overcoming a tragic setback at the start – one that was followed by a stunning rescue. And as is often the case, a little bit of good fortune played its part, as Lady Luck led Rodenhouse directly to his monitoring system.

There’s much more to learn about this overnight success story that’s been a half-decade in the making. Now hear it from Rodenhouse…

The natural-sounding live room at Douglass Recording is attracting attention.

Facility Name: Douglass Recording

Website: http://www.douglassrecording.com

Location: Gowanus/ Park Slope, Brooklyn

Neighborhood advantages: There are so many great things about the area.  For one, we’re directly across the street from Three’s Brewing, a new brewing facility that houses a bar and brewery, restaurant (The Meat Hook), coffee shop (Ninth Street Espresso) and small music venue (Tiny Montgomery.)  Two doors down is a new Korean BBQ place called Insa, which has amazing food and cocktails, and cater-corner to the studio is The Douglass Tap and Grill – also amazing food and drink!  The Barclay’s Center is just a short walk north of us, and the next avenue over, 5th Ave, is full of restaurants and shops.

Gowanus is growing so fast, and has tons of hip new places, mixed with old character and mainstays.  Venues like Littlefield, Barbés, The Bell House and Lucky 13 are all within only a few blocks of us.

Mission Statement: Customer satisfaction and KILLER recordings.

You Wanna be Startin’ SOMETHING:  I think at the very start, I had envisioned more of a project studio, where I could get into personal projects and composition. But I was very luckily given an opportunity to build out a killer space. I also had a ton of advice and help from my older brother, Jake, who had previously founded an incredible studio in the Los Angeles hills called Perfect Sound Studios.

Between his advice and a lot of encouragement from my dad, the studio evolved into something well beyond what I’d originally imagined, until I ended up with what now exists!  I might say that I didn’t have enough of a vision or experience beforehand, but I jumped in head first and learned along the way.

Date of Birth: Our “Grand Opening” was May 19, 2017, about two months ago.  But I actually first got into the building about five years ago.  It was just a huge garage back then! 100 feet deep – it sounded AWESOME in there. But a total nightmare without climate control.

I’d hired a true great, Vincent Van Haaff (Capitol Records, Conway Recording, A&M Studios), to design the studio, so he flew in from LA to see the place. He came up with these great plans for the buildout, and we decided to work with local designer Ula Bochinska to help with interior design so we could get a really compelling space.

The view from control.

It took quite a bit of time to get everything through the Department of Buildings, amongst other bureaucratic things (yes, all legal!), and so the design process was a bit slow; the walls weren’t actually built for the first few years. I was just tracking a ton of stuff out of the place as is, it worked for a while! When we finally did get through construction, Jason Donaghy of the Perfect Sound team came out to wire the place up, and then we got to focusing on the acoustic treatment; also a Van Haaff project.

Just after we got through the first round of treatment covering the control room and booths, Vincent passed away.  We lost a really great mind, and a great friend. Needless to say, there were a few things left unfinished that we had to sort out before calling the studio “done,” and this slowed stuff down considerably.

The job was picked up by the man who spearheaded the construction and installation of Vincent’s treatments, Jacques LaCroix. He and Vincent were very close, and Vincent had taught Jacques a ton about what was going on in the rooms they designed as a team. Jacques finished the designs for the control room in a way that speaks incredibly well on Vincent’s behalf.

We could not be prouder of what we ended up with and we have both of them to thank. Complicated, I know!  But that’s how we ended up throwing a studio “Grand Opening Party” in May, five years after we first moved in.

Clients/ Credits: We’ve had a wide range of great styles and artists come through, including Arturo O’Farill, the Harlem Gospel Choir, Cage the Elephant, and Pharoah Monch. We’ve also recently worked with Grace Mitchell, Sage Francis, Gary Bartz, and Lewis Del Mar.

We’ve also been involved with a music blog called The Wild Honey Pie for many years, and they’ve brought us a ton of great artists for live videos!  I’ve included a few below.

You can see the studio in various stages of construction in the first two live videos. Jukebox the Ghost was in shortly before the live room treatment was installed, whereas Vanessa Carlton was in when the studio was totally untreated, and before the Douglass Team had even painted the walls!

Live at DR – Jukebox the Ghost

Live at DR – Vanessa Carlton

Mixed at DR – Dr Dog

Mixed at DR – The Jack Moves

Tracked and mixed at DR – The Shockwaves

Key Personnel:

Myles Rodenhouse – Founder

Chris Gilroy – Studio manager and primary house engineer

Gina Vosti – Staff engineer

There are a few other faces that call the studio home. Peter Karl brings through a ton of incredible talent, and Andrew Maury rents the production room upstairs!

Live Baby: The live room is a great draw for us.  It’s fairly big with high ceilings and natural light. We were aiming at maintaining a big room feel with it. Before treatment it was super echoey, which was really cool if you knew what to do with it, but certainly required a lot of work for many styles of music.

Another angle on the live room.

So with the treatment from Jacques we really tightened up the sound of the room. The room still has a great big sound to it, absolutely perfect for drums.  We’ve had a lot of success with strings too, as well as solo piano, and honestly just about everything you can think of in there.

The room translates so well. It’s such a great place to make noise.  We love keeping our microphones a little bit further from instruments and getting a truly natural sound out of anything.  Also we’ve outfitted the clouds with the Hue system from Phillips – super vibe!

(No) Console Role: As I mentioned, we started out recording in a glorified garage. There wasn’t a good place for a board back then, and we just wanted to get some great preamps that we could start recording with. So I picked up the Neve style pre’s from BAE, and a few other pieces of outboard gear.

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