Abstract Rhythm is a sound insulated recording studio in Dumbo. A visit to the facility shows how passionate the owners are for music. They have been in Dumbo for three years, originally taking over a previous music operation. In 2009, they financed and spent 6 months for a new build-out of expensive soundproof walls so they can provide a place for clients to produce great music. There’s a control room that provides a central location for the sound engineer in an acoustically neutral space for mixing and monitoring, while the two sound rooms provide an environment for drums, instruments, or voice recordings. They can also provide the latest in digital software and hardware, microphones, drum kits, keyboards, and turntables. We caught up with Brendan James, the head Audio Engineer at Abstract Rhythm.
How did you guys get started and why Dumbo? When did the studio open?
I have been recording and producing for about 10 years now, and most of the other studios I had worked in were located in desolate warehouse districts, far away from transportation. We chose DUMBO for it’s professionalism and nice environment. DUMBO is clean and vibrant location with lots of inspiration to draw from with it’s art events, historical buildings and great views. It’s a community that really fosters the growth of all forms of expression. Not only that but it’s safe and close to Manhattan as well.
Because of the amount of effort it takes to soundproof a space for a professional recording operation (basically building a second airtight space within your space) we decided to incorporate into the process an efficient and aesthetic design that would aid in the artistic process as well. With the help of acusticians and other professionals we decided to divide our space into three rooms. Each room is isolated from the other with windows so you can see all the way through the whole suite. This basically allows us to record a full band at once while minimizing the interference (bleed) from one instrument to the next. It also gives us the choice of using the different character of each room to add to the sound of the recordings. We record live drums A LOT, and take pride in what we believe to be our own unique signature drum sound.
What sort of music/bands do you attract at the studio?
We primarily deal with Jazz, Gospel, and Hip-Hop artists reflecting the true demographic of the area. However, as of late because of the flood of so many varying musicians from either overseas or locally, we’ve delved into other styles as well such as funk, rock, and progressive stylings. Its not uncommon to find that styles actually blend at the studio as a project develops. The more abstract, the more keen we are to it; its in our name! We specialize in and do a fair amount of in-house production and putting together studio musicians to play and record for solo artists. This is a big service that sets us apart from the rest. We have a long list of professional musicians we hire that specialize in recording in various genres. Hiring the right musicians for your project can save a lot of time and money, it can also bring a lot of new energy to your music by playing it tight and playing it right. One of the main mantras of Abstract Rhythm Production is we do it live! With the right practice and preparation we encourage artists to record as much as they can live simultaneously. The majority of music out there is constructed in a very hodge-podge type of way: vocals recorded here, drums recorded there, in general different musicians (if there are any) recorded at different places at a different times. We believe in the cohesiveness that comes with great musicians playing and recording live. The result is always a recording that has more life, harmony and character and this is part of what the artist gets at Abstract Rhythm.
What’s your background?
My background is in electronic production DJing remixing and producing. I do my own solo material under the name DJ Baked Potato and have recently delved more into the soul and funk sound with my latest record “Strange Places” available at www.bakedpotatomusic.net. In 2005 I graduated from the New England Institute of Art (formerly Mass Communications College) with a degree in Recording Science and Audio Production. After interning at a few studios in the Boston area (Blink Music, Get Nice Records, Mad Oak) I moved to Brooklyn in 2006 following a comon musical vein that links the two cities. Throughout this time I was working on my own production projects and remixes in varying genres including trip-hop, lounge, Brazilian, dance, Hip-Hop, and Japanese Pop. Go figure! After getting more into the art and science of recording live musicians I had a thirst to record everybody and anything, and began to work more with acoustic sounds. With a strong love for 70s funk and soul guiding my aesthetics I began recording with many amazing artists and musicians from Boston to Brooklyn. I mainly engineer and produce music now as well as work on arrangements and remixes / electronic drum programming.
Thanks Brendan! Special thanks to Vladimir Edmond, who works with Abstract Rhythm for helping to connect Dumbo’s musicians with the studio.
Abstract Rhythm (abstractrhythm.net)
10 Jay Street, Suite 608
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(Abstract Rhythm info sheet – 1.4mb PDF)