Anyone who has spent time and money recording albums, shed blood, sweat and the occasional unanticipated dollar diligently in the name of their songs, knows the importance of a studio and a producer in the album-making process.
The studio is a playground in reality. It provides options and limitations in the form of physical space and technology: monkey bars or slides, vintage Ludwig Acrilyte snare or Fender Rhodes electric piano. It is a "womb" of creativity (as the engineer and author Mixerman named it): A place where spontaneous moments of artistry and emotion are documented and translated for the listening audience.
A good producer is also responsible for this translation. They assist the talent with clarity of vision, and the foresight to finish the project timely and on budget. A producer could fine-tune the sound of a guitar, make a drummer play "less busy" or nip flights of lyrical whimsy in the bud for the sake of the song. They serve as the gatekeeper to the artist's endless current of emotion and self, preserving and encouraging the purest and most contagious pieces for the audience.
We at UTW know that the amalgamation of artists in Tulsa could not create the way that they create all on their own. So, we salute those local studios and producers making a difference and helping create the albums that make its way to our car stereos, computer playlists and Best Album of the Year lists. Therefore, here are the nominees for this year's Best Studio in Absolute Best of Tulsa Music Awards.
Brady Street Studio led by Brian Osborn is home to Brady Street Records in the Brady Arts District. The well-equipped location has been home to recording artists such as My Solstice, The Televised and Oklahoma City's Pretty Black Chains.
While offering a professional environment, the facility is dedicated to the up-and-coming artists offering deals for those booking time during the summer.
Damen Banks and his Swahill Studios might reverberate with readers. G.K. Hizer's feature on Banks, "A Resonance Man" (in the March 3 issue) delved into his history and dedication to music making. Bank's downtown studio focuses on R & B and hip-hop music as well as approaching the music industry as a whole by pulling artists locally and from Texas.
The Church Studio may also sound familiar to regular UTW readers (Mike Eaterling's "Feels Like Religion" in the Nov. 11, 2009 issue). For several years this facility was recording home to Leon Russell and his Shelter Records label and later changed hands to Steve Ripley of The Tractors. Mark Kuykendall, who has worked with artists such as Lindsey Neal, The Panda Resistance, The Night's Bright Lights and Beau & Wink currently works out of the space.
Tucked away in Broken Arrow resides Valcour Sound Studios and producer/engineer Hank Charles. Working out of the space for 30 years, the studio has seen such diverse artists such as Fiawna Forté, Bring Down the Hammer, Susan Herndon and Red Alert.
Recording might not get more artist-friendly than SoulTree Studios. Namely because the business is run by two songwriters/musicians: Travis Fite and Jared Tyler. Fite can be see performing with his jam-funk band What's That around town and Tyler recently released a second solo album this past spring (see G.K. Hizer's "Message of Love" March 24 issue of UTW).
Voting ends July 16, so be sure support the producer and studio that helps make the local music you love. While your favorite performer might be some kind of Tin Man, Scarecrow or Dorothy, remember that the producer is the Wizard tucked behind a curtain often pulling all the strings and blowing all the whistles.
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