Monday, June 04, 2001

Studio Rats in Chelsea

Elias Associates was the original name of the commercial music business later known as Elias Arts and Elias Music. But when I worked there, first as an intern, and subsequently as the head of production, the studios theoretically could be rented out under the auspices of 'Vision Arts' studios. In practice, though, Associates was so busy that they rarely were available, and then only to special customers, such as John Barry who dropped by on occasion to record the occasional film cue with Jonathan. 

In the early days I cared more about access than money, so when I was offered a full time job the summer of 1992 –after my graduation from NYU– for 13K a year, instead of asking for a bigger paycheck I had the gumption to ask for a copy of the keys to the studio. I think management quite liked the idea that I was willing to spend 24 hours/7 Days a week at the studio, because they fulfilled my request with so much as batting an eye. After that, most weeknights I’d go home after work, take a short nap, and then return @ 2 or 3AM in the morning. On a normal night, when I walked in, Jonathan Elias would usually be wrapping up a record session with Mercury Recording Artists, Dito Montiel and Gutterboy; Ian Lloyd, Bemshi, Robert Downey Jr. or any one of his 'Super Model' projects. 

In those days the studio was teaming with beautiful girls who wanted to get a record deal, or just hang out with ‘music guys’. Not that any one paid attention to me, and I liked it that way, because I was still learning how to operate studio hardware, and considered the circus around me a distraction.

Either way, when the studios finally emptied out, I settled into Studio B, and learned how to be a capable studio rat by trying to solve musical problems with technical solutions. Occasionally, Chris Fosdick or Michael Sweet would drop in on their way out and help me figure out why the damn Synclavier was not coming up on the mixing board. Billy Mallery would often arrive the next day at 8AM only to find me still trying to figure out how to patch a tone through a channel, or how to lay SMPTE to tape. I would be tearing my hair out; he would press a single small button or patch a cable and that would be it. Live and learn, and I lived like that for years, much to the detriment of my social life, which pretty much became nonexistent –along with my personality, no doubt. But it was tremendous fun; and living with one hand on an SSL and one on a Synclavier, -it’s what I wanted for myself at the time.

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