WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN: John Davis and Aaron Nevezie have been building up the fortifications at their Brooklyn-based Bunker Studio for the better part of a decade. What started as a project studio in a shared live/work space has since evolved into one of the busiest (and most down-to-earth) studios in Brooklyn.
These long-time Radar and tape advocates still keep their Studer in good working order, and have recently added a Pro Tools HD system that features 32 channels of Lynx conversion, along with a rack of a half-dozen of Brent Averill’s 1084s.
Although John and Aaron are steeped in jazz and indie rock backgrounds, The Bunker has long been a hotspot for artists from across genres. Most recently, they’ve hosted Danger Mouse, the Black Keys, and during our visit, Cloudeater, a genre-jumping crew from Atlanta, GA who have inspired interest from rap mogul T.I.’s Grand Hustle label.
At first glance it seems like a surprising connection for a down-tempo band whose singer can shift gears from soulful Stevie Wonder to gut-wrenching indie crooner within a song. But searching for new sounds outside the genre is a growing trend at hip-hop labels that have seen a loss of interest in urban rap artists who have grown predictable and often show trouble attracting a concert-going audience.
To the excitement of execs, hip-hop audiences perked up at the cross-genre release from Blakroc, a project recorded mostly here in Brooklyn, which paired the blues-rock duo Black Keys with Roc-A-Fella artists like Mos Def, RZA, Raekwon and Q-Tip. Although there’s no official agreement between Cloudeater and Grand Hustle, it’s easy to see how the band’s style could pair well with collaborators from the hip-hop world. The boys of Cloudeater are studio-savvy arrangers who know real instruments but can think like programmers.
We got to listen in on a session and talk to the Bunker’s John Davis about mixing a record that’s just as likely to feature a heavy dubstep loop as an all-live piano take.
Mid-mix at The Bunker, Cloudeater’s Chris Hunt (right) and Nolan Kramer (middle) talk sounds with engineer John Davis.
This record cuts across state borders as well as genres. I hear that it was recorded in basement studios as well as commercial facilities. Were there any challenges in bringing it all together?
JD: Even though they were in Atlanta, I was able to get to know what was going on in advance. [Drummer] Chris [Hunt] was sending me rough mixes three months ago. So even though I wasn’t involved in the recording, there was some good pre-production conversation happening…