The studio scene in Queens is often overlooked, but perhaps not for much longer. Long Island City is home to a burgeoning musical community, while Astoria has been the home of one of NYC’s busiest production facilities since 1921.
Today we take you for a tour of a few of the most active studios in Queens, stopping to focus on one of the borough’s biggest, and one of its most compact.
KAUFMAN ASTORIA MUSIC AND SOUND
At first glance, the music studios at Kaufman Astoria can seem intimidating to the average musician.
The halls of this landmark building are filled with history in a literal sense:
Original theatrical posters line the corridors leading to the recording studio, and remind visitors of 90-years worth of films produced here, from The Cocoanuts (The Marx Brothers’ first feature) through Men in Black III (which wrapped shooting just before our visit).
Joe Castellon, Creative Director of the Music and Sound division, says that new musicians are sometimes worried about where they fit into all this. But according to him, “you’ve got to throw that all away.”
“The most important thing is to be relaxed,” he says. “I like to make it so the musicians feel like they’re playing in their living room, or singing in the shower.”
And Castellon might be the perfect person to put players at ease in a production complex that spans a full city block. He walks these halls with the comfort of a man in his bathrobe, cracking jokes with brawny guys building sets for Bourne Legacy, waving at every custodian he passes.
As a producer, engineer and arranger, Castellon has used this studio to record orchestras and big-bands, rock groups and R&B singers – and not just for the films and TV shows that shoot here.
In addition to serving TV shows including Nurse Jackie and Law & Order, and hosting filmmakers like Woody Allen and Martin Scorcese, the studios at Kaufman Astoria have attracted recording projects from Alison Krauss, R.E.M., Tony Bennett, Itzhak Perlman, Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis.
Studio A at KAS Music and Sound is a remarkable 2,400-square foot music space capable of housing a 70-piece orchestra.
“It’s one of the last studios of its kind in the city,” says Castellon, continuously smiling through owl-eyed glasses and a Frank Zappa mustache. “The main room has 2.7-seconds of reverb.”
“[Using gobos] we can re-configure it in all sorts of ways….