Loho Studios has lived two lives. From 1983-2007 it evolved from a downtown rehearsal space to a world-class recording studio, hosting living legends like Willie Nelson, Patty Smith, Joan Jett, Yo La Tengo, Art Garfunkel and Joey Ramone.
Following this 25-year run it disappeared from the market completely, presumably moth-balled or auctioned off in pieces like so many of the best NYC studios. But after couple years out of the public eye, LoHo returned to the commercial market in 2009 with a new staff and new owners.
Today, engineer Matt Werden spends his weekdays working out of LoHo’s loft-like, two-story live room with the its new owners, the Blue Man Group. For Werden, there’s no such thing as a “typical” session. A day with Blue Man could mean rehearsals and sound design for the group’s live shows, mix sessions for short films and TV spots, or the recording of any number of sci-fi PVC-based instruments.
Nights and weekends are a different story. Since 2009, the studio has begun to open its doors to commercial bookings after-hours. When we talked to Werden, he was fresh off a month full of 7-day work weeks that found him splitting his time between his Blue Man duties, and recording the Brooklyn psych-rock band New Beard.
“The studio occupies this nice middle segment,” says Werden. “It’s small enough and affordable enough that it’s accessible, but since it’s subsidized by Blue Man, we have all this great gear.”
“The big thing for me is that we have enough isolation booths and great gear to get keeper tracks from a whole band playing at the same time. Not everyone can afford to go up to Avatar for that kind of thing.”
In addition to serving artists directly, the room is available to freelance engineers looking for a new mixing or tracking space. Although regular business hours are essentially locked-out in advance, Werden feels the pricing and benefits outweigh the limitations.
He says he’s come to trust the monitoring in the control room, and thinks it’s especially easy for outsiders to adapt to, particularly since they’ve installed their new ATC speakers. The standout attraction however, is easily the custom console the studio staff has nicknamed “The Time Traveler.” It’s a unique hybrid solution that’s fused together two generations of Rupert Neve’s designs…