Memory Lane: NYC Recording Studios That Have Defined Music Culture
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From jazz to hip-hop and so many other genres, the following three studios are unique and iconic examples of how the interior of a space influences creativity, collaboration and trust with world-class recording artists.
Control room at Jungle City Studios PHOTO COURTESY OF JUNGLE CITY STUDIOS
The decades of music created in New York City have shifted culture, crystallized life moments and defined who we are. Many iconic recording studios in NYC have played a tremendous part in documenting those sounds.
A safe place for artists to peel back their public personas and dig deep to create bodies of work that thrill and move us all are what recording studios should be. So, it’s imperative that these technical spaces also carry energy that promotes self-expression to the highest degree. Yes, the sound achieved in recording studios is the absolute priority, but a comfortable sofa for an artist to sit on while trying to combine the perfect words for utmost emotional accuracy is arguably critical too. Several studios in the Big Apple know this well and have been providing such spaces—a vibe—for many years.
Soundboard at Threshold City Studios PHOTO BY JAMES WALSH/COURTESY OF THRESHOLD
THRESHOLD RECORDING STUDIOS NYC
Dionne Warwick, Smokey Robinson, Betty Wright—just a tiny sample of music’s most influential figures who’ve stepped into Threshold Recording Studios NYC (@thresholdstudiosnyc) since its inception in the late ’90s. Unfortunately, in 2021, Hurricane Ida flooded the studio’s original space. Now, the legendary studio has a new location with a unique twist: one massive room.
“It’s been really wonderful,” says owner James Walsh of the current studio location. “It’s such a big, open space; it’s aesthetically really pleasing. We love it.”
And it’s difficult to disagree. Before entering the studio, there’s a gated courtyard for clients to enjoy the fresh air. And the interior, with its wooden floors and exposed brick walls, feels warm, like home.
Sometimes, less truly is more, and this studio proves that.
Twelfth-floor hangout at Quad Studios PHOTO BY RICKY HOSN
There are levels when it comes to recording audible art. Such is literally true at NYC’s Quad Studios (@quadstudiosnyc). Located in the heart of Times Square, the studio encompasses three floors, with a room on one floor allowing a view of the Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball. (Clients have been known to rent out the cozy lounge to bring the new year in.)
Pool table in Club Quad. PHOTO BY RICKY HOSN
“Quad is, like, 95% hiphop,” studio manager, Tino Passante, shares with EDITION. And all it takes is one look at the multiple platinum plaques on the wall to drive that point home. Notable artists who’ve made magic at Quad include Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, DMX and Tupac Shakur (whose infamous shooting at the studio in 1994 is believed to have commenced the beef between him and The Notorious B.I.G.).
Each floor has a dark, relaxed, sexy feel, and leather couches in each studio complete the look. While sitting on them, you can’t help but feel like one of the many stars who’ve graced the space—or, at the very least, a member of their entourage.
JUNGLE CITY STUDIOS
“My studio is like a destination-type place, so I don’t only get the local folks who live between New York and L.A., I get artists like Depeche Mode who came in and worked on their last two records at Jungle,” Ann Mincieli, co-owner of Jungle City Studios (@junglecitystudios), shares. And it’s no surprise. The recording studio—fab to the max—is intoxicatingly beautiful.
The placement of each recording room (a total of four, including two penthouse spaces), progressive color palettes (deep purples and bright reds have their moments), original art on almost every wall (some of which was installed specifically for the space)—a visit to Jungle City Studios is just as inspiring as the music that’s been created there.
Grand piano for songwriting PHOTO COURTESY OF JUNGLE CITY STUDIOS
"Beatles Banditos" by Mr. Brainwash. PHOTO COURTESY OF JUNGLE CITY STUDIOS
Before the paint even dried, Beyoncé found her way to the Jungle, turning it into a factory to make her 2013 self-titled album. And Alicia Keys, who has a dedicated penthouse where she records when in town, conceived every album since 2012’s Girl on Fire.
If the interior isn’t enough to make your jaw drop, the building Jungle City is housed in also includes an underground parking garage, making it easy for superstar clients like Ariana Grande and Rihanna to arrive without bother.
“I really spent a lot of money—just as much—on the furniture and the interior choices as I did on the gear. I always thought, seven-star hotel,” Mincieli says about her mind-blowing creation. And that intention shines through brightly. No crevice of the studio isn’t considered; no penny was wasted.
“MY STUDIO IS LIKE A DESTINATION-TYPE PLACE, SO I DON’T ONLY GET THE LOCAL FOLKS WHO LIVE BETWEEN NEW YORK AND L.A., I GET ARTISTS LIKE DEPECHE MODE WHO CAME IN AND WORKED ON THEIR LAST TWO RECORDS AT JUNGLE.” –ANN MINCIELI
Note on piano to Alicia Keys from Chick Corea