In the coming weeks, a group of students will be launching a student-run recording space at the University. This multifaceted group, called the Underground Studio Co-op, will be housed in three rooms in the basement of the University Organizing Center (UOC).
The Underground Studio Co-op consists of Red Feather Studios and the Underground Sound, among other student groups. Red Feather Studios will be a student-run recording studio, while the Underground Sound, headed by Ron Jacobs ’16, will be a collaborative space for those interested in recording mediums.
Derek Sturman ’16 and Ismael Coleman ’15 began working on plans for Red Feather Studios in Fall 2012. Since then, they have created a space in the UOC for the group to work, purchased equipment, and set up administration and protocols.
Sturman stated that his personal interest in producing music pushed him to create a space on campus for all students to record their work.
“I was really into recording music and I was looking for a place to do it on-campus,” Sturman said. “I learned through a faculty member that there was an attempt to build a student-run recording studio in the past, but that it hadn’t quite reached fruition.”
The studio currently consists of a control room and a live room, and it has equipment for a full band. The space was previously set up for only a vocalist, but new equipment was added in response to student interest.
“This year, we’ve stepped it up a little bit and got whatever else we need, because we know there’s a big demand for it on campus and people are just dying to get in there,” Jacobs said. “We wanted to make sure that we have all the capabilities for full-scale recording, meaning we have a band in there, we have a drum set, we have everything there all in one place.”
The founders of Red Feather Studios discussed measures they had taken in order to ensure the project’s longevity.
“Unfortunately, with institutional memory, the way these things work is that in two or three years none of us will be here, so no matter how much passion and vision we have for this space, if we don’t really draw up specific responsibilities and ways to transfer those responsibilities to underclassmen and work with the administration, it will just fall apart,” said David Stouck ’15.
In response to these concerns, the founders of the studio have dedicated significant resources to researching and adapting procedures from professional studios. Stouck elaborated on the importance of this process.
“We are working on putting together professional paperwork so that when students want to use the studio space, they have to fill out paperwork,” Stouck said. “Let’s say you’re bringing in a band; you have to fill out, ‘This is a song we’re going to record,’ ‘This is the amount of time,’ and ‘These are the lyrics,’ so that when people come in, it can be done professionally and quickly.”
The third room in the Underground Studio Co-op will be dedicated to the Underground Sound. Jacobs explained the nature and purpose of the collective space.
“It’s mainly to nurture the environment of very musically-driven students in the rap community, in the producing community, [and] in the DJing community, and keep it an area for a lot of different interested artists to just come speak their minds, DJ a little bit, hang out, and all that,” Jacobs said.
Mikah Feldman-Stein ’16 stated that the Underground Studio Co-op is designed to bolster musical culture and production at the University.
“We have a musical culture here,” Feldman-Stein said. “We need a way of displaying that culture more effectively.”
Stouck emphasized that although many students have expressed interest in recording in the studio, Red Feather Studios will require a staff of students in order to operate and succeed.
“We’ve really come to a conclusion here that there is a very large population of the student body that would like to get involved with the studio, but what they mean by that is they’d like to play music in there,” Stouck said. “The people that are willing to take on the other roles, like creating the paperwork, checking on the equipment to make sure nothing is broken, doing the audio engineering sessions, those are the individuals that will really allow the studio to flourish and become something. How amazing would it be if we blew up an artist off of Wesleyan’s campus in this studio next year?”
The Co-op hopes to start operating and recording student audio within the month.
“In about a month we’ll have the equipment we need to function,” Jacobs said. “We’ll probably be in a beta-phase so we can see what still needs to be done, work out the kinks, and then hopefully open to the rest of campus.”