Utica Observer-Dispatch / Music Scene
By MARK SISTI
June 04. 2015 5:59PM
Big Blue North recording studio offers professional sound close to home
So, you’ve got your band sounding good and sounding tight. You’ve worked up a few original tunes that don’t sound like Nirvana retreads. Maybe you’ve even demoed some of your material on your Tascam Portastudio. You’re ready to take that next step and make a professional recording. But where to take that step? That’s the question. New York? Nashville? Genesee Street?
That’s right, local musicians looking to chase their dream of recording stardom can start that chase right in their own back yard. That is, if they live behind 2317 Genesee St. right here in the city of Utica. That’s where you’ll find Big Blue North Studios, owned and operated by husband and wife Jeff Aderman and Pamela Jardieu-Aderman, in a building that started its life in 1926 as the Church of the Nazarene. In 2001, renovations began; 21/2 years later, it reopened as Big Blue North Recording Studio.
Once you get over your reluctance to talk in church, you’re struck by the acoustics of the studio’s live room. With its 1,700 square feet and 35-foot wood ceilings, you can imagine an angelic church choir singing. Or, for that matter, a huge John Bonham-type drum sound.
If the live room is the heart of the studio, the control room is its brain, and that’s where you’ll find one of Big Blue North’s main attractions: a highly-coveted 32-channel Neve analog console designed by audio engineering legend Rupert Neve, the subject of Dave Grohl’s 2013 documentary, “Sound City.”
“There’s not another Neve any closer than Woodstock,” said Aderman. “There’s nothing like this locally at all.”
OK, you’ve decided to take that step (and a 33.3 percent discount for musicians in the 315 area makes that choice an easier one.) What now? What’s the single most important thing to consider before going into a studio for the first time?
“Pre-production,” says Jardieu-Aderman without hesitation. “Don’t wait to get into the studio to find out, for example, what the tempo should be. And don’t let this be the first time you’ve ever heard yourself recorded. You need to be demoing yourself all the time.”
These days the biggest competition for a studio comes from the proliferation of home recording options. While not matching the quality of a pro studio, project studio recordings can churn out good-sounding recordings; Pam and Jeff realize that, for some, that’s enough. And they’re OK with that.
“I encourage people to talk to us and give it a try even if it’s just a song,” says Aderman. “If they don’t feel that there’s a big enough difference then, great. But most people that come here come back.”
Mark Sisti is an experienced performer and promoter who writes about local music for the Observer-Dispatch. Email him at email@example.com