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    November 2009
SubCat is moving to Syracuse!

We made the font page of the Post-Standard on Saturday November 14th with the announcement that SubCat Studios will be moving to the Armory Square area of Syracuse. Below is the article.

SubCat Music Studios in harmony with new neighbor, the Red House
By Rick Moriarty/The Post-Standard
November 14, 2009, 10:03AM
Mike Greenlar / The Post-Standard

A commercial building in Armory Square will soon see new life as a cafe, a music recording studio and a place for artists to stay while performing at the Red House Arts Center next door.

SubCat Music Studios will relocate from Skaneateles and occupy most of the first floor and cellar level of 219 S. West St. when a recently launched renovation of the three-story building is completed in late spring or early summer, said Kristen Brandt, who speaks for the project.

Founded in Skaneateles in 2002, SubCat has expanded its studio services to include CD duplication and album art design and needs the extra space that the Armory Square building will provide, Brandt said. The studio is owned by three audio engineers — Ron Keck, Derek Yackel and Jeremy Johnston. A glass-enclosed, one-story addition to the rear of the building will house a cafe that will offer a small menu of coffees, wines, beer, appetizers and snacks. It will be open to the public and double as a lounge where artists and patrons can mingle , she said.

“It will complement Red House shows,” Brandt said. “People can come here after a show and maybe listen to talks by the artists.”

Scott Allyn, a physician and a musician, owns the building and is heading up the project.

Allyn, a member of the Red House board of directors, has applied to the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency for a sales tax exemption on construction materials.

His application estimates the cost of the project at $3.1 million, city officials said. The agency will hold a public hearing Tuesday.

The project also is eligible for state Empire Zone property tax exemptions.

Red House Art Radio, an Internet radio station launched in May and temporarily housed at the arts center, will also occupy the cellar.

The second floor will become available for rental as musical or dance rehearsal space or for business meetings or cocktail receptions.

Part of the second floor will house music and performing arts classroom space under development by 219 South West LLC, the company Allyn has created to own and operate the building.

Brandt said teaching rooms will be outfitted to record each lesson for the students to take home, intended to increase retention from each lesson.

The facility might serve as a “school of rock,” offering “vacation camps” where students perform together on the stage, the cafe or rehearsal space, she said.

About a third of the third floor is an apartment, where an artist can live and work. The rest of the floor will contain a multi-bedroom, hostel-like loft, where artists can stay while performing at the Red House, a nonprofit center that presents and produces works in theater, film, visual art and music.

“It’s going to be a very interesting and chic alternative to a long-term suites hotel,” Brandt said.

Natalia Mount, executive director of the arts center, said Red House will lease the lofts from 219 South West LLC and make them available to artists free of charge as part of their contracts to perform at the center.

Mount said the cafe, though technically not part of Red House, could help drive business to the arts center by giving patrons a nearby place to go to socialize or chat with artists after a show.

The arts center, in turn, will drive business for the cafe, she said.

The Red House, which has an 89-seat theater (with red seats), has a small bar in its lobby. However, the lobby is tiny and uninviting, Mount said.

“You don’t want to have people just come in and out and that’s it,” she said. “It’s very important to have a space where people can talk before and after shows.”

Built in the 1890s or early 1900s, Allyn’s building will get new storefront glazing along South West Street to give it a fresh identity to passing traffic and to encourage pedestrians to stop and peek in.

To improve the building’s appearance from Armory Square, renovations to its east facade will include re-cladding of the exterior elevator tower.

The building, like the arts center, is located on a concrete island on the extreme western edge of Armory Square, surrounded by the split north and south lanes of West Street and a railroad overpass to the south.

“We’re sort of floating in the middle of West Street here,” Brandt said.

But the building is just half a block from The Warehouse, a 135,000-square-foot former furniture warehouse owned by Syracuse University and used for art education, community use and the home of the university’s School of Architecture.

Brandt sees the 219 project as a gateway from Armory Square to the city’s Near West Side, a neighborhood of industrial, residential and commercial buildings, many of them vacant and dilapidated.

Efforts are under way by organizations such as the Near West Side Initiative to revitalize the neighborhood, turning buildings into mixed-use facilities, including a green technology incubator, culinary center, space for artists to live and work, and the new headquarters of public broadcasting station WCNY.

“People will be able to look through the windows into the (SubCat) studios,” she said. “This space will be a little more inviting. It will become a destination.”

Contact Rick Moriarty at rmoriarty@syracuse.com or 470-3148.

News from earlier this month

SubCat been gearing up for some pretty exciting stuff lately (More on exactly what that is later.) As part of this, we have made some major purchases in gear, and we are all over-the-top excited about it!

Before I begin exposing myself for that audio nerd that I am, let me just explain what this mean as far as recording, mixing and mastering goes. Just like with any other art, the tools, or instruments, you use aren't everything. Look what Jack White (The White Stripes) did with an old beat up Airline guitar and Sears Silvertone amp (yes, Sears as in the department store... and that guitar is made out of plastic.) The thing that really matters is the person using the tools.

Now imagine Jimi Hendrix without a Marshall stack, a fuzz pedal, or a wah wah. What would Stevie Ray Vaughn have sounded like if he never picked up a Fender Stratocaser, or an Ibanez Tube Screamer? Sure these players would sound good through any gear, but with great gear, they were able to create sounds that are truly extraordinary. This is why SubCat is very pleased to welcome some of the most sought after gear in the history of recording.

So, is there really that big of a difference between hardware and software? Well, being audio engineers, we couldn’t help but do the comparisons. I can honestly say that they are different in a way that we could only have dreamt of. Weather you know it or not, everyone reading this is already very familiar with the sound of all our “new” gear. Many of the sounds we have always loved, but have fallen just short of precisely creating (although we came damn close), are now literally at the tips of our fingers.

Recording, mixing and mastering is a very cumulative process. Cut one corner, and your vision is invariably compromised. Likewise, every little thing you do to increase the quality of your recording adds up to something huge.

So, if you are fortunate enough to be able to add that certain something that only great hardware can, your project will be elevated to a new level... If you are in the right hands, that is.

Derek Yackel
Phone: 315-685-9064     Email: info@subcat.net      ©2009 SubCat Music Studios LLC