Bridge Over Jason’s Studio

Yesterday evening, I went up to Pflugerville to visit [Jason Young->] and his delightful wife Erin. Jason is quite a polymath: he does commercial music, woodworking, film audio, set construction, and arranges much of the music for Baylor’s All University Sing each year. Since so much of his work is done in his home studio, he has long been mulling over how to best turn it into a good working space. Those dreams and plans finally came to fruition a few months back when he embarked on a massive remodeling of the studio, finally ready to make it exactly what he wanted it to be.

He anticipated the project taking 2 weeks. That span quickly came and went. The project stretched on to 3 weeks, then 4, and finally, by the end of week 7, the was room ready to use again. I applaud his tenacity, as I’m pretty sure around the end of week 3 I would have simply set fire to the house and moved to a Caribbean island to live out the remainder of my days wearing dreadlocks and selling shells to tourists.

And the results are wondrous. Not to overstate the case, but the room is a work of art. There’s an enormous amount of fit and finish that went into it, with beautiful, technically complicated details all over the place. From the routed veneered desktop, to the crown molding that has to be cut to accommodate corners in both the wall and the ceiling at the same time, to the hidden pipes and troughs that conceal all the wiring, to the isolation booth that is essentially an airtight room within the room, Jason did a meticulous, amazing job overcoming a ton of technical obstacles to create a space that’s a treat to work in.

To celebrate the completion of the project, he has been graciously inviting his friends to try out the studio. I disappeared into the isolation booth for a few minutes with a guitar, and then again to lay down a vocal track — both single takes with no punching in or out. I’ve been experimenting some with a much more raw, improvisatory vocal style than I usually sing with, and wanted to see what it sounded like. Thus, anything good in this recording is Jason’s doing. The rough bits, which are numerous, are wholly my fault.


It was really interesting to see Jason work and put the pieces together. Because we’re so used to hearing sounds with a certain amount of presence from reflections off of walls and other surfaces, the raw tracks from the booth sounded just dreadful to my ear. That is, however, by design, as the foam on the walls sucks up the sound before it can reflect back, leaving the engineer is left with a very straight, dry source to work with. He can then add however much presence or other processing he deems appropriate with more control that would be possible if there were already echoes on the recording. I asked Jason to keep things pretty raw, but it still amazed me just how much difference a light reverb made to the sound of the recording.

After enjoying a wonderful dinner of homemade bagel sandwiches and the 3 hours of fooling around in the studio, we finished off the evening with some time playing Wii, discussion of the musical ciphers in the Rosslyn Chapel, and a review of some of our favorite (or at least most-often-read) books. It was a great visit, as always, even though we didn’t get around to building anything destructive this time around.