This building was originally a furniture warehouse, but has been a recording studio since 1912. Located on the fourth floor, we happened upon one of the people who work here one summer day and he invited us in. Up we went in the freight elevator, having no idea where we were headed. Our first introduction to the space was when he uncovered a magnificent 1890's Steinway piano. There are three studios that include the Dangerous Room, a large production/writing room with a mixing and mastering suite, and the Revolution Room, which is smaller with a 16 channel 54 series broadcast Neve console. Flux even has a rooftop lounge where music videos, like one by Atomic Tom, was shot. Rufus Wainwright and Carole Pope were recently here, and over the years, the Rolling Stones, the Black Crowes, and many other bands have recorded albums at Flux.
There are only a few media outlets that enable free speech completely, and Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) is one of them. Established on West 59th Street, with another facility on 104th Street, MNN is Manhattan's free public-access cable network, airing over 13, 000 hours a year of original content, covering topics ranging from art to cooking, fitness and religion. Director of Communications and Marketing, Linda Romano, explained to me how, since 1992, MNN has offered Manhattan residents access to video production training and equipment, as well as broadcasting hours. As the city's largest media education facility, MNN has approximately 1, 600 annual enrollments in classes where multiple topics are taught including field camera use, studio production and digital editing. Classes are offered at both locations, and classes in Spanish are available at the MNN El Barrio Firehouse Community Center. Once people have completed the courses, they are then certified and invited to utilize MNN's studios, HD cameras and air their programming free of charge. Linda reiterates, "MNN is a true champion of localism. We offer a powerful tool for talking and promoting ideas or stories that may not receive coverage on mainstream media outlets. " From what I ascertained, anything is possible for the motivated student at MNN, no matter their age or abilities.
In the 1970s, the doors of a converted Con Edison power station were opened to create Power Station Studios. The high-tech recording equipment hearkened back to the building’s past, while founder Tony Bongiovi’s wood paneled design for the domed recording studios brought a unique warmth and comfort to those using the space. Bongiovi’s design is singularly able to support multitrack recording and achieve what is known in the industry as “live sound. ” The particular magic of Power Station Studios has attracted talent for decades, including Cyndi Lauper, John Mayer, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Sting, and numerous Broadway casts. The studios are now run by the Berklee School of Music under a partnership with the city and entrepreneurial musician Pete Muller. Power Station has been updated with state-of-the-art technology to meet the standards of today’s multimedia music industry. BerkleeNYC’s Executive Director Steve Webber is using these facilities not only as a resource for its students and for acclaimed artists, but also for young people by establishing relationships with nearby high schools, neighborhood associations, and after-school programs. As a tangible acknowledgement of the studio’s history, Power Station commissioned a large-scale art piece by contemporary artist Mikel Glass, which acts as both an homage to a selection of stars who have passed through the studios as well as a contemplation of “the struggle of the artist and society in general. ” The piece celebrates the machinery of music-making in a multimedia assemblage that frames the painting, including chopped up bits of CDs around the frame. Yet it also dwells on the pitfalls of celebrity culture, the battle for the spotlight, and the role of social media in modern society. For Mikel, the painting was an especially personal and emotional one. Not only had he spent three decades working in his studio a block away, but Power Station was also the “beating heart” of his best friend from high school, who worked at the studio after college and passed away soon afterward. While preparing for the piece, Mikel described uncovering a demo tape that his friend’s band had recorded at Power Station decades ago. “It became the cornerstone of the installation from where it blared, causing me to work through many tears as I reflected on the passage of time. ”Just as it did for Mikel when he discovered his friend’s recordings, Power Station and the art it enables continue to act as a boon for human feeling and connection. In perfect harmony with its history, Berklee and its collaborators now bring Power Station Studios into a new age. Read about the Power Station's reopening in the W42ST article, “Switching the Lights Back On at Power Station Studio. ”
Today, it is an historic New York recording studio, but since 1927 No. 52 has housed such diverse tenants as the 8th Street Playhouse (that boasted a decade run of midnight Rocky Horror performances), The Village Barn nightclub, and abstract expressionist Hans Hoffman's studio. In 1969, Jimi Hendrix forged the current incarnation of Electric Lady. The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Clash, John Lennon, The Dave Matthews Band, Kanye West are only a few of the many great musicians that have graced this studio.