A non-descript doorway on the end of one of Fort Wayne’s most famous buildings leads to a gem of a recording studio in the form of Berry Street Records.
Take the stairs up to the second floor of the old Wayne Candies factory and turn right to walk into an unexpected and amazing facility, complete with everything you need to make a world-class recording.
Behind the board
Owner Scott Rottler has plenty of experience behind the board as well as outside the studio.
He has been a stage manager and monitor engineer for The Guess Who for several years and typically spends about 180 days out on the road annually. Rottler has worked with several other artists you may know as well, most recently spending some time in Nashville helping to put the finishing touches on the soon-to-be-released Styx album.
He has worked in studios for more than two decades before founding Berry Street Records about six years ago, building the studio himself and growing it into one of the city’s most highly sought after rooms.
“It’s grown a lot over the years,” Rottler said in a recent interview with Whatzup. “When I got here there was still a drop ceiling and the kitchen was in the control room. I took those out, re-ran the plumbing to move the kitchen, and it’s just kind of developed from there.”
The ceiling is higher now, exposing some of the character of the building while aiding the acoustics. The studio has just about everything you need, including a wide variety of instruments, the requisite bar area, a kitchen with coffee options, and a hot dog machine, which Rottler jokingly said is “really important.”
The idea of running a tap from nearby Summit City Brewerks was even floated at some point, but unfortunately it wasn’t feasible.
Fixing the mixer
Despite the lack of that fully functioning tap, the space does contain an excellent mixing board, obtained by Rottler from a Showtime live production truck a few years ago. He spent more than a year cutting it down to 32 channels to make it more functional.
“Why would I want to have more than 32?” he said. “The days of nine-foot-long, 96-channel consoles are just gone.”
What remains is more than adequate to offer a multitude of routing options as well as allowing the room to mix stuff live while maintaining the warmth of analog sound that is so in demand these days.
“The warmth and the depth and the width you get out of analog you just can’t get out of digital,” Rottler said. “But the beauty of tracking into digital is that you have all of this great edit-ability and you can get things really super tight while still making it sound really natural.”
Added an agen
To help with the workload, especially when he is on the road, Rottler added local entrepreneur and music expert Morrison Agen to the fold about a year ago. You might remember Agen from his days as owner of Neat Neat Neat Records and Music.
As it turns out, Agen has quite a bit of knowledge on the recording side of things, too. The duo have found they are quite compatible and make a great team, bouncing ideas off each other while working through the studio’s many projects.
“What makes it a special experience,” Rottler said, “is that when it comes to audio engineering, it takes years of ear training to be able to execute a vision that somebody has in their head. On top of that you need an understanding of gear. Morrison and I both have those. When I started, we didn’t have digital or computer-based recording. So, I understand the concept of true analog, tracking, capturing, and mixing, all the way to the use of modern-day technology and how to implement analog with digital. And Morrison’s knowledge of music is second to none.”
That knowledge helps Rottler in his attempt to fulfill the ideas that artists have in their heads.
“A lot of producers never listen to their artists,” Rottler said. “It’s their music. You should be trying to capture their vision.”
Berry Street Records doesn’t specialize in any one type of music. They have the capability to record and/or mix just about anything. Their collective comprehension of what they hear allows them to pinpoint the things they need to do in order to get the exact sound that each artist desires.
Agen also points out that this studio is special in that it has a layout and setup that can allow for bands to record as if they were in a live setting.
Unlike many studios that are restricted with space, Berry Street has “the ability to record an entire band at the same time, allowing us to get that live push-and-pull vibe that only comes with tracking people just how they play.”
Chris Dodds, singer and guitarist from The Legendary Trainhoppers who are currently recording their newest EP at Berry Street Records, concurs.
“The Trainhoppers sought out this space because it is perfectly suited for a loose, raucous, live band recording setting,” Dodds said. “It was a different approach for us as a band to be able to look at each other, feel the ebbs and flows within a song, and try to capture that stage performance feel. Scott Rottler is a fantastic blend of someone who gives you space to experiment but can also rein it in to achieve the desired end result.”
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