Print Shop Studio on Vineyard opens doors for musicians

Philly D. sits in the new recording space, the Print Shop Studio in Oak Bluffs, which he and friend Ryan Casey brought to fruition. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Phil DaRosa (AKA Philly D) may be best known to Vineyarders as a musician who has played with a number of local bands, but he’s also made a name for himself as a solo singer/songwriter who toured regionally for several years. He played for Hillary Clinton’s fundraiser in 2007 and he was one of the few local acts that took part in the second Martha’s Vineyard Festival featuring the Boston Pops and Gladys Knight in 2008.

Now, the successful musician is trying his hand at producing and recording music, while still maintaining a busy career as a performer. Last November, the Vineyard born and raised Mr. DaRosa opened a fully equipped professional studio, called the Print Shop Studio, located above his family’s stationery and printing business on Circuit Ave. in Oak Bluffs. The entrance to the studio is on Kennebec Avenue.

Last spring Mr. DaRosa and his childhood friend Ryan Casey started construction on the Print Shop Studio, which incorporates a space used for a small studio that Mr. DaRosa previously set up to record his second solo CD in 2009.

Mr. Casey described the three-room studio as “a hybrid of analog and digital.” Mr. DaRosa said that the studio is equipped to provide for just about any recording project from radio voiceovers to full band recordings.

“Our underlying goal was to provide a place for people who can’t afford really high-end facilities but still want to make a professional recording,” Mr. DaRosa said. “I want it to be a community space available for anyone from professional bands to high school bands.”

With an interest in helping to develop the burgeoning hip hop scene here, Mr. DaRosa also hopes to attract off-Island acts interested in intense, uninterrupted recording time away from home. The studio’s green room, complete with a kitchenette and full bathroom, is available for visiting musicians.

The 300-square-foot live room is equipped with a full drum kit, an array of amps, keyboards, guitars, a stand-up bass, and a variety of electric and acoustic guitars. A floating floor allows for absorption of bass sounds for soundproofing purposes, as well as to provide purity of recorded sound. A double window, designed and constructed by Pinto Abrams, separates the live room from the control room, which is fitted out with sophisticated professional recording equipment.

Mr. Casey and Mr. DaRosa, two self-confessed geeks, did a great deal of research on the equipment they purchased. “Phil and I are both picky about what equipment we would get,” Mr. Casey said.

“The most important thing is that you have a couple of really good mics and a way to capture that sound,” Mr. Casey said. “That was our main focus. We want to make sure we can record vocals and guitar. That was the basis for building everything on top of that.” The two engineers/producers tend to add new equipment almost daily.

The first project to come out of the new studio will be a 10-inch vinyl release by Kodacrome, a techno-pop unit formed by electronics wizard Mr. Casey and vocalist Elissa Pociask. Mr. DaRosa has joined the two-year-old band, which has performed on the Vineyard a number of times since moving here last fall from Brooklyn, to add another dimension to the duo’s electronics heavy sound. He’ll be playing bass and guitar and, according to Mr. Casey, “Wherever we need him to fill in. He’s very multitalented. We realized if we wanted to play those songs live or even record them in the studio we needed a live musician.”

The recording was completed during eight days in December and the 10-song recording is due to be released in March. A few other musicians, including Janet Jackson backup singer Jill Zadeh, have utilized the studio to complete small projects and a number of larger recording projects are currently being discussed.

“There seems to be an underground, relatively untapped resource of music here that I’m hoping to help uncover with this new space,” said Mr. DaRosa who is currently on tour with popular hip hop/rock band Dukes County Love Affair (DCLA). “Once you dig around a little you find a ton of talent right beneath the surface here on the Island, and though the winters here are long and seemingly lifeless to some extent, there’s a ton of musical life right beneath your feet. Hopefully some of the musicians that are here will consider The Print Shop as a place to share ideas, launch projects, and even just come have a look and get a feel for what we’ve done here.”

Mr. DaRosa is enthusiastic about another project that’s currently brewing. “There’s also a master list of local musicians currently being worked on that I think will be huge in helping people find specific talents that they need for certain musical projects. That list will hopefully be available within a month or so.”

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Gwyn McAllister of Oak Bluffs is a regular contributor to The Times.