In the heart of downtown Oak Bluffs, above the printing shop owned by his family on Circuit Avenue, Phil daRosa has been recording, mixing, and producing music for all kinds of Island musicians at the Print Shop Audio (TPS), his own homegrown recording studio.
TPS sits on the second floor of daRosa’s–Martha’s Vineyard Printing. What is now a fully furnished recording studio, complete with a live room, mixing room, and green room, used to be storage space where cardboard boxes filled with invoices and purchase orders were stacked to the ceiling.
Around 2011, daRosa began to clean out the space and move in his recording equipment. With a new floor, soundproof panels, insanely comfortable couches, and a Traeger di Pietro painting adorning the wall, daRosa was ready to start taking in musicians and recording them.
Over the years, daRosa has recorded many artists, including Alex Karalekas, Mike Benjamin, Danny Berno, Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, Isaac Taylor, Natasha Bedingfield, and many more. He also records himself, having released two solo albums and played on various albums with other bands. His current band, the Philly Project, evolved from his former act, the Phil daRosa Band, and features a rotating cast of musicians including Brad Tucker, Robbie Soltz, Griffin and Sean McMahon, Steve Tully, and other special guests.
Music has always been a big part of daRosa’s life. He began tinkering with guitar when he was 15 years old, eventually studying classical guitar at Keene State College in New Hampshire. Like many musicians, deRosa also plays other instruments, like piano, bass, some trumpet, and saxophone.
Despite knowing his way around so many instruments and playing all kinds of music, daRosa still makes frequent discoveries in his line of work. “Every time I’m in here, I learn something new. If I’m working with a rapper or a rock band, it’s all different applications of the same stuff. You learn different techniques with all the plug-ins and the effects; it’s endless, it keeps me interested,” he said.
In addition to recording, daRosa keeps busy by playing weddings, private parties, and other gigs around the Island. He recently launched an audiovisual business, Dukes County Audio Visual, which does consulting, and commercial and residential audio installation.
While he wears many hats, producing might be daRosa’s favorite. “Wearing the producer hat for this last project was kind of an eye-opener for me. I’d like to do a lot more of that. I’d like to produce more records and have a musical part in those creations,” he said.
Lately, daRosa has been working with Mike Benjamin, who comes in to record each week, and Danny Berno, who is working on a 17-track album, most of it recorded at deRosa’s studio. DaRosa hopes to release an album of his own music by the end of the year, but finds it difficult to make time for himself. When he does manage to get free time, his musical creations take on variegated forms, ranging from electronic beats to solo acoustic guitar. His newest single, “Faraday,” released this year, showcases daRosa’s virtuosity with haunting vocals and a driving rhythm.
He’s got big plans to expand his studio and make it even more inviting to musicians, especially those off-Island. The studio is comprised of only three rooms along a lengthy hallway that has additional rooms that daRosa believes can be made into practice rooms, and even housing that would cater to off-Island musicians looking to relax on the Vineyard and record their album.
Whether he’s recording hip-hop artists or rock bands, daRosa is open to all types of music. His main goal is to continue fostering the same atmosphere he always has at TPS. “The mission for this place was to make it really comfortable for people to be in here for like, 10 hours. I try to just make it fun and relaxed.”
TPS audio is located at 46 Circuit Ave. in Oak Bluffs. For more information on TPS audio, visit printshopaudio.com . For more information on Dukes County Audio Visual, visit dukescountyav.com. Phil daRosa plays every Monday night with the Second Hand & Ricky Prime! at the Ritz.