Simply having a room big enough to play in is one of the first dreams any musician has, let alone a place to record a legitimate-sounding record. So when a couple of Morris County-based 23-year-olds open up their own state-of-the-art recording studio/130-capacity live venue/conservatory in the year 2010, one has to think that either the two are incredibly naïve or really darn ambitious.
In this case it’s the latter, though, I shouldn’t go any further before I disclose that I’ve known Architekt Music owners George Roskos and Kurt Wubbenhorst personally for the last four years. However, it only takes a few minutes with one of them to realize that these are not just a couple of punks with delusions of making it big in the music business; they’re well-spoken, hard-driving, thoroughly accomplished artists and professionals, with a passion for music. Also, they’ve just opened a cutting-edge, three-tiered music studio in Butler, NJ.
“This is the kind of place that, when I was a kid, I wish I had,” said George, a drummer originally from West Haven, PA, who earned a degree in Finance from Seton Hall University in 2009. “We’re going to make a huge difference in a lot of musicians’ lives.”
Everything at Architekt is streamlined to help make recording, playing live and learning easier and more fun. “We’re going to do well because two DIY musicians own Architekt Music,” he assures. “I encourage DIY, because I love when someone comes in and knows what they want to do. It’s encouraging, exciting and keeps everyone on their toes. Our job is to help the client get what they want. And we do that very, very well.”
For the audio nerds out there, the next two paragraphs contain some letters and numbers that will mean a lot to you and make you go, “Oooh, wowww!” For the rest of you, feel free to skip ahead.
As far as the studio’s equipment goes, Architekt boasts a Solid State Logic 9080J board with both ProTools HD3 and Logic Pro capabilities. There are three isolation booths that allow players to sit in the control room while tracking. They’ve got a vocal booth, complete with a nifty little window for singers to keep an eye on the board, and a two live rooms for drums; the one in front of the SSL board and the concert room, if you’re jonesing for even more headroom.
For shows, Architekt uses a Midas Siena 400 Analog Mixing Console that pretty much any sound guy can work. For lessons, guitarists and bassists run through a Line 6 Pod X3 Pro, which allows both instructor and student to call upon any tone for any style of music on a whim. Drummers get to groove on a five-piece, real life—not electronic—drum kit made by Rutherford’s own Creation Drums, while pianists are welcome to tickle the ivories of a Samick or Young Chang upright.
And after splurging on equipment to make the place look and sound great, George and Kurt weren’t about to slouch on finding good instructors. Kurt earned a degree in Music Education from Seton Hall in 2009 and has been teaching on his own since he was 14. He has played professionally on seven albums, five as a drummer, as well as bass and guitar on recordings for his and George’s band, West Gate. He teaches drums, bass and guitar along with Architekt’s 10 other instructors, who offer lessons in rock, jazz or classical music to all ages (“five to 65,” according to George), and from beginner to advanced players.
“We’re trying to make it a real learning experience,” said Kurt. “There’s no one-size-fits-all lesson. You’ve gotta change it up.” The studio also offers ensemble programs for students to gain experience playing with others.
When Architekt opened for business on Oct. 15, 2010, they brought in Breaking Benjamin drummer Chad Szeliga for a weekend-long clinic. “He brings real world experience,” said Kurt. “He went from playing in his basement when he was a kid to touring the country.” The clinic was such a success that Szeglia will be offering private drum instruction at the studio in coming months.
In addition to Szeliga, Grammy Award-winning engineer and producer John Seymour (Alice In Chains, Dave Matthews Band, Carlos Santana, U2) will be conducting collegiate-style recording courses at the facility starting in January 2011. Be it recording, playing live or taking lessons, “Everything we do here is tied together through education,” said George.
The experiences they have had on the road and in the studio for their band inspired much of the design and business practices they have applied to Architekt. For one, they have located their stage almost directly across from a ramp in their parking lot to make for fast, easy load-in. After booking, they give bands the opportunity to have their performances recorded for a small fee, and as long as an artist can sell more than 20 tickets the artist will get paid.
Being that it’s owned by a couple of 20-something entrepreneurs, Architekt Music is already way ahead of its time. And with limited experience compared to some of the long-running NJ studios, one can only imagine the heights of success they will meet in the future. “My ultimate goal is to make our business and brand the final destination for musicians in the New York/New Jersey area,” said George. “It’s a bold goal, but I hope to someday read The Aquarian cover story and have a former student list Architekt as a reason for their success.”
“That would be the bomb.”
Architekt Music is located 1 Boonton Ave., Butler, NJ 07405. To schedule a lesson, book a show or studio time, call 973-291-8950 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. They are currently putting together a roster for potential students for both Chad Szelgia and John Seymour. You can visit them online at architektmusic.com.