Mod & Fancy

Mod & Fancy is an online vintage clothing store run by Somerville resident Shannon Donahue. All photos were taken on a Nikon N6006 with Kodak Gold 200 film. All clothing in these photos are available for sale on the Mod & Fancy etsy page, linked above.

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Somerville Open Studios

An audio postcard on two artists from Somerville Open Studios at the Loft.

Stina Simmarano

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“I really like textures – I’ve been working with metallics and glitter a lot lately. I like things that have a little bit of depth. I like repetition I like just a lot of repetitive shapes and patterns. There’s a lot of elements that just come out in my work over and over again like chains and jewels and teeth and just weird stuff that I don’t know why I like to draw them so much but I do.”

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Website

Mary Lewey

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“Illustrated Wildlife Treasury”

“Some of the selection is subconscious, some of it is very conscious – like when I was doing the fish, I couldn’t help myself, I had to put cats on a lot of them just cuz I thought that was so funny like the typical cartoon cats loving fish. So some of the stuff is very deliberate and intentional and some of the pieces it’s like – I see a lot of gold a lot of gold in this photograph of an animal so I’m gonna add a lot of gold or there’s bright colors, I’m gonna match that.”

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Website

Instagram

Dan Webb and the Spiders

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All photos are courtesy

by Amanda Beland

Dan Webb and the Spiders is a four-piece rock/punk group. They’ve been playing with different iterations of members since 2009.

Front man and namesake Dan Webb answered a few questions for Spiral Bound about the band’s history and what’s next.

When and why did you start playing music?

I started playing music when I was in 7th or 8th grade. I did it because it appealed to me more than sports and it was slightly cooler than reading comics, (at the time). My first instrument was bass in a band called PROD (PunkRockOverDose) and the first songs I remember learning were Waiting Room by Fugazi, Hawaii by the Queers and D7 by the Wipers, (but we knew it because Nirvana covered it).

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Were you involved in other projects before the Spiders?

I sang and wrote songs in a hardcore-punk-kinda band called the Opposed in college. Afterward, when I first moved to Boston, I was in a post-hardcore band called inblackandwhite that I feel still holds up quite well. I also played drums in a band called The Cold Beat that eventually became Nonpareils.

When did Dan Webb and the Spiders start and how has the lineup changed since the project began?

I made the first record all by my lonesome just for kicks and then I recruited Chris Amaral, Dan Wallace and Matt Kenney to bring the songs to life for a live show. We maintained that lineup for a couple years and through the next two LP’s and the first couple tours to Europe. Marc Valois (Blinders) joined the band after Wallace left for parts unknown. We were fortunate to be able to bring Stephen Benson into the fold to play drums when Matt moved out of the picture. Finally, when a wrist injury sidelined Valois for a good chunk of time, Sean McAllister stepped in and has been playing the bass for us ever since. Mike Vera also filled in on bass for a tour before Sean’s time with us.

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What’s your discography and how has the band’s sound evolved and changed over time?

LP’s / Compilations

    2009 – S/T – Self-Released

    2010 – Oh Sure – Self-Released

    2011 – Much Obliged – Gunner Records

    2012 – Oh Sure Redux – Gunner Records

    2014 – Now It Can Be Told (Compilation) – Self-Released

    2014 – Einekleineakustischmuzik – Self-Released

    2015 – Perfect Problem – Gunner Records

(Perfect Problem tracks recorded with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio, Elio DeLuca at the Soul Shop and Marc Valois at Starlab Studios.)

EP’s / Splits

    2012 – Beach Party Split 7″ – Self-Released

    2013 – Irish Handcuffs Split 7″ – Flix Records

    2013 – Gunner Records Singles Club – Gunner Records

    2016 – Modern Saints Split 7″ – Gunner Records (upcoming)

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The sound of the material has changed a lot based on who has contributed to making it. The early records are characterized by a quick and dirty nonchalance. We often would record and mix entire 12 song LP’s over three or four days. After Much Obliged we started to break the recording sessions into smaller sessions and releases and would only tackle two or three songs in as many days. We also became more in control of our actual sound. Especially now, we are very dialed in and use a wide range of pedals to create a vaster sonic landscape. In the old days, we would just get a good sound in a few minutes before hitting record and just use that for the duration of the record. Now we practice changing tones as much as we do chords. So the newest stuff has a lot more depth and dynamics to it. I am really happy with how we’ve grown and what the band has recently coalesced into, although some critics prefer the older material.

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Touring seems to be a big thing with the band, can you talk about where you’ve been over the years?

We’ve been very fortunate to work with Gunner Records out of Bremen, Germany. They have put out many records for us and have had us over to Europe five times with a sixth trip set for March of 2016. We’ve played Berlin, Zurich, London, Antwerp, Vienna and every small German town there is. Our annual trip over there is what we work towards as a band. In the states we struggle to draw anyone, but over there we do much better. Plus tiny bands on our level are treated with care over there, so touring is much more comfortable than it is here in the states. Inside the US, we’ve only done one tour and have played a sporadic show here or there outside of Massachusetts. For instance, we have played Chicago a couple times and even made it out to Portland, Oregon once.

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What’s next for the band? Are you recording any new songs?

We are planning a split 7″ with a great band from Germany called Modern Saints. That split is timed to be released when we return to Germany for a 17 date tour in March 2016. Half of the tour will have Modern Saints as support and the other half will feature our dear friends, Irish Handcuffs. We also have another eight songs already recorded that we may release on our own as an EP. We are always working on new material as well and hope to get another batch of songs recorded when we get back from tour. We find it’s best to stay busy because bands, like all things, are super fragile. The period of time where all four of us run in tandem could be well shorter than we realize, so best to make the most of the time we have.

 

Thea Engst

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Thea Engst is a poet and bar manager in Somerville, Massachusetts. She is currently tracing the route of her grandfather’s World War II infantry unit abroad. Her stories and adventures have appeared periodically on Spiral Bound since October. Read One, Two, Three and Four.

by Amanda Beland

It began with a name and ended with perspective.

For the last two months, poet and writer Thea Engst has been roughly retracting the route of her grandfather’s World War II infantry. From London to Dresden to Vienna, she’s been on a mission to find out the origin of a piece of herself she speaks and hears every day: her name.

Going into the journey, she had eight months of research and a rough set of facts: Thea was a woman her grandfather either dated or knew during the occupation in Vienna. No last name. No birth date.

With a week or so left in her trip, Engst knows little more about her namesake than when she left Somerville in October. Yet, she has gained something she didn’t expect to.

I fully come to terms with knowing this: I will never know who I am named after. And I have to be okay with that.

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“This is when I have a revelation, a memory of an address on an envelope I found as a child,” wrote Engst. “This is when I Google “Thea” and have an actual last name to end it with. This is when I find her, right? No. This is when I am in Vienna, where I always knew I would end up. This is where the sadness of the end of an amazing trip sets in and I fully come to terms with knowing this: I will never know who I am named after. And I have to be okay with that. But I do know a lot more about what my grandpa went through when he was ten years younger than I am now … I understand my grandpa a little better now, I appreciate him even more than I already did, and I really realize how much of an impact he had on my life. Not just in my name, but in everything I became.”

Thee-ah. Tay-yah.

Engst grew up on a farm in upstate New York in a small town called Fabius. She’s one of five, with three older sisters and one younger brother.

She began writing in elementary school and was first published in fourth grade in a creative collection called Inside Out. It wasn’t until she hit her teenage years when she naturally found what her writing would become.

“I was writing in my journal and that’s when it naturally came out as poetry,” said Engst. “It wasn’t much like ‘This is how my day was like’. I don’t even remember making a conscious decision to write poetry, I think it just came out that way.”

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Engst, a natural introvert, initially felt uncomfortable sharing her writing. However, a writing teacher recognized the spark in her and pushed her to share her words.

“I had really great teacher who sort of encouraged me to write that way,” said Engst. “He used to say, ‘You aren’t a writer if no one else sees your writing; then it’s just you writing in a journal’ and I was like ‘Woooooah’. I was always an introvert, very shy, and never wanted to show anybody, but he like made a big difference pushing me like that.”

‘You aren’t a writer if no one else sees your writing; then it’s just you writing in a journal’

Engst eventually studied creative writing in college before moving to Boston for an unpaid internship after graduating.

“It was unpaid, so no good, and I really quickly realized I wanted to go back to school,” said Engst.

She began working as a nanny to save up money and applying to grad schools.

“It wasn’t my intention to stay in Boston, but there was something about it, particularly Somerville, that really sort of held me here,” said Engst.

There was something about it, particularly Somerville, that really sort of held me here

She applied to Emerson College with the intention of either studying screenwriting through their LA program or pursuing a professor track. She was accepted into the LA program, which she turned down. She also took one teaching class.

“I took the class and realized very quickly I wasn’t a teacher, which is a good thing to realize early on,” said Engst, laughing.

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Engst began studying creative writing and three years later, graduated with a MFA in poetry and creative writing from Emerson.

While attending Emerson, Engst was hired as a host at The Independent in Union Square, Somerville.

“My best friend worked there and said I needed a job and they asked ‘Is she clean and not crazy?’ and she said ‘Yes’ and that’s how I got hired,” said Engst.

Engst eventually picked up a bartending shift.

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“I just really loved it,” said Engst. “I had been working three jobs and in school for so long that after I graduated I just wanted to focus on one thing so I stayed on as a bartender. I had the luxury of only having to work four days a week so I took that and really loved it. That’s when I really started publishing more because I would make myself write. I would set a goal of two journals a week or something like that.”

(Read more about her published work here.)

Engst became a manager at The Independent. But with increased responsibility came a decrease in time. She began writing less and less.

“It’s just something that if I’m not doing it, I feel like my soul is dying,” said Engst. “I have to do it.”

Engst moved on to become a manager of Assembly Square’s River Bar, a bar and restaurant owned and operated under the same management umbrella as the Independent.

This is when Engst seriously began researching her trip.

“This name of mine, I always have to repeat it, which is fine, and I always get ‘It’s pretty, where does it come from?'” said Engst. “It’s just a constant theme in my life and has had a huge impact.”

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Engst only knew she was named after a woman his grandfather either dated or knew during the occupation in Vienna. She spent the next eight months or so researching the war and her grandfather’s infantry route.

“Part of why I want to make this trip is to remind people that this stuff happened and it’s really important to remember what my grandfather did and I keep going back to this, but they really were just teenagers,” said Engst.

The obvious challenge of the quest was that the man at the center of her project had died and her grandmother had little to no information about his journey in the war.

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“When I ask my grandmother for information it’s really hard because I think he ended up throwing away a lot of his memorabilia,” said Engst.”He was 80 years old and really soft spoken. I really wish I had pried with these things, but I didn’t want to upset him. You never really knew what would upset up and who wants to make their grandfather cry?”

Engst flew from Boston to London at the beginning of October.

“To get the writing process started,” said Engst.

Then she traveled to numerous cities in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic and Poland. She ends her journey in Vienna, where she is currently with one of her sisters.

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“I wonder if Grandpa ever thought I would make it here, Vienna, looking for some pieces of his childhood, when I ended up with ‘Thea’ as a name,” wrote Engst. “I wonder what he thought of when he looked at me. I bet at first it was her, but as I became a new person, my own person, he must have seen less and less of the original Thea. I feel a little bad about that, that I took away some part of her as I grew up with her name and made it mine. But maybe that gave him some joy too, witnessing me grow as he could never witness her. So this is where I leave her: somewhere outside Vienna in a field, flowers to her waist and a blurry face that appears to be smiling.”

 

Read more about Engst’s journey on her blog.

Jenn Harrington

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by Amanda Beland

Jenn Harrington is a mover and a shaker in the Somerville arts and music scene. While she doesn’t produce records or make art, she’s widely regarded in many circles as a “connector” – she has an innate ability to recognize common ground and interest amongst people and bring them together to bridge the gap of unfamiliarity. You’ll find her behind the scenes and behind the camera – producing, documenting and promoting what she recognizes as gems of the art and cultural scenes of Somerville and Cambridge.

Spiral Bound focuses on storytelling. Typically, interviews are conducted and features are produced with no remnants of the original questions or answers in structured formats. Jenn’s story will be different. Below are the original questions asked and Jenn’s typed responses. I contemplated reworking the answers, but why mess with something when it’s already perfect the way it is?

When and why did you move to Somerville?

Living in Rhode Island, I took a break in college and worked second shift, alone, in a nursing home’s laundry for eight months. After sweating with everything that can leak out of other human bodies for eight hours, it was impossible to sleep so I’d lay on the couch and flip channels. One night I ran into a video show on a local Boston channel playing Madder Rose’s “Panic On.” While I have a massive imagination for the future of others, it’s difficult to be forward-thinking for my own benefit. Watching that video was one of the few times I knew where I would be one day. And though I moved to Maine and then back to Rhode Island for awhile, every day I was aware that I would end up in Boston.

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I’ve lived in the same apartment in Somerville for 13 years now. It’s actually my second stint in this town. The first was a short-lived because I was living near Broadway—an isolating experience. I moved to Harvard Avenue in Allston for a couple of years becoming familiar with puddles of vomit on my doorstep and breakups wailing under my bedroom window, and then moved back to Somerville because it was affordable, accessible, low key—it felt like home. I’ve only been able to stay because the landlord has been very good to me.

What activities and events have you been involved with in Somerville and elsewhere?

I have passion for the written word, music, and the visual arts and gravitate my energies towards them. I’ve curated a number of group exhibits in Somerville including I’ve Been Everywhere, Man: Musicians on the Road, Winter (dedicated to Dave Lamb of Brown Bird), Get In My Shoes, PICNIC, The BIG BAD, and The Beast in Me—Johnny Cash: Art Influenced by the Struggle of a Man. I also organized Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, and Frank Black tribute nights in Somerville and beyond for various community benefits. Even though I’m incredibly shy and internal, I enjoy taking the lead in projects that gather people of various backgrounds and locations together for enlightened (and entertaining) purpose.

I’m currently assisting Audrey Ryan with her long-standing DIY music event series at The Loft—booking bands, taking donations for musicians, picking out rad snacks, and cleaning up. We just hosted our first show of the season with Bent Shapes, The Furniture, Roz and the Rice Cakes (Providence), and Audrey Ryan. It was a ton of fun. In November, we’re hosting The Dazies, P. Everett (Brooklyn), Slowdim, and Audrey Ryan; and in December, we’re hosting our annual holiday craft fair.

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The Loft is one of the best rooms for the essence of music in the Boston-area: it’s amazing to see the audience so receptive to the musicians. We’ve been honored to host incredibly talented (and nice) bands, most recently out-of-towners (listen to them, pretty please) Diane Cluck, And The Kids, Death Vessel, O’Death, Run On Sentence, Ravi Shavi, Footings, Jonah Tolchin, and too many talents to list from this area. I can not do Audrey Ryan enough justice for keeping this series going for so long: she is proof that it is not just the room or the bands…there needs to be someone in the center making the magic happen…and she’s been doing it for years.

What’s you favorite part of the arts and music culture in Somerville/Cambridge/Boston?

I’m really interested in people who have equal measure of taste, class, and hard work. I have enormous respect for Audrey, bookers Randi Ellen Millman of Atwood’s Tavern  and Jason Trefts of Illegally Blind and Fuzzstival; Steve Legare of Kitchen Sessions; anyone involved in Fringe Union, Gallery Kayafas, the Flash Forward Festival; the organizers of Starlabfest and Porchfest; I’m growing quite fond of Cuisine En Locale (who will be hosting Last Good Tooth and She Keeps Bees on 11/5); and I pretty much go bananas for the book recommendations of the Harvard Bookstore and Brookline Booksmith staff. Others worthy of mentioning: anyone who runs a local culture blog; the bookers of P.A.’s Lounge past: Tony Confalone of the much missed band Tony the Bookie; Jen Guthrie of Band in Boston (an incredible local music archive); and John and Tommy Allen of Fedavees and Drug Rug; as well as Andrea Gillis and Michelle Paulhus of The Dents who booked my favorite times at the Abbey Lounge. And walking by Lesley University’s new Lunder Arts Center puts an extra hop in everyone’s step. I could go on, I should on, but I’m getting tuckered by all the brilliance.

But to completely honest, I have a lot of mixed feelings about the culture of this area. Somerville doesn’t have a bookstore. The Nave Gallery—-which is the only building in Davis Square that the public can hang out in (besides the library) without buying something—struggles every day. Venues and independents are closing their doors in quick succession. It’s increasingly more unaffordable for residents and businesses alike. We’re all feeling the squeeze and we’re not working together to demand attention to the matter—this is not just an artist issue, it is everyone’s issue.

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When you aren’t working, what are you working on or doing?

Trying to:

  • Make my cat famous.
  • Hear good stories / pay attention to work people are doing.
  • Find life balance…sometimes I bring a book to a show even though it’s been frowned upon.
  • Avoid people who claim to “work hard / play hard”—it’s a lazy statement.

What inspires you?

I love to witness people evolve who are already at their A-game. I love seeing underdogs succeed. I love those who find success and try to boost up others who are good at their craft who haven’t yet found recognition. I love when people aren’t afraid to show their depth. I love teachers…you don’t have to stand in a classroom to be one. I love when people volunteer their time for good causes. There is an incredible amount of talented people in this world and the best of them are those that are thoughtful about the world immediately around them.

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I have an immense appreciation and respect for the people that run the Columbus Theatre in Providence. It is a gorgeous and beautiful-sounding space; the booking’s tremendous; and it has a spirit that’s unique to most venues: it genuinely thrives on a love for music…you can feel it from every person on staff and the audience, too. I do not drive and even though the commute can be a challenge, I have seen some of my favorite bands there: Brown Bird, Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons, Sharon Van Etten, Michael Hurley, Last Good Tooth, Cass McCombs, Tallahassee, Death Vessel, Iron & Wine, Ravi Shavi, Arc Iris, Vudu Sister, Charles Bradley, Wanda Jackson,  Haunt the House, Roz Raskin and the Rice Cakes, O’Death, Toy Soldiers…

What roles do music and art play in your daily life?

Some people’s role in life is to create beautiful things. I think my role is to create a beautiful life. And I can have one by appreciating other’s creations.

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One of your main purposes seems to be encouraging musicians and artists to complete their craft. Why is this important to you?

Being a terribly idealistic person can get me in trouble (try it: ouch). But I refuse to drop the idea that we can actually have an exceptional world. The arts is one of the very few ways that we have to understand our struggles and our pleasures—to experience wonder. It’s maddening to see it undervalued.

I was proud to work on some grant projects for a couple of artists this fall. It took me aback when a few friends asked me, “what do you get out of it?” The answer seemed obvious: it is fulfilling to assist. I don’t have a ton of money…I can’t be a patron via massive financial means. But I can do what I can: dedicating time and hard work, putting in a kind word, making an musician or artist or writer know that they are noticed and appreciated (in a thoughtful way). I honestly feel at the end of our days, it is not awards won or salaries earned, it is seeing how we helped those around us to succeed that’s the ultimate of joys.

When I was a kid I loved how Melanie Griffin’s character in Working Girl saved newspaper clippings and connected the dots to create a new idea. Sometimes people are so good at their dot that they forget to connect. I’ll tell you: the four-eyed awkward too tall shy lady standing in the back corner who is terrible at small talk is superior at finding ways to unify.

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Mary Lewey and Her Wildlife Treasury

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by Amanda Beland

Some of the best things in life start with the unexpected.

For Mary Lewey, this couldn’t be more true. Behind her recently retired Illustrated Wildlife Treasury exhibit at Washington Street Art was a $5 flea market purchase and a stack of magazines headed for the trash.

A couple years later, a combination of the two finds make up a creative and whimsical collection of art and evolution.

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Wildlife Treasury is an illustrated animal encyclopedia for children published from 1975 through 1981. Known for its bright green plastic case, the encyclopedia contains individual cards with a picture of the animal on the front and information on the animal on the back.

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Lewey was perusing The Market in Davis Square when she found that familiar green box for sale. The pictures intrigued her, so she bought it. Later, she would save piles of architecture magazines from the trash at an architecture firm she worked for.

Lewey’s Illustrated Wildlife Treasury is essentially a collection of over 100 mini collages. Each encyclopedia card from the Treasury was selectively covered with vintage images of pin-ups, pictures and advertisements from former architecture mags. Lewey arranged her exhibit – which was up for viewing Oct. 3 through Oct. 29 at Washington Street Art – to show an evolution from single cell organisms to multiple cell organisms.

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Assembling the collages took years, but the results look effortless.

“I’m happy with how it turned out,” said Lewey.
While her exhibit retired at the end of October, Lewey’s collages are still available for purchase through her website.
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Andrew Saturday playing during Lewey’s closing reception on Oct. 29.

Katie Von Schleicher

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In close to a decade, Katie Von Schleicher has grown from never having even heard the Beatles to writing, producing, recording and playing every instrument on an 8-track EP set to be released this fall. This is her story.

by Amanda Beland

Katie Von Schleicher is a Brooklyn-based vocalist, pianist and musician.

Schleicher, of Pasadena, Maryland, didn’t grow up in a musical family: there weren’t records playing in the house and her parents didn’t put a particular emphasis on music in daily life. She did take piano and violin lessons briefly and sang in theater productions. When it came time to apply to colleges, however, Schleicher decided she wanted to go to Berklee College of Music in Boston.

“I wanted to go to Berklee because I liked some of the musicians who had gone there,” said Schleicher. “I didn’t listen to the Beatles or Neil Young or albums at all really until I got to college and I got there being like ‘I’m gonna be a songwriter and I’m gonna make pop music.'”

Schleicher continued.

“A lot of the time I just listened to albums. I tried to learn what the hell was going on,” said Schleicher. “It was really late. I think a lot of people went to Berklee and were like, ‘I know what I wanna do’ and I was like, ‘I have a fantasy idea of what I wanna do.'”

I think a lot of people went to Berklee and were like ‘I know what I wanna do’ and I was like, ‘I have a fantasy idea of what I wanna do’

During the first week of her freshman year, Schleicher met Stephen Konrads, another freshman also from Maryland. The two clicked instantly. Konrads grew up in a musical family and played piano and sang from the time he was a child. He eventually joined a band and through him, Schleicher began expanding her social and musical circles.

“That’s when I realized I needed to be cooler and download lots of illegal music and hear Led Zeppelin for the first time,” said Schleicher.

That’s when I realized I needed to be cooler and download lots of illegal music and hear Led Zeppelin for the first time

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Berklee introduced Schleicher to new people and possibilities, but it also made her start to question a lot of things, including herself. Schleicher said her inability to “fit in” with the Berklee style of education combined with a lack of solid mentorship made it difficult for her to find confidence in her songwriting and musical abilities.

“For the first time in my entire life, I was trying to be cool,” said Schleicher. “The music I was making was so trapped between Andrew Lloyd Webber and trying to be cool that it really fucking missed the mark. I made an EP by myself and just threw it away when I was done with it. I still haven’t heard it. I got to college wearing Abercrombie and being chunky with blonde hair and just really confused. I think I grew up a lot when I was in Sleepy Very Sleepy, which was after college.”

For the first time in my entire life, I was trying to be cool … I got to college wearing Abercrombie and being chunky with blonde hair and just really confused

Schleicher and Konrads remained close throughout college. Schleicher stayed in Boston after graduating in 2009. Konrads had a practice space at the old Starlab Studios building in Union Square and him and Schleicher would spend countless hours hanging out and trying to write songs there. A mutual friend suggested the two of them start a band. Konrads brought in bassist Wayne Whittaker and drummer Harrison Seiler, whom currently play with Konrads in his current project Eternals, and Sleepy Very Sleepy was formed.

Schleicher and Konrads continued to write songs together. Eventually the band recorded a full length EP “Unlimited Circulation”, which was recorded and mixed at the Soul Shop in Medford with help from engineer and friend Elio DeLuca.

For Schleicher, the pressure and insecurity she felt in college continued under the surface in the new project.

“We were trying to do intensely amazing things,” said Schleicher. “You know, you’re sitting in a practice room just throwing out ideas … the fabled Paul McCartney and John Lennon quote, ‘Let’s write a swimming pool,’ let’s make money – let’s do something insane – let’s make this the best song ever. And the mix of me and Steve was just like ‘Let’s give ourselves a migraine trying to write a song.’ I remember just sitting in Starlab all the time by myself just banging my head against the wall trying to write something amazing. It was so much pressure. I mean that sticks with me today – when it’s hard just to not like really amp it up before you try and work on something.”

‘Let’s write a swimming pool,’ let’s make money – let’s do something insane – let’s make this the best song ever

Unlimited Circulation” was released in May 2011.

“I really owe a lot to Steve, just helping to support me but also when we were in Sleepy Very Sleepy, me trying to write better shit because his songs were so good.”

I really owe a lot to Steve, just helping to support me

Around this same time period, Schleicher began working with another Boston-based band called Boy Without God. Soul Shop engineer Elio DeLuca brought her in to sing background vocals for the band’s 2011 release God Bless the Hunger.

Boy Without God’s frontman Gabriel Birnbaum eventually asked Schleicher to come on tour with the band in 2011.

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photo by gabriel birnbaum

“Gabe’s stuff was totally different than what I was doing,” said Schleicher. “Up until that point, I hated – I mean it’s still tough – being this emotional songwriter. I felt like it made me a worst musician … that I wasn’t calculating, you know? And Gabe’s stuff was really both. It’s more fearless: he’s made songs where I’m just like “Really? You think that’s going to work out?” and he’s like “Yeah let’s do it.” So that kind of fearlessness made me feel a lot more open.”

That kind of fearlessness made me feel a lot more open

When Schleicher got back from the Boy Without God tour, she decided to move from Boston to New York.

“I think I wanted the experience. It seemed easier – like if I go to New York, I’ll be in a band already and then I’ll have some kind of identity. I didn’t want to live in NY, I didn’t like NY, but I was like ‘I guess I gotta try.'”

As soon as Schleicher moved to New York, she stopped writing music. She continued to play with Boy Without God, which would eventually be renamed as Wilder Maker, and bartended for rent money.

“It was a dark time,” said Schleicher. “I have this typewriter and I was carrying it out the window and climbing onto the roof and writing out there whenever it was warm enough to do so. I was writing lyrics … well I guess they became lyrics … but I was writing poetry that wasn’t super concrete emotional stuff… just because I needed an outlet. I was more inspired by a lot of things that I was reading and for the first time, I really felt open with words.”

I have this typewriter and I was carrying it out the window and climbing onto the roof and writing out there whenever it was warm enough to do so

After six months, Schleicher began writing and arranging what would become her first solo release.

“The six months off was the best thing I’ve done so far because after that, I wrote my solo record,” said Schleicher. “That was the only thing I ever felt like I could really stand behind as a musician. I’d say it’s the first thing I felt comfortable with – really late in the game – at age 26.”

That was the only thing I ever felt like I can really stand behind as a musician. I’d say it’s the first thing I felt comfortable with

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“Personally, I find it really hard to believe in anything and I can be such a devaluer of things,” said Schleicher. “The whole record concept was – when I was writing poems and when I decided I was trying to write lyrics – I took this bent of What if I had God in my life? What if i had belief in my life? What if I wrote songs to God? There’s a song called “You On My Mind” and one of the lyrics is Wouldn’t it be lonely without you on my mind? It all sounds like love songs, but all the songs are about God. It helped me have an angle and it made me feel like I could write warm, conversational songs. I wanted to make something that was simple to listen to; not hard, just enjoyable, like Tonight’s the Night by Neil Young. You just put that on, make some spaghetti and you’re good. Even if it’s deep, you can just listen to it, make some spaghetti and feel okay about everything.”

But you can just listen to it, make some spaghetti and feel okay about everything

photo by gabriel birnbaum

Schleicher wrote and arranged eight tracks for the record. She headed into the Soul Shop in August 2012 with what she describes as “my favorite musicians” for three days of tracking and mixing.

“It was an exercise,” said Schleicher. “I took the songs in and taught them to everybody on the first day and we just recorded them all live in the room. The Soul Shop was the place to do it. Of course it helps to have someone like Elio when I can be kind of vulnerable about what I’m working on. I sent him the ideas of what I wanted to do, not the songs, and I was just like ‘Here’s what I’m thinking’ and he was like ‘Fuck yeah, let’s do this.’ As soon as I wrote that Elio email and got the response, I felt like ‘Fuck yeah, let’s do this’  I think also the immediacy of it was really nice – it was nice to not have this grandiose dream of what the record was going to be like. I just wanted it to be simple and defined and those parameters helped a lot.”

The Soul Shop was the place to do it. Of course it helps to have someone like Elio when I can be kind of vulnerable about what I’m working on. I sent him the ideas of what I wanted to do, not the songs, and I was just like ‘Here’s what I’m thinking’ and he was like ‘Fuck yeah, let’s do this.’ As soon as I wrote that Elio email and got the response I felt like ‘Fuck yeah, let’s do this’

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photo by elio deluca

The record originally had seven songs. Schleicher had an eighth track “Wilkes-Barre” which she wrote partially about how her grandparents met. She went into the Shop unsure if she even liked the song.

“I think that song is probably the best song I’ve ever written because it’s honest,” said Schleicher. “It’s a song I wrote on guitar with two chords and then went to the piano and was like ‘Can you make a song more complicated afterward?” I just came up with all the harmonies after the fact. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted it on the record and Elio was like ‘Are you kidding – this is the best song.” So, it’s funny how that works. That’s why you need Elio around because otherwise that song would just never exist.”

I think that song is probably the best song I’ve ever written because it’s honest

Before heading into the studio – Schleicher and Birnbaum had booked and planned a three month tour of the U.S. with Wilder Maker. Right after recording concluded – the two, current Wilder Maker drummer Sean Mullins and a former bassist set out in a van.

“The tour was pretty intense, it definitely improved my musicianship in terms of playing songs and shows – but I think the tour was less about music and more about what it’s like to try and play music. It was very humbling.”

photo by gabriel birnbaum

The tour ended close to Christmas time. Schleicher went home for the holidays before heading back to Brooklyn in the new year. She continued bartending, began playing sporadic solo shows in the city, performing and recording regularly with Wilder Maker and working a couple days a week at the New York record label Ba Da Bing records.

Schleicher said recording at the label has helped her realize and learn a lot about music and the industry surrounding it.

“You know, people don’t respond to your emails,” said Schleicher. “Working there helped me to realize that it’s not personal and that it’s not predictable. It just takes focus and persistence.”

Sometime last year, Schleicher started renting a practice space and recording her entire writing sessions, some of which would last over 90 minutes long. Her hope was to find out what worked and what didn’t by listening to her music after the fact instead of analyzing in the moment.

“The new methodology allowed me to find songs that would have slipped out otherwise,” said Schleicher. “I’m finally listening to The Pixies, to The Breeders… I’m really catching up slowly to music, still learning. I knew I wanted to make heavier stuff. I wanted to make weirder stuff. So recording those sessions to tape made me realize that these writing sessions sounded good. The songs, when you play them the first time around, sound better when I’m making up lyrics – using dummy lyrics.”

The new methodology allowed me to find songs that would have slipped out otherwise

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“When you’re writing something, you’re just singing absent-mindedly. Sometimes, those are the most honest lyrics,” said Schleicher. “I would completely forget them if I didn’t have these writing sessions recorded. So, I was driving in my car listening to my own songwriting sessions on a daily basis.”

Schleicher eventually picked eight tracks and decided to release a cassette EP. Once she had the lyrics, she arranged and recorded herself on a four track tape machine playing every instrument on the record – except on two songs where her boyfriend plays drums. She mixed the record partially with DeLuca at the Soul Shop and partially in New York at Spaceman Sound.

For Schleicher, the record sounds and feels completely different than her past work. Lyrically, it’s much simpler than what she’s used to and sound-wise, it’s heavier. Although she said she feels less enthused about the content of the record’s lyrics, she feels content with the sounds.

“Sometimes I find it really hard because I want to do something different,” said Schleicher. “What Steve does is very Steve and what Gabe does is very Gabe.  I think in a lot of ways it’s a struggle to get close to what it is I’m trying to do; to read my own mind.”

I think in a lot of ways it’s a struggle to get close to what it is I’m trying to do; to read my own mind

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photo by gabriel birnbaum

Scheicher is currently working at Ba Da Bing, who will release her EP once it’s been mastered. Schleicher said the record’s been mixed since February of this year, but she’s been waiting to get it mastered and to release it.

“I’m just afraid,  I think. it’s so unbecoming, but it’s just really honest,” said Schleicher. “I think I’m afraid of no one hearing it. I’m afraid of putting it out and not taking advantage of at least getting one blog to write about it. I’m afraid of putting it out and not booking a release show. I’m scared of booking shows. It’s very simple stuff, but it needs to happen … it will happen … it’s just waiting for this magical clarity of ‘Oh it’s a great time.'”

I’m just afraid, I think. It’s so unbecoming, but it’s just really honest

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photo by gabriel birnbaum

When I try to be quiet, to make my mind really quiet … and there’s this darkness, there always appears some thought about music

“I have made more attempts than anyone I know not to continue,” said Schleicher. “I have been extremely vulnerable the entire time.  I think in a world where I can devalue every single aspect of what I’m doing or what other people are doing, somehow music is the thing that sticks around. When I try to be quiet, to make my mind really quiet, and there’s this darkness … there always appears some thought about music. It’s also the best drug; to play music is the best drug. Wilder Maker has saved my ass on a regular basis. I’m finally in a situation where I see what can develop over time: personal band chemistry, camaraderie, musical chemistry on stage. We’ve had times where crowds go wild and it’s just worth it; everything is worth it in that moment. For my own music, why I continue is that it’s just a thought that stays in my mind no matter how hard I try to push it out. And I think I’m becoming better at just doing this and not expecting money or not expecting anyone to listen.”

Schleicher’s new EP is expected to be released this fall. She’s currently playing shows around New York with Wilder Maker and the Ben Seretan Group. Check her out on Facebook and Bandcamp. Also check out her work with Wilder Maker on Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp and on their website.

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Starlab Studios

by Amanda Beland

(Cover photo courtesy of Richard Thomas Hawke)

It’s the middle of winter and friends Matt Price and Marc Valois are building walls in hats, coats and mittens at 453 Somerville Ave. Aside from the tools and wood, the two men can also actively see their breath.

“There was no heat, it was insane,” said Price. “The toilet didn’t work for a long time too because the pipes froze, so that was pretty crazy.”

Price and Valois are two members of a five person executive board for Starlab Studios, a music, video, photo and entertainment-based recording studio in Somerville, Massachusetts. Price and Valois, along with James Lindsay, Lisa Vidal and Richard Hawke, not only manage the multi-faceted space, but have also built it from the ground up since the studio moved into its current location on Somerville Avenue in 2013.

With most of the construction finished on the space, the staff is prepping to officially open its doors for business at the end of this summer to truly show the city and the public its chops.

But don’t let the finish line fool you – it’s been a long race for the Lab.

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(Photo courtesy of the Starlab Instagram account.)

The original Starlab Studios was located at 32 Prospect St. – right outside of Union Square. It was originally rented and used for practice space with the original owner beginning construction on a recording studio in the basement of the single floor space. Valois and Price were in a band together called Movers and Shakers. They practiced at the original Lab. In the middle of construction in 2009, the original owner left the space so Valois, Price and the rest of the band took over and continued with renovations.

When the band began inspecting what had already been completed with the basement recording space, they realized they had a major problem on their hands.

“There were water issues,” said Price. “When we took it over, we started to look at okay how are we going to finish building this. That’s when we realized there was this huge mold problem. We decided we were gonna pull everything out and build it from scratch.”

To raise money for the renovations, the group held a music festival in the parking lot of the studio called Starlab Fest. The event charged an entrance fee and offered entrants access to food, booze and music in the sunshine.

(For more information on Starlab Fest, visit the Facebook page from last year’s event – which was the Fest’s fifth incarnation. More on continuing the tradition later.)

The first annual Fest raised enough capital to fund the reconstruction of the recording space, which Price, Valois and the rest of the band used to record the last Movers and Shakers record. However – the former Lab was more of chill and practice spot rather than a functioning business.

“It was mostly just like our friends that already practiced there or friends who just wanted to record a few songs or whatever, ” said Price. “We weren’t really open to bringing outside bands that were going to pay to record there.”

This was pretty much the status quo for the crew until the city of Somerville bought the property where the Lab was located to make room for a newly scheduled Green Line station in Union Square. With their backs against the wall, the guys started to look for a new place.

Shortly before the purchase, Price and Valois had been in contact with Richard Hawke and James Lindsay, who knew each other from college. Hawke and Lindsay had a studio space near Market Basket where they ran a photography and film business from. Price and Lindsay went to high school together and had been in communication about merging the two ventures together and possibly sharing a space.

Hawke and Lindsay temporarily moved in the old Lab and the newly combined crew began looking for a new, permanent space.

When a municipality forces a business, home owner etc off their property using eminent domain – as was the case with Starlab – they are required to help relocate the business, home etc. into a space that is equivalent to their previous space. If that exact space isn’t available, funds are provided to make the new space like the former space. Given this, the Lab was given funds by the city to help convert another space to be like the former recording space they had on Prospect Street.

Finding a space, however, became the real challenge.

“I can’t remember how long we were looking, but it was a long time – I wanna say six months,” said Price.

“It was getting to be quite a worry,” said Hawke.

The guys cast a wide search net, but focused a lot of their hunting in Somerville, Cambridge, Medford and Boston. They heard of the Somerville Avenue location in the fall of 2013 from a friend – who eventually hooked them up with the landlord – and just before Halloween of that year, they secured the new space.

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(Photo courtesy of Richard Thomas Hawke.)

“A lot of places we were looking at were way more than we could afford,” said Price. “It was tough because it’s such a specific thing that we were trying to do – we had to build the space out. So it had to be a really particular space.”

Price and Hawke said they find it extremely lucky that the new space was not only still in Somerville, but in the same neighborhood as the previous Lab.

“Union Square was such a big part of our identity at the old place – doing a fest here and kind of being right in the middle of it,” said Price. “It would have definitely been a shame if we couldn’t stay. I mean, that was a big selling point for this place for sure.”

When the boys got the building, it was just one big empty space with two empty offices at the front. With money from the city, the group began basic framing with help from an out-of-state carpenter friend. What quickly ensured was months and months of an entirely self-motivated, self-taught construction experience.

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(Photo courtesy of the Starlab Instagram account.)

“We did everything ourselves, but it’s all professionally done,” said Hawke. “It’s DIY, but it’s not like cardboard walls. I know for me, learning about the soundproofing and how to frame was a really informative experience.”

Construction lasted for about eight months from the tail end of 2013 and throughout 2014. This included framing, soundproofing, insulating and wiring the control and live rooms.

“We’re done for now,” said Price. “Aside from aesthetically, the only thing that’s really left to do is treating all of the walls in this room and the other room, the live room, with acoustic paneling, That’s actually one thing that we’re not going to be able to do now just because we’re not in the financial position to do it until either end of the summer or the beginning of the fall after we’ve Starlab Fest. The acoustic paneling will be a few weeks or a month of building and then that’s when we’ll really open our doors to other bands and be a fully functional recording studio.”

Last month, the Lab was awarded a $1000 Sam’s Cub gift card through the organization’s annual American Small Business Competition. The card can be used to buy Sam’s club furniture and office supplies. Along with the card, the Lab also won a free trip to a training event and free promotion and mentoring through Score, the non-profit responsible for the contest. The Lab was one of 102 small businesses in the country to win.

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The concept behind Starlab is fairly unique – it takes all the elements an artist or creative project could want or need and makes it all available together.

“I’m excited what we can sort of offer to people because I don’t see a lot of this out there,” said Hawke. “It’s audio and video production in a creative direction – all in one house together. And the fact that someone could come in and – say it’s like an album recording – they can also get head shots and video done, and have all of that under one roof.”

But while the overarching concept behind the Lab has always been clear those involved, thinking about specific details beyond the actual nuts and bolts of the building (literally) was periodically put to the side until the Lab’s now primary female presence came on the scene.

“What was great about Lisa coming and joining us boys is she kind of made us do this major push to really lock down our mission statement and really set up five and ten year business plans, which we’re working on right now,” said Hawke. “It’s exciting because it makes things more realistic, more of how do we make our goals happen and how to be successful at that and also be able to pay for bills and heat and all of that.”

Vidal met the guys through Lindsay at Improv Boston.

“Being in here for such a long stretch of time just building, with the only real goal in mind that – we just gotta get this done somehow and then we’ll figure it out after – you just get kind of lost in the tunnel vision thing,” said Price. “At first, Lisa was on the outside of that – she lives next door basically and was friends with all of us and would just be here, helping out or doing whatever. When we started talking about her being involved it was almost like she could just see like here are these guys, they’re in this one tunnel vision type of situation– she sort of brought us out of that and helped us start focusing on something that’s not that. It’s been awesome.”

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Currently, the Lab rents out the live room as practice space and does periodic audio recordings in the building. They also host non-music related events including monthly stand-up comedy nights and movie nights called Disasterpiece Theater, sponsored by High Energy Vintage. According to Hawke and Price, these events are great, but the hope is to make the majority of the happenings at Starlab more creative ventures related to the Lab’s mission, which includes continuing to host Starlab Fest despite not having the traditional space the Lab used for the past five years (new location TBD).

“I miss the old place for nostalgic reasons, we had a lot of good times there,” said Price. “But this place is just so much better. I’m really excited to get this finally going as a business and to see what’s next.”

Contact Starlab about rates and availability here.

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(Photo courtesy of Richard Thomas Hawke.)

the Soul Shop

by Amanda Beland

It’s the middle of summer in 2007 and Elio DeLuca and Patrick Grenham are on their knees cleaning a console with toothbrushes. The console, constructed in March 1986, is a Pisces – just like DeLuca and Grenham. Their newly acquired ‘bro’ is about to become the centerpiece for something much bigger than the basement it once hung out in, untouched for years.

“It’s happened occasionally where people have brought in records to mix off Pro Tools and they park the computer here for a couple of days and I think it makes the tape machines kinda nervous … you walk into the control room and see that big flat screen and you think ‘man, this is not the way,'” said DeLuca.

DeLuca and Grenham, both of Somerville, are co-owners of the Soul Shop, an all analog recording studio in Medford, Massachusetts. Their console, among other analog gear, make up an almost 10-year-old business with a focus on sound quality.

“Do it right the first time,” reads a review of the studio on Facebook.

DeLuca and Grenham knew each other in high school, but lost touch after graduation. They met back up and became friends during the mid-2000’s after seeing each other at various “weird noise” shows around the Boston area. Grenham also had a regular DJing gig at The Cellar in Cambridge. DeLuca eventually started bringing records to play on the nights Grenham was DJing. It was here the two started talking seriously about music and decided to start the band Keys to the Streets of Fear.

Grenham and DeLuca wanted to record live to 2-track tape for the first Keys record, but couldn’t find a place in Boston that had the capabilities (or the desire) to enable the process. That’s when the two men turned to Marcata Recording, then in Harlem NY. Marcata was started by the band the Walkmen.

“They (the Walkmen) were like, ‘well in a studio, you need a tape machine, four or five good microphones and that’s it,'” said Grenham.

“And a decent console and that’s it,” said DeLuca.

“Yeah, so they were like let’s build our own studio so we never have to pay for another studio again,” said Grenham.

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Analog vs. Digital Recording

In technical terms, the difference between analog and digital recording has to do with the distinction in signal paths and the way sound is recorded and stored. (Science!) Without inching into modern jackass territory here -almost everything done in the digital sphere can be done in the analog sphere – except it probably takes more time and more gear. Obviously in analog recording, there are no presets and nothing can be automatically applied or filtered like you can do in a digital editing program like Pro Tools.

In analog, if you want to amplify a track or add an effect, you have to physically turn a knob or press a button or adjust a setting on a real life droid. There are no drop down menus with physical hardware. Also, in digital recording, you can totally use that backspace key and undo in less than two seconds. In analog recording, you can delete something from a tape – but once you do – you can’t take it back. You have to rerecord. (Danger!)

In digital recording, you essentially have unlimited tracks – you could have 100’s of tracks of just shakers or vocals if you so dared – but in analog recording, tracks are limited based on the studio. At the Soul Shop, you have 16 tracks to fill and if you fill those 16 tracks and wanna add more stuff to a song, you gotta be creative and finagle a way to do with your resources.

The Soul Shop is an all analog recording studio simply because that’s the way DeLuca and Grenham like to work when it comes to recording. They like tubes and physically touching things – they aren’t big fans of using a mouse and a couple arrow keys to T-Pain audio tune the heck out of your voice.

“It’s because he wants to push faders on a console and run stuff through tubes and compressors or whatever,” said Grenham, talking about DeLuca. “All that kinda stuff you have to do the old fashioned way and not sit there and point click ‘mix’.”

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The Marcata studio and practice space were located in a former Nash Rambler production factory in Harlem where different parts of the cars were installed on different floors of the building and the car was moved by ramps when each floor’s work was completed. The studio was located on one of the ramps.

“The walls and ceiling were curved – nothing was parallel to anything, which is the first indicator of a good acoustic space because then you don’t get weird like being in the shower, back and forth reflections,” said DeLuca.

The guys spent three days recording at Marcata before bringing those recordings back to Massachusetts to a couple other studios in the area. However, Grenham and DeLuca couldn’t shake the Marcata feeling.

“These experiences (in Boston) were expensive and then we were like – maybe the Walkmen were right,” said Grenham.

“They were expensive and they were indicative,” said DeLuca.

“Maybe we should just stop paying other people to borrow their stuff and just buy it,” said Grenham.

We were also kind of foolish at the time, so we bought a bunch of gear,” said DeLuca.

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DeLuca and Grenham bought gear with the intention of using it to initially record live sets and then eventually, to open up their own space. In the winter of 2007, Keys had a week residency at PA’s Lounge in Somerville for this purpose.

“Sunday through Monday, we played every night of the week, different sets, one was all covers, one was all jazz tunes, one was new stuff and then we got other bands to play,” said DeLuca.

Grenham and DeLuca recorded every set of the residency.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2007, however, until the gear found a permanent home when DeLuca found the current location of the Shop in Medford.

“Luckiest I’ve ever been on Craigslist,” said DeLuca.

The building was separated into three spaces – a bridal shop in the front, a piano restoration shop owned by the landlord in the back and the space that would become the Soul Shop on the side. At first, the building’s landlord was hesitant to allow a recording studio to rent the space. After repeated attempts, he finally conceded.

“It took meeting him in person,” said Grenham.

“We all had the same weird crazy Italian vibe going around,” said DeLuca.

With the space acquired, Grenham and DeLuca began construction on the space, which was one room when construction began. Grenham has been a professional builder for years, so he brought people in to help separate out the control and live rooms, as well as to help with sound proofing.

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“That was wicked fun because I know how to build houses,” said Grenham. “Learning how to build all of the sound stuff was kind of awesome. If I was smart, I would make a lot of money doing that.”

The Shop’s live room has a couple unique aspects that aren’t immediately noticeable. First – drawing inspiration from Marcata – the walls were installed crooked on purpose. Second, none of the walls are actually touching each other.

“None of these walls are parallel – this one tilts back, they all have very little angles,” said Grenham. “You don’t notice it when you walk in, you’re not like ‘oh my God, this is a crazy house.'”

“You know, not like many degrees of an angle difference, just a tiny shimmy, just enough to make it sound the way it sounds,” said DeLuca.

The space wasn’t entirely finished until October 2007, though the first record was made in the uncompleted space in August 2007.

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“I remember we had holes in the ceiling and no tape machine,” said DeLuca. “We didn’t have the endless money of being able to throw it together at once, with the gear and everything else. You know, piece by piece.”

DeLuca and Grenham acquired the gear the studio through careful Craigslist and eBay searching. Grenham has also built (and is still building) many of the amplifiers in the studio, which the Shop either keeps in house or sells.

Before, during and after construction, the two men continued to collect equipment, including the Shop’s tape machine, Neotek console and Steinway piano, which belonged to DeLuca from childhood.

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“That was one of the main things – live room sound, have to have real pianos,” said Grenham.

Grenham and DeLuca are co-owners of the studio. DeLuca is also the head (and only) engineer. DeLuca is a conservatory-trained pianist who’s been working on both sides of a console in various forms since college. He plays guitar, bass, piano, organ and sings in various projects including Blinders, Faces on Film and Titus Andronicus. Grenham and DeLuca also both play in the New Lights.

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Titus Andronicus Live at the Soul Shop

The Shop is used as a recording space the majority of the time. However, the live room has also been used as a low-key show venue. DeLuca plays keyboard for the band Titus Andronicus and the Shop has hosted the band twice for secret shows for family and friends. The most recent show occurred in August 2014 while Titus was on their most recent Northeast tour. Blinders and Wicked Kind (members of Titus Andronicus) also played.

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Since the Shop opened, it’s been witness to dozens of different artists and bands from a slew of genres.

Guitarist Will Graefe, of Brooklyn, recorded at the Shop for the first time in 2008 with his guitar, saxophone and drums trio Dikembe’s Mutombo. The trio recorded live to 2-track tape in four hours. Since then, Graefe estimates he’s recorded at the Shop between 10 and 20 times on various projects including Wilder Maker, Katie Von Schleicher, the Soul Shop’s 2013 Christmas Record and his own solo project. Graefe also currently plays guitar with his main project Star Rover.

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Soul Shop Christmas Records

For the past two years, the Soul Shop has produced and released a Christmas record. The 2014 record, titled “Christmas Alone With You” featured originals and covers from a number of Boston bands including Parks, Abadabad, Blinders, Quarterly, Faces on Film and the Low In Between.

Take a listen to this year’s production process:

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Graefe says recording at the Shop is unique because it offers a transparent and comfortable process for recording.

“Elio eliminates a lot of the typical barriers that can inhibit spontaneity and risk,” said Graefe. “Often times, (there’s) no isolation, no head phones, no computers- just capturing the people in the room with warmth and honesty and grit and cuts and bruises, too. There’s an accountability about that.”

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Musician Katie Von Schleicher is also a regular client and friend at the Shop. She’s recorded there with Wilder Maker, Sleepy Very Sleepy, and her own solo work, among other projects.

Von Schleicher says the vibe of the Shop is a huge part of the experience of recording there.

“Whenever I go into the shop, it’s hopefully for five days at least – whenever I leave the Shop, I have some sort of postpartum depression because its a full experience,” said Von Schleicher. “It’s a fantastic place where one by product of Elio and Patrick both being picky opinionated guys is that everyone who comes in when you’re there is someone you trust and someone that you want to work with. So it’s really a fully immersive experience – a lot of the time is spent on the couch listening to overdubs while someone else is in the live room and a whole lot of it is down time, so its exhausting and somehow even the downtime where you’re sitting on the couch is riveting though. It’s like Wayne (Whittaker) cracking a joke, or in the case of Wilder Maker – or my solo stuff, Will Graefe cracking a joke, and the chemistry between everyone who’s there is a huge part – at least to me – of what the Soul Shop embodies.”

Dan Webb, of Dan Webb and the Spiders, recorded five tracks from his newest LP Perfect Problem.at the Shop. Webb, who also plays drums in Blinders with DeLuca, said the Shop’s focus on sound quality, among other things, made the recording process more comfortable and more worthwhile for him and his band,

“My favorite part was that when we tracked there was no headphones involved,” said Webb. “At the Shop, Elio had us set up in such a way that we were able to track our parts live and without headphones so it sounded awesome as we were recording it, which only added to the comfort level of the experience. and in my experience, the more comfortable you are, the better the recording goes.”

The experience of recording live in an immediate atmosphere is a major focus at the Shop. According to Grenham and DeLuca, often times musicians head to a studio and record each instrument or part of a track separately and at different moments. The idea of working at the same time and in the same space while recording is part of what makes the sound and recording methodology unique to the Shop.

“People still come in and are surprised that it’s just one big room,” said Grenham.

DeLuca references this methodology as a cornerstone to the recording process for the band Eternals (formally Stephen Konrads and the Eternals when they recorded at the Shop).

“It also needed to be built up in a careful fashion where when they played the initial tracks, they played live, looking at each other, as opposed to everyone in a separate room with closed circuit tv camera action going on,” said DeLuca.

Musicians typically find out about the Shop through word of mouth, Facebook or through their website. Details for booking – price, dates etcs. – are typically discussed and determined based on need once you make initial contact.

“No one wants a ringing phone in a recording studio,” said DeLuca.

One of DeLuca and Grenham’s favorite parts of the Shop is the community that surrounds it – not just immediately with friends or friends of friends, but with anyone who comes into the space.

“It’s nice to give people the opportunity to check out the work and the methodology and see if it’s right for them – or right for something they’re involved with,” said DeLuca. “And it is great for us to be able to recommend – like Patrick’s saying – other players for certain things. If someone comes in and they want strings on their record, it’s not them playing a string part on a MIDI keyboard. It’s four or five musicians simultaneously set up in a circle reading off a piece of paper, the way it should be – you know?”

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High Energy Vintage

Hight Energy Vintage is a vintage game, clothing and music shop in Somerville. It’s owned and operated by Andrew Wiley. Wiley, a New Hampshire transplant, originally began selling vintage items at the SOWA market almost four years when he was “broke” and looking to make ends meet.

“It was immediately successful,” said Wiley.

Wiley continued to operate a booth at the market for two years until he opened up a storefront location on Broadway Street in Somerville in October 2012. Since opening its doors, High Energy has experienced steady a steady clientele.

“I don’t think I’ve done any advertising and I kind of like that,” said Wiley. “I like being under the radar.”

Wiley, with help from a few other employees, acquires the shop’s inventory through yard sales and private buy-outs, among other means. Wiley says he’s always been into records, games and clothes so it just made sense to start selling that stuff.

“I like everything in this store … like this shirt, I like this shirt; if it fit me, I’d have it for myself,” said Wiley. “This store is just an extension of me and who I am. It makes sense.”

High Energy Vintage is located at 1242 Broadway St. in Somerville. Check out their website and Facebook.

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