Watertown Daily Times Article

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Peter Hopper Christopher Hopper Watertown Daily Times

Original source: watertowndailyties.com

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First-class recording studio at Watertown church opens doors to public (VIDEO)


UPDATED: SUNDAY, MAY 10, 2015 AT 11:51 PM

WATERTOWN — Bands and artists with big dreams now can create their albums in a state-of-the-art recording studio at New Life Christian Church, which opened its doors to the public last month.

Launched at the church off Arsenal Street in the spring of 2014, Sprig Studios has all of the recording equipment artists and bands need to make professional albums to be sold online and at stores, said Christopher K. Hopper, president of the business, who also is the associate pastor of the church.

To celebrate opening to the public, the studio is offering a special rate for clients of $45 an hour through the end of this year, Mr. Hopper said. The cost includes supervision from a certified engineer and access to the studio’s tracking, editing, mixing and mastering equipment. The 2,000-square-foot space can also be used to record live concerts in the church’s 500-seat auditorium. He said the business reserves the right to deny the recording of music with explicit language that describes illegal activities, such as drug use and abusive behavior.

Built on multiple elevations and adjacent to the auditorium, the studio took nearly three years to design and build, Mr. Hopper, 36, said during a tour of the space Friday.

Mr. Hopper said he teamed up to design the studio with his father, Peter K., who serves as the chief studio engineer. He said the 68-year-old, who has more than 50 years of experience in the recording industry and owned a studio in Ithaca for three decades, was persuaded in 2011 to sell his business and move to Watertown to help launch the studio.

“Being a pastor at New Life, I wanted to champion the cause of the church being an epicenter for artists,” said Mr. Hopper, a singer and multi-instrumentalist who was recording a worship album at the studio Friday with his wife, Jennifer L., a singer.

The studio is in an area that was once used as a room to show films when the building operated as the Interstate theater at Stateway Plaza. The church opened in the fall of 2008.

To deflect sound, the space features a curved white wall and gravel-filled floor cavities, while American red cedar wood and bricks were used as design materials for other surfaces. Edison light bulbs affixed to black iron pipes lend the space a distinctive look with a “steam-punk aesthetic,” Mr. Hopper said. A space-saving 14-piece “Jefferson staircase” leads to the studio’s loft, where music also is recorded. The steep staircase, made with blue spruce wood, was inspired by a design from Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. president, who was a skilled architect; Jefferson County was created in his honor in 1805.

The Hoppers lead a Christian band in Watertown that has produced albums under Sprig Music, an independent record label for Christian artists. The band will be doing a worship tour this year, hosting live concerts across the country. Earlier this year, it finished legs of the tour in Europe and Latin America.

Mr. Hopper said other groups that also produce music under the label are Brothers McClurg, a Buffalo-based band led by brothers Anthony and Chris Hoisington, and singer/songwriter Meg Sutherland, whose executive producer, Douglas Gresham, is the stepson of the late author C.S. Lewis.

“One of her songs is going to be featured in the next ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ film,” Mr. Hopper said.

Church members are able to support artists financially under the recording label by making donations online and at a giving kiosk in the church, he said.

Mrs. Hopper, 31, said she and her husband plan in July to finish the band’s latest album, which will feature about a dozen worship songs. She said the couple will have a busy travel itinerary this summer.

“Our band will be touring in Massachusetts this month and next month in Connecticut,” she said, adding that they’ll perform in July at the annual Kingdom Bound Summer Festival in Buffalo.

Peter Hopper, meanwhile, said he hopes the studio will inspire Christian and secular musicians to produce quality recordings for years to come.

“We can record all kinds of music — rock, jazz, country and even rap,” said Mr. Hopper, who has recorded with hundreds of artists during his career. He said he continues to learn something new every day in the studio.

“Recording is like flying an airplane — you’re always learning something,” he said.

And he has top-flight equipment on which to learn. He said the studio, which has a mix of digital and analog recording equipment, features a custom-designed recording console built in Nottingham, England. The 72-input console has 3,196 different functions.

“Doing this is kind of like painting with sound and mixing colors with a paintbrush. Each microphone used for recording has a different sound quality and characteristic,” he said.

For more information about the studio or to schedule a tour, call 788-0825 or visit www.sprigmusic.com.
To see a video featuring the studio, go to http://wdt.me/recording-studio.