Marc Frigo monitors in the control room while Jason De León from the Wilcox Hotel cuts vocals in the lounge/iso room
In 2000, engineer Marc Frigo and his wife, engineer Amy Frigo, moved from Nashville to the chilly Northeast, ultimately settling in Boalsburg, Penn., to be close to family while they raised their daughter, Bethany. After getting comfortable in their new locale, Marc Frigo gradually began seeking out and recording local and regional bands — something he had done for years back in Music City. However, there is no Emerald, East Iris or Ocean Way in this modest Penn State University town, so to get the job done, Frigo tracked drums in his basement, mixed in his living room or commuted to a nearby church or similar venue when he needed more space. Keenly aware of the lack of commercial facilities in the area, the technically proficient couple filled the void with Frigo Recording.
The 900-square-foot studio comprises an 11×13-foot control room equipped with Digidesign's Digi 002 Factory workstation/control surface. (Plans for an upgrade to a Pro Tools HD system are in the works.) A set of Event Studio Precision ASP8s and a pair of Yamaha NS-10Ms provide near-field monitoring. The mic selection includes Shure and Audio-Technica models. The blue-painted main studio measures a 16×22 feet, suitable for drum tracks or small ensembles. A 12×22-foot lounge area doubles as an iso booth for vocals or acoustic guitar, while the bathroom and a closet serve as amp closets.
Frigo handled the majority of the studio design, construction and wiring, which proved a challenging learning experience. “None of it was usual for me,” says Marc Frigo of the project, which involved everything from reinforcing and insulating walls to installing bathroom plumbing. “It seemed like there was always some little thing that needed to be done that would end up taking days! But it feels good to have done it.”
The main studio
Photo: Amy Frigo
With the studio fully operational since October 2006, the Frigos now have the opportunity to attract regional talent and clients with whom they developed relationships during their 10-year stint in Nashville. As graduates of Full Sail's Recording Arts program, the couple moved to Nashville in early 1991 and met later that summer at Woodland Studios, where they worked as staff engineers. Between the two of them, credits include the Indigo Girls, Patty Loveless, Bad Company, Bob Seger, Keith Urban, Jewel, Amy Grant, Kenny Chesney, Emmylou Harris, Larry Carlton and Gillian Welch, as well as a host of other country, rock and pop artists and songwriters.
“Reconnecting with some of the major artists and producers that we worked with in Nashville is an essential part of making Frigo Recording a success, and will ultimately enable us to keep working with the up-and-comers,” says Frigo. “We can make arrangements to record in Nashville or elsewhere, and perhaps bring the tracks back to our studio to mix or simply have clients send us their tracks.” They have already completed one such project for recording artist Lucy Diamonds, whose debut album, Poor Dream Redemption, will be released in late summer.
The Frigos also see the studio as a focal point and breeding ground for the local music community. Acts such as Will Diehl, Kevin Giarnella, Nathaniel Hohol and rock band the Wilcox Hotel have all recorded promising albums here, with more on the way. Like many college communities, the clubs and bars generally hire cover bands, leaving original acts little opportunity to showcase their own music. The Frigos hope to not only help those acts get their music to the masses, but also unite and grow their fledgling community. “There are all these little pockets of talented people all doing good stuff, but it just hasn't been developed into a community yet,” he says.
In the early to mid-1990s at Woodland Studios, the duo worked in the same windowless building, but rarely on the same session. Now that they have their own facility, they can potentially work together or trade off on sessions. “Frigo Recording is all about finding your passions and living them,” says Marc Frigo, who currently assumes most of the engineering/production duties. “If you have God-given passions, you need to give into them fully, and my God-given passions are my family and recording and mixing music. That's what makes Frigo Recording successful and enables us to do great work and to continually please our clients. They see that passion and feed off of it.”
Heather Johnson is a Mix contributing editor.