Just a year ago, composer/mixers Kest and Zent Keyz opened their project studio, Prism Productions.
In our annual design issue, Mix focuses a lot of attention on big-budget, big-name studio installations, but we'd be remiss if we didn't acknowledge D.I.Y.'ers like John Calamari. A year ago, Calamari and his partner, — they go by “Kest” and “Zent Keyz,” respectively — opened Prism Productions (www.prismproductions.net) in Calamari's Bronx, N.Y., house to record and mix small-run hip hop projects for local musicians such as Smif & Wesson and Xela, and (their main bread-and-butter) to sell beats they create with an ever-growing collection of synths and instruments. Recording to Pro Tools HD and LE, and monitoring on ADAM S2s, they also provide composing and video editing services. Recently, they scored and mixed the soundtrack for low-budget video documentary Graffitti is Dead, which sets footage of graffitti artists at work to techno music. Calamari says Graffitti has sold 5,000 copies and counting.
Calamari spoke with Mix while sheetrocking his living room — just one of his nonstop home- and studio-improvement projects. “I've been playing drums since I was 5 years old,” he says, “in military marching bands, and then making my own music just went from there.” Calamari designed the studio and built it with Keyz; they got some help with wiring from their friend (and Mix's live sound editor), Steve LaCerra. “It's not walls within walls, but we have acoustical doors, bass traps, diffusers. It never stops and it's never enough. I still have a part-time job; I used to clean houses, which was better than digging ditches, which I also used to do. But making beats and music has been there all along since I was playing snare in parades