Affordable, small-scale music production

Belfast’s Forest Audio gives musicians a professional sound

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 12:15pm

    BELFAST — Forest Audio, a 16-track music production studio on the back side of the candy-striped building on 9 Field Street, has only been in existence for a little more than a year, but, local musicians already like the sound of it.

    Steve Chiasson, a singer-songwriter and musician, just wanted to create a comfortable, welcoming studio space, not just for musicians, but also for storytellers, audio book production and really, any creative enterprise requiring an audio recording.

    “My own interest in the recording side of this goes back to the Beatles,” he said. “I first started to get interested in music in the early 1960s. I’d played guitar and sang in high school and college bands. As I got older, I played with a lot of bands, including an acoustic band called Evergreen for 20 years. The recording piece of it was an outgrowth of that because everybody always want to record their music.”

    The basement space overlooking the bay used to be a storefront. In order to turn into a proper studio, Chiasson had to tear out a portion of the wall, install windows between the recording area and the mixing area and provide soundproofing materials all along the walls.

    Chiasson first got interested in the four-track reel-to-reel recording equipment in the 1970s then began recording with tape-based system with a mic and a cheap mixer in the 1980s. With the changes in technology over the last 40 years, and with digital multi-track recording systems now available, he now has a top-notch recording studio with the latest equipment, gear, hardware and software. The collection and studio space has the capability of producing a sound one would expect from a state-of-the-art production facility. The studio is also equipped with a number of instruments to enhance the sound.

    "My job is to capture whatever it is they do," he said.

    Recently, he has recorded projects for Rockland rocker Vicky Andres, bluegrass band Miners Creek, Camden singer-songwriter David Dodson, alt-folk duo Cantankerous, among others.

    But, Chiasson’s approach is not just geared to the professional musician. This business is his hobby and his interest is in giving amateur performers a comfortable space, where they won’t be intimidated. To illustrate an example, he played back a recording of a teacher and her seven-year-old student playing guitar and singing, just for fun. He’d invited them into the studio to lay down a track and they enjoyed the experience.

    To make it even easier on people, he even offers a free two-hour slot for first-time clients, and subsequently only charges $20 an hour.

    “My prices are really low,” he said. “If I can just pay the rent and have fun, while giving people a professional recording, that’s what it is all about.”

    To that end, some artists can record at home just using an iPhone, if they prefer. Chiasson can then clean up the audio, layer it, and professionally mix it in his studio as he recently did with a self-published author who wanted to amplify an audio book recording she’d done at home. Chiasson helped her find the right ethereal background music for her fantasy novel to accompany the audio book.

    “You don’t even have to be a musician to use the space,” he said. “If the whole family wanted to get together and sing Happy Birthday in the studio to their grandma, that’s what it is here for.”

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