Inside Torrington's Red Room Studio
Engineer and musician Mick Connolly has been collecting instruments, records, and vintage recording gear his whole life. His partner Lucinda Rowe is a singer, guitarist, and entrepreneur. Together they run Red Room Sound Studio, an all-analog recording studio in Torrington, Conn., that delivers a personalized experience you can get your hands on.
Connolly runs technical studio aspects; Rowe handles marketing and communications. They also perform as the musical duo Lucinda & Mick.
Both grew up in Newtown, Conn., and were influenced by classic artists of the '60s and '70s. “I thought I’d be a drummer, but after I heard Jeff Beck’s ‘There & Back’, that changed for me,” he said.
For Lucinda, it was hearing John Denver’s “Sunshine on My Shoulders.” “I was blown away, stole my brother’s guitar, taught myself to play, and never looked back.”
The couple met in 2005. “We knew musically we were a strong force. In 2013 we dedicated ourselves entirely to gigging, writing, touring, and recording,” Rowe said.
About working in analog, Connolly said, “When the studio world went digital, I hung onto all of my gear and never switched. This format is what I know, and I never stepped out of it when most went to Pro Tools (digital recording software).”
“I understand the way it works. It’s a lot like dealing with a human personality. You get to know the very specific details of each component and you develop a relationship with it. I absolutely love the way it sounds,” he added.
From multi-tracking to mixdown, the process is all analog. Connolly records to tape and employs old-school editing techniques such as using a razor blade to cut and splice. Once a track is mastered, it can be transferred to digital formats such as mp3s or WAV files to upload to online platforms like iTunes or Spotify. Connolly’s tape machines, console, outboard gear, monitors, and most microphones are from the '70s and '80s.
“The 3mM79 24-track machine is perhaps the best-known piece of equipment. This specific machine was previously at Electric Lady Studios and featured in HBO’s original program ‘Vinyl’,” Connolly said.
Having worked in smaller studios for many years, Connolly and Rowe envisioned creating their own studio. “Lucinda and I wanted a bigger space with a unique sound. As a record collector who read all the liner notes, I realized that each studio had its own sound,” Connolly said.
“Our space in Torrington is 1,600 square feet with 18-foot ceilings. When we first visited, it was in complete disrepair, but Lucinda and I saw what it could be. It took us two months to refurbish and because of the size of our tape machines, we needed a separate control room. We are incredibly happy, and the sound is exactly what we wanted,” he adds.
Clients include Grammy award winners and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers like Steve Katz (Blood Sweat and Tears), Ricky Byrd (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts), Matt Starr (Ace Frehley), Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge), and emerging artists like Joey Wit, Candle Opera, and Chris Morrison.
“So many of these people have become like family,” Rowe added.
Connolly and Rowe have helped revitalize downtown Torrington by sponsoring The Litchfield Hills Creative Fest and the block party at The Warner Theatre, where Rowe was recently hired as production manager.
“We also broadcast a live acoustic performance and interview show to WAPJ Torrington Community Radio once a month, which is becoming very popular. The next event will be Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.,” Rowe said.
The recent pandemic added hurdles to an already difficult profession. Rowe explained, “No matter what industry you are in, running your own business is challenging. We opened the studio in March of 2020, the day Connecticut shut down for COVID-19 protocols. We had just finished renovating the space, had our equipment ready to go, had big scissors for the ribbon cutting, and then everything changed. We had to pivot with live streams, recording our own original music for promo, and getting attention through targeted social media and tons of visuals on Instagram. Three years later we are still here and booked constantly.”
So what is the secret to their success?
“There is nothing better than having a happy client refer a friend. We are proud of the relationships we make and that we retain them as well. I believe in social media, and anything visual works well because the studio is so grand. But our biggest advertising tool is the product. You can’t fake the sonic level of our productions, and that is what brings people through our doors again,” Rowe added.
For more go to www.redroomsoundstudio.com