Studio 415

The Clayton News-Star
Photo of Paul Barton working in Studio 415

Music business veteran offers artists chance to create without any pressures

As a veteran of the music business, Paul G. Barton of Clayton knows all about artists feeling the pressure to create under time and budget constraints. So he decided to offer an alternative.

Barton has opened a recording studio inside his home out N.C. 42 East. Studio 415 is for those artists who want to create music without having a deadline or money-issue hanging over them.

“The main purpose for the studio was to give performing artists an environment where they could concentrate exclusively on their craft, as opposed to looking at the clock and breaking a sweat wondering how much this is costing them,” Barton said.

“Music can be a very complicated business, and it helps if there is someone there who can help navigate you. Lots of artists never saw recording as an option or saw their music in a commercial vein. (The studio) gives them a new perspective on things.”

Studio 415 is by invitation only, and while Barton does not charge for studio time, he does ask the artist to sign a contract stating, among other things, that Barton will receive a portion of any profits made from recordings created there.

“A lot of times, I meet artists through third-party introductions,”Barton said as he twisted the knobs on a recording by one of his studio mates, Meg Patrick. “I also visit clubs and coffee houses, and if someone strikes me and they have the right attitude, I meet them, talk with them, and see what they want to do with their music.”

Barton comes from a musical family. His mother’s side—Italian—loves opera. His father is a classical music afficionado and a competition-class bagpiper.

He grew up in New Jersey, a stone’s throw away from the World Trade Center in New York City. A child of the 60’s, Barton studied guitar as a fourth grader and showed an early interest in audio production by layering recordings (holding two cheap cassette tape machines together).

He also disassembled and reassembled electronic things. But he loved music and lived to play guitar and sing—rock, jazz, folk, whatever.

While holding down a full-time day job developing computer systems, Barton became a professional sound technician in the late 1970s, mixing live New York area performances of local bands and venues including Beatlemania and guitarist Al DiMeola. He also toured with rock bands as a guitarist and vocalist through the mid-80s, frequently opening for national acts like The Joe Perry Project, Blackfoot, and Twisted Sister.

“On a small night, we played to maybe 1,500 folks, but the most was probably around 6,000,” he said. “We weren’t playing big arenas. Still, it was a rush to see that sea of heads in the audience, whether it’s 1,500 people or 6,000. It’s a trip.”

Expanding his horizons, Barton excelled in broadcasting school and landed a job as a radio announcer before he graduated.

Over the years, he performed as a mobile DJ, opened an entertainment firm, and established a recording studio that specialized in audio for video projects.

He formed Studio 415 in 1995 and named it after his Jersey City home address, where his family had resided for nearly a century.

Two years later, Barton and his wife, Diane, moved from New Jersey and the studio came with him.

Barton describes his function as similar to being a coach. “I advise them and point them in the right direction,” he said. “I give them an objective, a broader frame of what they can do. I try to balance the strength of the artists with the arrangement and production values.

“I get inside their cranium, get behind their eyeballs and try to see what they’re seeing. Then, I blend that with my own ears.”

Many of Barton’s clients are friends he made in New Jersey—Meg Patrick, Michael Allan Williams, industrial rock band Gogmagog among them—but he has also worked with local residents Brien Barbour and Keith Hoeppner.

“The goal here is to create great songs and have fun doing it,” he said.

Studio 415 offers digital and analog multi-track recording, mixing and mastering, plus excellent graphics, presentation, performing artist management and web site services.

It also provides lyrical and music composition, arrangement, and production, copywriting, and consultation services for business accounts.

Currently, Barton jams all of his equipment inside a small 11×11 foot room on the ground floor of his house. The studio will move upstairs once construction on a 550-square-foot room is completed.

For those musicians who are unsure or skeptical, he offers some consolation. “I tell them that there is nothing they could screw up that I haven’t already screwed up. It’s a labor of love. There have been times I have been paid well, and other times, it has cost me a lot.

“My appreciation for it wasn’t contingent on the financial end of it.”

Article by Jim Green, Staff Writer