Studio owner impressed with local talent

The Smithfield Herald

When Paul Barton moved his recording studio form New York to Clayton, he was surprised to find a wealth of talent in his new backyard. “The most impressive thing is it’s so diverse,” says Barton, whose artists run the gamut, from old-timey gospel to industrial noise. “There is an extraordinary amount of talent in this area, more than I ever imagined.”

In 1995, Barton launched New York Studio 415, which took its name from Barton’s house number in Jersey City, N.J. But his experience in the recording industry dates to the 1970s, when he was a sound technician.

In the 1980s, Barton toured with various rock bands. In the 1990s, he had a hand in numerous audio- and video-recording ventures while living in New York, San Francisco, London, and Paris.

“The experience on the road gave me the full picture,” Barton says.

As a recording producer and studio owner, Barton’s approach is unconventional. He does not, for instance, charge artists for the time they spend in his Clayton studio. “My primary objective is to offer an environment to musicians where they don’t have to sweat the expense and watch the clock,” Barton says.

At the same time, the producer doesn’t open his studio to just anyone who comes calling. Instead, he chooses which artists he will produce and scours the Triangle for recording talent. “I need to hear something I can work with,” Barton says.

The studio makes money when the artists do, Barton adds. “When the CD is out, I get a percentage of what they’re making on it.”

“I’m taking a risk along with the artist,” Barton says. “I’m right there with the artist with a stake in the project. Although the approach doesn’t sound financially rewarding, it’s worked out. It’s a win-win situation.”

Studio 415 is a full-service recording house. It has digital and analog recording, mixing, and mastering equipment. Beyond that, the studio offers artist management and the services that artists need to arrange, produce and market their works.

Finally, Barton uses his experiences in the industry to guide artists through the often-murky waters of the recording world. “I want to help navigate people in the music business through the different obstacles,” Barton says. “I want to give them the kind of advice and leg up that I wish I had.”

Sometimes Barton has to prod artists to reach their potential. “I’m a coach,” he says. “There are times I get in their face and push them, and there are times to get out of the way and let them do what they want.”

“I want them to strive for excellence, but we have a great time doing it,” he adds.

In the end, Barton wants to help produce a quality product. “I want them to have a product they can be proud of,” he says.

Moreover, Barton encourages his artists to be patient. “Sometimes a CD is a sleeper,” he says. “The music business is riddled with CDs that sat there but did extremely well in the long run.”

Studio 415 has had its share of successes, including Keith Hoeppner, a self-taught guitarist who released Splittin’ Hairs, and Blue Dust Box, a group of young Johnston men who have released Everybody’s Fault But Ours.

Currently, Barton is working on eight projects but wants to do more, including Latino, dance, hip-hop and rhythm and blues. “I want to expand out into the rest of the world,” he says.

Studio 415

Paul Barton at Studio 415
Paul Barton says his recording studio offers
a relaxed environment for artists.

Article by Linda Martinez

Photo by Becky Kirkland