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The Cross Street sound 

Capitol View Studio will narrow its focus in the new year.

click to enlarge 'THE KEY INGREDIENT': Capitol View engineer Mark Colbert (right) and musician Daniel Craig. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • 'THE KEY INGREDIENT': Capitol View engineer Mark Colbert (right) and musician Daniel Craig.

When Bryan Frazier opened Capitol View Studio in 2017, the 2,300-square-foot space was a multipurpose performance and visual arts space as well as recording studio. But the studio will narrow its focus in 2019: Frazier plans to expand to a full-service recording studio with infrequent, if any, live shows.

The building's Big Room, as Frazier calls it, is home to the recording studio, which consists of a control room and an isolation room for recording vocals. Frazier, who lives with his girlfriend in the apartment in the rear portion of the building, also works on his screen-printing projects in the space. There have also been a few live shows in the Big Room, which boasts acoustics meticulously crafted by Mark Colbert, the studio's audio engineer and producer. But, according to Frazier, the way forward for Capitol View will not be as a venue.

"I'm seriously scaling back on the live shows because I don't want it to be a venue," Frazier said. "We're kind of coming to that point where things need to start going their own way, [with] the studio being only a recording studio and very focused."

In addition to Capitol View Studio, the building is also home to the Arkansas Music & Arts Foundation (AMAF), a nonprofit fundraising organization that, according to Frazier, advocates for the visual arts and music. The organization, coupled with Frazier's use of the space for his screen-printing project, helped establish Capitol View as a source for artists of many different mediums.

According to Frazier, hosting shows in the Big Room was an effective promotional opportunity for the studio. "It was great for promotion because artists wanted to see it, music fans wanted to come see a show, and the shows sounded amazing in there," Frazier said.

For the future of the studio, Frazier said he envisions the control room, which is now in the front of the building, in the back. The space at the front of the building would be used as a "dry" drum room — a space to record drums with very little reverb — and the apartment in the rear of the building would serve as a lounge or green room for artists.

"It'd be really great for an artist to come and actually live there for a week and record. ... [It's] in a pretty cool space that's right downtown, and kinda hidden at the same time," Frazier said.

Frazier said the studio is able to produce a warm sound, one that can largely be attributed to Colbert's vintage preamps and rack-mounted gear. "There's a richer sound to the way he produces these records," Frazier said. "Sometimes it's a little difficult to describe a producer's style because some people are producers, some people are engineers, [and] Mark really is both. He's a great engineer, he's really knowledgeable, and the guy's a bona fide electrician. He could wire a building if he needed to because he does live sound. He's done live sound forever." The studio uses a Pro Tools HD rig in its control booth.

Colbert, in addition to his role as Capitol View's primary audio engineer and Frazier's business partner, runs live sound at the Rev Room. Frazier said Colbert brings his history as a professional drummer and accomplished producer in Los Angeles to Capitol View.

"He's an integral part of the studio," Frazier said. "I would never run the studio. I just wouldn't do it. I don't have the skill set to do it, I'm more the artist type, and Mark really is a business partner when it comes to that. He's the key ingredient to the studio. And he does most of the recruiting. It helps that he runs sound at a popular venue, so he talks to everybody."

As a result of some of that recruiting, Capitol View has produced several albums and EPs, including Mark Currey's album "Tarrant County," Sumokem's "Warning/Emerald" and Townsend's "Show Me Home." All the live drum tracks on Dazz & Brie's 2017 album "Can't Chase Girls & Your Money Too" were produced by Capitol View and engineered by Colbert, and Big Piph's "Anarchy," an NPR Tiny Desk Contest submission, was recorded at Capitol View.

"We've been fortunate to work with artists we know, and friends that we love, and music we really enjoy recording," Frazier said. "Some studios have to record and produce and mix and listen to music they don't care for, and we've been lucky to produce music we really enjoy listening to."

Capitol View recently finished a track as part of a project with Nashville-based nonprofit Operation Song, a songwriting therapy program for veterans and active duty military. After a weekend retreat in August at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, Frazier co-wrote his first song with a veteran, and he said he'll help launch the website and social media for "Operation Song: Little Rock."

Frazier said Capitol View is looking forward to maturing as a studio and continuing to serve musicians in the coming year. "We've got some great records under our belt, I think we have a focused plan, and it's going to be a great year," he said. "It's going to be a new year in Little Rock in many ways, and we're all really excited about it."

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