McKeesport boasts musical gem
A music diamond in the rough sits outside of downtown McKeesport just beyond the Jerome Bridge.
Owner Doug Kasper established Soundscape Studio at 524 W. Fifth Ave., the site of a former Toyota dealership in the 1970s.
Kasper, a North Hills area resident, said he developed his recording business in the city in 1996 because everything at the location — from the ceiling to the floor, booths and the walls — was custom made for it.
“We came for the studio itself,” Kasper said. “We made some improvements along the way in the break room. This space sat empty for about five years before we came through. It was actually built for another outfit in the '80s.
“We chose the equipment right for where we're at. We obviously can't wheel a million dollar console in here. We had to find something that would be comparable so that we could put out a product at that level.”
Kasper's highly experienced and professional staff includes Oakmont resident and producer/engineer/musician Bryan Cole.
“We bring the same quality that you find in New York, Nashville, Atlanta,” Cole said. “We bring it right here. What's nice is artists are just finding out that we're here. Most of the studios that I've been in, some of the top studios in the world, are in some of the weirdest areas.
“Clinton Recording Studios in New York is home to Frank Sinatra duets. They've done some of the biggest Sinatra records, and it's in Hell's Kitchen. It's not a great area. I think one of the biggest things that we need to try to do is to remove the stigmata of what an area is, and try to revitalize it, try to bring more business to that area. If you keep moving out of an area, the area's just going to become more and more depressed. If you build up an area, it can hopefully get better.”
Soundscape provides other services, such as music video production, live concert videography, electronic press kits, event promotions, album promotion commercials, and various package deals. It has indoor parking.
“For what we offer here all the way around is astronomically more affordable,” Kasper said. “We do like to work. By keeping the price down, we do more volume.”
Cole said he specializes in musician development.
“We'll really work with them and help them to write their song, to arrange their song,” Cole said. “If they need studio musicians, we have a plethora of some of the finest musicians in town.”
Music acts that have recorded at Soundscape include Tyler Stacy, East Coast Turnaround, Anti-Flag, Buzz Poets, Punchline, People Like It, Bill Deasey, Artistree, Voices For Christ, Zilch and Mike Stout.
Highway 4 guitarist Mike Angert recorded some riffs this month for the song “You Can Find Me Here” with the help of Soundscape engineer David Blaney.
“This is the most homey environment that you can possibly be in for a recording situation,” Angert said. “The guys here all make you feel like you're at home. They're really good at understanding what the band wants to produce. Once they get an idea of what you want to get, then their ideas kind of mix.”
Angert and bandmates Graham Huselton, Kelly Brown and Tylar Parker are using the McKeesport studio for their new full-length album, which was untitled at presstime.
More information about the studio, including a virtual tour with more than a dozen pictures, is available online at www.soundscape-studio.com.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965
, or firstname.lastname@example.org.