By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
COMMONWEALTH Recording Studios celebrated its 20th anniversary last month. Over the years the studio has become famous for creating hits for numerous well known Bahamian musicians.
Legendary and emerging artists have passed through the doors of Commonwealth Recording Studios located on Soldier Road. According to owner Dillion “D-Mac” Mckenzie, the studio is responsible for about 80 percent of Bahamian music created. It has created music for K.B, Funky D, Geno D, Ira Storr, Terez, Spice, Ronnie Butler, Spank Band, Da Brilanders, Nita, Spice, Angel, Avvy, Stileet, Lacie Doe Boys, Wilfred Mullings, Eddie Minnis, Visage and Sweet Emily. Additionally Bahamian gospel musicians including Christian Massive, Landlord, The Singing Prophet, Vanessa Rolle-Clarke, Marky Maxx, Selecta, Geo have also had music created there.
Commonwealth Recording Studio was established 20 years ago by the musician and Bahamian gospel singer Kevan McKenzie. At a young age the brothers made up their mind to pursue music professionally.
Their early start in the music resulted in the production of hit albums, numerous awards from competitions including the Commonwealth Song Competition. The winnings from the competition were invested into the establishment of the studio.
“I have always been interested in music as well as my brother. When we were younger Kevan had purchased some studio equipment and taught me how to use it. From then we started mixing and mastering songs and creating different rhythms. So the studio really started out in the McKenzie’s home. After winning the song competition we were able to purchase some more equipment,” he said.
A misconception that has always been attached to the recording studio is that it only facilities a specific genre of music. “We produce any genre of music. We have always been tagged as a place that only does Bahamian music. But that is not so. We do all different genres of music including Hip Hop, R&B, reggae and all other genres,” he said.
Since its initial start the studio has evolved significantly, moving with time and the advancement of technology.
Like the typical recording studio Commonwealth Recording Studio consists of a studio or live room, where instrumentalists and vocalists perform. There is also a control room where sound engineers operate professional audio equipment and software to manipulate the sounds. The studio also has isolated spaces that can accommodate loud instruments such as drums or electric guitars.
“We have upgraded the equipment over the years. Technology is always changing and it is important for us to move with the times so that we can continue producing quality music,” D-Mac said.
The technology used at the studio has had a lot to do with it maintaining a strong presence in the industry. Despite changes in the industry, and other factors like the economic downturn, the studio still managed to remain one of the top studio’s in the Bahamas.
“I am thankful that we have been around for so long even though the industry has taken a dive at times. Through it all we have been able to find creative innovative ways to keep the studio relevant and produce quality music on a consistent basis D-Mac said.
“We have noticed a lot of changes in the industry after being around for 20 years. We have realised that not many people are doing albums. They are mostly just making singles. There are also a lot of home studios now up and running so instead of actually going in the studio people find it I guess easier or cheaper do it themselves. Once you have a computer it is very easy to start a home studio,” he said.
However, much money and skill must be invested if music is created from home studio. He said commercial studios have the equipment and the space to ensure quality music.
“We operate in an evolving industry, and there is standard that must be met when it comes to making music. If artists ever want their music played on the radio, their music has to meet a radio standard because local radio stations operate at an international standard. Some artists do not understand the importance of this. Some of them may think the stations may not want to play their music, but sometimes it is because the quality of the music is not good.
So although some people may try to get that quality doing it at home, most of the time you do not get the result you are looking for,” he said.
Dillion McKenzie is an accomplished artist. He released his first album “Party Zone”, which includes “Dog Don’t Bark At Parked Car”,” Rock you all night”, What I’m gonna do”, “What you working with”, Da Gaulin Song”, Ya Gal Ga Look Like Dat, Let It Stay Here, The Boat Man” and many other energy filled Bahamian Rake ‘N Scrape songs.