Duane Lundy used to call the studio his home. Literally. In fact, his first music-production studio had him running cords and cables through his children's bedroom.
Since late 2006, about the same time he started rocking around town after hours as guitarist for the Lexington power-pop brigade Chico Fellini, Lundy set up shop on National Avenue and created a work environment that uses vintage and state-of-the-art equipment along with a few necessary mood pieces: candles, rugs, drapes and the like.
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He has a fitting name for this studio environment, too: Shangri-la.
From the home base of Shangri-la Productions, the Ohio native and onetime tennis pro spends his days producing, mixing and recording bands from all over the country.
"I never much like going to the dentist's office," he said. "A lot of studios feel like that. They're very clinical. I figure if I've got to spend 12 hours a day in a particular environment, I want it to feel comfortable. I wanted it to feel not like a studio. I want it to feel like you were going to your own sort of musical home. And through that, you would be automatically relaxed. You could perform better. That's what I wanted with this studio."
He has worked sometimes on commercially directed studio projects in Nashville, Los Angeles and New York, but Lundy, who is in his 30s, has favored less strategically minded music when it comes to working at Shangri-la.
"My niche has become indie rock and Americana/singer-songwriter types of things," he said. "I particularly enjoy those projects because I can use mixing almost as another member of the band. Hard rock and more literal pop are less appealing. In those cases, you usually do three songs and then pitch them to a label. That's just not my thing. I'm into a more left-sided take on the music. But I certainly wouldn't shun any commercial successes."
Artists from Seattle, the West Coast, Minneapolis and Brooklyn, N.Y., have enlisted Lundy's help at Shangri-la, as have acts closer to home. Among the recent Kentucky clients: Lexington bands The Scourge of the Sea and In Endeavors, and Louisville cellist/pop stylist Ben Sollee.
Lundy said the "nurturing" atmosphere at Shangri-la also has proved a comfortable and creative home for Chico Fellini, which spent 2008 working on a recording there. The album is due out early next year. But with few, if any, local performance venues available in the wake of The Dame's demise, Lundy said the challenge ahead for the band will be to find an environment that is as complementary to its performances as Shangri-la has been for its recording sessions.
"I think the best way for us to make an impression is to try and do something a little more event-style," he said. "We have a tendency to take on that feel when we're playing anyway. It's just the nature of this style of music we do. But we might be using some alternative avenues to do a couple of shows. We'll see."