Obsidian Studios is a new record label and recording studio in South Philadelphia, representing artists from the greater Northeast U.S. and employing sound engineers from all over the country.
They opened the studio for production six months ago and have had artists recording every hour of every day since. Obsidian aims to create a space for Philadelphia artists to reach the peak of their career without having to go to places like Atlanta, L.A. or NYC. They offer a wide variety of services including recording, mixing, mastering, lessons, photoshoots, video shoots, video editing, and production.
Since opening in summer 2020, Obsidian has been booked solid, and because of this success, it is opening a second studio in the same location. They are also hosting a giveaway (soon to be posted on social media) where they will provide three free hours of recording time and one free hour of a photoshoot with the in-house photographer, Daytodaychase.
Key players at Obsidian include GtheShep (founder/engineer), Kain (engineer, head of songwriting), Kultivate (engineer, head of production), and Tokxic (engineer, head of production).
PW recently caught up with Shep to talk a little about how the studio came about and its success right from the jump.
Talk a little about how Obsidian Studios came about. Who are the main people behind it, and why was it a good idea to launch in the middle of a pandemic?
Well, we didn’t plan to launch during a pandemic. It’s been in the works for a year or two. But, I was engineering and recording throughout the city, interning, learning as much as I could. Not only about the craft, but the business side as well. And then it got to the point where I had an investor, saved up some money, and found the perfect location. And I just went for it. I went ahead with construction. We actually signed the lease a week before things started getting shut down. And I thought corona would be over in like a month or two. And as the months went by, we realized we’d have to do some extra stuff to make sure everyone who came through was safe.
I put everything together. Kain was engineering with me, and I was teaching him at our last studio, and I have a whole team of 15-20 people involved.
Obsidian has been a hit with artists since opening its doors. What’s the secret to all of the success?
I mean there’s not really a secret to it, we’re just extremely good at what we do. We’re professionals. We provide a COVID-safe environment. We follow the guidelines and try to be as safe as we can. We’re open minded. We work with anyone. We really love the music. Y’know, we have to charge you, but we do offer competitive prices compared to our quality of work and other prices in the city. Honestly, when I came up, I just always had the thought: “There’s something wrong with the studio.” So, I kinda made my own that kinda felt like it was everything I wanted and needed at the time, like when you’re tight on budget and you don’t really have too much knowledge. I wanted to provide a place where the community could grow and was also cost-efficient.
Why did you pick Philadelphia for a new record label and recording studio? From your perspective, what’s the Philly music scene like these days and where is it heading?
I picked Philly because this is where I’m from. This is where the majority of my network is. I know the city. I know the artists. I feel comfortable here. And this is what I wanna help grow. And I want to try to provide some value back to the city that raised me and turned me into who I am.
[The Philly music scene is] in bedrooms and basements right now ‘cause of COVID. But I’m seeing more fusions of genres, the market is growing faster and faster. Back when we had the pump era and the soundcloud guys, they were famous for a few years, but now when there’s hits like that, they’re gone in a few months. It’s the easiest it’s been for an artist to blow up but also the easiest it’s been to fall to the side. Because we constantly have new acts coming up, music is the easiest it’s ever been to download all the software and get products delivered to you. Anyone can make music nowadays.
When a new artist who’s never made a video or recorded any music contacts you, what’s your advice for them? Are you looking to work with newcomers or do you prefer established artists?
I just tell ‘em to come on in, catch a vibe. Just texting, or even over a phone call you can only experience so much. Being here and feeling the people around you care for what you’re working on, I think it kinda sets the tone and gives confidence to a lot of new artists because we love supporting and we try to direct as best as we can. If you’re a new artist, this is definitely the place to start. This isn’t a place where you’ll be criticized, or be taken advantage of. I view every artist, new or veteran, the same way, like we’re tryna do something here, we’re tryna make some good music. No one really gets special treatment. Not to be corny, but everyone’s special.
I don’t have too much of a preference, I just like working with artists who are easy to work with in a sense. I don’t like confrontational artists, or arrogant [ones], in a sense. But I mean I understand this is an emotional field and the music is everything for most of the people that come here, so I’m very understanding of that. But you know, working 12 hours a day for the past nine years, it is easier when people are ready to work when they come in. Like I said, I treat everyone the same, so whoever comes in that door, I’m willing to work.
Can you talk a little about the upcoming giveaway and how people can enter? Why did you decide to hold the giveaway?
To celebrate our new studio, I want to give back to the clients and the people who made it possible. So, we’re giving out three hours of free studio time and one free hour of a photoshoot with our in-house photographer. The way to enter is by following our twitter @obsidianphilly. It’ll run for one week. If you have been trying to get into the studio, maybe want a photoshoot, I would definitely recommend giving us a follow because it could be you.
Beyond opening a second studio, what do you see for Obsidian in the years ahead?
It’s so hard to tell, especially with all the COVID stuff, y’know life can change on a dime, but we just keep creating, we keep growing. I wanna see all my collaborators become full-time staff, to have people be on salary, I want this to grow bigger into different cities, bringing up artists and helping them grow. I’m hoping, within a year or so, we have a nice roster of artists, and maybe some more studios around the U.S. Those ideas are definitely in the future. I hope that in a few years, Obsidian is a household name in the music industry.
How can people stay current with what’s going on with Obsidian?
Follow us on all of our social media, keep an eye on our website (obsidianphilly.com) and turn on our tweet notifications!