Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A World of Sound | DJ Ben Arsenal + Elevate Sound Studios

By J a m e s for JUMP magazine.

Nestled in the hippest location east of Broad Street in North Philly proper is Elevate Sound Studios. In the basement of the impressive Window Factory Arts [yesteryear’s industrial beacon repurposed as a collection of private arts studios] is founder DJ Ben Arsenal’s creative den for multi-genre production within the city.

DJ Ben Arsenal, born Ben Schneible, is a 25 year-old cultural arbiter originally from Montpelier, Vermont. The Temple alum is a true lover of the party scene, and always has been.

I was always the one in high school organizing parties,” explains Arsenal. “I eventually realized the importance that music played in having a really really good party.”

It’s his appreciation of a good, no, epic party that inspires his dedication to the profession music curation and production.

“I went to France and was blown away by people actually mixing songs. They only played the best part of the tracks and the parties were awesome,” he reminisces. “The flawless flow of tunes, the energy, and the massive sound systems -- there’s nothing like walking into a venue that has a good vibe, people dancing and some killer tunes on.”

It should come as no surprise that Arsenal is the mastermind behind Philly’s WorldTown party movement. WorldTown has hosted some of the wildest parties in the coolest locations Philadelphia has witnessed, from Denim Loft in Kensington to an enviable collection of North Philadelphia warehouses. WorldTown’s collection of DJs seamlessly mix Brazillian, West African, West Indian, Middle Eastern, and Balkan riddims – West Philadelphia Orchestra’s Petra Z a regular at Elevate Sound’s socials. Each WorldTown bash integrates electronic and world beats. Think Mad Decent’s Jeffree’s releases, but with emphasis on Philly and design. The floor of the Elevate Sound Studio, for example, is a polyurethane, hand-painted underwater scene by one of WorldTown’s own mixed-media artists.

“We’re like a Venn diagram,” says Eric Bogacz, co-founder of Elevate Sound Studios, on its relationship with WorldTown. Bogacz, 23, from Chicago, his locks whipped into a ponytail, sits mixing an urban contemporary track for Philadelphia rapper Brandname . If Arsenal is the electronic whiz, Bogacz, also a Temple alum, brings an almost sultry hip-hop flare to the table.

Deep, soulful, and down tempo,” says Arsenal of Bogacz’ production, “what we both do well is mix synthesized sounds with the organic.”

Acoustic integrity is important to Elevate Sound. The team fashioned the design of the studio to achieve the perfect sound aestheticArsenal connected with Adrian Lu, then an architectural engineering student at Drexel, to scope the acoustics of the space. Lu assisted Elevate Sound during his co-op with Walters-Storyk Design Group, the firm whose founding partner John Storyk is famously known for designing Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios. Lu, who’s currently working on a master’s degree in audio acoustics at the University of Salford in Manchester, England, says “at the moment, we're working on getting a frequency response of the studio so that we can tune the room. This will make sure Ben and Eric can hear the true sound of their mixes.”

Rounding out the team a bit closer to home is Nick B. Miles, also from Temple. Miles created Elevate Sounds’ slick website and co-composed the WorldTown website with Claire Fishkow of The New Philadelphia. At 28 and from Southwest Philadelphia, Miles is a high-energy, but easy-going kind of guy. He’s the kind of guy whose mother sung with The Odettes and whose father, Johnnie C. Hightower, was guitarist for the chart-topping Philadelphia-based funk band The People’s Choice. Miles is the kind of guy people instantly like. The exact kind of guy a new studio making a name for itself relishes.
Arsenal has built up quite the team. 
Philly – Vermont – Chicago!” Arsenal proudly says of his Elevate Sound Studios crew. “Triangulation," he exhales contently. 

The three amigos with diverse origins, but one clear path. They’re creating the best new haven of talent to spring from Philadelphia.

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