Studio Cribz

My studio in Cambridge is finally done!

Well, mostly done.  There are a few spots on the wall that need some art, but things are finally far enough along that I can share pictures.  And there are a lot of pictures.

First, so that we have an idea of how my studios have progressed…

This was my studio in NYC.  This is the back corner of The Room.  In some parts of the country, you might call this the Great Room.  The Living Room.  The Dining Room.  The Home Theater.  The Office.  The Den.  The Pantry.  The Closet.  In NYC, that’s all the same room.  My favorite parts of this photo are the Apple iSight, which I never used because the only thing I hate more than talking on the phone is talking on the phone while somebody is looking at me; not one, but two click-wheel iPods (I think that’s a 1G and a 2G?); and behind those, a lovely Palm Treo – because there was not yet the iPhone.

I wrote at that setup for probably three years, ending in 2005, when AEJ and I moved to Los Angeles (home of some excellent sushi). Here’s a picture of my setup in LA. We were renting and not allowed to paint the walls. This picture is tragically in need of white balance adjustment, but even if I color corrected the picture, the walls would still be ugly. I still have that desk – an off-white enameled McDowell & Craig steel desk. It lives in my office. (More on that in a moment.)

After LA, we moved to Austin. Here’s my studio/office there. I dug the vintage 1970s lucite chandelier and red velvet curtains.  (As Jonathan Newman once said, “it looks like a friggin’ bordello.”

When we listed the house, it was photographed by a professional interior design photographer, Paul Finkel. (Here’s the blog post with all of his pictures of our Austin house.) You can see the difference in what he was able to do, compared to what I photographed. You’ll notice that we moved my desk when we listed the house, in an effort to make the room look bigger. We also removed my dope-so-dope chandelier.

Then we moved to Cambridge, Mass — the 8th most liberal city in the US in 2005.  Before we arrived in the summer of 2011, it was probably #4.  Now that we’re here, it must be in the top 2.  It would be a firm #1 if not for Loki.  (Huge Herman Cain supporter, it turns out.)

I mentioned above that my old office desk is now in my “office.” That’s because for the first time in all of my years of writing music, I have a room that’s dedicated to doing administrative work like shipping sets of parts, and a completely different room – on a completely different floor of the house! – dedicated to writing music. Now, when I’m writing, I’m literally a floor away from all of my rental sets, so if somebody requests a set, I no longer drop whatever I’m writing and fill the order. (I used to do this because it was easier to fill an order than to write music. Now, it’s easier to write music than go all the way down a flight of stairs and down a hall.  Okay, it’s not “easier” to write music, but at least I don’t have to get out of my chair and go downstairs, which is so hard.) If I get an order, I send the order to the printer downstairs, and every couple of days, I set aside a few hours to “go to the office” and fill those orders all at once. There’s no reason to show pictures of my office, because it looks like an office. A nice office, but an office. Okay, here’s a shot of the closet. Glamorous, isn’t it?

So that leaves the studio. Or “the piano room.” We haven’t decided what to call it. When we arrived in Cambridge, the “studio” (yeah, let’s go with “studio”) was more “the junk room where we’ll leave all of the used packing materials as we unpack” – or the JRWWLAOTUPMAWU room, for short.

Before too long, we had it cleaned up. The mirror was hung (and that’s not the only thing in this room that’s hung – ZING-O!), but the room is pretty empty. Nice wall color, though. We’re renting here, like we did in LA, but unlike in LA, we were able to specify all of the wall colors before we moved in. (I say “we,” but that was entirely AEJ, who spent an afternoon drawing up a floor plan and attaching paint swatches for the contractor.)

Then — carpet! These are Flor carpet tiles – probably the only affordable way to get a (fairly custom) rug for a 300-square-foot room in a rented house. In the distance, you can see the credenza, a vintage leather lounge chair, and the now-famous booby lamp. (Don’t worry; more boobies are coming up.)

The room was still pretty empty – but you could tell that I was excited for the delivery of the piano. I also hadn’t figured out where the subwoofer was going to live.

Then the piano came. (I blogged about the Disklavier here.) Everybody was much happier.

Until the piano played itself. That was kind of stressful for somebody.

So now the room had a shiny new Yamaha grand piano and some shiny speakers on one end, and a leather lounge chair, credenza, and booby lamp on the other end.  (Does this picture look dirty? I hope so.  I love the sexy/skeevy lounge chair, which feels like it fell out of a bachelor’s house in 1977.  Also: super comfy!)

Here’s a less-suggestive angle.

The room was looking pretty sweet. I mean, we had the booby lamp.

The piano.

The subwoofer, tucked (or squeezed) under the piano.

A new chair (in metallic leather).

But something was missing.


Custom-made curtains, from Schumacher Chiang Mai Dragon fabric. Six floor-to-ceiling panels.

Everything looks cooler with cool curtains.

Loki likes them.

Now the workspace kicks ass.  (The windows have some energy-efficient coating on them, so the leaves outside look fake in this picture.  I shot this at dusk, with the interior lights barely on, but with a tripod and a very long exposure.  This isn’t HDR.)

The desk is a fully custom mirror-and-lucite neo-classical console.  (It just arrived this afternoon!)

The mirror is trippy.

The design owes at least a little to Elvis. Here’s a replica of the monkey statue that Elvis had in the TV room of Graceland (blogged here).  Hey, monkey!  Share your ball, monkey!  (“No,” said monkey.)

The room, as seen from the lounge chair.

The room is just loaded with shiny.

I mean, even the chair’s leather is shiny.

The room is mega-bling. AEJ has totally outdone herself with this design. I’m definitely not the best composer around, but thanks to AEJ, I’m pretty sure that I have the sweetest studio. Sadly, there is no Pulitzer for “swankiest studio.”

And what’s just outside the studio? That’s going to have to wait for another blog post…


Joey says

You need to press the damper pedal down while watching movies and see what kind of cool sympathetic vibrations come out of the piano.

J. M. Gerraughty says


Costas says

Can't decide if I would get MORE or LESS done in that studio. Music, that is.

Logan says

It seems like you write music and see your psychiatrist in the same room. Come for the guidance, stay for the booby lamp.

Rachel says

The picture with the room full of packing supplies just screams "fire hazard"!

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