Nestled in East Passyunk down a snow-covered half-street lies Obsidian Studios, one of the newest additions to Philadelphia’s bustling music scene. CEO and head engineer Grayson “Shep” Cedrone created Obsidian Studio to bring opportunity to Philadelphia, and has succeeded so far in his journey.
Obsidian Studios and its team has been through its fair share of struggles, but members of the team are grateful to have each other. The opportunity to continue to work during a pandemic has become invaluable, attests Parkesh Sehgal, a Senior Public Relations intern.
“[Obsidian is] a protector stone; I like to think we all protect each other here and look out for each other,” Shep said.
Obsidian Studios has only been in its 1118 Sigel Street location since June 2020, having operated entirely in the pandemic, and has maintained full bookings since its opening. They expect an even busier time once things die down, but it is certainly encouraging to see the creative juices flowing during a time when it’s easy to feel stuck and uninspired. “Business can only go up at this point,” Shep attested. Obsidian hopes to host live shows after the pandemic ends.
The Obsidian team is constantly expanding; a secondary location will be opening in Orlando in the near future with a partnership from established musician Kultivate and his team to take it off the ground. The Obsidian family grows even larger with a connection to the Floridian night scene. However, Philadelphia will continue to remain Obsidian Studio’s home base, Shep assures. Although the music industry seemed “very closed” when he entered it, Shep is doing his best to open doors in a variety of ways, including gaining experience with a variant of styles of music. Shep has experience in hip-hop, and the studio has many different types of clients and has experience recording many different types of music, including EDM, and even gospel.
West Philadelphian-born CEO Shep has interned under industry professionals who assured him the learning process, especially in the music industry, is neverending: “I’m always trying to get faster or better at what we do in terms of recording vocals and making music and I like to think that everyone here is kind of under the same mindset,” he said.
Shep relies heavily on his team, but everyone constantly evolves their skills, crafting a highly operational team that seems to love coming to work as much as they love working on their craft.
“If it wasn’t for the people here, I don’t even know if I would still be creating. It’s all inspiring when you walk through these doors,” says in-house photographer and videographer Chase Epstein. “It’s very motivating and inspiring, being here.”
It is clear that each member of the Obsidian team brings their own style and passion for music to the studio every day by the way they carry themselves and their overall knowledge. The ever-expanding team looks to strengthen both their own industry knowledge, fine-tune skills and create a larger community presence.
“Anyone in Philadelphia that has an interest in the music industry, we want to make sure we are a name that is known,” Shep says. “I’ve noticed the difficult parts in the industry and I’m able to fill the gaps,” Shep says. “More pay, easier workflow, a learning environment, community support.”
Obsidian Studios’ Offerings for Drexel Students
One of the ways they look to communicate is through their social media channel that hosts bi-monthly giveaways. Winners receive free recording and photo sessions with their in-house photographer.
The Philadelphia location houses a variety of services and visitors are welcome to the LED-lit facility. With multiple studios and classic red undertones, the overall atmosphere welcomes a creative vibe and many opportunities for Drexel students, on a multitude of levels including internships and DJ classes.
“We wanted to make it not so much as kind of a gatekeeper kind of industry, more of a kind of welcome with open arms,” Shep says. “If you’re determined, and this is what you love, we should help each other, rather than make it more difficult, because it’s already difficult enough.”
In terms of more traditional recording, “Anyone here can work your session and give you a very similar result,” Shep says. “By learning each other’s crafts, most people are able to do each other’s things at a high level… we don’t have to stop, it’s 24/7 studio”
One of the benefits of having a versatile and skilled staff means that essentially any member can help clients record their music.
Obsidian offers affordable, flexible prices for college students, all-expenses-included depending on-the-hour sessions. With a photographer under the same roof, Shep and his team have truly built something accessible and unique, placing their focus not necessarily on profit, but on the music.
“That’s a major reason for our success, is that we’re fast and cheap,” Shep says.
It’s a relatively quick process, as you can record and mix and master at Obsidian and walk away with a finished product.
Interested persons of all ages can also visit Obsidian studios for classes, including DJ classes. Compact Disk Jockeys, the industry-standard DJ equipment, are typically quite expensive, but Obsidian setup allows visitors to learn this technique for just $25 an hour while the equipment itself normally rents one piece for $600 a day. Music can be a money pit, but Obsidian is working to make it more accessible. Even better, the DJ classes are taught by professionals who have played sold-out shows and festivals so pupils can learn from seasoned professionals.
The staff ensures a pleasant visit for all who walk up the narrow staircase; public relations intern and Temple University Public Relations student Isabel Chowdhury says, “the people are so welcoming; I feel so inspired by everything that goes on here”.
Obsidian Studios also has internships available in various fields, including Public Relations, office management or music industry production. Some of the benefits of interning include the ability to record your own work for free. Internships also have the ability to expand into something more.
“We’ve had one of our interns go from just interning to being a part-time engineer and getting profit from his work,” Sehgal says.
From classes to internships to recording sessions, it is clear that Obsidian Studios offers a variety of opportunities for interested Drexel students.