Bill Moriarty’s new studio has the look of a college dorm room, or maybe a basement bedroom, but he calls the space “No Nostalgia.”
Littered with guitars and drum kits, mics and cables, with an old organ resting in the corner, the studio feels comfortable, like a lounge – and that produces the best music, Moriarty says.
Moriarty, the 31-year old producer who has engineered recordings for Man Man, Drink Up Buttercup and Dr. Dog among others, moved into the East Falls location in December after five years of sharing space with Dr. Dog. The Connecticut native and new father is proudly planting roots in Philadelphia.
“There’s excellence in lots of different music here,” Moriarty declares.
Shortly after moving to Philadelphia at the age of 19 in the late 1990s, Moriarty circulated through a few bands such as Friends of the Library and Everything is Fine. He interned at Indre Recording Studio and apprenticed with Larry Gold.
Moriarty privately began recording various artists. He soon found himself producing lo-fi groups like Raccoon, some of whose members went on to form Dr. Dog. In 2004, he engineered Man Man’s debut album. He’s mixed four of Dr. Dog’s records, including their 2005 breakout, Easy Beat.
Dr. Dog taught Moriarty about the art of experimentation – because they were simply so good at it. Moriarty’s role was to make it all come together.
“A great recording is a great arrangement,” Moriarty says. “Just knowing when to take out the guitar or when to bring in the drums.”
Dr. Dog and Man Man both signed to Los Angeles-based Anti Records, signaling that Philadelphia was a hotbed of creative indie music. But Moriarty, who won a prestigious Barrymore Award for his work during a Pig Iron Theatre Company production at the Wilma Theater, knew that all along.
“Everything I have wanted to try,” Moriarty says, “there has been someone here that is some sort of master at it.”
Moriarty admires the evolution of the recording art from tape to the complex technology of modern production.
“It’s much better to get some equipment of your own, even if it’s your laptop with Pro Tools or GarageBand,” Moriarty advises about starting up. ”It’s much better to practice. Just record anyone who will let you record them for free.”
From his humble beginnings, Moriarty has become a sought-after talent.
But that’s not the only reason he gets little sleep these days. In January, his wife, whom he met here in Philadelphia, gave birth to their daughter, Timbre.
Moriarty plans to enjoy every second as he takes a little time off to spend with the newest addition to the Moriarty household. But work is never far from his mind.
“It’s all about the music,” Moriarty says as he strolls around the new studio space. “If we recorded here we would do more room mics because we can, because it’s quiet. People would love that sound, hopefully.”