At Edison Music, David Baron and Jerry Krenach live by a strict rule. "Basically, we want every piece of music to come out of this studio with record-quality production," explains executive producer Krenach. If this is a Brill Building mentality, he's got the right location for it. The company's sprawling facilities are in the Edison Hotel in Times Square.
The pair have the professional experience to match their space. Krenach, a Berklee College of Music grad, played drums with Lou Reed and Chris Whitley prior to becoming head of music production at JWT/New York. Composer Baron, a classically trained Oberlin grad and a former principal at now defunct New York music house Baron & Baron, played keyboards on Lenny Kravitz's 2001 album Lenny. But the Kravitz connection is key to the opening of Edison Music. It all started when Kravitz and his producer, Henry Hirsch, stopped into Baron & Baron a few years ago to check out some equipment. "I actually hid from them," Baron recalls. "I was hiding in my back room with all my old electronic stuff just trying to make cool music." Baron, an aficionado of vintage analog synthesizers - which he'd used on commercials and broadcast work for Old Navy, Thermasilk, and Nickelodeon - was throwing together a bizarre Mississippi Fred remix for a personal project. Kravitz and Hirsch happened to listen in, and, "Lenny eventually said, 'We gotta make a space funk record together,' " Baron recalls. "I didn't think much of it, but two years later they called me and said, 'What are you doing tomorrow?' " Baron ended up in a session with them and was eventually flying back and forth to Kravitz's studio in Miami to arrange and play on Kravitz' 2001 album Lenny.
"Over that year, Henry and I talked about sharing a studio in New York," Baron says. "He knew I was doing television and advertising, and he wanted a studio where he could do developmental projects." After a laborious search for the perfect space, they landed at the Edison, formerly used for commercials and Broadway recordings. Hirsch's Waterfront Studios, Kravitz's Roxy Records and Edison now share the space, and Baron continues to collaborate with Kravitz and Hirsch, as well as on other projects with artists like Daniel Benningfield and U2's Larry Mullen. Meanwhile, Baron and Krenach, who had worked together on the elegantly askew symphonic tracks for the Thermasilk "Heat is Beautiful" campaign, joined forces in 2001 after Baron & Baron closed. Under the name Skylab, they initially did business out of Baron's apartment. Laughs Baron, "It was a company without a home, floating in space." They worked out of record studios like Chung King and The Hit Factory to produce grooves like the chillin' hip-hop track on a 2002 Super Bowl Smirnoff Ice spot, featuring two gawky white dudes dancing at an all-black party. The gig featured Grammy-nominated mixer Rich Travali, whom Baron worked with on an Island Def Jam recording, rock guitarist Eric Schermerhorn and rapper Filthy Rich. They also recorded the gritty girl band ditty with a singer from the New York indie band Samsara for the catchy theme to The Anna Nicole Show.
At Edison, the two plan to continue marrying recording and advertising at a level far deeper than just a licensing contract, although that's a service they're fully-equipped to provide with their various affiliations to publishing houses. They also offer music supervision and, of course, traditional composition and performance, a proven forte evident on the aforementioned tracks and Baron's other recent work, like J.C. Penney's "All Inside" theme and a rearrangement of "Tax Man" for H&R Block.
"It's a very different model," Baron notes of his new shop. "Some people we know certainly know how to produce tracks that make it to the Top 10 but they don't know anything about advertising music. You take this skill set and apply it through our business and skill set, and you create something that's actually quite new."
"Having a studio like this represents what it's all about, making each project a serious production," says Krenach. "Everyone says, 'Make it sound like a record,' " Baron points out. "This is the place where people do make it sound like records. Even when we're doing an ad, it sounds like a record, or we don't let it go out."