Woah

Written by Frannie Kelley
Photographs by Melissa Golden

 

It’s not that easy to find House Studios, tucked in a corner of an industrial park in Hyattsville, Maryland, on the other side of a Bolt Bus maintenance garage, past a billboard advertising A Different World in syndication, like 10 minutes from the closest sparkling water, a 7/11, that was raided repeatedly by two Frenchmen, very sweet and very much not supposed to be here. 

It’s not that easy to find House Studios, tucked in a corner of an industrial park in Hyattsville, Maryland, on the other side of a Bolt Bus maintenance garage, past a billboard advertising A Different World in syndication, like 10 minutes from the closest sparkling water, a 7/11, that was raided repeatedly by two Frenchmen, very sweet and very much not supposed to be here. 

Inside House Studio is another matter: it’s bright and voluminous and Victor, who runs it, has a secret candy stash, just like your mom. We order Boston Market and Gee’s Jamaican and with spitting rain outside and no windows, tasked with producing a banger in just 48 hours, feel a little like we’re on a submarine.

 
 

Art by Hassan Rahim

 

Louis has prepared. “I’ve been listening to a lot of his tracks, and I’m putting aside the ones I really like,” he says. “I’m listening to the beats and I’m like, ‘OK, so, first, we gonna try to do a beat that sounds like the one I really like his flow on.’ So I can kind of unconsciously direct him somewhere. So I choose the BPM, the melodies, the sounds, and I feel like it leads somewhere. I don’t know where. I don’t know how. But that’s the first step.”

It’s bright and voluminous and Victor, who runs it, has a secret candy stash.

What he and his producing partner, Myd, turn out is elegantly ominous. It’s graceful like Dracula, but it’s itching for Shy Glizzy’s rasp, his nasal declarative style, his insouciance by another name. By the time he arrives the beat is omnipresent and obvious. “It caught me by surprise,” Shy says. He circles it, taking phone calls while it blares, turning his back to it. It’s like a dare. He tells me he owns sharks. He tells me he was at the dentist earlier and got two cavities filled. He tells me he’s trying to buy a pool. It’s his boy’s birthday, and we celebrate a little bit, but Shy is mulling, straining to see it through. 

“I think a lot in my head, and then once I get it together, that’s when I put it down,” he says. “I hear it piece by piece.” He is particular. Once he records the hook he walks back to the control room and is very specific about which “whoas” stay and which “whoas” go. There are “whoa” redos. In this regard, this taking care, Shy Glizzy and Brodinski are the same. They’re not putting out anything subpar. 

And when we caravan away from the moving trucks and the ice cream trucks and the backhoes parked way out of the way, the song has arrived, but it’s not finished. Louis and Myd rework the track and send it back to Glizzy, who records a second verse, and then Louis and Myd go in again.“It’s a bit between cooking and chemistry,” says Louis. “The sound that we’re trying to push is from Europe, is from somewhere else." “I like to expand,” says Shy. “It took me to a further level. It’s not just the same old thing. It’s not just a rap song.” “We started it here, for him,” says Louis. “And he liked it. So I guess we are winning on this one.” 

 
Once he records the hook he walks back to the control room and is very specific about which “whoas” stay and which “whoas” go. There are “whoa” redos. In this regard, this taking care, Shy Glizzy and Brodinski are the same. They’re not putting out anything subpar.