In Portobello, Two Composers Open a New Recording Studio

The studio is a massive wooden box with a door. It fills a small part of a cavernous warehouse-style space at MART Portobello Creative Hub.

The box has high ceilings, whitewashed walls adorned with records and CDs, and loads of natural light. A carpenter friend built it in a few weeks, says Garrett Sholdice, and it is designed so it can be taken apart and moved, if necessary.

Sholdice, a tall fair haired man, is sitting at a table in the warehouse, but outside the giant wooden box.

With his friend Benedict Schlepper-Connolly, Sholdice founded the record label and concert-promoter Ergodos a decade ago. It is only now, though, that they are taking it from working at home and on the move, and meeting on Skype, to this more permanent home near the skateboarding square and water-spilling locks.

From here they will produce more music, and continue to organise and promote the Santa Rita Concert series at the Little Museum of Dublin.

Do It Yourself

The Southside duo first met as teenagers on a music-composition summer course. “We found in each other kindred spirits,” says Sholdice.

They were influenced and inspired by their teacher, Donnacha Dennehy, founder of Crash Ensemble, he says.

“His whole attitude was, ‘Do it yourself,’” says Sholdice. “If you have art that is important, you should make a platform for it. You shouldn’t wait for someone to come along and give you that platform.”

Ergodos started as concert promoters, when Schlepper-Connolly and Sholdice were students in Trinity, and now they run a series of concerts each year at the Little Museum of Dublin, which will kick off again in September.

The Santa Rita Concerts provide an intimate venue for the audience and the performers, says Sholdice.

Around 100 people attend a wine reception where the artist gives a fireside talk about their work. “Immersion is really important to us,” he says.

The performance itself then takes place in a candle-lit Georgian drawing room downstairs. “It’s incredibly rich and everyone has met the performer already,” he says.

They feature a variety of genres of music, including but not limited to classical. The important thing is diversity, he says.

The Santa Rita Concerts are “really eclectic. It’s just music that we are really passionate about. You can’t pin it down to genre or style,” says Schlepper-Connolly.

Ten Years On

“We turned ten last year and we decided we had to take a new step and actually get a space,” says Sholdice.

That was after a decade of running Ergodos on the fly, from here and there, says Schlepper-Connolly. Throughout that time, they travelled a lot and were rarely both in Dublin, he says.

Now they’re settling down a bit, though. As well as securing a space for themselves, “we also we wanted to create a hub for a really vibrant community of musicians in the city”, says Sholdice.

They spent about a year seriously trying to find a commercial space that would rent to them, he says and the hold-up wasn’t just an issue of affordability.

“Traditional landlords just aren’t going to be interested in something as unknown as this,” says Schlepper-Connolly with a laugh. “Every time we were describing to a landlord what we wanted to do, you could just see the glaze going over their eyes.”

They were delighted to get taken on by MART in April this year.

“There’s a pool of musicians who are interested in doing exciting things and excited about doing different things,” says Sholdice. “We have been lucky to feed off and into that energy over the last ten years.”

Musicians they know will continue to make music in their bedrooms, says Schlepper-Connolly, but he thinks they will come in to the studio towards the end to finalise their recordings.

“It’s great that people know there is a home for that now,” he says. The studio can be used for recording, but it is primarily designed for mixing and mastering.

The walls of the studio have two layers, with a gap in between, he says, and this helps to cut out most of the sound.

After “all the years of working from bedrooms”, he says “the sound is superb”.

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