Warren Pryde’s Trinity Island Studio aims to make recording accessible
If you’ve attended or played a show at Spirit over the last few years, you probably recognize Warren Pryde. The sound engineer’s yellow-tinted aviators and long curly hair are distinct, and his presence behind the board was a near constant in the early days of the venue. Over the last few years Pryde has taken a step away from the soundboard and invested time somewhere new – the studio.
Pryde is officially taking on projects at Trinity Island Studio, an intimate recording space based out of his Morningside home. When we chat over Zoom, he sits at his desk in the studio space and the view behind him feels like an I Spy game of music gear. There are four bass guitars, an acoustic guitar hanging from the wall, a keyboard and countless amplifiers.
Pryde is a self-described gearhead who has been collecting guitars, amplifiers, speaker cabinets, microphones, keyboards and many other ingredients in the recording studio recipe for success. Pryde had been amassing recording gear for awhile, but a small apartment doesn’t lend itself to recording longer projects. So when he bought his house, the studio-building process gained momentum.
The name for the studio comes from a piece of Beatles lore. “Apparently at some point in the ‘60s, the Beatles were looking at purchasing an island somewhere in the Mediterranean called Trinity Island,” says Pryde. “It’s also the name of the street I live on.”
Pryde first tried his hand at recording when he took a handful of recording classes in college while studying electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. “I thought, ‘What if I get into signal processing and analog circuitry, things that apply more directly to music,’” he says. “They added an audio engineering minor in my last year of school that already lined up with some of the coursework I’d done, and it gave me access to the music school things I wasn’t able to access in my original program.”
While Pryde worked in live music and audio set up, he dabbled here and there with recording. His longest recording and production collaboration has been with the guitar rock project of Rave Ami, formerly Honey, which began with the band’s Mock Pop, released in 2017. Pryde, Ryan Hizer and Dane Adelman worked as a team to record on Mock Pop and the third record Let It Be. When it came time for the band to work on their forthcoming record they returned to Pryde with the goal to work together intentionally and take as much time as they needed.
Since starting his long-term collaboration with Rave Ami, Pryde has also worked with West Virginia’s gloom pop Natural Rat, Gooski’s bartender Larry Olinger’s project of local characters and legends Gimme Fever, and emotive hardcore punks VYLTS among others.
In addition to recording and engineering, Pryde also takes on mixing projects and has used mixing collaborations as an opportunity to skill share with other local musicians. “I’m also just happy to teach stuff. People can come and hang out and I’ll tell you about it,” says Pryde. “I’ve just gotten to the point where I’ve realized there’s enough room for everybody, so there’s no reason not to just share the knowledge and teach people.”
Without access to affordable studios, some local musicians opt to never record before a project ends, and then no record of it exists. “There’ll just be some Instagram cell phone videos or something like that from a live show,” says Pryde. Having a sliding-scale model recording studio where people can come and record means that the archive of Pittsburgh music is more robust, which is a win for everyone.
“I want [Trinity Island Studio] to be accessible and open to everybody,” says Pryde. “I have a day job and I’m relatively financially stable and that’s how I can make it be affordable. I’d like people to appreciate my time because I’m putting my time into it, but I try to be as flexible as I can.”
Support for WYEP’s music journalism is provided by the Hillman Foundation. Read more stories written by WYEP Music Journalists here