A Music Scene Staple Right In Our Backyard

John Legend is a regular there. So are Maxwell and Missy Elliot. The National held practice sessions for it's acclaimed album, High Violet, in one of it's spacious studios before heading on tour. Even Diddy has stopped through to sharpen his live show.

And that's just the tip of the guitar pick.

The laundry list of clients that consider Complete Music Studios home is as impressive in it's length as it is in it's range. Rappers, rock stars, Calypso artists, DJs, tap dancing groups, unsigned acts, big name musicians and after work cover bands all file through to works out the kinks.

"Citizen Cope is a client of ours. Santigold, too," says James Crawford, day manager of Complete Music Studios and a Prospect Heights resident.

Owned and operated by Mike "Big Mike" Marozas, Complete Music Studios is a storage and rehearsal facility located at 227 St. Marks Avenue, just a few steps off of Vanderbilt Ave. Big Mike first started in the music industry in 1981 working for sound companies and touring with Cindi Lauper.

"In 1985, I started a trucking company just for musicians in the city.", Marozas explains. "I made a whole bunch of connections and I was able to open a rehearsal studio in Chelsea on 26 St. in 1989. Because of my trucking connections, I was tied into many of the really big acts of that time. David Bowie, Lou Reid, Keith Richards all rehearsed at my place on 26 St., among others."

By 1993, Marozas was providing all four major industry services to his clients -- trucking services, equipment rentals, storage and rehearsal space. Around 2000, he realized that his lease in Chelsea would expire in 7 years and began plotting his move to Brooklyn.

With a little bit of foresight, he purchased his current property on St. Marks in 2001, just before Prospect Height's recent economic turnaround. " [In 2004] I moved my trucking and my rentals out there and as the neighborhood got significantly better, I opened the first set of little rooms targeting local start-up musicians", he says, "using all word of mouth, not one stitch of advertising".

"I was almost there first" says Marozas about moving CMS to Prospect Heights. "I've brought so many people into a lot of these bars that were opening up. I'm not going to say that I pioneered the area or anything, but when you bring in 100 bands a week, you know, 5 people in a band, they all go out for a beer after. Or Maxwell comes in and puts 12 people up in a hotel to come rehearse here, I'm doing my part for the neighborhood."

Marozas operated rehearsal space in both locations until, in 2006, the landlord of the Chelsea location offered to buy out his lease. "[He] basically made me an offer I couldn't refuse and I was able to build the production facility that the more recent, bigger bands all use."

The rehearsal and storage industry in New York City is considerably small. CMS is one of only three companies with studio space large enough to host major acts. Missy Elliot, for example, brings 20 to 25 dancers to rehearse, so for her and many others, space is paramount.


No comments: