By Dean Stattmann
On a quiet Monday evening, a muffled cry emanates from the closed door of a New York University dorm room in downtown Manhattan. It’s the penthouse floor of Lafayette Street Residence Hall – one of the furthest from campus – where the university hides its Greek life. Echoes of grueling Guitar Hero solos and epic beer pong bouts bounce off these walls after hours. But amidst the Halo, hot wings and all the other accurate stereotypes, one student is ripping through the mold.
Matt Golubjatnikov, a politics major at NYU, has been playing guitar for seven years and is finally getting some attention. He spent his freshman year with NYU abroad in Florence, Italy, before finally moving into Palladium Hall on 14th Street. During his sophomore year, he pledged the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and kicked off his junior year with a spot in the frat’s spacious eight man duplex. But while most musicians with his talent move on to decked out studios with fountains in the lobby, a floundering economy has caused this junior to seek out alternative facilities, like his dorm room.
“Home recording has become incredibly accessible relative to past years,” he says. “If you have the patience and experimental interest to overcome the often steep learning curve that is inherent in today’s music software, then you can do basically anything.”
In 2008, Golubjatnikov, 21, got curious and decided to see where his music could take him. Working with a tight budget and a demanding schedule, he eventually opted for home recording equipment and slowly began to acquire the pieces of what would become an impressive home studio. One year, a semi-acoustic guitar, two effects pedals, professional recording software and a studio microphone later, he has filled his room with everything short of a waiting room, and he can still afford food. “It really surprises me what you can do with a thin wallet,” he says. “My whole recording rig from cables to software comes to a grand total of about 250$. I know more resourceful people that can even shave the amount to less than half of that.”
Starting out on Haight Street in San Francisco, C.A., with just his busted Crate amplifier and suave midnight wine Fender Stratocaster, Golubjatnikov found influences in early grunge bands and the better part of the 90s punk scene. He has since added to this list, finding a renewed appreciation for bands like Black Label Society, Incubus and Alice in Chains. He doesn’t know how to label his own music, but pegs it somewhere between hard and alternative rock. The stuff he finds himself playing traverses genres, he says.
But despite the unlikely evolution of Golubjatnikov’s dorm rock, he admits that recording in his makeshift studio – which he shares with a roommate – can sometimes present unusual problems. “You do come across unique obstacles when recording in a dorm versus a studio,” he says. “But all it takes is the creative mind that is a prerequisite anyway. When recording vocals, if I can’t get a good natural reverb or echo, I just record while standing in my shower. The ceramic walls provide a clean, non-manufactured effect. Problem solved.”
Golubjatnikov has released several tracks online under the name Spareluck, choosing social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook to bring his music to his friends and whoever else wants to listen. The reception has been outstanding, he says, and one of his tracks was recently featured in a beat by fellow New York-based producer Erik Michael.
Golubjatniokov may not have an album in the record store just yet, but he pays little mind to this. For him, the real pay-off is in the music. “I harbor no shame in saying that some days I will just put my own material on repeat on my iPod,” he says. “I mean, you make what you want to hear, so it’s natural to be your own biggest fan.”
Photos by Dean Stattmann