Quality and community is the name of the game for Matt Greco, the owner, along with his wife Kelsey, of The Rye Room -- a boutique recording studio in Portland, Oregon. The pair started the studio to help musicians, big and small, create high quality sound in a comfortable space with special attention on intention, quality, time and care. Matt brings the same care to supporting his favorite community coffee haunt, and brewing coffee at home.
How did you get interested in the world of music? Have you always loved listening to and creating sound?
My parents started taking me to concerts when I was a baby. Everything from the Grateful Dead to Bonnie Rait. I would press my ears to the speakers at home and, having thankfully retained my hearing, was taking piano lessons by age five. I started recording my friends at home in high school, using a midi controller, and my parents’ hallway as a live room! I attended the University of Oregon's School of Music, but after discovering their music technology program, leaned heavily into composition, sought out the school's recording engineer, Lance Miller, who became a mentor to me throughout my years in Eugene. I also worked as a freelance recording engineer for a studio in Eugene called Sprout City for roughly five years.
What were your first jobs in the music industry like, and how did you get the notion to start your own business?
After college, I began tour managing for a local 70s and 80s pop star, Gino Vannelli. Working with his brother and longtime engineer, Ross Vanelli, gave me my first take at live sound engineering. During that time, my now wife and I moved back to Portland, got married, and moved into an apartment in a little neighborhood called John's Landing. While walking in the neighborhood one day, I came across a bike shop with a for lease sign up. I poked my head in and spoke to the owner, who was retiring and took a look at the space. It started as a small idea. This space could be perfect for a recording studio. I had been working out of Dead Aunt Thelma's in Sellwood, but had a dream to open my own space. Was I scared? Definitely. But, with the encouragement of family and friends, I decided to go all in and open my own business.
What was the inspiration behind the name and concept of The Rye Room?
We themed the studio around my wife and my love for whiskey. To us, the time honored process of whiskey distillation directly links to making records. My philosophy is to pursue the highest quality product for my clients, no matter how big or small. A good whiskey, like good music, starts with the highest quality ingredients and, given time and care, can become this amazing product to be experienced and shared. Good whiskey takes investment, attention to detail, care and creativity to make. Making high quality recordings is the same. Plus, what artist doesn't need a little liquid courage sometimes?
What is it like owning and operating a recording studio in Portland?
Being a part of the Portland music scene is something that has been an incredible honor. The industry is closely connected with artists and industry folks who show up for each other and root each other on. At shows, through Music Portland (a local organizing group), and in the studios across the city. In an industry that could be competitive, business owners and artists choose to be collaborative and supportive. It is pretty dang special and Covid is no exception.
What challenges and triumphs have you most noticed in the industry over the past 10 months?
The music industry has been hit especially hard through Covid. With venues shutting down, many artists have lost the primary way they make a living and find their happiness. Livestreams have provided an alternative option, and we try to support our local people as often as we can -- be it from the couch! However, the rigors of 2020 have also been a source of inspiration for many artists who process feelings through music. I believe that some of the best music of our age may arise from this time. As a studio, it is our goal to provide a safe space where individuals can create. As such, we've worked diligently to create Covid protocols by partnering with the Back to Work experts, work in smaller tracking sessions, and implement virtual software to allow artists to listen in from their own homes. Our clients quickly become like family to us, and it's essential we keep each other safe.
Coffee wise, do you have a favorite way to brew and enjoy coffee, or a favorite local cafe?
My wife and I have come to love and appreciate good coffee through our neighborhood coffee shop, Jola Cafe in John's Landing. It's a local affair, they carry Coava coffee and have fueled many a Rye Room Session. When Jola closed during the onset of the pandemic, my wife woefully pulled out her age old Mr. Coffee. It's a single serve drip coffee maker that makes truly terrible coffee. For me, if we were going to be making and drinking coffee at home, I wanted it to be of the highest quality. See a theme here? All about quality! I've had a Chemex at the studio for some time, and I brought it home to try to get her on board. Unfortunately, though she has been working from home, her work has not slowed down. So, she almost laughed at me when I suggested the pour over style. She needed something automatic. This quickly put me into research mode. Discovering the Ratio was a game changer. It has all the ritual and satisfaction of a Chemex, with the automation of a drip. Truly the best of both worlds. The coffee that it makes? No contest. It is flavorful, with the full expression of the bean, meaning we can actually taste the tasting notes on the coffee. That, combined with continued trips to support our now-opened and still beloved Jola Cafe? We're set.
Website: The Rye RoomInstagram: theryeroom