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Revitalized recording studio nurtures Eastern's underground music scene

Published on April 13, 2023

Revitalized recording studio nurtures Eastern's underground music scene

Student attends recording studio session.
Producer Zachary "ZEEBO" Brace (left) records student Anastasia Korzhoff's piano and vocals in the Communication Building recording studio.  

Senior Zachary Brace, a psychology major with a budding reputation in the music industry, has spent the academic year revitalizing Eastern's Student Recording Session Program. Known as “ZEEBO," Brace has released some 150 instrumentals, remixes and full-length tracks, and helped more than 15 artists and two bands record, mix and master music all within the Communication Building's professional music studio.  

Previously unused for four years, the studio is now booked to capacity and the Student Recording Session Program, which he established with the help of Professor John Zatowski, is providing students with the tools to hone their musical crafts and artistry. 

“At this point, the program has become so popular that I’ve had to start working with artists at my home studio,” Brace said. “It’s been amazing though! Being able to work with this many people has motivated me to continue perfecting my skills.” 

Brace’s high rate of development as a producer has earned him recognition from some of the industry’s most prolific musicians, labels and executives. Recently he has been invited to showcase his talents at an exclusive label in New York City, where he will work collaboratively with several artists. He has also been in contact with DaiQuan Davis, Trey Songz’s drummer, and Evan Rogers, a label executive who discovered, co-produced and co-wrote Rihanna’s first seven albums.  

“I never could have believed that music would basically become my career,” Brace said. “When my roommate, Jack, and I presented the idea to John Zatowski it seemed so farfetched. Because of the Student Recording Session Program, my life has changed forever.”  

Student musician works in recording studio.
Artist Anastasia Korzhoff records piano for her upcoming EP.

Brace is a two-year veteran of music production and engineering. His signature instrumentals elicit melodic trap and hip-hop beats similar to musicians like Lil Uzi Vert, Future, Lil Baby, Gunna and Yeat. However, his talents have helped him compose instrumentals that span every genre in the American music industry.  

“I began making beats at the beginning of the last school year,” Brace said. “Since then, I’ve accumulated hundreds of hours of work at Eastern’s studio. Since becoming the studio manager, my love for music and desire to make music my career have grown immensely.” 

Following the program’s inception, Brace admits that his program was relatively unknown across campus. Yet, over the ensuing months, his efforts have become widely recognized by a diverse group of Eastern’s most talented singers, songwriters, rappers and musicians. In fact, during the 2023 spring semester, Brace’s skills have convinced nearly a dozen artists to collaborate with him on a weekly basis. 

Lena
Senior Lena Jones

Although Brace said that hip-hop is his predominant genre of interest, Eastern singers Anastasia Korzhoff and Lena Jones, have lauded Brace for his swift mastery of the pop, indie and alternative rock genres.  

Senior Jones is a well-respected lead vocalist and guitarist whose various bands dominate the underground music scenes across the Eastern and UConn campuses. Her musical stylizations draw comparisons to a soft-grunge, alternative rock and punk-centric Nora Jones.  

Overall, my experience in the studentrecording session program has helped me locate what sound and type of production I want my EP to contain,” Jones said. “It has given me the opportunity to work with an amazing producer, and really understand what sound I want to give my audience. It has inspired me to work with new techniques while staying minimalistic with my guitar.” 

First-year student Korzhoff was the first artist who began working with Brace in the Student Recording Session Program. Her unique indie-pop style evokes similarities to Taylor Swift, her lyrics giving listeners a look into her inner psyche as she chronicles the character-defining moments of her life.  

Brace has worked with an array of rappers throughout the spring semester, including seniors Tyreice Woods, Seth Thomas and Sharon Fowler, and sophomore Marcus Henderson. While still in the beginnigs of their musical careers, each of these rappers have exhibited signs of star quality. 

seth
Senior Seth Thomas

Woods' listeners have praised his vocal presence, flow and delivery, and his striking resemblance to East Coast hip-hop legends Jay-Z and Meek Mill. Meanwhile, Jabarii "Barii" Leary — a local rapper who often works alongside Woods in the Eastern studio — has drawn comparisons to a plethora of contemporary Detroit style rappers. Many of his peers say his “sound” and “flow” are analogous to hard-trap artist Tee Grizzly.  

“This program has helped me out tremendously,” Thomas said. “Having access to a recording studio has allowed me to overcome my boundaries and explore my creativity as an artist.”  

Thomas said Brace is “fully committed” to instilling confidence in the artists he collaborates with. He said Brace’s work ethic has inspired him to pursue music in a diligent and professional manner.  

Despite rapping for only a few months, Brace said Thomas has become an “extremely versatile” artist who is willing to “write or freestyle” to a wide variety of instrumentals. Brace said Thomas is already one of the most dedicated artists that he works with. Throughout the past two months, Thomas has recorded approximately 10 songs at Eastern’s music studio.  

Recording studio students in session.
Brace uses the PreSonus Live 32 mixer and FL Studio software to record and produce Korzhoff's music.

Often when Thomas schedules a session, he is accompanied by fellow hip-hop artist Fowler. Many of the rappers who work with Brace say they have been impressed with Fowler’s effortless ability to freestyle an entire track with ease. His undeniable skill, witty lyrics, resonating voice and ultra-confident studio presence are aligning him for a successful hip-hop career.  

“The studio program at Eastern has benefited me in so many ways,” Fowler said. “Since I started working with Zach as my engineer and producer, I’ve felt like my goal of becoming an artist can become a reality. I’ve also built relationships with a number of other artists at the studio.” 

Marcus
Sophomore Marcus Henderson

Along with recording, mixing, mastering and arranging tracks for artists, Brace has been tasked with training a producer-engineer to inherit the program after he graduates. Brace says sophomores Marcus Henderson and Jaiden Baldwin have been receptive to the idea of becoming co-studio managers next year.  

Brace added that Henderson and Baldwin possess a professional understanding of engineering music — including mixing, mastering and arranging. While Baldwin has demonstrated his innate ability to sample and produce original instrumentals, Henderson has a fundamental understanding of flow, rhythm, lead and back-up vocals, adlibs and rapping.   

“This program has been exceptionally helpful at refining my artistry,” Henderson said. “I have been able to gain confidence, friendships and a newfound source of creativity, each of which has helped transform my artistic journey into a career path that I hope to one day pursue.”  

Henderson was one of the first artists to schedule time in Eastern’s music studio. He has been creating music with Brace before the program received an official title from the school.  

“Marcus may be the most talented artist out of any of the younger rappers I’ve had the chance to work with,” Brace said. “But I’ve been blessed to be able to work with such a broad range of phenomenal artists — so, it’s nearly impossible to decide who’s the best.” 

Recording studio session
Brace uses FL Stduio to add drums, synthesizer pads and secondary melodies. 

After graduation, Brace will attempt to pursue a career in the music industry. He plans on moving to a major city, like New York, Philadelphia, Boston or Denver to expand his social network and explore career opportunities in the music industry.  

“I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity Eastern and this music studio have given me,” Brace said. “I can’t wait to come back next year and see just how far the program, artists and studio have progressed!” 

Each artist is in the process of finalizing an album or EP, in which Brace has been credited as the producer, engineer or both.  

 

Written by Jack Jones

Categories: Music, Communication