GTPulse: Studio Anatomy Cultivates Culture Through Music in Traverse City
Going to Studio Anatomy feels secretive and almost ceremonial to go to. Basements, in my nostalgia, have a long track record of being places to get away, to create and to get into different kinds of teenage antics. Growing up, my neighborhood was full of bungalows with basements and hard-working dads who wanted beer and solitude when they got home from work with well over 40 hours worth of calluses on their hands. A basement is a midwestern teenager’s domain. My first time getting drunk was in a girlfriends basement (blue raspberry Mad Dog 2020), my first time writing something I was proud of was in mine. Studio Anatomy is a basement far past its teenage years but with no shortage of the rosy creativity that comes with youth.
Brian Chamberlain has been the proud owner of Studio Anatomy since 2012. He has been in Traverse City for 10 years but has been a musician since childhood.
“I’m self-taught with a drum kit. I started playing when I was in middle school. My dad played drums when he was young, and I was always making beats. I’m pretty rhythmic and I had always wanted a drum kit.”
He grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and got experience with being in bands while he was there. He and a girlfriend moved to Traverse City for a change of scenery. She had grown up vacationing in Northern Michigan. The relationship didn’t last but Brian’s love for Traverse City did.
Most of his working life was spent in camera shops and film photo development. He started at an Eckerd drug store in his hometown and built skills in photography from there that he would use creatively and for work for the rest of his life.
“That was one of my first real jobs. I wanted to learn photography so I wanted to work there.”
He’s been working in camera shops ever since up until a few years ago. He overtook Good News Music, the previous music store that was located underneath the Arcade building and turned it into Studio Anatomy, a recording studio.
The studio was started in a room on top of The Camera Shop in Traverse City because Brian was working there at the time. When the old Good News space became available, Brian was initially intimidated.
The owner gave Brian a deal on the rent and allows him to sublet out some of the over 7,000 square foot space on the condition that he fixed up the place. After Good News Music left the space was in poor condition and Brian prioritized cleaning up the area he wanted to use for the venue. Over the years Studio Anatomy has hosted all kinds of performance artists and has become a hub for local talent. Last weekend’s standup comedy show was sold out.
The studio further fosters artistic talent in the community in its function as a recording studio. Not only is Brian passionate about being a musician, but he’s also passionate about helping other musicians get their sound heard.
“I started recording when I was 12 or 13 with a cassette recorder and a microphone. In high school, I started taking some classes called electronic music. The first year was more about the basics of sound and acoustics and microphones. The next year was more about the electronic side of it, learning computer-based recording.”
Studio Anatomy functions as a recording studio, band practice area, performance and event space. Beyond local shows, the studio also displays art from locals that are for sale with several pieces by NMC hanging up now. Brian has continued to innovate and improve Studio Anatomy over the past eight years and between being a musician, sound engineer and business owner, has brought a place to Traverse City that continues to grow a healthy and diverse music, art and performance art scene.