effigy studios

royce: hey em you should get the front of your studio done up
eminem: nah
paul: yeah that would be really nice em
royce: plant some trees and shit
eminem: the fuck would i wanna plant some plants for
paul: how about you just fill the space with some gravel
royce: yeah…thats probably easier
eminem: what if we put some giant white rocks there
paul: hmm
royce: hmmm idk man
eminem: 

7

Effigy Studio

Eminem’s home-away-from-home is a recording palace, secluded in a former manufacturing building and cloaked in mystique.

Rapper Big Sean recounted an April trip to the facility, opened in 2004 by audio engineer Thomas Johnson and purchased three years later by Eminem.

“I pull up to the studio and it’s like a factory outside. I walk up in … and it’s lavish as hell,” Big Sean told MTV. “I’m like, ‘This is probably the most expensive thing in Detroit.’ ”

Designed by the Northville architectural firm inForm Studio, Effigy was hailed as a grand, state-of-the-art facility, unique for its time.

“They built the kind of studio that people don’t make anymore,” says 54 Sound’s Martin.

Architect Michael Guthrie recalls the ambitious drive of Johnson, who spent $1.5 million on design and construction and perhaps millions more on gear.

“The music industry had been so big around here, but there wasn’t anything like this kind of studio anymore,” he says. “Here was an opportunity to do something great.”

The main performance room is its own building-within-a-building, encased in concrete to elude noise from nearby train tracks. At 1,400 square feet, it’s the sort of large studio space that was standard in the age of orchestras, outfitted with angled walls and latticework overhead.

“Thomas wanted to create a space with lots of reverberations to have a really live, acoustic feel,” says Guthrie.

An adjacent vocal room, isolation booth and control room are all linked via windows. Audio inputs were installed throughout the facility — even the bathroom — for flexible recording. A party room in the back looks upon a courtyard.

Effigy may have been a bit too opulent: The studio struggled for business before it was swooped up in 2007 by Eminem, after his stints at nearby 54 Sound and F.B.T. Studios. He’s since recorded several albums there (including last year’s “The Marshall Mathers LP 2”) and related projects such as Slaughterhouse, Bad Meets Evil and 50 Cent.

Studio technician Norman Druce, who worked at Effigy in its early years, says the rapper rebuilt the control room, adding several earthshaking 18-inch, 1,000-watt subwoofers.

Eminem engineer Mike Strange talked about Effigy in a 2010 interview.

“Our main focus in getting the new studio was in creating a recording facility that was similar to other rooms Em had worked in and in which he is comfortable,” he told Sound On Sound magazine. “We’ve developed a certain workflow over the years that means that we can move through the material very quickly, and in which the recording process has become almost invisible.”