by Lee DeVito
After 18 years of working in an unassuming former poultry processing facility-turned-recording studio, Jim Diamond of Ghetto Recorders says he is being priced out of downtown Detroit, the Detroit News reports. Diamond and his studio are noted for capturing, if not creating, the sounds of the "garage rock" revival of the early 2000s, having recorded acts like the White Stripes, the Electric Six, the Dirtbombs, the Von Bondies — and Diamond's direct, lo-fi aesthetic and vintage recording equipment have made Ghetto Recorders a destination for national and international artists as well.
According to Diamond, his landlord is doubling his rent. The news came up when a film crew from the advertising agency Lowe Campbell Ewald (which recently relocated from Warren to downtown Detroit) came by to ask him about Detroit's rising creative class. Diamond didn't mince words:
“I said something like ‘Yeah, it’s great. I’m being run out of downtown because of all you creative types,’ ” Diamond said. “You know, that cool image about Detroit being a raw, authentic place that I helped create. Well, now I can’t afford it.”
It's interesting, though, that what Diamond says he is being priced out of isn't an actual neighborhood but rather "that cool image" — and one that he says he helped create. It's also worth noting that Ghetto Recorders is hardly located in the ghetto. Situated invisibly among the Fox Theatre, the Fillmore, and Comerica Park, Ghetto Recorders sits squarely in epicenter of downtown activity. In the Detroit News article, Diamond said he was reluctant to move to a part of town that wasn't "trendy."
“If it’s in one of the neighborhoods that are trendy now, people really want a lot of money for the space I need. More money than I have,” Diamond said. “And if it’s the parts of Detroit that are not trendy, it gets kind of dicey. I haven’t found something where I will feel safe to have all my stuff and where you would see bands carrying a bunch of expensive equipment into the building all the time.”
Another thing to note is that this is in complete contradiction to the copy on Ghetto Recorders' website, which uses the "dicey" aspects of the neighborhood as a selling point.
Ghetto Recorders is hot, hot — hotter than hell. Especially during the summer. (And during the winter, possesses the ambiance of some North Pole station for scientific tundra research.) It's in a decidedly questionable part of town, where danger is always imminent; if your car isn't stolen then it's bound to get ticketed.
Far from being a bad thing, these factors actually help the creative process. As any numbskull knows, the best rock and roll was produced under duress and in great adversity. Ghetto Recorders is surrounded by plenty of both. But fear not — Owner and Producer Jim Diamond will be on hand to see to it that no one loses their mind.
It kind of sounds like Diamond wants to have his cake and eat it too.
Have a peek inside Ghetto Recorders here, and check out the video for Electric Six's "Danger! High Voltage" below (that's Diamond on the saxophone).