A local music and sound studio is getting back in the groove after enduring an office flood that damaged its downtown digs.
Overcoast is back in full production mode at its studio in the basement of the downtown Gather building at 409 E. Main St., where a late January flood required a rebuild of its 2,200-square-foot recording space.
The company, which splits its staff between studios in Richmond and London, has spent the past several months assessing the damage and regrouping while continuing work it could handle remotely, said JL Hodges, one of the firm’s five principals.
It has also been working with Gather property manager Dodson Commercial on cleanup, insurance claims and other responses to the flood, which the parties said was apparently caused by an upstairs faucet left running overnight.
Hodges said the damage destroyed the floors, ceiling and walls of the studio space but spared its higher-dollar recording equipment, computers and most of their musical instruments. He said water that dripped from the ceiling fortunately avoided their main recording console and computer room.
“In terms of the gear being destroyed, we came out of it a lot better than it could’ve been,” Hodges said. “It could’ve been a total loss.”
Insured by Nationwide, Overcoast filed a claim for $70,000 through its insurance agency Suffolk Insurance to cover its equipment and property damage, while Dodson covered cleanup and construction costs through a $45,000 building claim with CNA Financial Corp.
Ross Fischer, vice president of commercial real estate for Dodson Commercial, said the company responded swiftly to the flood. Water and fire damage cleanup firm Servpro was called in to assess the situation and start drying the space, and Midlothian-based River Bend Property Services handled the rebuild as general contractor.
Fischer said work started in late January and was finished within 90 days – a feat he called impressive for a recording studio space that required service from a sound engineer, Richmond-based Acoustical Solutions. The space was finished in April and turned back over to Overcoast on May 1, Fischer said.
“I told them day one: ‘Guys, I feel for you. You did nothing wrong. This was just a freak situation and we’re going to do everything we can to fix it and fix it right, fast,’ Fischer said.
“I don’t think there was negligence or a miss on anyone internal to our organization,” he said. “This was a freak situation. It really was.”
While some of the co-working building’s downstairs common areas sustained minor water damage, Fischer said Overcoast was the only Gather tenant affected by the flood, which was centered above its space. Other tenants in the building joined the studio’s staff and friends to help move equipment out of the space – lured in part by the promise of beer and pizza, laughed Overcoast principal Colin Beckett.
Originally from England, Beckett joined Overcoast through fellow principal and England native Matt Whitworth, who formed the company with Hodges and VCU alum Travis Tucker. Chris Brooke, a childhood friend of Whitworth’s and another partner in the company, manages its London studio.
The studio’s work, primarily for TV commercials and online videos, can be heard in spots for Butterfinger, Dove and Timberland Pro. It recently provided the music for one of The Martin Agency’s latest commercials for Geico – the one with the fashion model runway show at an airport.
With its locations across the Atlantic, Beckett said Overcoast uses the difference in time zones to its advantage with certain clients needing a quick turnaround.
“The time difference works in our favor,” Beckett said. “We’re a 24-hour business in terms of delivery.”
Since forming five years ago, Hodges said the company has developed an international network of about 100 freelance musicians and composers who they can call on for projects, in addition to performing and recording music themselves. Their clients are likewise global, he said, divvied between the U.S. and Europe with some in locations as far away as Singapore.
“We have a network of unbelievably talented people all over the world,” said Hodges, a Hampden-Sydney alum who has played in local bands such as Avers and Farm Vegas. “We can provide a great opportunity for them, and we can provide our clients with authentic music. If they want Cuban jazz, we have people who can compose Cuban jazz who are Cuban.”
Locally, Overcoast works primarily with ad agencies such as Martin and ndp, and with production companies and studios such as The Branching, Spang, Five19 Creative and Hue&Cry. Local competitors include fellow sound houses Black Iris and Tiny Lion.
While they maintained their workload as they could through the cleanup, Hodges said he and his partners are glad to be back in their stateside home base after months of working remotely – a throwback to their first couple years recording out of their homes.
“The companies that Dodson and (Gather co-owner) UrbanCore (Development) put together for the rebuild did a great job,” Hodges said. “The space is awesome. It still has the same vibe that it had before.”