The engineer is known for working with Band of Horses, SUSTO, and Brave Baby
Music producer Wolfgang Zimmerman says his favorite part of the process is recording the drums and vocals.
Music producer Wolfgang Zimmerman’s services have long been in demand. But these days, as the father of an eight-month-old, that’s truer than ever. “It’s getting loud,” he jokes.
As the founder of The Space recording studio in the Upper King neighborhood, Zimmerman knows how to work with volume. The Charlotte native moved to Charleston in 2010 and has been immersed in the scene ever since, first as the drummer for beloved local band Brave Baby, and eventually as one of the hottest sound engineers in the South.
Zimmerman (aka “Wolf” or “Wolfie”) has produced records for the likes of Band of Horses, SUSTO, and more. But The Space sprang from humble beginnings—a storage unit on Line Street in Elliotborough about a decade ago. And it never really had any other name. “Our friends would just call it ‘the space,’” he says. “We would be hanging out, we’d catch a vibe, and then walk down to the storage unit to record.” More than a few local gems were cut there, but eventually The Space needed to do what space does: expand.
In 2017, the studio moved to its current and much larger Montford Avenue digs, with serious upgrades: gorgeous, acoustic-friendly cypress wood on the walls; more real estate, including sleeping quarters for out-of-town artists; and lots of unique gear and instruments, much of it on “long-term lease” from the local music community, Zimmerman notes. “The storage unit always felt bedroom-y, garage-y,” he says, especially for drum kits. But now that there’s “room sound,” The Space has a smorgasbord of sonic options. “Now I can record ’70s-style drums or arena rock.”
The Space provides chill accommodations for visiting bands to stay and relax while making a record.
He says some clients come to him looking for that signature Band of Horses sound, but he tends to push back, noting that “everyone has a hidden sound” and finding it is a quest. “When we’re done, I want people to say, ‘Wow, I never thought we could do that.’ I want the band or artist to be stoked about what they did.”
Usually, Zimmerman says, the road to such an epiphany comes down to putting in the time and being open to collaboration—the ears and input of other musicians. “Perspective is the most valuable thing when working on a record.… It becomes like a community project,” he says.
Zimmerman brings a lot to that mix, literally, but not only behind the control board. He’ll occasionally sit in with artists himself. “I’ll fill in wherever we’re missing something,” be it bass, drums, or backing vocals. “I always say I’m the backup quarterback.”
Of course, COVID-19—and fatherhood— have posed challenges recently to collaborating.
“I had to be extra-selective in terms of who I could work with,” Zimmerman says, adding that he's also taken on more mixing projects that he could do remotely. But while he acknowledges that he's fortunate to have reached a point where he can be choosey, he also says he's intent on branching out stylistically.
“The past couple years, I’ve tried to broaden my horizons because I don’t like being comfortable,” he says. Examples include a collaboration with hip-hop musicians, potential live streams from The Space, plus some possible podcast work.
“It's just such a cool, beautiful spot that I love, and I wanna see it get utilized to its full potential,” Zimmerman says.
Mixed in The Space