It’s the end of January. Your holiday blues have passed. Your bank accounts are on their way to recovery. Your resolutions have been made, shared, and secretly broken. Wait, no. That’s not you. That’s everyone else. Your blues know no holidays with your vision still unrealized. Your bank accounts don’t hold enough to avoid that monthly maintenance fee, let alone fund that shoot. And you don’t make resolutions. You make goals. You have a plan; a project; a baby waiting to be born. You just need that space. That space needs to be local, as grand and malleable as that canvas in your mind, and reasonably-priced. Enter, The Wyckoff. It’s the end of January. And it’s time to work.
Located off the Halsey stop on the L train line, The Wyckoff is the photography and video studio you wish would just stay a secret. Geographically, your wish could easily be honored. It’s the trick brick in the wall; the secret knot of the tree; the rotgut room the lame-o’s can’t find. It’s the renovated one-thousand square-foot storage facility of the neighboring laundromat. But we’re only at the entrance here. You’ve found it. The unmarked black door is a short walk from the street, yet still tucked away and unassuming. That short walk, you realize, is parking space. Check. The door opens after you’re buzzed in. Security – check. This place is huge. Check. Hair and make-up is on your right. Check. There’s like, a million outlets. Check. And then – “LAND HO.” Full-steam ahead: a full turn seamless cyclorama wall lit-up like Nakatomi Plaza on Christmas Eve.
So the owners gotta suck, right? You’re looking for the trust-fund-backed stuffed-shirts getting in on the Bushwick real estate snatch-up for the artist influx and long-time resident displacement. Sorry. Not here. Introducing Raymond Miranda and Richard Garcia. These borough natives are here to make it all happen – for you, for themselves, and for our growing community of makers and doers right here in Bushwick.
Ray and Rich met in the fifth grade at St. Elizabeth, a school, which has since closed down to house a charter program. The relationship strengthened through boyhood trials, high school years, and neighborhood changes. The years passed, yet their passions and their crew remained. Fueled by natural talent, curiosity, and that coveted – “New York – born and raised” street style and sensibility, their crew grew up and exploded outward. The hustle was real and continues. The twelve crew-originals have their hands in all things very necessary – street art throw-ups to food and fashion. Ever hear of Gommi Arcade? Yeah. It’s like that. So what’s a New York City squad without a soundtrack? Focus back in on Ray and Rich. Their business partnership begins with music. Ray a.k.a. “Lynks” is described by Rich as having always been “the artist – the producer – the thinker”. Rich gets it back from Ray, “We call him ‘the engineer – the doer’.” One is the yin to the other’s yang. Rich is Ray’s son’s Godfather for goodness sake. For Ray, hip-hop quickly grew from a daily mind and spit exercise to a way of life and a means to live. And so it came to be that in 2010 they moved their enterprise out of the basement and incorporated themselves as MUSICLASS101. Accredited by the Board of Education – MUSICLASS101 offers immersive, hands-on, and personalized tutorials for everything music-related for the unsigned and signed artist; for the newbs and for the veterans.
The Wyckoff is just the newest division of MUSICLASS101. Their range of services and accommodations could now take those lyrics you’ve been humming, produce a beat for them, license the resulting track, and give you a kick-ass space to shoot the music video, your press photos and album cover art in.
Since the studio’s soft opening this past September 9 (using Craigslist and word-of-mouth marketing) its presence and unexplored potential grows. Don’t have a photographer or a camera? No problem. They’re also growing in numbers. Not long after The Wyckoff opened its doors, Danny Arthurs a.k.a. “Danny Hiatus” answered the studio’s Craigslist call for a studio intern. Very quickly, Hiatus’ skill set and experience solidified his position as a permanent member of the team as the on-site, in-house photographer and studio director. Ray and Rich hold fast the path and philosophy of their upbringing – “Don’t make sales, make [build] relationships. Then, everyone comes up together.”
The Wyckoff is the end result of hundreds of man-hours put in between Ray, Rich, and their friends and family. A lot was paid in sprained limbs and strained relationships with the sacrificed time necessary to bring this space to life. Between the two entrepreneurs they raise three boys. And in just the first few months of operation they can show their boys, by glorious example, one of life’s truest lessons: hard work pays off. A beautiful balance can be seen in their success. On the one side you have reality television star Tahiry from Love & Hip Hop booking a shoot at The Wyckoff for her new ServedFresh fashion line. On the other, The Wyckoff hosts community-centered family nights projecting movies and renting popcorn machines for the kids.
Bushwick is changing. Fast. “Our parents went through it,” said Ray. “In the 70’s this was an Italian neighborhood. Look at New York [City] – it’s a good thing. It’s evolution. It’s pushing out some of the good, but also some of the bad. You can worry that it [gentrification] might water down the character, but who wants to live in a bad neighborhood?” As natives, Rich and Ray have not only embraced the changes, they’ve recognized the opportunity as this said natural evolution, and continue to seize every moment they see going forward.
Not inspired yet? Are you thinking that day job can hold you over a few more months while you really lock down your ideas? Sure it can. Keep the day job. Ray and Rich have. You may recognize Rich from the MTA bus driver seats as on the B26 and/or the B52. And you can find Ray behind a desk during the week as a finance manager at McGraw Hill.
Maybe you’re comfortable. Maybe you’re not. Maybe this next move is for fun. Maybe it’s for survival. But you should make it. Find yourself talking to Ray and Rich about your next big idea. Start building your relationships, Bushwick. The Wyckoff waits.
It’s the beginning of 2015. Make it your year, dreamers.
The Wyckoff, photo, video and an event space is located at 883 Wyckoff Ave in Ridgewood. To book a viewing, visit their website. Hourly rates start at $45 with $300 for 8 hours.