By Sarah Rollins
Michael Tiemann and Amy Tiemann opened the doors to their studio and media production facility Manifold Recording in 2011 with hopes of creating an ideal space for collaborative artistry. Nine years later, they have hosted more than 200 sessions, including audio book projects, albums produced by local artists, even recording the soundtrack for HBO’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”
Before he followed his passion for music, Michael worked in the software industry and created the world’s first open source software company, originally called Cygnus Support and then Cygnus Solutions. It merged with Red Hat in 2000 (Michael is also the vice president of open source affairs at Red Hat). “This began changing people’s minds about how other creative activities could be done,” Michael says. “It was in that context that I wondered how one could take these ideas and create a home for artists to create,” Michael explains. He and Amy settled on building a studio in Pittsboro because of the natural, open spaces and easy access to the Triangle. “When you come to the studio you feel like you’re 1,000 miles away from everything, but it’s really only 15 minutes,” Michael says. Today, Michael and Amy work on video editing and video production, respectively.
Manifold differentiates itself from other studios in the area not only with its thoughtfully designed architecture by Wes Lachot Design Group, but also as a carbon- neutral production space. Michael explains that during construction they were very conscientious of sourcing local materials to create a small carbon footprint and that they also wanted to better utilize the building’s solar capacity. They now have a solar double cropping system located a few miles away from their studio; this system simultaneously produces energy from the sun and grows crops under three photovoltaic canopies that sit above an agricultural field. The excess power that it generates offsets what the recording studio uses. They also built video infrastructure into their studio, which in recent years has been advantageous, as video has become the language of music, Michael says.
Manifold works with genres and artists ranging from classical music composed by Bill Frisell to jazz produced by the Branford Marsalis Quartet. Most recently, Manifold hosted Grammy- nominated rapper Rapsody, who recorded tracks for the Essence Festival of Culture and the 2020 BET Awards, both of which were hosted virtually in June. “Our studio was briefly visible as Rapsody was performing for the BET Awards,” Michael says.
The studio has stayed busy these past few months thanks to a backlog of client work. “Most studio recording projects can be accomplished by artists coming in one at a time, doing their thing and then putting it all together later,” Michael says. He says Manifold is making an effort to make their services available and affordable to artists who are struggling to figure out how to navigate the challenges presented by COVID-19. “I want to be a voice of encouragement that there are a lot of exciting projects going on right now, and there are openings for more exciting projects,” Michael says. “I hope that if people are considering if it’s worth it, that my answer is yes.”