The Beat Goes On

The beat of Englewood is distinctive. From the dull thud of the Lenape Indian water drums that echoed across the land over 300 years ago, to the soulful keen of jazz trumpets, the rhythm of the town has always been set to music.


Enter Dae Bennett. The Grammy award-winning recording engineer/producer (and son of singer Tony Bennett) has long called Englewood home, but eight years ago, he decided it was time to close the doors on his outdated digs (the famous Hillside Studios) and establish a permanent workspace in the heart of the area’s famous shopping district. Bennett Studios quickly proved to be a premiere recording facility that has come to rival many of its New York City counterparts (fiber-optic cables were even added to nearby Bergen Performing Arts Center so artists working at the studio could record concerts there). With big names like Mariah Carey, Steve Martin, and his own father flocking to the luxe space to cut albums, Bennett’s former career aspirations seem almost laughable - at least to him, anyway.


“I basically woke up one morning and discovered I was a rock drummer in the disco era,” he jokes, referring to his decision to move from performing to the production side of the business. “The decision was kind of made for me. It wasn’t really something conscious.”


Three decades later, and Bennett’s resume is just as eclectic as the acts that pass through  his spacious Depot Square studio: Salt-N-Pepa, Kathy Lee Gifford, The Bacon Brothers, Johnny Mercer - it seems as though he’s never met a project he hasn’t been able to successfully conquer. “Most people in the music industry usually like to associate themselves with one particular genre,” he offers with a shrug. “I just never saw that as a smart business plan.”


His pragmatic approach to the music biz also seemed to influence his choice of sites. As Bennett explains, setting up shop in downtown Englewood was a win-win situation that couldn’t be recreated in a cramped Manhattan office. “With the resurgence of the downtown area, and the revitalization of the Bergen Performing Arts Center, there existed this opportunity to reinvent a vacant space while still creating this comfortable little bubble for the artists who come here,” he asserts. “The town is small enough that they can just walk over and grab a cup of coffee or sandwich without being bothered, but big enough that they can still shop and eat at restaurants that are pretty comparable to what you might find in the city.”


The pace may be slower, and the beat less frentic, but as far as Bennett is concerned, the songs that emanate out of this popular Bergen County hub ring just as sweet and true as the those being created on the other side of the river. “This town has everything,” he insists with a satisfied grin.  “It’s a melting pot of musical styles. That’s what makes it so great.”