Building Abbey Road on South End Ave.

By Patricia Belizario

A copywriter lawyer and resident of Downtown Manhattan has fused together his knowledge of the law and love of music to produce what may be Battery Park City’s only recording label—City Canyons Producing and Publishing.

Run primarily out of a room converted into an office in his Gateway Plaza apartment, Trebor Lloyd, who says he has been “39 for several years,” founded City Canyons about three years ago when he, along with friend Steve McConnaughey, decided to launch an Off-Broadway production.

“[We] got together to write what we wanted to be a real, true rock, R&B, pop musical,” said Lloyd, C.E.O. of City Canyons. “Not Broadway’s idea of what it should be, but the real thing.”

The idea grew into an Off-Broadway show called “City Canyons,” and when Lloyd and McConnaughey began to focus their attentions on music, the show blossomed into City Canyons Publishing and Recording. Since then, Lloyd and McConnaughey have abandoned the theatrical aspect of music and parted ways, though McConnaughey still contributes his talents to songwriting for the label’s artists. Today, Lloyd runs City Canyons with a graphic designer, two interns and, through contractual agreements, with three publicists and a number of recording studios scattered throughout Manhattan. In addition to McConnaughey and the artists who write songs, three additional songwriters also contribute materials. There are five artists signed and two under negotiations.

Lloyd says he doesn’t want City Canyons to be tied to any particular musical style.

“Do we go to painters and say ‘Oh, you’re good at painting red and blue abstracts so you should stick to red and blue abstracts,’” he said. “No. But they do that in music and it’s foolish — just foolish. Who cares if an artist can’t be easily categorized into a niche if it all works with the artist….

“I’d like to give artists the chance to express who they are and not who someone else thinks they should be. They say an artist should have the same sound, which is where the idea of ‘fillers’ come from, but I always thought an artist should define their own sound, not someone else.”

This “artist-friendly” approach, as he defines it, works not only for his artists but for his interns as well.

“Part of what I like about working for City Canyons is that I never really experienced any other part of the industry,” said Brittany Jones, 19, an intern from Oklahoma who had experience working with major radio corporations and small independent college labels. “So to come up here and work for someone like Trebor who has a company that does so many different things, I’m getting the publishing aspect and the recording company experience, and on top of that, he’s got so many different artists with so many different styles that I’m getting the full deal.”

After hearing its artists on the Internet last year, Jones became one of City Canyon’s first fans, with its fan-base steadily increasing. Jen Elliot, who will be City Canyon’s first released artist in September, has already topped the charts at college and internet radio stations.

Lloyd feels that artists who sign to major labels are at a disadvantage because they don’t receive the same level of attention independent labels offer.

“They [a major label] sign eight artists, but they’re only gonna focus on two. The other six are going sit on the shelf…then they’ll get dropped and have to go around with the reputation of being dropped from a label.”

He plans to release the label’s CDs one at a time.

Jones agreed that there are advantages to independent labels.

“Indies are like a family,” she said. “I’ve had experience working with major labels, and with indies you have that individual attention where you know there’s a lot of faith and a lot of trust.”

City Canyons is so much like a family that the artists often meet in Lloyd’s B.P.C. apartment.


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