John Ovnik’s Deaf Dog music house travels back
to the future, returning to former studio space

Unlike his jobs with definite deadlines, producer and composer John Ovnik’s off and on task for the past 2.5 years has been working on a high profile album, an unfinished symphony awaiting a finale.

December was proclaimed the original release date, but since several other artists still have to be recorded, Ovnik is unsure of when this opus will hit retail stores.

Ovnik is coproducer/engineer on this historical compilation album that highlights the unstereotypical artistry of esteemed 15-18 African American musicians, composers, singers and instrumentalists.

The timing of the album couldn’t have been better, as Ovnik was taking a step back into the future in 2005 setting up shop in Deaf Dog’s original River North space.

After his partners in Chicago Music Works parted ways in 1996, Ovnik bought a small building at Orleans and Erie and converted it into a recording studio. He named his solo company Deaf Dog, inspired by Ovnik’s first of three Sharp?s, Jessi, who was hearing impaired.

Two years ago he sold the building and, as luck would have it, the tenant occupying his original Chicago Music Works’ studio moved out and the space at 325 W. Huron was again available.

The new/old space is approximately the same size as his former building, “without the loft, the basement and the pool table,” he comments, about 2,700-sq. ft. of recording space. His sole employee is tech man/engineer Erik Hildebrand.

The studio’s centerpiece is the “incredible” Focus Rite analog console, purchased for $225,000 in 2002. It is one of only six in the world, the only one between Coasts and the only one in Chicago.

“It’s so hot, I have air conditioning running on it all year round ? hoses go right into the board. This is one of the big monsters ? as nutty as you can get, a Rolls Royce/Ferrari kind of consoles. A lot of people come to me because they like the sound,” he says.

Admusic continues to be basic to Deaf Dog’s business. He scored Kentucky Fried Chicken’s holiday campaign, by keeping the classic guitar intro and adding Christmas bells, he adapted Lynyrd Skynrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” for the spot.

Thanks to his best friend, the late Patrick Yacono who was working at Electronic Arts, Ovnik was slated to compose/produce music for EA’s Marvel Comics video games before EA was abruptly shuttered last month.