The band and Agnello – who produced their latest album, Lenses Alien – recorded the song up at Dreamland Recording, a converted church studio located just outside Woodstock. “Masters From Their Day” (watch below) documented the process.
Click to download the song, “Hawk Highway,” and find out more about the episode, and the “Masters From Their Day” video series – produced by Brooklyn-based filmmaker Elias Gwinn.
GREATER NYC AREA: This month in NYC recording found Skrillex producing Wale, Nicki Minaj working with Big Sean, The Kin recording with The Rondo Brothers, and a ton of bands recording in Brooklyn. There’s no way to report on everything, but here we run down some of the highlights from February to now…
Starting in Brooklyn This Time!
At Headgear Recording, Jersey rock band The Everymen mixed their upcoming album with producer/engineer John Agnello. And NYC-based Japanese rock band The Ricecookers tracked and mixed two EPs with engineer Ted Young.
Brooklyn bliss-pop band Cave Days has been recording a new LP at The Fort Brooklyn. James “General Crapshoot” Bentley is recording, mixing and producing with the band. In other news, The Fort has just re-capped the master section of their Neotek Elan console and – according to Bentley – “it sounds unreal!”
At Vacation Island Recording in Williamsburg, producer/engineer Matt Boynton recently finished mixing the new Suckers album, Candy Salad for Frenchkiss Records. Boynton also mixed more songs from Free Blood and finished Zachary Cale‘s new “Hangman Letters” EP. Brooklyn rock band Linfinity, Manican Party and El Dorado all recently mixed records with Boynton. And (pictured) Vacation Island’s tracking room (the “dead” room) got a facelift!
Berner also recently recorded, mixed, and played guitar on Psychic TV‘s limited vinyl-only 12″s – “Thank You Pts 1& 2″ and “Mother Sky/Alien Sky” (for Vanity Case Records) with additional engineering from Chris Cubeta – produced/engineered/played on Tatiana Kochkareva‘s “Infinity”, recorded and mixed Dead Stars‘ “I Get By” EP, and The Courtesy Tier‘s “Holy Hot Fire.” Also out of Galuminum Foil, Berner is currently recording and mixing records for Monuments, Man The Change, Jumpers, The Glorious Veins and Chris Abad.
Nearby at Excello Recording in Williamsburg, Grammy-winning Irish folksinger Susan McKeown tracked acoustic music for an upcoming release with engineer Hugh Pool. And Brooklyn-based rock band Alberta Cross tracked new material at Excello with producer/engineer Claudius Mittendorfer (Interpol, Muse), and assistant Oliver Palomares.
Trombonist/guitarist/composer Curtis Hasselbring brought in a large acoustic tracking session to Excello – which Pool also engineered. And The Veda Rays tracked drums for their upcoming release with producer Jason Marcucci, and Pool engineering, assisted by Charles Dechants. Tokyo/Brooklyn rock duo Ken South Rock also recorded for their upcoming release at Excello with Pool, and Charlie Gramidia producing.
DIVE, a new four-piece led by Beach Fossils’ Z. Cole Smith and recently signed to Captured Tracks, have been recording and mixing a 7” single and full-length LP at Strange Weather Brooklyn with engineer/producer Daniel Schlett.
Also out of Strange Weather, Schlett has recorded and mixed Royal Baths’ new LP for Kanine Records, recorded and mixed for Zulus’ new release with producer Ben Greenberg, and recorded and mixed tracks for Woodsman’s full-length, due out on Mexican Summer later this year.
Katherine Whalen and Her Fascinators (Squirrel Nut Zippers) were up from North Carolina to track a few songs with producer/engineer Colby Devereux at his studio Copperfish Sound in Brooklyn. Devereux also recently tracked a few songs with The Library is on Fire. Check out these and other recording sessions at “Live from Copperfish Sound” on Vimeo.
We also dropped by Mason Jar Music out in Borough Park this week, where Afro-Beat ensemble EMEFE was recording a new album with Mason Jar founders Dan Knobler and Jon Seale. Both producer/engineer/musicians, Knobler and Seale also just finished mixing a new album by indie-folk band Town Hall. Look out for our upcoming feature on this exciting collective of musicians, producers and filmmakers…
Meanwhile in Manhattan…
Pat Metheny took over Avatar Studio A for four days of tracking with his full “Orchestrion“. The session was produced by Methany and Steve Rodby, with James Farber engineering, assisted by Bob Mallory. Lyle Lovett tracked in Studio C with his band while in town with producer/engineer Nathaniel Kunkel assisted by Tim Marchiafava. And Lenny Kravitz recorded in Studio B with engineer Tom “T-Bone” Edmunds assisted by Charlie Kramsky.
Australia four-piece band The Rubens recorded with producer David Kahne, and engineer Roy Hendrickson. And the film score to Yaron Zilberman’s A Late Quartet (Catherine Keener, Philip Seymour Hoffman) – composed by Brooklyn native Angelo Badalamenti – was recorded in Studio A, produced by Badalamenti and Jim Bruening and engineered by Todd Whitelock. And Chris Lord-Alge held a mixing event for the students of NYU Steinhardt School sponsored by SSL. Chris demonstrated his mixing techniques in Studio G on the same console he mixes on at his Mix LA Studio, the SSL 4000 G series.
Downtown at Germano Studios, Chris Shaw has been mixing a Paul Simon Graceland live concert from San Sebastian, Spain with producer Steve Berkowitz, The Kin recorded basic tracks with The Rondo Brothers (Foster the People) producing and engineering, John Legend recorded with Dave Tozer producing and Jason Agel engineering, and Chris Rene (X-Factor) was in for mixing sessions with Claude Kelly producing and Ben Chang engineering.
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts continued recording in Germano Studio 1 with Thom Panunzio engineering and Kenny Laguna producing, Brazilian singer Michel Teló worked on a new release with Kenta Yonesaka engineering and John Doelp (A&R at Sony/Columbia Records) producing, hit songwriter Sandy Vee was in recording with Butch Walker and Dreamlab, and “The Last Unicorn” recorded with DJ/producer Alexander Dexter-Jones and Sean Parker producing, and Kenta Yonesaka engineering.
At Premier Studios in Times Square, Nicki Minaj and Big Sean were working on a project together, with engineer Chad Jolley, assisted by Kevin Geigel; Young Jeezy came in to work with artist/producer Ryan Leslie on a new track in sessions engineered by Stickabus; Rapper Wale worked in Studio F with Grammy-winning artist/producer Skrillex, and engineer Derek Pacuk, assisted by Kelby Craig; and Yo Gotti recorded some new original material for his upcoming album, with engineer Angelo Payne and assistant Colin Rivers.
Also at Premier, the casts of Broadway’s Anything Goes and Mamma Mia! recorded respective projects in Studio A with Matt Polk producing, and Kevin Geigel (Anything Goes) and Sam Giannelli (Mamma Mia!) engineering.
Right in the same building at Quad Studios, indie-to-Epic pop band Oh Land worked on music for a new album with Brandon Boyd and Andros Rodriguez, MBK artist Gabi Wilson worked on songs for a new project, Interscope artist J. Randall tracked songs for a debut album, and Remo the Hitmaker was camped out in Studio Q1 producing and writing with various artists.
And we know there’s so much more going on out there! If you’d like to be featured in “Session Buzz,” please submit your studio news to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like Parallel Compression, Serial Compression is one of those esoteric terms that seems to pop up in recording magazines from time to time. While the name might seem abstruse and academic, the process is anything but:
“Putting one compressor before another is something that was going on long before it got a fancy name that made it sound like a ‘technique’,” says Joel Hamilton, one of the four NYC engineers we asked to weigh in on the subject.
“But the idea that you can kind of mine different things out of the same signal by chaining devices with different tones or time constants is totally valid.”
Simply defined, Serial Processing is the use of two (or more) similar effects on the same audio track. Most often, you’ll encounter the term as it refers to compression, EQ, and de-essing.
In addition to Hamilton [Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Dub Trio], we talked to producer/engineer John Agnello [Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile] as well mastering engineers Randy Merrill and Scott Hull of Masterdisk, about their approach.
WHY DO IT?
“It’s like using shellac,” Hamilton continued. “You can’t buy a bucket of shellac, pour the whole thing out on your tabletop and expect it to turn out extra-glossy. But, by applying it in a dozen tiny layers, one on top of the other, you can bring the surface to a really high shine.”
“Much the same way, you can’t compress 20db with a Neve 33609 and expect it to sound like several devices each pulling back a few db.”
All of our panelists agreed – sometimes, spreading the work across more than one unit leads to better results:
“It’s well-known that in general, the shorter the signal path the better the sound quality,” said Scott Hull of Masterdisk [Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen, The Ramones].
“That’s true, and I’ll never use more gear than what’s needed to achieve the goal. But you can’t always get what you need from one device. What you may need is the complex interaction between two.”
“I would probably never choose to put two of the same compressors or EQs inline on the same track, but I will often use two different-sounding but similar types of processors if the combined result is better than without.”
When we boiled it down for this article, it became clear that our panelists consistently cited three basic reasons for stacking their effects: Tone, Tweak Points, and Time.
“There are some pieces of gear that just have a great character and I’ll use them when that character is needed,” mastering engineer Scott Hull said.
“What might confuse engineers that use primarily digital processing, is that an analog EQ isn’t always an EQ. And an analog compressor isn’t always a compressor. Running through my compressors with no gain reduction sometimes produces very favorable results from a tone or color standpoint.”
Producer/engineer John Agnello agreed:
“I believe that when you’re in the analog world, different pieces of gear do sound different from each other, even if you’re just passing signal through them. You can patch into a Pultec and it’ll sound completely different than an API 560 before you even do anything. Sometimes you don’t want to do a ton of EQ, but you want the sound of that piece of gear.”
“With a Pultec,” Agnello continued, “you might just add a little bit of low end or a little bit of top-end, and still get the sound you need from it. But you may still want to sculpt it more, so you might go into an API 560 after that and notch out or notch in a bunch of frequencies.”
“So there’s the sound quality of each piece of gear, and then there’s also the practical factor of having access to all the frequencies you want to get to. You may want the sound of a Pultec but the flexibility of a graphic EQ.”
“I’ll do that a lot on snares and vocals. I’ll usually go through a 560, and then at the end of my chain I’ll have a nice fat Pultec, or maybe a Daking, just to give it a little size on the back end – just to take that sound and make it sound 10 percent bigger at the very end.”
Hamilton had similar thoughts: “There’s a difference between boosting 3k on a Neve 1084 and boosting 3k on an SSL EQ. On an SSL, I know that frequency is going to hurt me a little. The same way, I might want to boost 8khz on a Pultec instead. So that way you can end up with a few EQs on the same source pretty quickly.”
Merrill had similar points to make: “I use multiple EQ’s in series a lot. The curve shapes and phase responses of each of my EQ’s is different. I’ve found that in some cases, several small, incremental adjustments across multiple EQ’s gets me the sound I’m looking for, as opposed to adding more EQ on one unit in the same range. Other times this isn’t the case, and I’ll do a lot of EQ with one unit. It always depends on the mix, but I’d say more often than not, I’m using multiple EQ’s.”
With compressors, there’s another crucial factor: attack and release times.
“When it comes to the ‘how’ part,” said Hull, “ I find it’s simply a matter of putting the compressors with longer attack times first in the chain and faster attack compressors and limiters later in the chain. This isn’t brain surgery.”
That kind of stacking was the first thought to come to mind for Agnello and Hamilton as well:
“As far as time constants, you could put on a very slow, low-ratio compressor first, and send that into a fast limiter that’s catching just the top of the peaks,” said Hamilton.
“That can make it feel like the track is plowing through molasses to get to the limiter. With that approach, you can take something that’s very lightweight and stringy, like an arpeggiated nylon-string guitar, and get some real heft out of it. It’s almost like adding a sense of inertia; some real weight in a mix.”
“It can help get rid of that really unencumbered and pointalistic sound that people associate with a straight up Pro Tools mix, where you have all these really spikey transients. For me, it could be a slower, gushier compressor first, like a Collins 26-1U, followed by a Neve 33609 set to a really fast attack and release.”
Agnello had a similar approach on electric guitars:
“A lot of times I’ll go with a tube compressor and put a solid state compressor on the back end, or vice versa, depending on what sounds I’m going for. If I’m having trouble getting a guitar to sit in a mix, I might put it through an LA-2A to give it a big tube action, but at the end put it through an 1176 and compress the sh*t out of it, to make it really like a brickwall.”
Of course, there are times when the opposite approach can work. When tracking an especially dynamic vocal or bass part, it can be advantageous to set up a compressor with a fast release time first in the chain. A busy and dynamic part can wreak havoc on a slowly responding compressor, allowing some peaks to go by uncompressed, while low-level parts of the performance wind up quieter still, buried in the trough of the compressor’s lazy recovery.
The classic example here would be taming a dynamic vocal with a quick tap from a fast-recovering 1176 before allowing it to pass through an LA-2A or Sta-Level set to deliver more consistent compression.
NEED FOR SPEED
Sometimes, two fast dynamic devices in a row can be handy:
According to Agnello: “If you have some nasty “S”s, sometimes one de-esser won’t do it. You’d have to hit it so hard that it’ll catch too much, giving you a lisping effect. I might give the S’s a little nudge with one de-esser, then really go for the kill with a second, trying to take out as much as I can. I like to think of it as setting up with one and knocking it down with the other.”
“I almost never use two compressors,” added mastering engineer Randy Merrill, “but I often use two limiters in series. I find at times that one particular limiter can only sound good up to a certain point. Once I get there, I’ll rely on another, different limiter to get me closer to the result I’m looking for.”
SETTING IT TO STUN
Unlike our mastering engineers Hull and Merrill, our mixers (Agnello and Hamilton and myself) felt that while stacking compressors can lead to greater transparency, that isn’t always the goal. One or more compressors in a mixer’s chain could very well be set to “stun”, ruthlessly lobbing more than a dozen db off an unsuspecting sound source.
Serial compression can still help in these cases as well. Feeding our “character compressor” a signal that’s already been cut down to a manageable dynamic range can ensure that our hardest-working box delivers an even and predictable effect, rather than jumping around in color and responsiveness due to an erratic signal.
Shane Stoneback discussed sending his plug-in reverbs to a real live chamber in our recent Cults interview. Hamilton is also a long-time proponent of searching for new sounds by stacking ambient effects:
“In general, I really love reverbs layered up. I might have six reverbs on a mix,” he said. “I could be using a spring that doesn’t even go to the main mix – it could be there just to feed a plate reverb.”
“I guess what I’m looking for is a kind of ‘custom complexity’. If the album was tracked in hotels and bedrooms, I might want to create a unifying, Motown-ish kind of signature reverb that ties everything together – you know, where everything kind of lives in this one really unique space.”
For his part, Agnello remembers a time before multi-parameter reverbs. The earliest versions of these chains of time-based effects were patched in by guys like him, using a tape-slap delay to feed a plate reverb.
“Nowadays, the pre-delays are built-in,” he said. If you have an Eventide, you can just pull up anything you want – a flange into a plate – whatever. Of course you can explore as much as you want. The only thing holding you back there is how much gear you have at your disposal and how much time you want to spend f*ing around.”
And Agnello has spent a lot of time doing just that:
“While working on my second Dinosaur Jr. record [Without A Sound] at Electric Lady, J [Masics] would want me to put one piece of gear after another on his guitar to hear what it would sound like. ‘Put something else on it, let’s see what that does. Ok, now something else’. We’d end up with these chains of like 5 boxes in a row. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it would be ridiculous.”
“But there would be those times where it would be amazing – all of a sudden the guitar was really jumping out of the mix. We just kept listening and trying until it sounded good. I don’t think we called it anything. We were just experimenting.”
Hamilton had similar feelings about attaching terms to the things we do instinctively:
“I think the name ‘Serial EQing’ only came about because of the proliferation of internet ding-dongs talking about Parallel EQing,” he said, as I tried to avoid looking sheepishly at my feet.
“But I guess we’re stuck with the term as much as we’re stuck with anonymous internet punditry.”
As long as that’s true, we’ll be here, hoping to undo the damage by bringing a bit of clarity to all the chatter.
Now go get in tune with your instincts, and start some experiments of your own.
GREATER NYC AREA: Heading into Summer, the city’s recording studios show no signs of slowing down. The following is but a sampling of recent sessions, and works in progress…a snapshot of what’s going on around town:
Aventura – the Bachata band out of the Bronx – has been at Daddy’s House tracking and mixing a new release with Justin Sampson engineering. Pop artist One Love has also been recording at Daddy’s House – tracking basics and vocals with producer/engineer Jon Thimple for his upcoming full-length album on Intrepid Music.
Meanwhile, Daddy’s House is currently undergoing a complete overhaul of infrastructure, operations, and aesthetics – with extensive work being done to both the SSL G Series and Neve VR consoles. Stay tuned for more on this, as the studio prepares to re-set as a full-blown commercial operation.
Queens born rapper Ja Rule was at Area 51 tracking and mixing for his upcoming LP with producer Seven Aurelius and engineer Darren Moore. Also at Area 51: Jacob Latimore recorded new material with producer “CJ” and engineer Alberto Vaccarino, and David Banner was in to mix his upcoming release with Pat Viala (50 Cent, Mariah Carey).
Downtown, Christina Aguilera was recording vocals at Germano Studios for a duet with Maroon 5 – the song “Moves Like Jagger” – with Manny Marroquin (Kanye West, Alicia Keys) engineering. Aguilera has also been writing and recording with producer/songwriter Sandy Vee at Germano in sessions engineered by Kevin Porter.
Vee – whose songwriting/producing credits include Katy Perry’s “Firework,” Rhianna’s “Only Girl in the World” – was also working at Germano with Disney ingenue Demi Lovato, and with pop artist/singer Dev, writing and recording new material with Porter engineering.
Other Germano sessions include will.i.am, Beyonce, The Kin recording with producer/engineer Thom Panunzio, DJ/producer/remixer Chew Fu, and Tiësto mixing with engineer Ben Chang. And Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear) brought his new solo project, CANT – featuring George Lewis Jr. of Twin Shadow – to Germano to mix with Jake Aron (Yeasayer, Jamie Lidell). The new album will be released September 13 via Taylor’s own Terrible Records.
Up the block, experimental Toronto punk band Fucked Up mastered their conceptual sophomore LP David Comes To Life (on Matador Records) at The Lodge. An epic 18-song rock opera, David Comes To Life was produced by NYC’s Shane Stoneback (Cults, Sleigh Bells, Vampire Weekend).
Other records mastered at The Lodge and released this month include Hooray For Earth’s True Loves, Ford & Lopatin’s Channel Pressure, and both The Postelles’ and Cults’ debut albums.
Vernon Reid has been through to play guitar on several tracks on the album, and Nuno Bettencourt will be adding guitars on this project as well.
This week, Universal Japan artist Chihiro Yamanaka recorded at EastSide Sound in the Lower East Side. The recording session, engineered by Marc Urselli, featured Yamanaka playing (piano) with legendary drummer Bernard Purdie and upright bass player Larry Grenadier.
Urselli has also been engineering sessions with John Zorn this week – recording soundtrack music for a play featuring Zorn on sax, Bill Laswell on bass and effects, Kevin Norton on vibes and percussion and Rob Burger on piano/organ/Rhodes.
Also at Spin, Andy Wallace mixed Natalie Findlay’s upcoming album for Polydor, guitarist-producer Alex Skolnick (Testament) worked on Adrienne Warren’s upcoming album with engineer Nik Chinboukas, and Jeff Kazee (Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, Bon Jovi) produced Jersey rock-and-rollers Outside the Box for their upcoming release – also with Chinboukas engineering.
And south to Williamsburg, indie rock band Nada Surf recorded basic tracks for their upcoming LP at Headgear Recording with producer/engineer Chris Shaw. Also at Headgear… Virgin Forest tracked and mixed their second full-length album (for Partisan) with Alex Lipsen engineering; Lipsen produced some new music by Sam Marine, which John Agnello mixed; Kelli Scarr did some tracking with Scott F. Norton; and Male Bonding mixed their upcoming SubPop album with Agnello.
Chris Shaw and Nada Surf also recently booked Joe McGinty (Psychedelic Furs, Loser’s Lounge) at Carousel Recording in Greenpoint to play and record keyboard parts on new songs. McGinty added Hammond Organ, RMI Keyboard Computer, Mass-Rowe Vibrachime, ARP Strings, Modular Moog, and Fender Rhodes to their forthcoming record. McGinty also recently recorded Piano, Hammond, Combo Organ, and others for Lianne Smith’s debut record, being produced by Anton Fier.
Back in Manhattan, Carol King has been at KMA Studios mixing her upcoming holiday album with producer Louise Goffin and engineer Nathaniel Kunkel.
Also at KMA recently… Pianist Eric Lewis recorded and mixed an album with Bryan Williams engineering, Mike Posner recorded songs for his upcoming Sony album –producing/engineering the sessions himself – hit songwriters Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony wrote/recorded for CJ Holland with engineers Ben Chang and Conrad Martin, Corey Gunz cut vocals for his upcoming Cash Money/Universal release with S. Dot engineering, and Yo Gotti recorded vocals for his album on Sony with Leo Goff engineering.
Yo Gotti’s new album – Live From The Kitchen – is scheduled for release on Sept 6th, and is expected to have guest appearances by Lupe Fiasco, Lil Wayne, Nicky Minaj, Ciara, Rick Ross, Waka Flocka and Young Jeezy.
John Lithgow was also at KMA doing voiceovers for a children’s book – Trumpet of The Swan – with Jayson Brown producing and Ian Kagey engineering for PS Classics.
Out on Long Island at PIE Studios in Glen Cove…NYC rock band Lion in the Mane recorded a new EP, taking advantage of Pie’s Neve-equipped, George Augspurger-tuned control room and 35’ x 28’ x 18’ live room. NYC-based producer/engineer William Wittman oversaw the sessions.
Back in big town, Joe Jackson recently recorded his upcoming self-produced release at Avatar Studios with engineer Elliot Scheiner, assisted by Aki Nishimura. Other recent sessions at Avatar include… Esperanza Spalding recording her upcoming release co-produced with Q-Tip in Studio A with engineer Joe Ferla, assisted by Fernando Lodeiro; Honor Society recording on the SSL 9000J in Studio B with producer Adam Blackstone and engineer Jon Smeltz, assisted by Tim Marchiafava; and the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra recording with producer Howard Cass and engineer David Merrill.
Also in Midtown, Foreigner checked in at Threshold Recording Studios NYC to cut acoustic versions of ten of their greatest hits — Mick Jones and Jeff Pilson produced, with Jeremy Sklarsky (Freelance Whales) engineering. And Dave Eggar and Heather Holley produced a track for singer/songwriter Jacob Baine Fields at Threshold recently, also with Sklarsky at the controls.
On the way west side, Santigold was at Stratosphere Sound working with songwriters Amanda Ghost and Ian Dench in Studio A. Ghost, Dave McCracken and Andros Rodriguez also worked with Daniel Merriweather in Studios A & B, and Louis C.K. was in Studio A, overseeing music recording for Season Two of his FX sitcom Louie. Ruddy Cullers engineered.
And staying on the west side, mastering engineer Vlado Meller is up and running in his new studio at Masterdisk.
Here, Meller recently mastered the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ single “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie,” produced by Rick Rubin and engineered by Andrew Schoeps for Warner Bros, and a Harry Connick, Jr. album, The Happy Elf, produced by Tracey Freeman and engineered by Vince Caro for Marsalis Music.
And we know there’s so much more going on out there! If you’d like to be featured in “Session Buzz,” please submit your studio news to email@example.com.
GREATER NYC AREA: As always, there are a number of interesting recording projects underway in studios throughout the NYC area. The following is but a sampling of recent sessions, and works in progress…a snapshot of what’s going on around town:
We’ll start at Great City Productions in Chelsea, where Anand Wilder of Yeasayer has been producing a musical called “Coal Into Diamonds,” an homage to the hard rock and psychedelia-inspired musicals of the 1960′s and 70′s
Co-produced and co-written by Wilder and pianist Max Kardon, “Coal Into Diamonds” features performances by members of Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Dirty Projectors, Chairlift, Man Man, Suckers, and Dragons of Zynth. Engineered by Britt Myers and Geoff Vincent, and mixed by Britt Myers at Great City, the 11-song LP will be released on Secretly Canadian.
Next stop – Fluxivity in Williamsburg, where Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Colin McGrath recently mixed several songs with producer William Berlind, and engineer Brian Thorn, and Flight of The Conchords’ Jemaine Clement and engineer/producer Matt Shane worked on some new songs for an upcoming film project. John Agnello also visited Fluxivity to overdub and mix songs for an upcoming release for Barton Stanley David. The sessions were mixed to ½” tape on Fluxivity’s Ampex ATR100 recorder.
Universal artist Jay Picton was in town from London, recording his debut release at Mission Sound in Williamsburg. Oliver Straus tracked an assortment of New York’s “A” team musicians for this album including Jack Daley, Steve Wolf, James Poyser of The Roots and Clifford Carter. Mike Peden produced.
And at The Buddy Project in Astoria, Julia Nunes tracked a new album with producer/engineer Zach McNees, Pipe Villaran (former lead singer of Los Fuckin Sombreros) recorded his debut solo EP with producer/engineer Kieran Kelly, and Nate Campany recorded some finishing touches for his solo album, with Kelly engineering.
Meanwhile at Vacation Island Recording in East Williamsburg, indie cult hero R. Stevie Moore “and some friends” recorded a song for a benefit compilation. Jorge Elbrecht from Violens produced the tracks and Matt Boynton engineered.
And, bouncing around, up at the Carriage House Studios in Stamford, CT, Johnny Winter has been working on a new record, his first studio album in 7 years. The record was tracked and mixed by engineer Brendan Muldowney on Carriage House’s SSL 4000 E series console and produced by Paul Nelson. Guest guitarists include Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Vince Gill, and Sonny Landreth.
Back in town, Avatar Studios has been hosting Ingrid Michaelson recording her upcoming album with producer David Kahne and engineer Roy Hendrickson; VHS or Beta mixing an upcoming release with Martin Brumbach engineering; Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks recording with Regina Spektor for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, with Stewart Lerman producing/engineering; the Baby It’s You cast album recording with producer Richard Perry and engineer Frank Filipetti; and New York Yankee Nick Swisher recording a kids album with producer Loren Harriet and engineer Danny Bernini.
And as previously reported, Sear Sound hosted Sting composing and recording on the 1973 Steinway “D” grand piano, with Rob Mathes arranging and co-producing; Foreigner tracking with original frontman/producer Mick Jones co-producing, Jeff Pilson, Tom Gimble and Kelly Hansesn completing the band, and Wyn Davis of Total Access Recording engineering; and the Gipsy Kings working with engineer James Farber mixing to RMGI 1/2″ 900 tape using Sear Sound’s ATR 102. Bernard Paganotti produced and supervised the Gipsy Kings mixes from France.
Also previously reported, Manhattan Center Studios hosted the recording of a 52-piece orchestra for Tony Bennett’s Duets Album 2. The all-star team on the sessions included Producer Phil Ramone, Conductor and Orchestrator Jorge Calandrelli and Engineer Dae Bennett.
Renee Fleming was recorded singing live with a 69-piece orchestra in Manhattan Center’s Grand Ballroom and adjacent Studio 7, equipped with the 108-input Neve VR, for Steven Speilberg’s animated film Tintin.
Two video crews were present at the sessions, one for a polycom set up allowing Speilberg and composer John Williams to attend the session from LA. The second crew performed motion capture, which will allow the film’s animators to capture Fleming’s facial expressions exactly for her animated character. Todd Whitelock was the engineer on the session.
Back in Brooklyn — at Grand Street Recording — owner/producer/engineer Ken Rich has been working on new records with NYC singer Deborah Berg and Nashville singer-songwriter David Mead. And S-Curve artist Diane Birch spent a week at Grand Street with English producer Ant Whiting. The pair began production on her next record, with Tomek Miernowski engineering.
Miernowski also produced and engineered “Dress and Tie,” a single for singer/songwriter Charlene Kaye and Darren Criss of Glee. Ken Rich has also been working on The Compulsions’ newest project, with Hugh Pool co-producing. And actor/artist Michael Pitt mixed a live recording from Paris with Miernowski.
And we know there’s so much more going on out there! If you’d like to be featured in “Session Buzz,” please submit your studio news to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NORTH BROOKLYN: Our neighborhood studio tour continues with four more decidedly uncommon studios in North Brooklyn. We talked to the owners of Strange Weather, Headgear, Metrosonic, and the Fort about sessions, toys, and building an active niche in this teeming slice of the city.
Room Rate: $450/day
Those familiar with the SonicScoop blog-roll may recognize the name of Marc Alan Goodman, who’s been recounting the saga of building Strange Weather’s new, full-service tracking studio on the Greenpoint/East Williamsburg border. In the meantime, it’s a small secret that his current location already hosts one of the most impressive collections of hand-picked ear candy in the city.
More than anything, this is a studio for artists and engineers with boutique tastes. No summary can do justice to the extensive selection of gear that includes names like Neve, API, Purple, Gates, Federal, ADL, Neumann, Coles, dbx, RCA, and Bricasti. Strange Weather is also home to a startling collection of guitars, drums, and keyboards at the ready for capturing any sound musicians can imagine.
Most surprising of all, according to Goodman, is the price, and the fact that all his vintage treasures are in prime working condition.
“I wanted to build a studio where people can walk in and use world-class gear at an affordable price in a functioning atmosphere,” Goodman says. “There’s nothing worse than booking a day at a studio where nothing works. I feel like that’s the rule rather than the exception in the commercial studios I’ve worked in.”
In the interest of full disclosure, this reporter has recently been in for some sessions at Strange Weather, and this kind of attention to detail has it fast-becoming one of my favorite places to work. Owning a studio has begun to turn Goodman into a capable tech in his own right: his racks are over-stuffed with impeccably maintained vintage gear, and handmade re-creations of studio classics like the LA2A, LA3A and 1176.
Built around a new 32-channel API 1608 console brimming with the choicest EQs, Strange Weather turns out to be an ideal room for overdubs, mixing, or any sessions that don’t require a cavernous live room.
When asked about his niche in the studio scene Goodman says: “Ideally everyone would complete their records from start to finish in a studio, but today it seems more common for musicians to combine studios with smaller at-home or portable rigs. We’re focused on making that process as seamless as possible; to give musicians and engineers used to working at home a place they can walk in and use great, often rare equipment in a functioning environment.”
Rates: Click for Room + Engineer Rates
Room Rate: $600/day; $550/day for blocks of 3 days or more.
If there’s any truth behind the idea that Williamsburg is a great place to make music, a lot of responsibility for that would have to fall on studios like Headgear Recording. Since opening in 1998, Headgear has been the birthplace of seminal records from TV On The Radio, Massive Attack, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Animal Collective, CocoRosie, Nada Surf, My Morning Jacket, Son Volt, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Moby and Santigold.
Although the “Room For Rent” model of studio has waned as competent owner-operators create their own personal oases of sound in every corner of the city, Headgear remains one of the most accessible and freelance-engineer-friendly studios in New York.
In addition to house engineers Alex Lipsen, Scott Norton, and Dan Long, Headgear has been home to projects from a who’s who of hip and distinctive producers and engineers, including John Agnello, Peter Katis, Dave Sitek, John Hill, Chris Moore Gordon Raphael, TJ Doherty, and Chris Coady.
Headgear is also no stranger to Film and Television Post. Recent clients include “Grey’s Anatomy,” MTV’s “Skins,” “CSI: Miami” and the Columbia Pictures comedy Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
According to studio manager Jackie Lin Werner, the studio’s appeal is personal as much as it is technical: “ We’re not stiff or pretentious. We’re down to earth and like to be helpful. Beyond the gear and the size of our rooms, I believe people trust Headgear as an established studio with a respectable client list. Headgear probably appeals most to indie bands and major label bands looking for an affordable, high quality studio in a space that has a creative vibe. “
Headgear’s A-room houses an automated Trident 80C console and offers a choice of Pro Tools HD and 24-track 2-inch tape. A well-equipped B room is also available for mixing and overdubs.
Contact for rates.
Neve Console. Pro Tools HD. Ampex 2”. Engineers who know what they’re doing. What more could you need to know?
According to Metrosonic’s Pete Mignola, it’s the people who make a studio: “The people who built it, the people who run it, the people who use it,” he tells us.
“Everyone who comes to Metrosonic talks about the vibe. Of course they like the great gear, the affordable rates, the windows & city views, but they always say that they love the vibe here. There’s human element to this that makes each studio unique and special in its own way.”
Metrosonic has always had a large, comfortable control room. More recently, the studio’s originally modest live room underwent significant renovations in 2008, and now, Pete and the crew are excited to bring a new 850 square-foot live room into the fold.
Rates: $40/hr, including Jim Bentley as Engineer.
Over the past decade, North Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood has filled up with enough small private studios to fill an area twice its size. In that time, Jim Bentley’s studio The Fort has stood as one of the neighborhood’s active mainstays.
Persevering in this competitive new territory since 2003, owner/operator Bentley has hosted noteworthy clients including Brit Daniel of Spoon, Doug Gillard and Kevin March of Guided by Voices, James McNew of Yo La Tengo, Jennifer O’Connor, John Agnello and Jemina Pearl.
This especially affordable studio is equipped for both analog and digital sessions, offering a Neotek Elan console, Tascam 1” 16-track, and a 24-channel MOTU/Apogee system. The studio bills at $30/hr on weekdays from noon to 6pm and at $40/hr 6pm-midnight or weekends, and includes Bentley’s services as engineer.
Bentley is most proud of his live room, a large, vibey space with vaulted, heavy-timber ceilings: “I love to track full bands in the room live for feel and then sauce it up and make it sound supernatural from there,” he says.
Bentley’s down-to-earth approach is made clear in his parting words to us. The Fort, he says, “appeals to the clients who realize making records is more about the man and the performance than the machine or the media buzz behind it.”
Justin Colletti is a Brooklyn-based audio engineer and music producer who’s worked with Hotels, DeLeon, Soundpool, Team Genius and Monocle, as well as clients such as Nintendo, JDub, Blue Note Records, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Visit him at www.justincolletti.com.
Now Shipping: Eventide’s Space Stompbox, Featuring Presets By Flood and Alan Moulder, Jónsi Birgisson, John Agnello and More
As of yesterday, Eventide’s newest stompbox — Space — is now shipping in North America. As previously reported, Space, features 12 of Eventide’s signature reverb combination effects taken from the H8000FW and Eclipse V4, along with some new Eventide magic.
Space includes 100 presets, featuring presets crafted by Flood and Alan Moulder (The Killers, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, My Bloody Valentine, PJ Harvey), Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, Nine Inch Nails), Amedeo Pace (Blonde Redhead), Alex Somers and Jónsi Birgisson (Jónsi and Alex, Sigur Ros), Amadeo Pace (Blonde Redhead), John Agnello (Patti Smith, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile), Richard Devine (sound designer, synthesist, performer, remixer) and Vernon Reid (Living Colour).
With Space, these unique effects, previously available only in Eventide rack processors, are now available in a compact, roadworthy package. (Check out the Richard Devine Space video demo below.)
Space includes 12 of Eventide’s signature reverb combo algorithms: Room, Spring, Reverse, ModEchoVerb, Blackhole™, TremoloVerb, Plate, Hall, Shimmer, DualVerb, MangledVerb™ and DynaVerb.
Space features and specs:
- Wide variety of spatial effects including basic reverbs, delays and unique combination effects
- Studio quality sound
- Compatible with any source material – solo instruments, drums, vocals, or complete mixes
- Software upgradeable via USB 2.0
- MIDI control via USB or MIDI in, out/thru
- Instant program change
- Real-time control with 10 knobs, MIDI, or Expression Pedal
- Tap tempo and MIDI clock sync
- 100 factory presets, unlimited through MIDI
- True analog bypass
- Rugged cast metal construction
- Reliable metal footswitches for instant preset access
- Mono or stereo operation
- Guitar or line level inputs and outputs
- Programmable HotSwitch
Recently at Fluxivity, Nat Priest’s Neve 8048-equipped Williamsburg studio…
Blonde Redhead drummer Simone Pace produced sessions for Grammy-nominated vocalist Juan Son, recording and mixing songs for a forthcoming album for the Guadalajara, Mexico-native / NYC-based artist. Brian Thorn engineered these sessions.
The album was produced by Agnello with “Kurt Vile and the Violators” — Mike Zanghi (drums), Adam Granduciel (guitar, mellotron, percussion) and Jesse Trbovich (guitars) — and recording and mixing sessions went down in four states and multiple studios, including Philadelphia (Miner Street and Uniform Recording), New York (Magic Shop, Headgear, Fluxivity, Vacation Island), New Jersey (Water Music), and Amherst, MA (J Mascis‘ Bisquiteen Studios).
For more on Fluxivity, visit www.fluxivity.com.
After self-releasing their awesome debut Why There Are Mountains to critical acclaim in ’09 and touring hard these last couple years, Cymbals Eat Guitars will be heading into the studio later this month to record with producer/engineer John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile)
As previously reported, they’ll be recording the album with Agnello at Headgear in Williamsburg. The new album is expected out in the Fall of 2011.
Follow Cymbals Eat Guitars via http://cymbalseatguitars.com, and check out a recently released Guided By Voices cover, “Gleemer,” at Sirius XMU. The cover will appear on a forthcoming GBV tribute album coming out later this year.
TVOTR’s David Andrew Sitek produced the sessions, with engineer Zeph Sowers tracking. Headgear’s Scott F. Norton also engineered a couple of days of tracking sessions with the band. Stream the awesome new track, “Will Do” below…
More recently, Headgear — the studio and friends/family of the studio — has had a hand in multiple tracks featured on MTV’s Skins.
Another featured track, Unsolved Mysteries‘ “You Only Live Once,” was also tracked at Headgear and engineered by former Headgear intern, Colin Alexander. Alexander is the electronics maestro in Unsolved Mysteries and he releases his own original music under the name Tiny Specks of Many Things.
Next, the Many Colors song “Peaks and Valleys” also soundtracked a recent episode of Skins — Many Colors is Jackie Lin Werner, otherwise known as Headgear’s studio manager. “Peaks and Valleys” was mixed by engineer Nick Smeraski, another Headgear alum.
Keepaway‘s song “Evil Lady” was also featured on Skins, and was tracked with Headgear’s Kyle Boyd for their Baby Style EP.
Meanwhile, producer/engineer John Agnello has been working out of Headgear a bunch, most recently with Joy By Proxy, Andy Shernoff and Sons of Bill. Coming up, Cymbals Eat Guitars will be tracking and mixing their new album at Headgear with Agnello producing and engineering.
And back to TV On The Radio, listen to the advance single “Will Do” off Nine Types of Light here:
Check out Headgear’s new website for more information on the studio and recent projects, and to get in touch.