JLM Sound, the DUMBO mastering facility founded by Joe Lambert, continues to expand. This week, Lambert announced that he has promoted Roman Vail to the post of Staff Engineer.
“When I opened JLMSound in 2008 I asked Roman to join me — he was my studio manager the last three years I was at Trutone in midtown,” says Lambert. “I wanted to make the transition as smooth as possible, so keeping the team together was a big help. When you’re a small company everyone does a lot of different tasks and Roman has been doing everything I’ve asked of him over the years. Since being at JLM Sound Roman has been doing more and more mastering sessions, so I’ve been wanting to transition him out of the management role to free him up to handle more session work.
“My workload has steadily increased and in the last year or so it’s really exploded, making it’s necessary to bring Roman along to handle the projects that I’m not able to do, as well as the clients that he has cultivated himself over the last couple of years. It also allows us to have different price options for people while still offering the quality of work and attention they expect.”
In addition, JLM Sound has brought on Diana Zinni as studio manager. “Diana is the perfect person to take over the operations of the studio for us,” Lambert notes. “She’s experienced in the New York studio environment, and is someone I can trust to handle the day to day needs of our clients. She’s capable of all the things I ask of the position – which is a lot!”
The developments at JLM Sound seem to be a positive indicator for the overall health of NYC-based mastering in 2011. Recent sessions at the facility include new full-lengths by Moby, Panda Bear, Gang Gang Dance, Guillemots, Obits, The Papercuts, Milagres, Lia Ices, and Austra. “It’s a lot of work to create a successful studio,” says Lambert. “So when you see it grow and take off in new directions it’s a challenge, but also a lot of fun.”
– David Weiss
Since we last checked in with Nicolas Vernhes at Rare Book Room Studios in Greenpoint, he tracked and mixed on Spoon‘s Transference, recorded with Dirty Projectors and Bjork, mixed the Animal Collective movie Oddsac, and much more. Read on!
Most recently, Vernhes produced/engineered the upcoming Lia Ices record, which will be released in early ’11 on Jagjaguwar, and a new record by Banjo or Freakout for release early next year on his own Rare Book Room Records. Also for Rare Book Room Records, Vernhes co-produced and mixed the new album by Sebastian Blanck, Alibi Coast. Check out Blanck performing album-opening track, “I Blame Baltimore” at Rare Book Room Studio HERE.
Vernhes also mixed Steve Wynn’s new record for Yep Rock, engineered/mixed the new Versus album On the Ones and Threes for Merge, mixed the new Small Black record, New Chain for Jagjaguwar, produced/engineered the new So So Glos EP for Green Owl and recorded/mixed Endless Boogie’s Full House Head.
Vernhes has also engineered a three-song EP for a new project featuring members of Junior Senior.
GREENPOINT, BROOKLYN – Ten years ago, Nicolas Vernhes moved his recording studio, The Rare Book Room, from Williamsburg to Greenpoint. Converting a deserted sewing machine factory, he built-out a studio to suit himself and naturally attracted artists of the same experimental ilk, including Animal Collective, Black Dice, Les Savy Fav, Fisherspooner and Deerhunter. Now, with newly expanded facilities for his label, Rare Book Room Records, Vernhes moves, again, into new territory.
In early March, fresh off a whirlwind recording session (seven songs in two days) with Deerhunter, Vernhes had just mixed the new Dirty Projectors record, and done eight days with Animal Collective. “They’re making this crazy, psychedelic movie with their friend, Danny Perez, who’s a great video artist and he’s directing it,” Vernhes says of Animal Collective. “We’re working on the music with the goal of creating this great sonic experience, using lots of sound effects and sound-based moments of synchronization between sound and image. Some of it’s literal, and some totally abstract.”
Though he’s in high demand as a producer/engineer and all-around sonic explorer, Vernhes is looking now to concentrate on building the record label he launched last year. The studio, he hopes, will operate more and more predominantly for label productions, and Vernhes more like a vanguard of new music.
“My record label grew out of a conversation with a friend, who’d pointed out that she saw a consistent novelty and interesting character to the bands I wanted to work with, that it was almost curatorial,” Vernhes shares. “If you stepped back and looked at the overall work, you could see a level of experimentation stemmed from this general need to explore. She suggested that a compilation of some of the bands I’d worked with would make a great record.”
That compilation, Living Bridge, was the first Rare Book Room Records release, and not only works extremely well as a (double) album, but also as a kind of historical swatch of this time and place in music. “I gave each band one day in the studio free to do whatever they wanted, to record one five-minute song,” he explains. “An artist might not take the same risks on a record that they would when they’re just invited to go in a room and make something. I think the context was freeing for them.”
Vernhes created atmospheric glue out of sonic elements in the intros and outros of the songs, which would have already blended together well, but merge almost seamlessly through his cross-fading handiwork; Avey Tare to Telepathe to Palms to Samara Lubelski; Blood on the Wall to Silver Dice to Tara Jane O’Neil — each and all in fitting procession.
Since Living Bridge, Rare Book Room Records has issued two full-up records by exclusively signed artists — Lia Ices, a graceful Cat Power-like beauty of a voice, and Palms, a Brooklyn-meets-Berlin minimalist pop duo. Vernhes explains, “I figured I have all the tools to make a record and I’ve been doing that awhile, so why don’t I also figure out how to get it from me to the audience? It’s not simple, just like making a record isn’t simple, but the complex aspects of it intrigue me.”
So, what’s been the most challenging aspect of making that progression to label owner? “The egg I still can’t seem to crack is distribution,” Vernhes attests. “I’d figured I wouldn’t have to worry about it too much because the physical media is dwindling, but the fact is, it’s still there. For all the music you can buy on the Internet, vinyl sales are up and some people still want to go to the store and buy a CD. RTI is the big vinyl manufacturer in California and I can’t even open an account with them, they’re so booked.”
Vernhes made big progress recently, however, moving Rare Book Room Records into proper offices, adjacent to the studio, and hiring his first employee. Something about Vernhes wanting to do a label, wanting to spend the time and effort to learn the process makes me feel excited about music and what’s to come. “Music is getting smarter, I think,” he assures. “Maybe it’s kind of like the third or forth iteration of an idea, and now it’s way better than the same thing would have been a few years ago.”