GREATER NYC AREA: This month’s buzz finds a number of amazing singers recording around the city – from Diane Birch to Trixie Whitley, Dianna Krall to Glasser – as well as a wealth of new releases by acclaimed rappers like Kanye West, Theophilus London and Childish Gambino, new work by prolific producers such as DJ White Shadow, Phil Ramone, Chuck Harmony and Darrell Brown, and a wave of large-ensemble tracking sessions in Midtown. We also discover (another) new recording hive in Williamsburg, and check in on some big recent sessions at some of the newer studios in Brooklyn…
Let’s start at Avatar Studios…where the legendary Dionne Warwick has been recording her upcoming album with producer Phil Ramone and engineer Lawrence Manchester, assisted by Charlie Kramsky, and another R&B great, Billy Ocean, recorded his upcoming project with producer Barry Eastmond and engineer Phil Magnotti.
Also at Avatar…Diana Krall has been tracking for her new project – produced by T. Bone Burnett, and engineered by Mike Piersante, assisted by Bob Mallory. And rock band Carney – led by Reeve Carney of Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark – has been recording with engineer Chris Rondinella.
Finally, NYC-based producer/composer Paul Brill and engineer Robert Smith tracked portions of the score for Tribeca Film Festival documentary Knuckleball! (directed by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern) in Avatar Studio G.
More “legends” were recording down at Germano Studios this month…between Mariah Carey recording with Brian Garten, and John Legend working on new material with Dave Tozer, Rick Nowels and Doc McKinney producing, and Jason Agel engineering.
Also at Germano, Rob Thomas was in to record vocals on a LeAnn Rimes project with Darrell Brown producing and Niko Bolas engineering. DJ White Shadow (Lady Gaga) was in working on a new project with Kenta Yonesaka engineering, Fat Joe recorded vocals with engineer Fabian Marasciullo, The Verbs continued recording with Steve Jordan producing, and Jamie Squire was in mixing with Jordan producing and Dave O’Donnell engineering.
Down in SoHo, based out of the former Sorceror Sound space, Singing Serpent has been hosting band recording sessions in addition to the original music composition work for which the company is known. Virginia rock band Over The Ocean was in to record their full-length album with Jeremy SH Griffith producing/engineering. And blues-rock trio The Dukes of Brooklyn recorded an album at Singing Serpent as well, with producer/engineer Joel Khouri – who recently joined the Singing Serpent team as a mixer/engineer and composer.
Nearby at Serious Business Studios, studio owner/head engineer Travis Harrison has been busy producing and drumming on the forthcoming debut full-length by Brooklyn rockers Miniboone. Harrison has also been working with a steady stream of local rock bands including Gold Streets, Clouder, Weird Children, Money/Paper/Hearts, and Apache Beat, and projects with Benji Cossa, and Secret Dakota Ring (featuring studio co-founder and OK Go guitarist Andy Ross).
Serious Business continues to host two BreakThru Radio shows: BTR Live Studio and Serious Business on BTR – welcoming bands such as She Keeps Bees, Crinkles, Beast Make Bomb, Snowmine, Housse de Racket into the studio of late. Serious Business continues to open its doors to outside engineers as well – Charles Newman has run several sessions for various projects, including The Magnetic Fields and Jon de Rosa; Shannon Ferguson has been continuing work with the band A Million Years; and Hansdale Hsu has been working with Vensaire.
MSR hosted some banner sessions last year, including Q-Tip mixing Kanye and Jay-Z’s Watch The Throne out of Studio C with engineer Blair Wells, recording/mixing sessions for Madonna’s MDNA, and a whole host of cast albums, film score mixes (Francis Ford Coppola’s Twixt, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Tower Heist.)
More recently, MSR hosted Southern rapper Waka Flocka Flame cutting vocals with engineer Finis White; Keyshia Cole cutting vocals with engineers Bojan Dugic and Lee Kalomiris, and producer Ray Angry; mixing for Jazz bassist Marc Johnson‘s upcoming album by Joe Ferla; Louis CK producing new music for his FX show Louie with engineer Adam Tilzer; Producer Steve Epstein and engineer Richard King mixing the cast album for Once; Dean Sharenow producing the cast album for Lysistrata Jones; Kurt Deutsch producing the Newsies cast album with Frank Filipetti engineering, and Derik Lee on Pro Tools; and Tommy Krasker producing the cast album of Porgy and Bess in Studios A and B for PS Classics with Bart Migal engineering.
Up at the Brill Building, KMA Music has been hopping with songwriting and production sessions for: J. Cole for Roc Nation, with Mez engineering vocals and Jay-Z coming through; Eve working with hit songwriter Claude Kelly, and engineer Ben Chang tracking/mixing for her upcoming album; Chris Rene in writing/recording/mixing sessions with Chuck Harmony and Jon Jon Traxx for Epic Records, Ben Chang engineering; and Fabolous recording and mixing with Lenny S producing and Serge Nudel engineering for Island Def Jam.
Also at KMA, Theophilus London came through to mix the track “I Wanna Kiss You” with engineer Ari Raskin; and Chrisette Michelle tracked a new song with Chuck Harmony producing and Ben Chang engineering.
And next, to Sear Sound where a number of large-scale sessions have been tracking lately, including: Pianist/composer/arranger David Matthews and the 20-piece ‘MJO’ (Manhattan Jazz Orchestra) ensemble tracking a new album with Bryan Pugh engineering; the cast album for a new multimedia show – 35MM The Musical – tracked (15 musicians/ 12 singers) with engineer Dean Sharenow, and producer John Johnson; and a video shoot and tracking session with rock group Halestorm, with six cameras shooting the group performing while Sear’s chief engineer Chris Allen engineered. Phil Botti and Michael Thelin produced.
Also at Sear, composer Paul Cantelon conducted a large string ensemble, piano and harp for an upcoming Hallmark feature, Firelight, with Gary Chester engineering, and Suzana Peric and Cantelon producing; HBO’s Boardwalk Empire returned to track some 1920′s dixieland jazz, with Stewart Lerman engineering, and Randall Poster producing; And a large ensemble gathered to track some of jazz musician/composer Eric Person‘s latest compositions in sessions produced by April Smith and Person, with James Farber engineering.
Rufus Wainwright also tracked music for a Starbucks commercial at Sear, with Allen engineering and Wainwright producing and playing the Steinway C in Studio A; and Diane Birch tracked for her upcoming S-Curve Records release, with Allen engineering and Homer Steinweiss (The Dap-Kings) producing.
Hull has also recently mastered the new Donald Fagen album (for CD, vinyl and iTunes) – produced by Michael Leonhart for Warner, the new Lettuce album (due out June 5), which was recorded at The Bunker in Williamsburg, and cast recordings of Calvin Berger and Lysistrata Jones for Sh-K-Boom Records.
Also at Masterdisk…Tony Dawsey mastered Machine Gun Kelly’s Half Naked and Almost Famous EP for Bad Boy; Mark Santangelo mastered Abby Bernstein‘s Talk In Tongues – co-produced by Bernstein, Chris Camilleri, Justin Goldner, Will Hensley, Adam Stoler, and mixed by Chris Camilleri; Matt Agoglia mastered Terry Syrek’s new album Machine Elves – mixed by Jeremy Krull; and Michael Tucci mastered The So So Glos new album, Blowout – produced by Adam Reich, and recorded and mixed by Kyle Johnson at Fancy Time Studios in Philadelphia.
Glassnote artist Childish Gambino was recording songs for his next mixtape up at Quad Studios in Times Square – in studio Q1. Also at Quad…Island Def Jam recording artist Jenna Andrews recorded material for her new album with Lady Gaga producer Brian Lee; Andrew Lloyd Webber was in Studio Q1 working on a special new project; and DJ Khaled, French Montana, Wale and Busta Rhymes were up in Q1 and Q2 working on various projects.
Meanwhile, rapper Trey Songz was working downstairs at Premier Studios, with engineer Anthony Daniel in Studio B. A number of other hip-hop stars were working out of Premier’s multiple writing/recording and mixing studios, including B.O.B. working with engineer Sam Giannelli, Yo Gotti recording material for his upcoming album with engineer Angelo Payne, Birdman recording with engineer Fareed Salamah, Wale working on his latest with engineer Anthony Daniel.
And NY-based production duo Espionage (Beyoncé, Chris Brown) has been working out of Premier’s Studio E, producing new tracks with engineer Francis Murray.
BROOKLYN, QUEENS & BEYOND
Blondie is back at it, and has been working on their latest with producer Barb Morrison (producer on Deborah Harry’s Necessary Evil) out of Casa Nova Studios and Morrison’s studio, The Superposition – both in Williamsburg. Tommy Mokas has been engineering on the sessions, which have involved instrumental and vocal recording and production/sound exploration.
A South Williamsburg studio complex we recently discovered…houses a new incarnation of Andy Baldwin’s Rola Pola Studio, the new Bufflebear Studio, Jean Grobler’s (of St Lucia) studio space, and The Dap-King’s Dunham Studio.
At Rola Pola, Baldwin has recently installed an SSL AWS900+ and the prized Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor. And Baldwin has been mixing some tracks from that aforementioned Diane Birch album, being produced by Homer Steinweiss of the Dap-Kings; tracking drums for St Lucia’s forthcoming album; mixing/mastering Celtic rock band The Mickey Finns‘ new album; mixing Stephanie Carlin‘s new album; and mixing the debut album for classical/freestyle/thrash band Huff This!
Meanwhile in the new Bunker Studio A, clarinetist/composer Ben Goldberg tracked some new music with Nels Cline, Ches Smith, Ellery Eskeline and Rob Suddath in sessions engineered by Aaron Nevezie; ?uestlove and Ivan Neville came in for a late-night tracking session for soul singer Nigel Hall‘s upcoming album on Royal Family Records – Nevezie recorded, and Soulive/Lettuce’s Eric Krasno produced; and Nevezie also tracked and mixed an album with New Zealand artist Tama Waipara out of the Bunker Studios A and B.
In DUMBO at the happening Saltlands recording collective, singer/songwriter Trixie Whitley has been tracking for her new album with producer Thomas Bartlett (Doveman), Steve Salett engineering and Nick Smeraski assisting; artist/engineer Dawn Landes engineered on a session with Kristin Andreasson for a children’s project; and producer/engineer Gary Maurer is working on a film project – tracking and mixing music with the band Little Silver.
Last month at Saltlands, the Yellowbirds tracked basics with Jim Smith – who also recently did some mixing for The Well-Informed. In other sessions: Saltmines resident producer/engineer Devin Greenwood tracked horn and piano overdubs for Yoni Gordon, and earlier in the year, with Sufjan Stevens; Jan Bell was in mixing a bunch of tracks with Jason Mercer; and Whale Belly tracked basics for their sophomore record with engineer/producer Nick Smeraski.
Up at The Isokon in Woodstock, D. James Goodwin has been mixing a “haunting and lush” new LP for rock band Georgiana Starlington, with Josh Kaufman (of the aforementioned Yellowbirds) producing. Goodwin’s also been tracking and mixing a full-length with Vuvuzela, “an amazing band, winding together harp, upright bass and piano in the form of progressive math rock.”
Just up the road from Saltlands, engineer/producers Daniel Lynas and Frans Mernick have been installing a new Neve V55 console at ishlab. Since being involved with ishlab, Lynas has recorded there with A$AP Rocky, Das Racist, and mixed I’m in the Forest by Das Racist affiliate Lakutis; and Mernick worked on the Hoodie Allen album All American.
Even more recently at ishlab, Cameron Mesirow aka Glasser stopped by to record some vocals on a track for Chad Valley – Lynas engineered; Empty Chairs frontman Peter Spear has been tracking drums, guitar, synth, trumpet, string quartet, and vox for their upcoming full-length; and Chaz Van Queen has been working on his second full-length – doing a lot of production and recording at home and bringing stuff in to ishlab to do additional recording, tweak arrangements, and mix.
Psychedelic dance-rock trio Dinowalrus has been back at Let ‘Em In Music in Gowanus recording the followup to their recently released album Best Behavior – also recorded and mixed at Let ‘Em In by owner/engineer Nadim Issa. The band recently recorded six new songs with Issa over five days in the studio.
Indie rock band Bridges and Powerlines have been recording their new EP with Kieran Kelly producing and engineering – tracking at both The Clubhouse in Rhinebeck, NY, and Kelly’s own The Buddy Project in Astoria.
Kelly’s also been producing/engineering the second album for Danish folk-rock duo Skipper. Tracking sessions for the album have been happening at STC Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark, and out of The Buddy Project.
Back in Williamsburg at Grand Street Recording…pop singer/songwriter Rachel Platten recorded and mixed an exclusive EP for her upcoming national tour with Martin Rivas on guitar and bass, Craig Meyer on percussion, and Tomek Miernowski engineering; the Stick Against Stone Orchestra recorded an album of music for an upcoming documentary about the late 80s band from Pittsburg, Stick Against Stone. The album – recorded and mixed by Ken Rich and produced by William Kreth – features Denny McDermott on drums, Jesse Krakow on bass, Dave Terhune on guitars and Joe McGinty on keyboards.
Also at Grand Street, multi-instrumentalist Jared Saltiel recorded and mixed an EP The Dogs at Nighttime with Tomek Miernowski and Ken Rich; Amy Lennard is recording and mixing a full length album with producer Andy Stack, and Rich engineering.
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: One month into 2012, and so many artists are back in the studio, hunkered down to work on some of this year’s most anticipated releases. Tracking this activity on the regular, we can confidently note that an even wider range of artists than usual – from Madonna to John Zorn, Machine Gun Kelly to Burt and Ernie, Cee-Lo Green to T. Bone Burnett – seem to be recording, mixing and mastering in NYC-area studios of late.
Jon Bon Jovi also hit Germano for writing and recording sessions with co-producer John Shanks and Dan Chase engineering. And singer/songwriter Marc Cohn – with producer/songwriter and Dobro master Jerry Douglas – recorded here in sessions produced by Russ Titelman and engineered by Kevin Porter.
Also at Germano…K’naan recorded with Nas and Chuck Harmony producing – Dave Rowland and Ryan West engineered the sessions; The-Dream recorded new material with Brian “B-Luv” Thomas engineering; Keri Hilson was working with The Phat Boiz and Ne-Yo producing, Kenta Yonesaka engineering; and songwriter/producer Sandy Vee was mixing for various projects.
Nearby at The Lodge, mastering engineers Emily Lazar, Joe LaPorta, Sarah Register and Heba Kadry have gotten off to a busy start in 2012. In recent sessions, The Lodge mastered…Garbage’s upcoming full-length Not Your Kind Of People – mixed by Butch Vig and Billy Bush; The Raveonettes’ new EP; Narada Michael Walden‘s new album “Thunder” – engineered and mixed by David Frazer and Jim Reitzel; two new singles by the Cold War Kids – mixed by Richard Swift – and Bear in Heaven’s anticipated new album I Love You, It’s Cool – produced and mixed by David Wrench.
The Lodge also handled remastering Indochine‘s “Paradize” album (Sony Music France) for a 10th Anniversary re-release, and mastering St. Lucia’s debut EP for Neon Gold; Light Asylum’s new album for Mexican Summer, and Nymph’s new record mixed by David Tolomei for The Social Registry.
Down in the Lower East Side at EastSide Sound, recent sessions engineered by Marc Urselli include: vocals and drum tracking for Martha Wainwright’s new Yuka Honda-produced album; two new John Zorn albums, one a trio featuring Bill Frisell; Sean Lennon recording an album with Kemp & Eden; David Krakauer recording and mixing his new album for Tzadik Records, as well as a recording for a movie soundtrack; and Japanese french horn player Yuko Yamamura with Taiko player Ryota Kataoka for a duo record of Japanese traditional music.
The new Jets Overhead record was mixed over at Flux Studios in the East Village. Producer/mixer Emery Dobyns mixed the album out of Flux’s freshly-appointed Revolution Room. Also at Flux, producer/mixer Fab Dupont recently finished mixing a new album from jazz saxophonist Bob Reynolds – produced by Mat Pierson, and featuring John Mayer.
Singer/songwriter Cris Cab and producers 88 Keys, Wyclef and Sedeck Jean have been working up at StadiumRed in Harlem, making Cab’s debut album for Mercury Records, and the just-released Echo Boom mixtape, presented by Billionaire Boys Club. StadiumRed engineer Joseph Pedulla worked alongside Cab and co. on these two projects – writing and recording in StadiumRed’s A, B and C4 rooms, with assistant engineers Keith Parry, Mike Kuzoian and Phil Consorti. In-house mastering engineer Ricardo Gutierrez also mastered the first single off Echo Boom, “Put In Work”.
Click to watch some studio footage from these sessions…
StadiumRed also hosted Cee Lo Green while he was in town preparing for his Super Bowl performance. The session included vocal tracking and mixing for his upcoming single. Graham Marsh engineered these sessions, with assistance from Keith Parry.
Meanwhile in Midtown, Sesame Street was invading Sear Sound! As part of a video shoot for Pool Worldwide from The Netherlands, produced by Tim Carter, Bert & Ernie got acquainted with Studio C and its custom Avalon/Sear console as well as Sear’s chief engineer Chris Allen. Jazz saxophonist Ravi Coltrane also paid a visit to Studio C, tracking and mixing his new album with Allen engineering, and Joe Lovano producing, and contributing tenor sax and his specially designed double sax.
Lovano also tracked and mixed his own album in Studio A for Blue Note Records, with James Farber engineering, and Ted Tuthill and Owen Mullholland assisting. In other recent Sear Sessions: Imani Wind Ensemble recorded with Silas Brown engineering, and bassoonist Monica Ellis producing; NYC-based producer Andrew Wyatt (of Swedish indie-pop band Miike Snow) has been working on Xander Duell’s new album; and Philip Glass tracked the score for a new documentary, BESA, with Christian Rutledge producing, Dan Bora engineering, and Trevor Gureckis conducting.
Sesame Street also took over KMA Music in the Brill Building, recording “Elmo’s Elf-a bet Challenge” in Studio A, with engineer by Serge Nudel. R&B singer Chrisette Michelle recorded “Get thru the Night” and “Kiss Kiss” at KMA with Serge Nudel engineering. Nudel also engineered tracking sessions with Amanda Cole for the track “More Than I Can Handle”.
In other recent KMA sessions… Yasiin Bey(Mos Def) has been tracking with Colin Norman engineering; Producer/engineer Emily Wright mixed an upcoming Owl City release; Roc Nation’s J. Cole tracked a new album with Mez Davis engineering; Mike Posner also did some tracking with engineer Mez Davis; Carole King cut vocals for her memoirs with Colin Norman engineering; and hit songwriter Claude Kelly and producer Chuck Harmony have working on new material with Ben Chang engineering.
In the midst of planning a large-scale renovation, Daddy’s House Recording Studios in Midtown has been busy tracking and mixing on records for Machine Gun Kelly – “Wild Boy”, mixed by Steve “Rockstar” Dickey; French Montana – “Shot Caller”, mixed by Matt Testa; and Red Café – “Let it Go” among other tracks, recorded and mixed by Steve “Rockstar” Dickey.
In addition Daddy’s House has reportedly hosted quite a bit of independent label work, and choir recording sessions. Once renovated, Daddy’s House will be re-launched as a commercial studio, but in the meantime this facility – with its SSL G-equipped and Neve VR 60-equipped studios, and writing room, is officially already open to the public.
Big film and television projects were underway at Avatar Studios – including songs recorded for the soundtrack of The Hunger Games for Lionsgate. Produced by T. Bone Burnett, and engineered by David Sinko – assisted by Bob Mallory – music for the film was tracked to tape in Studio A. Burnett has also been recording music for a new Coen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis at Avatar – co-produced by Burnett and the Coen’s, and engineered by Jason Wormer, with Mallory assisting.
And music for NBC’s new show Smash was recorded with producer Mark Shaiman and engineer Todd Whitelock, assisted by Charlie Kramsky.
And, in time for Super Bowl XLVI (as we reported yesterday), NYC-based composer Joel Beckerman brought his new theme for NBC’s NFL Show in to record with an orchestra in Avatar’s Studio A, with engineer Dennis Wall.
In pure music sessions at Avatar…Herbie Hancock recorded a piano duet with Lang Lang in with producer David Lai and engineer Kirk Yano, assisted by Tim Marchiafava. Esperanza Spalding also recorded with Hancock for the same project. Placido Domingo recorded duets with Bobby McFerrin and producer / engineer Rafa Sardina, as well as with Harry Connick, Jr. And Broadway cast albums for Bonnie & Clyde (producer David Lai, engineer Isaiah Abolin) and Once (producer Steven Epstein, engineer Richard King) were also recently recorded at Avatar.
Some of those singles mixed at Daddy’s House were mastered nearby at Masterdisk. Tony Dawsey (assisted by Tim Boyce) mastered Red Café’s “Let It Go” f. P Diddy, French Montana, Machine Gun Kelly’s “Wild Boy”, and French Montana “Shot Caller” f. P Diddy, Rick Ross – all for Bad Boy – as well as the Steve Sola-mixed single by DJ Absolut “Untouchable” f. Ace Hood, French Montana, Pusha T, Nathaniel, on Addicted For Life.
Meanwhile, Vlado Meller was mastering songs for the pilot episode of NBC’s Smash produced by Marc Shaiman and Scott Riesett, and mixed by Lawrence Manchester at Avatar. Meller will reportedly continue mastering songs for upcoming episodes, which will get released on iTunes. Meller also recently mastered Say Anything’s upcoming album, Anarchy, My Dear, produced by Brooklyn-based Tim O’Heir.
And Scott Hull mastered So Brown’s Bryce Goggin-produced album (from tape). Masterdisk also recently installed several Antelope Audio Isochrone Trinity Master Clock and 10M Rubidium Atomic Clock units in its mastering suites – reportedly “to maintain stereo imaging and the overall sonic integrity of projects passing through its studios. Additionally, Masterdisk is installing multiple Antelope Audio Zodiac D/A converters at listening stations throughout the facility for quality control purposes.
BROOKLYN, QUEENS & BEYOND
Let’s get started out at a quintessentially awesome Brooklyn spot – The Motherbrain, in Gowanus, where owner/producer/engineer Brian Bender’s tracked and/or mixed a few noteworthy records in the last couple months. First up in our report is… Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds’ latest, Pound Of Dirt. Bender produced, recorded and mixed this album for NYC’s Modern Vintage Recordings, with assistance from Jon Anderson. Bender also recently finished mixing Langhorne Slim’s upcoming album The Way We Move, which was recorded up at Old Soul Studios in the Catskills by Kenny Siegal.
And particularly notable is the latest by José James – No Beginning, No End. Produced by José James, Brian Bender and legendary bassist Pino Palladino, the album began with tracks recorded at The Magic Shop with Russ Elevado, and in London by songwriter/producer Fink, and continued with tracking at The Motherbrain, where Bender will also mix the record.
“We ended up doing the majority of the basics for the record here and Jose called in an amazing band: Grant Windsor, Richard Spaven, Pino Palladino, Emily King, Solomon Dorsey, Nate Smith, Kris Bowers and Nir Felder,” Bender described. “Pino was in town for D’Angelo rehearsals so he was splitting his days between this session and rehearsals uptown.
“The sessions were effortless. We were nearly two full days ahead of schedule the whole time. Also very exciting, this is the first record that I have been able to use the WSW to track with! Overheads and the suitcase Rhodes went through it. (Best rhodes sound ever!)”
Nearby at Bryce Goggin’s Trout Recording, David Sylvian and Joan As Policewoman’s Joan Wasser began work on a new record. Fred Cash and Parker Kindred were laying down the rhythms, with Bryce Goggin producing and Adam Sachs engineering. And Ches Smith & These Arches (Tim Berne, Tony Malaby, Andrea Parkins and Mary Halvorson) also began cutting a new album at Trout, with Shahzad Ismaily producing and Goggin engineering.
Another cool NYC percussion-based ensemble Loop 2.4.3. – founded by Clogs’ percussionist Thomas Kozumplik (The National, The Books) – has been tracking a new project at GödelString in Park Slope with engineer Joel Hamburger.
According to Hamburger, the Loop 2.4.3. album, called American Dreamland, came together via somewhat experimental sessions in the studio. “It was a bit of an unusual hybrid process for this type of avant-classical music. It allowed me to work with a mixture of in-the-box and outboard gear to sculpt the sound.”
Hamburger, who recorded and mixed the album, also noted: “What was extra exciting was the extremely wide variety of musicians/styles who came together to make an organic whole. This album expanded on territory the duo was exploring through their previous album, which I also mixed.”
The album will feature vocals by Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond, and Scott Bearden, Jon Catler, of La Monte Young and Forever Bad Blues Band on electric guitar, and Todd Reynolds, of Bang on a Can All Stars and Ethel, on violin.
Over in DUMBO, Joe Lambert mastered the new Ben Allen-produced Reptar album, Body Faucet for Vagrant Records, due out this Spring. Lambert also mastered Reptar’s EP “Oblangle Fizz Y’all” last year. Frenchkiss artist Young Man also mastered his upcoming album, Volume One, at Joe Lambert Mastering.
Other recent sessions at the Rare Book Room include…Matthew Dear’s new EP Headcage and forthcoming LP for Ghostly International which Verhes is mixing; Bowerbirds’ next LP for Dead Oceans The Clearing, mixed by Vernhes (first single out via Pitchfork); Exitmusic’s upcoming LP, This Is Not A Dream for Secretly Canadian on which Vernhes mixed and lent additional production; and Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear’s solo EP Silent Hour/Golden Mile for Warp (first single “Saint Nothing” via Stereogum).
In Williamsburg…indie-pop songstress Ingrid Michaelson recorded a cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” at Grand Street Recording, with bandmate Chris Kuffner producing and mixing, and Bobby Mosier engineering the recording session. Kuffner also produced sessions at Grand Street with singer/songwriter Allison Weiss – recording for her new album with drummer Zach Jones.
In other Grand Street sessions news…Pop singer Charlene Kaye was finishing up her upcoming record, Animal Love, with producer Tomek Miernowski – including tracking a string quartet featuring Dave Eggar on cello, Whitney LaGrange on viola, and Coco Taguchi and Jonathan Dinklage on violin, with arrangements by Andrew Sherman. And indie-folk band The Hollows recorded basics for their upcoming EP, with Miernowski engineering and Grahm Galatro producing.
Blocks away, Raekwon was at The Brewery putting final touches on some tracks for his mixtape Unexpected Victory, with engineer Andrew Krivonos. The Brewery hosted tracking and mixing sessions for this release in 2011 – Raekwon even named a song after the studio.
And hip-hop artist Rilgood made his debut JFK at The Brewery, with producers Woodro Skillson and RC Bankwell, with Krivonos engineering. The 11-track album, which Krivonos notes “is one of the most exciting hip-hop projects I’ve worked on in a while merging dance and pop elements,” is due out later in February.
At the newly opened Greenpoint music complex, The End, Brooklyn-based trio Monogold has been recording a new album with Chris Boosahda. In other recent sessions at The End, Television Personalities tracked a new song, with James Richardson of MGMT, and Ron Johnson from the Warren Haynes Band was also at The End working on new projects.
Cohen has also been working with Talib Kweli, and recently started using a new mic on the Blacksmith recording artist, for his soon to be released LP, Prisoner of Conscience, on EMI. Two new songs have also been tracked with Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) on the new Blackstar collaboration. Yasiin reportedly brings his own Shure Super 55.
And Joe Moose Demby recorded the new Creative Arson project with Angie Pontani at Rough Magic. The Valentine’s Day released podcast will feature filmaker Suki Hawley, fashion designer Garo Sparo and comedian Murray Hill
Singer/songwriter DM Stith has been working on a new album at The Buddy Project in Astoria, with the new music ensemble Ymusic accompanying, and Kieran Kelly producing/engineering. Kelly has also been working with singer/songwriter Shawn Walsh on an upcoming release.
Houston-born alt-rock band American Fangs migrated out east to Long Island where they’re recording a full-length album with producers Mike Watts and Steve Haigler at Vudu Studios. Located out in Port Jefferson, Vudu has two seriously equipped studios and a nice big live room, and is home base to Watts (As Tall As Lions, The Dear Hunter, Saliva) and Haigler (The Pixies’ Doolittle, Trompe Le Monde, etc., Brand New).
And not as far out east, there’s Cove City Sound Studios, where Dream Theater recorded their Grammy-nominated album A Dramatic Turn of Events. The album was produced by John Petrucci and engineered by Paul Northfield (assisted by Joe Maniscalero) for Roadrunner Records. Writing, recording, and rough mixing went down at Cove City.
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.
GREATER NYC AREA: Tons of sessions happening around the city this Fall. Among the many, we find Black Star back at it out in Greenpoint, Department of Eagles recording in Astoria, Jukebox The Ghost in Park Slope, Oberhofer and Steve Lillywhite in Williamsburg, Spacehog in Gowanus, and OneRepublic making a new record in Manhattan. Read on and get up with what’s happening in studios all around town.
Starting smack in the middle of Times Square, producer Salaam Remi has been working with Jennifer Hudson on music for a new commercial out of Quad Studios. Meanwhile, Sean Paul has been working on new songs at Quad for an upcoming album, as has Atlanta MC Future, who recently signed with Epic Records. Producer Rico Beats has been working out of Quad as well, with various writers. Quad’s Q1 and the Q Lounge has been a listening session hotspot, hosting recent events for Young Jeezy and Mac Miller, and serving as the location for MTV’s Sucker Free Countdown with DJ Envy.
In Chelsea, BMI and composer Rick Baitz held a string arranging workshop with the string quartet Ethel and several string arrangers at Shelter Island Sound. Nona Hendryx and band were tracking at Shelter Island, with Richard Barone producing for a new album for Tracy Stark – featuring drummer Trevor Gale and guitarist Ronnie Drayton. Steve Addabbo tracked and mixed. James Farber mixed jazz singer Alma Micic’s new album, and Ian McDonald of King Crimson fame was in tracking with Steve Holley on drums.
Addabbo also recently finished a 5.1 mix for the Robby Romero long-form music video “Who’s Gonna Save You” (a song co-written by Addabbo), which premiered at the American Indian Film Festival. The film will be featured and officially released November 28 at The UNEP Conference in Durban, South Africa.
Downtown, OneRepublic has been recording their new album in Germano Studios, with singer/songwriter Ryan Tedder producing and Kevin Porter engineering. In other recent sessions at Germano: Fabian Marasciullo has been mixing T-Pain‘s new album; Isabella Summers aka Isa Machine (from Florence & the Machine) has been producing NYC-based artist/songwriter L.P., and working on her own solo project, with Kenta Yonesaka engineering; Asher Roth recorded vocals, with Oren Yoel producing, and Porter engineering; CJ Holland has been writing/recording with Swizz Beatz, and Kenny Lloyd engineering; Alicia Keys has been recording with Ann Mincieli engineering; and Sandy Vee returned for more writing sessions, and recording and mixing sessions with Jesse McCartney.
Just up the block, The Lodge’s Emily Lazar, Joe LaPorta, Sarah Register and Heba Kadry have been super busy this last month, mastering Garbage’s cover of U2′s “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses” for Q Magazine’s AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered, the new Shiny Toy Guns album mixed by Tony Maserati, Arcade Fire’s “Sprawl II” Remix by Damian Taylor, Delta Spirit’s new album produced by Chris Coady and mixed by Tchad Blake, Daniel Bedingfield’s latest, Maya Postepski’s (of Austra) side project TRST – mixed by Damian Taylor – and an album by Tender Mercies, a 20-year-project by David Bryson and Dan Vickery of The Counting Crows.
The Lodge has also mastered recent releases by Brand New (Your Favorite Weapon reissue), Dion DiMucci, Harts, Future Islands, Frankie Rose and Porcelain Raft.
Further downtown, at Engine Room Audio in the Financial District, Soulja Boy and Waka Flocka recorded in the Penthouse Studio (equipped with an SSL 4064G+) with Ben Lindell engineering, and Chris Albers assisting.
And Mark Christensen mastered two new mixtapes for Trey Songz (Atlantic Records) – LemmeHoldDatBeat 2 and Anticipation 2 – and his Inevitable EP – as well as albums for Brooklyn band The Color Bars and UK indie rockers Tiger Shadow, Lloyd Banks‘ Cold Corner – also mixed by Albers at Engine Room – and War Music by Dr. Dre protégé Slim The Mobster.
Over in Queens, Department of Eagles’ Fred Nicolaus and Christopher Bear (Grizzly Bear) recently recorded drums and piano for an upcoming release with Kieran Kelly at The Buddy Project. Pianos for singer/songwriter Kyle Patrick’s new EP were also recently recorded at The Buddy Project, with producers Ben Romans and Jarrad Scharff, and Kelly engineering.
And in Gowanus, Brooklyn – Lady Lamb the Beekeeper has been recording at Let Em In Music with Nadim Issa. Aly Paltro aka Lady Lamb recorded this cover of Bob Dylan’s “All I Really Want to Do” for Brooklyn Based. According to Issa, Paltro liked Cher’s cover of the song, recorded in the 60s with Sonny Bono producing and “as such, we went for a really roomy sound with the whole band playing live in a room. A huge part of the mix is actually my two room mics, which were set up in MS.” Next up, Issa will work on the Lady Lamb full-length.
Nearby at Bryce Goggins’ Trout Recording, sessions for the new Martha Wainright were underway. Goggin, assisted by Adam Sachs, recorded drums for three songs as well as some vocals and electric guitar, with Wainwright, Yuka Honda and drummer Yuko Akari. Goggin also recently mixed a song for Marco Benevento. And Adam Sachs recently engineered a recording session with Space Hog at Trout. The band recorded three basic tracks live while being filmed for an upcoming video release. There were no overdubs, and Sachs also mixed one of the songs in the following week.
Out in Park Slope, Dan Romer has been recording, producing and mixing Jukebox The Ghost’s next record at his studios. And fellow-Rocket Music producer Mark Saunders has been writing/producing and mixing Amalie Bruuns’ next EP at BEAT360 Studios in Manhattan.
In Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based duo Little Silver recently tracked songs for a new EP at Fluxivity Recording, using the studio’s Neumann tube mics (U67, U47, M49) in the recording sessions, engineered by Gary Maurer. Also at Fluxivity, composer Gordon Minette and engineer Matt Shane mixed an album of Christmas songs – Under The Holiday Star – for Stella Artois via Human Worldwide. And music educator, songwriter and professional bassist Mariana Iranzi visited New York from Boston to record a 12-song children’s record, Hola Hello. A four-piece band recorded the songs live at Fluxivity, with producer Billy Herron and engineer Jeremy Loucas, assisted by Ed Mcentee.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn band Oberhofer has been recording their new full-length album for Glassnote out of Mission Sound in Williamsburg, with Steve Lillywhite producing. Also at Mission, NYC-based blues guitarist Dave Fields is in with producer David Z cutting tracks for his upcoming release, and the Cassette Kids are back to cut tracks with engineer Oliver Straus.
Nearby at 3 Egg Studios in Williamsburg, engineer Brian Penny has been working with I’ve started working with drummer Charlie Zeleny on some upcoming projects. To kick things, Penny reports, Zeleny decided “to play a drum solo in one take up all 6 stories of the 3 Egg building, involving more then 80 drums, 100 cymbals, 90 microphones, and four Pro Tools rigs. Video to come!
Meanwhile, Suckers have been recording their latest album at Vacation Island in Williamsburg, with Matt Boynton producing. And going back over the past month or so, Vacation Island has been destination to a number of cool sessions, including Marnie Stern and Justin Pizzoferrato tracking some new music, Christina Files mixing Talk Normal, Free Blood finishing up tracking and beginning to mix their upcoming release with Boynton, as well as mixing sessions with Lucy Michelle.
Also out of Brooklyn, Joe Lambert Mastering in DUMBO has been the final location of production on a couple anticipated new records. First, Lambert recently mastered Sharon Van Etten‘s new album – for CD and vinyl – produced by Aaron Dessner of The National for Jagjaguwar Records. According to Pitchfork, the album was recorded in Dessner’s own studio and features performances by Beirut’s Zach Condon, Julianna Barwick, Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner, the Walkmen’s Matt Barrick, and Thomas Bartlett of Doveman.
And Lambert has also mastered the new School of Seven Bells full-length, Ghostory, produced by Ben Curtis for Vagrant Records. Other albums mastered out of JLM include Peter Salett‘s new EP and the Don Byron New Gospel Quintet‘s Love, Peace, and Soul, produced by Hanz Wendl for Nottuskegeelike Music
And recently out of Rough Magic Studios in Greenpoint…Blacksmith artist Idle Warship (Talib Kweli and Res) released Habits of the Heart – largely recorded by Rough Magic chief engineer Alby Cohen. Kweli came back to Rough Magic recently to record two new tracks with Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), for their Black Star project. The first new, Madlib-produced single “Look Sharp” debuted on The Colbert Report. Cohen engineered those sessions, assisted by Chris Pummill and Aaron Mason.
Up in Yonkers…at Oktaven Audio, engineer Ryan Streber has been recording, editing and mixing new works by flutist Claire Chase, and composer Reiko Fueting – both for New Focus Recordings – the debut album by new music ensemble, counter)induction, for New Dynamic Records, and pianist Max Barros‘ recording of the complete piano music of composer M.Camargo Guarnieri for Concert Artists Guild.
Oktaven and Streber also hosted recording sessions for new works by composers Vivian Fung, Ryan Francis, and Jakub Ciupinski, pianist/composer Michael Brown, and a film score by composer Gil Talmi and Konsonant Music for a documentary feature. Streber also engineered tracking sessions on location at the Academy of Arts and Letters on 155th Street, with the Talea Ensemble for an upcoming CD of music by composer Anthony Cheung.
Down from there to Avatar Studios…the legendary Studio A has been hosting some big sessions, including the cast album for Follies – featuring the largest orchestra on Broadway with Bernadette Peters and Elaine Page – recorded with producer Tommy Krasker, and engineer Bart Migal assisted by Bob Mallory and Tim Marchiafava. The Morehouse College Glee Club was also recorded in Studio A – for Spike Lee’s upcoming film Red Hook Summer – by Jonathan Duckett, assisted by Charlie Kramsky. And America’s Got Talent star Jackie Evancho recorded with an orchestra for her holiday release Heavenly Christmas, with producer Rob Mounsey and engineer Lawrence Manchester.
The orchestral film score for So Undercover was also tracked in Studio A with composer / producer Stephen Trask and engineer Greg Hayes. Additional recordings were done in Studio B and the 5.1 mix was done in Studio G with engineer Tim O’Hare.
And on the album recording front, Ingrid Michaelson recorded in Studio A with producer David Kahne and engineer Robert Smith; Billy Ocean recorded with producer Barry Eastmond and engineer Anthony Ruotolo; Joe Jackson mixed an upcoming release with engineer Elliot Scheiner, assisted by Aki Nishimura; and Adam Lambert recorded with producer Nile Rodgers, and engineer Rich Hilton.
Also in Midtown, Area 51 NYC Studios has been abuzz of late, with Talib Kweli also logging time on numerous projects, with engineer Michelle Figueroa and John Lurie. Jive/RCA artist Jacob Latimore has been tracking at Area 51 with producer Chris Jackson and engineer Alberto Vaccarino. And R&B artist Deborah Cox was also recently in to work with producer Devo Springfield, and Figeuroa engineering. Interscope artists Far East Movement were also in working with engineer Jay Stevenson.
In the Brill Building at KMA Music, EMI writer/producers Twice as Nice have been holed up in sessions with Pete Wentz and Bebe Rexha of Black Cards, August Rigo, Neon Hitch, Andrea Martin, Elle King and James Bourne in Studio B, with Serge Nudel engineering. KMA also hosted CNN interviews with both Peter Gabriel, and R.E.M.
In other KMA sessions…Neyo recorded vocals for the upcoming T-Pain album, with Ben Chang engineering, Unique has been recording and mixing his new album, with production by Chuck Harmony and Claude Kelly, and Chang engineering. That same team — Chuck, Claude and Ben — also worked with Jade Alston on an upcoming release, and with Sony artist, Karmen, and Universal artist, CJ Holland. A$AP Rocky finished up his album at KMA, with Pat Viala, and Roc Nation’s J. Cole recorded and mixed his most recent album at KMA, with Juro “Mez” Davis engineering.
Across the Hudson in Hoboken, Caligula – a hard rock band featuring Erik Paparozzi of Cat Power and Bambi Kino – have been working on a record out of Nuthouse Recording, with Tom Beaujour mixing. Beaujour has also been finishing up a new track with Doug Gillard of Guided by Voices.
And new to “Session Buzz” is a private facility we recently came across called Newkirk Studios – home base to producer/engineer Ben Rice, in one of those awesome landmark houses in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. There, Rice has recently held sessions with the band Blackbells, who tracked and mixed a song for Surfrider, and The Wicked Tomorrow whose EP Rice is mixing. He also tracked and mixed a full-length “pop rock” album for Nocera (“Summertime, Summertime”) out of Newkirk, with bassist/producer Antar Goodwin, Reni Lane and Gian Stone.
Finally, and as previously reported…the members of Vampire Weekend were at Excello Recording in Williamsburg writing and recording material for their next release, tracking to tape with Ethan Donaldson and Nathan Rosborough. Engineer/producer Chris Shaw was also Excello working with the group Nick Casey – which is Nicholas Webber and Casey Spindler with the rhythm section of Dan Rieser and Tim Luntzel. This crew tracked between 20-30 songs over just two days. Also at Excello, engineer/producer Scott Solter recorded cellist Erik Friedlander‘s latest solo project, and mixer/engineer Hector Castillo recorded with singer Sophie Auster and singer/songwriter Clarence Bucaro, and recorded the soundtrack for the film, La Camioneta, with composer Todd Griffin.
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.
The studio scene in Queens is often overlooked, but perhaps not for much longer. Long Island City is home to a burgeoning musical community, while Astoria has been the home of one of NYC’s busiest production facilities since 1921.
Today we take you for a tour of a few of the most active studios in Queens, stopping to focus on one of the borough’s biggest, and one of its most compact.
KAUFMAN ASTORIA MUSIC AND SOUND
At first glance, the music studios at Kaufman Astoria can seem intimidating to the average musician.
The halls of this landmark building are filled with history in a literal sense:
Original theatrical posters line the corridors leading to the recording studio, and remind visitors of 90-years worth of films produced here, from The Cocoanuts (The Marx Brothers’ first feature) through Men in Black III (which wrapped shooting just before our visit).
Joe Castellon, Creative Director of the Music and Sound division, says that new musicians are sometimes worried about where they fit into all this. But according to him, “you’ve got to throw that all away.”
“The most important thing is to be relaxed,” he says. “I like to make it so the musicians feel like they’re playing in their living room, or singing in the shower.”
And Castellon might be the perfect person to put players at ease in a production complex that spans a full city block. He walks these halls with the comfort of a man in his bathrobe, cracking jokes with brawny guys building sets for Bourne Legacy, waving at every custodian he passes.
As a producer, engineer and arranger, Castellon has used this studio to record orchestras and big-bands, rock groups and R&B singers – and not just for the films and TV shows that shoot here.
In addition to serving TV shows including Nurse Jackie and Law & Order, and hosting filmmakers like Woody Allen and Martin Scorcese, the studios at Kaufman Astoria have attracted recording projects from Alison Krauss, R.E.M., Tony Bennett, Itzhak Perlman, Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis.
Studio A at KAS Music and Sound is a remarkable 2,400-square foot music space capable of housing a 70-piece orchestra.
“It’s one of the last studios of its kind in the city,” says Castellon, continuously smiling through owl-eyed glasses and a Frank Zappa mustache. “The main room has 2.7-seconds of reverb.”
“[Using gobos] we can re-configure it in all sorts of ways. Each section can have its own sound. You can have the strings players sounding really wet and live on one end, while the horns stay completely dry at the other end. All the things you might do with effects you can do right here in the room instead.”
Two conjoined isolation booths that tie into the room are larger than many pro studios in their own right. They’re also a shielded by a Faraday cage, which was built into the walls by the U.S. Army when it used the building throughout World War II and the years that followed. This hidden metal meshwork keeps out radio-frequency interference – and communist spies.
Unsurprisingly, the studio is at no loss for gear. Although Castellon clearly enjoys the Neve console, multiple tape machines, Pro Tools HD rig, outboard compressors and vintage microphones at the studio’s disposal, he can be dismissive of them:
“Great records are made, not by great recorders, but by great performances.”
“When you come here, you’re going to get a great recording, of course. It’ll be as good as or better than anywhere else on the planet – There’s no reason to worry about it. The other part of our job is making musicians as comfortable as possible so they can give it the best they have.”
He even makes recording great music seems like a quasi-religious experience. “That’s what really captures people,” he says. “When musicians get together and make some truth come through those speakers.”
If there’s anything here that helps make Castellon himself comfortable, it’s the listening environment:
“It’s a true dead-end, live-end kind of control room,” he says. “There’s no reflections coming from the speaker-side of the room. The corners have deep traps that break up standing waves, and the back wall has a diffuser that makes it completely invisible to your ears.”
“When we had [blind tenor] Andrea Bocelli here I asked him: ‘Hey Andrea, can you hear that wall right behind you?’ Blind people can usually tell where they are in a room just by listening. But he said ‘no way, it just sounds like the room keeps going and going straight back.’”
“This way, you hear the sound only once – when it’s going from the speakers to your ears. There are no reflections anywhere to color the sound, so you can always trust what you’re hearing.”
Taking a tour of the building, scale starts to become apparent. The half-million square feet of production space are better described in acres (11-and-a-half of them) or, if you prefer, hectares (over-four-and-a-half of those).
We walked by soundstages the size of small town centers where film companies construct and destroy virtual cities. Other rooms showed that they could encompass a suburban high school, an entire floor of an inner-city hospital, the Cosbys’ house, an entire block known as Sesame Street.
By the time we sat back down in the control room to recap, the world had somehow become small and manageable once again. Like Castellon, the building itself seems to have a sense of humor. For all the memorabilia Kaufman Astoria has on display, only one film was honored with what I might call a “shrine”. If you look hard enough on your next visit, you might just find an entire hallway intersection adorned with bold and ornate set-pieces. They come from the Ishtar – a film known almost exclusively as one of the most high-profile flops of all time.
Also in Queens…
THE BUDDY PROJECT
Kieran Kelly’s Buddy Project studio is an uber-affordable personal favorite located in Astoria, Queens.
Although its entire floorplan could make a restroom at Kaufman Astoria look like a gymnasium, The Buddy Project is a surprisingly great-sounding, absurdly budget-friendly space that comes well-appointed, featuring a Pro Tools HD system and several flavors of custom-made 500-series modules from Eisen Audio.
The live room, blessed with high-ceilings and ample natural light, is where Sufjan Stevens recorded much of his sonically-elegant Illinois – using only an Audio Technica 4033 and his own Roland VS 880 digital multi-track.
The studio comes equipped with several well-kept drum kits and a pair of iso cabs for pre-production and basics, has a more-than serviceable mic locker and acts as a great space for acoustic overdubs of any kind.
SPIN MUSIC STUDIOS
Owned by Pete Benjamin, LIC’s Spin Studios is a multi-room, 4,000 square-foot recording facility located at the foot of the Queensboro bridge.
Studio A features 68 channel SSL 4064 G / G+ console, while Studio B houses a 52-input Amek console and is designed with a “wide-open, loft-like feel.”
A BLOODY GOOD RECORD
A Bloody Good record is an affordable Pro Tools HD studio in Long Island City operated by Mark Law. It features Pro Tools HD, a Dangerous summing system, two sound-treated recording booths and a surprisingly expansive control-room and lounge.
Soundworks is an Astoria studio run by Sandra & Kamilo Kratc. It features “four individually floated spaces” and a Yamaha G7 Grand piano.
THE WILD ARCTIC
The Wild Arctic is an affordable Pro Tools HD studio in LIC specializing in both indie pop and punk rock.
The studio encompasses an ample live room, control room and two iso-booths. Clients include The Hold Steady, Agnostic Front, Bouncing Souls, and Kill Your Idols.
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.
As fans of Bridges and Powerlines’ debut LP, Ghost Types, with its catchy-cool synth-pop meets indie-rock sound, we jumped at the opportunity to hear all about the making of their new album from Kelly and band bass player/vocalist Keith Sigel while getting the lay of the land at The Buddy Project.
This is the studio where Sufjan Stevens recorded most of his expansive orch-pop opus, Illinoise, a fact of recurring significance to Bridges and Powerlines as they worked through their ambitious recording plans after a year of writing and pre-production.
“The ghost of Illinoise is very palpable here,” says Sigel of The Buddy Project. Kelly adds, “Yeah, there’s something about knowing that the studio is capable of producing that record. It’s safe to say that it happened here once, it can happen again!”
Setting out to make a sprawling rock record of their own, Bridges and Powerlines had plans to build out their sound with varying degrees of orchestration, vocal harmonies and layers of sonic textures. The Buddy Project is not big, so the fact that Sufjan tracked so much of his massively orchestrated record here is not only a reassuring concept, it’s also quite an empowering one to a band on an indie budget.
“Every other day, we’d be like ‘what would Sufjan have done in this situation?”, says Siegel.
And with Kelly co-piloting, The Buddy Project became everything the band needed to produce what Siegel refers to as “the record I’ve been wanting to make my whole life.”
PRE-PRODUCTION, RECORDING & MORE RECORDING
After Bridges and Powerlines had spent several months demo’ing their new songs, they had a couple conditions in getting started with a producer. “We knew we wanted to have more time in the studio than we had on our last album,” says Sigel, “And we wanted a producer that could work with us in pre-production.”
Kelly built in the time to work with Bridges and Powerlines in their rehearsal space, advising on song structure and arrangements.
“He went over all our demos with us and was really active in pre-production — he blocked off about two months to make the record,” Sigel notes. “It was basically what every band wants and what every producer promises, but Kieran actually delivered.”
When it came time to start tracking, they utilized the studio right next door to The Buddy Project, Soundworks Recording, to cut basics to the studio’s 2” tape machine with engineer Kamilo Kratc. Soundworks, Kelly notes, will soon be directly tied into The Buddy Project and, vice-versa.
After tracking basics, the group thoroughly explored their musical and sonic options inside The Buddy Project. Renting and borrowing instruments (Sigel’s friend, ex-Cult bassist Stephen Harris, leant his Gretsch White Falcon among other guitars), hiring string and horns players and recording multiple tracks of near-everything, Bridges and Powerlines left no stone unturned in satisfying every sonic curiosity.
“At the beginning of the session, I promised myself that if there was an instrument we thought of for the record, we would have it,” says Sigel. “We decided we wanted timpanis and we found this great place, Carroll Music Instrument Rentals, all the way on the west side of Manhattan, that has an amazing inventory — every instrument you can imagine — and allows you to rent for 24 hours. We got two gigantic kettle timpanis, crash cymbals and chimes.”
Kelly adds, “Keith and I were very much of the mind to record everything we wanted, knowing that we’d pare it down later on. A couple of the songs are like 90 tracks.”
Accounting for some of that abundance are alternate tracks captured to a cassette tape deck, hand-held digital recorder and Fulltone Tube Tape Echo. “We tracked all the basics to 2” and simultaneously to a cassette deck so that we’d get one really dirty, warm, lo-fi track that we could potentially mix in,” says Sigel.
“It sounded really sweet, we loved it! But the cassette tape drifts; it runs at a different speed than the 2” and there were so many sync problems that ultimately made it too difficult to work with on drums. On grand piano, it was awesome — it gave us this super haunted piano sound that was amazing.
“We also tracked simultaneously to a little hand-held digital recorder because it had this bad-ass compressor on it and you could get that totally blown-out drum sound.”
String and horn sessions, led by Rob Moose (Antony and the Johnsons and Sufjan Stevens’ ensembles), were tracked at The Buddy Project, with singer/songwriter Will Stratton arranging a few of the songs and conducting. In “The Buddy Project” as collaborative studio concept, Stratton is one of the “buddies.” Kelly recently co-produced/mixed Stratton’s introspective folk record, No Wonder, and put it out through his record company, Stunning Models on Display.
“Bringing in friends and talented people I’ve worked with is all part of The Buddy Project concept,” says Kelly. “Will is classically trained and wrote some of the arrangements, along with Andrew [Wood], Dave [Boyd] and Keith. When you’re working with high-level players like we were you need to have properly mapped out arrangements and you need to move through sections quickly, so it really helps to have someone conducting.”
The string quartet was “semi-close miked” and the room sound was captured off the upright piano, a unique Buddy Project room-miking technique. “I mic the piano — about 1/8” off the soundboard — and depress the sustain pedal (by jamming a drum stick or something in there),” Kelly reveals. “You run that into a really fast compressor, like an 1176, with a super-fast attack and release. And then, what you essentially have is a wood-plate; a plate reverb. And it gives you these crazy, blown out sounds.”
This room miking technique came in big on Bridges and Powerlines’ guitar and drum sounds captured in The Buddy Project live room, as well as on all the unconventional percussion, i.e. church-stomp sounds.
“Another big technique we used was tracking all of the vocals through our Fulltone tape machine,” Sigel adds. “We would run a tape echo track that was not intended to be an echo or delay, and then line it right up with whatever we were tracking, and then mix that dirty, tapey sound in with the regular track. It does awesome things to vocals, gives them so much presence. These are the best sounding vocals we’ve ever gotten.”
As for backing vocals, Sigel mentions he tracked about half of them on his own, at home. “Kieran gave me the mic the Illinoise vocals were tracked on [Audio-Technica AT 4033] and the Manley ELOP compressor that Kanye West tracked all of College Dropout with and I went to town,” says Sigel. “I added all kinds of crazy tracks!”
This is not the first time Kelly has furnished his client with the means to record auxiliary tracks at home. His reasoning? “The records I work on are always co-producing arrangements. It’s not dictatorial; it’s not my record, it’s their record,” he explains. “ And I like everyone to be involved in the recording process. There are certain things that as a semi-literate engineer, I just would not do, whereas the artist will do these things that are so wrong that they end up adding a really nice flavor.”
As co-producer, Kelly kept Bridges and Powerlines focused but also let Sigel loose to add tracks to his heart’s content. Then it all went off to Scott Solter in North Carolina for mixing.
As fans of Solter’s work with Spoon and specifically John Vanderslice’s Cellar Door, they readily handed over their multitracks. “Cellar Door is one of my favorite sounding records, and we felt we could trust anyone who can make a record that sounds like that,” says Sigel, noting, “…Although our record sounds nothing like Cellar Door because it just has so much going on!”
Making use of another neighboring audio facility to The Buddy Project, the band went to Andreas Meyer for mastering. A mastering engineer formerly of Sony Studios, Meyer operates Meyer Media out of the same Astoria building.
THE BUDDY PROJECT SOUND
Bridges and Powerlines had 60s sounds in mind when producing Eve. “We were going for 60s, but not totally retro, more like ‘informed by…’” Sigel describes. “The Zombies’ Odyssey and Oracle was definitely a reference point. But we also really loved The National’s last record, Boxer. And another big influence was Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, but I wanted it to sound more analog than that.”
Wherever digital sources were used in the production, for example Reason’s Abbey Road keyboards, Kelly amped them and ran them through the Leslie or the tape machine, or one of the fuzz pedals the band brought in. Plus, The Buddy Project has a lot of hand-built and customized analog equipment used throughout the recording process.
“Jens is a genius. He built 10 of my pre-amps and two EQs. He really works with you to give you the tonal character you’re looking for. He’s really young but I think that in 15 years people will be using his name like Rupert Neve.”
The custom analog gear is a big part of the Buddy Project recording philosophy. “Keith and I love classic records like Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper’s, Kind of Blue, Odyssey and Oracle, The Kinks records — and on all of those albums, there was a really high level of commitment to the technical side of things, as well as the creative side,” Kelly points out.
“Historically, records were made using custom-built gear, equipment that was built for the studio as opposed to something off the shelf. I think that’s really great and I’m trying to do that here as much as I can. So when you work here, you’re getting a sound that’s unique to The Buddy Project, unique to this time and place.”
The Buddy Project, a recording studio in Astoria, NY, recently hosted sessions with New Zealand’s Midnight Youth, winners of Vodafone’s ’09 “Best Rock Album.” Midnight Youth recorded at The Buddy Project with NYC-based producer/engineer Terence Dover.
And from Australia, brother-sister indie-folk duo Angus and Julia Stone (RCA/Nettwerk) tapped Buddy Project producer/engineer Kieran Kelly to mix their new record, Down The Way, which comes out March 30, 2010.
Kelly also tracked new music by Brooklyn-based drummer Matt Johnson (Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright), Will Stratton‘s latest record, No Wonder, and produced/engineered the upcoming record by NYC indie-rock band, Bridges & Powerlines at The Buddy Project.
Records made at The Buddy Project include: Sufjan Stevens‘ Come on Feel the Illinoise, Essie Jain‘s The In Between, Elain LaChica‘s I Think I Can See The Ocean and The Spring Standards‘ No One Will Know.
Keep up with The Buddy Project on Twitter @thebuddyproject. And for studio and equipment details, visit: http://thebuddyproject.com/
WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN: Since Auto-Tune The News #1 hit back in April ’09, the series’ creators — the Brooklyn-based Gregory Brothers — went from being a young, indie-soul band with a new EP to an overnight Internet sensation. Done in a format they call “news opera,” Auto-Tune The News (ATTN) is web-video-musical series created using Auto-Tune (and other less ubiquitous tools) to process vocal clips from the news into full-on musical performances, à la T-Pain.
The latest installment, ATTN #8, actually features T-Pain himself, who — in effect — duets with Michael Gregory and Katie Couric.
“Turns out T-Pain actually has a really nerdy sense of humor just like us,” says Michael, the youngest Gregory Brother, whose musical exploration of the presidential debates via YouTube laid the groundwork for ATTN.
“T-Pain saw the videos and wanted to collaborate with us. Here we thought he might even have beef with what we were doing, but I guess he sees it as imitation being the sincerest form of flattery.”
While The Gregory Brothers’ brand of blue-eyed soul music showcases their impressive R&B chops and affinity for Stax and Motown records, ATTN shows an entirely other side of this family band, one that’s hopped up on beats, hooky-electro melodies and vocoded rap-singing silliness. Via audio/video trickery, the Gregory Brothers and stand-out singer Sarah Gregory (wife and sis-in-law) appear in these news mash-ups alongside an unknowing cast of characters, including Katie Couric, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Rachel Maddow.
WORKING WITH THE BEST UNINTENTIONAL SINGERS
The Gregory Brothers are constantly writing music and making beats to fuel ATTN tracks. The video work, editing news footage and their own video antics in Final Cut Pro, is ongoing as well. “We keep an eye out for crazy news pieces,” says Michael. “But non-crazy stories also have a place in our songs, and can even be more humorous if the unintentional singers are talented because the mundane becomes epic (i.e. Ron Paul’s “Ya Gotta Believe In It” chorus of Episode #3.)”
“Unintentional Singers” are the newsmen, pundits and politicians whose sound-bites become the featured vocals in these songs. It’s not just anyone that can be Auto-Tuned so musically. Evan Gregory describes, “The better a speaker you are, the better an unintentional singer. Like Joe Biden — he’s so emotionally invested and energetic; his words are protracted and drawn out. We’re able to work it to music really well.”
With powerful speakers and inspirational speeches, Auto-Tune can work wonders, notes Andrew Gregory. “Probably the greatest performance of an unintentional singer is Martin Luther King Jr. Michael did a treatment of his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. It works really well because the words are so lyrical and it’s written almost in a song structure, with refrains that build.”
In comparison, Katie Couric is, perhaps, an unlikely ATTN star. “Katie Couric is great,” says Michael. “She speaks with a lot of clarity. There’s a natural cadence, a rhythm to her voice, as opposed to, say, Bill O’Reilly. I thought I could make it work with him, but he just sounded awful.”
See Joe Biden and a Katie Couric-Evan Gregory duet featured in Auto-Tune The News #5:
To produce these tracks, Evan and Michael lay the musical foundations in Logic and then swap ideas regarding enhanced bass lines, auxiliary percussion and integrating more interesting production elements. “It eventually blooms into something beautiful, although there’s a lot of McDonald’s mixing going on to pump out episodes quickly,” Michael notes.
“Up to now, we haven’t really taken vocals into account too much before making beats,” he continues. “We shape the vocals to what we’ve chosen to do musically. Not to say that subject matter has never affected our choices — for #7, I thought it fitting to have an eerie rendition of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” behind Pat Buchanan’s frightening analysis of American history.”
PLAYING TO MILLIONS
Millions have viewed ATTN on YouTube, and in the last few months, the Gregory Brothers have appeared on CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC, The Rachel Maddow Show and MTV’s It’s On with Alexa Chung. “It’s been gratifying to get phone calls from folks in the TV and music businesses,” says Evan. “The video series has been driving a lot of new fans to our original music, and some of those fans are industry types.”
Releasing their Meet The Gregory Brothers EP amidst the early ATTN buzz in June, the band felt the side-project boosting their music careers almost immediately. “We had our record release show like a month after ATTN went viral, and there were definitely a bunch of people there singing along to our songs who wouldn’t have otherwise known about us,” says Michael. “There’s no denying that it’s brought more people to our band website and shows.”
Sales, too, of the EP and ATTN tracks, have ranked high on the online music store Amie Street. And they’ll continue to cross-promote. “We’re planning on using Auto-Tune The News to continue getting exposure for our other projects,” says Evan. “We have a number of shows coming up this Fall. And, Andrew’s just finished recording an album that’s in post-production right now and we’re all super-excited about that.”
Andrew recorded his fourth full-length solo record with Brooklyn-based engineer/producer Zach McNees at Mission Sound in Williamsburg and at The Buddy Project, in Astoria. This latest work differs some from his previous records of quiet, folksy singer/songwriter fare.
“It’s almost a compositional project for me,” Andrew describes. “Because I’ve written these songs for Sarah to sing on; some of them, she’s the lead vocal and some are duets. It also features some of the players from The Welcome Wagon band.”
Fullen also has a band, Sarah & The Stanley’s — featuring her husband, Evan, on keys. They may be headed into the studio next. And in the meantime, there’s really no shortage of material for AutoTune The News. Stay tuned!
Twitter @autotunethenews to keep up with these guys.