In putting together this month’s issue, I had the opportunity to interview two of the pivotal forces in L.A. recording over the past several decades, each in their own way: Jeff Greenberg, owner of The Village, pictured on this month’s cover with his extended studio family; and Allen Sides, who has graced this cover before as a producer/engineer and owner of Ocean Way Studios, and is now founder of Ocean Way Audio, where he has circled back to his teenage roots in speaker design.
Greenberg is a force of nature. He’s the P.T. Barnum of the studio scene, with an innate sense of sales and marketing that served him well as a promoter back in the 1970s and ’80s, followed by a stint at ICM, on into running The Village for Geordie Hormel starting in 1995, by all accounts rescuing it from the verge of liquidation and building it back into one of the world’s top studios, with a unique business model that reflects the industry’s technological and financial changes.
He’s built rooms for in-house composers, producers and engineers in a way that no other studio in North America can match; he’s picked up more film score tracking and mixing dates than any music studio in town; he’s pioneered live-to-radio and now live streaming broadcasts with KCRW and any number of labels and tech companies. He hosts a huge range of industry events, from ad shoots to the P&E Wing party during Grammy Week. And he doesn’t do anything halfway.
He talks fast, he moves fast and he could be a poster child for adult ADHD—in a good way. It works for him, and if you talk to him, no matter who you are, you feel special. Just a few weeks back, he saw a young banjo player busking and brought him in immediately for a day of recording. He said it was amazing. His speed dial for top artists, worldwide, would sell for top dollar at auction. On one of the first nights Jeff and I went out, to dinner on Melrose about 20 years ago, he pulled his Porsche up in front of the restaurant, in a red zone with a fire hydrant, gave the valet the keys, and the car didn’t move for two hours. No ticket. No worries. It wasn’t pretentious, by any means; it just felt normal. That’s Jeff.
And Allen? He is the recording engineer’s engineer. And he owned and operated one of the world’s leading studios, Ocean Way, for nearly four decades. He has the mind of a mad electronics tinkerer, the business savvy of a venture capitalist, and the creative, musical bent of a big-band leader. He’s a collector of esoteric, quality, vintage audio gear, both because he loves the sound and he wants to find what makes something tick, and he wants to sell the rest.
He’s tall and lean, and he looks much, much younger than he should. Perhaps it’s from the 2,000-foot elevation run he does up a hill each morning, or the time on the tennis court. He’s a bit socially awkward, yet completely charming at the same time. He has, for his next audio career, returned to his roots and is building speakers out of his still-young company, Ocean Way Audio. He lives for sound. Quality sound.
Jeff and Allen couldn’t be more different in personality and approach, and yet they remain two of the pillars of the L.A. recording scene decades after they entered. Why? They share a love of music. You can’t beat that.
Tom Kenny, Editor