Snoop Dogg’s Beach City Music
Snoop Dogg’s new personal facility, Beach City Music, was designed by Dave Malekpour of Professional Audio Design, along with loudspeaker con.sultant Jerry Steckling of JSX Audio, Jonathan Deans of Westlake Pro, and builder Bruce Miyaki.
“The Beach City Music complex is a 20,000-square-foot building located within five minutes of LAX. It houses three recording studios, a radio station, a video post-production studio with a soundstage and green screen, plus a full basketball court and offices for Snoop’s empire in music, film, weed and related lifestyle brands,” Malekpour says.
“The facility was designed to be totally private for Snoop and the artists and producers he is working with. At the heart of Snoop’s project was a de.sire to have everything needed for to record music, video, TV and film all in house.”
In Snoop Dogg’s main music-production studio, called the Mothership, the 750-square-foot control room features an AMS Neve Genesys Black console, Augspurger Quattro15-Sub218 monitoring, Avid Pro Tools HD12, and plug-ins from Slate Digital, Waves, Antares, Sonnox, McDSP and others.
“The vision Snoop had for the facility was a Star Trek–inspired theme, where all the hallways have color-changing LED tubes and Star Trek murals and posters,” Malekpour says. “There’s a wrap-around console and various stations that can be manned by multiple producers, all centered around the mix position. And at the center of it all, a red leather massage chair that is on top of a riser, allowing Snoop to oversee all the team.”
Bill Appleberry produces and mixes the iTunes releases from The Voice.
The Voice at Henson
Producer/mixer Bill Appleberry has just wrapped season 12 of The Voice, the NBC-TV talent show that he’s worked on for the past six years, producing all of the singles recorded by the show contestants.
“My job is to produce, record and mix all the songs we sell on iTunes and Ap.ple Music through Republic Records,” he says. “It’s basically the same process of making a record for any other format except that we’re operating at an accelerated pace to meet the demands of the show.”
Every short-form performance that viewers see on TV becomes a full-length single in the studio, and each song goes online the same day the show is aired. “From day one, we do [songs from] all the blind auditions and follow each phase of the show, through the fi.nale. In any season, I’m averaging about 180 songs per season, and there are two seasons per year,” Appleberry explains.
He makes it work with a staff of up to nine engineers and The Voice band, which remains consistent, and always ready to roll. “But I do all the final mixes myself,” Appleberry says. “About three years ago, I started bringing everything to Henson, which is great because we need three or four rooms happening simultaneously.”
Appleberry was on staff at Henson in the ’90s, when it was still called A&M. The facility allowed him to build his own Pro Tools mix room on site—a room-within-a-room, inside some available office space. However, all of the band tracking takes places in Henson’s more spacious Studios A and D, while Appleberry enjoys vocal recording in B.
“During the live part of the season, on Fridays we will go in about 9 a.m. We’ll grab 12 songs with the band, grab 12 vocals in another room, and then if we can stay on schedule, I will start mixing late Friday night, and we basically don’t get home till very early on Sunday; that hour to get home and back is too valuable, because Apple has very strict deadlines. Five a.m. Sunday morning is when we need have the final masters approved and starting to upload to Apple, to be in the store by Monday night. We have to stay disciplined and sometimes we have to make quick decisions; but over time we have learned not to sweat over the small stuff, so it really helps that Henson has such a great staff and top-of-the-line gear to lean on!”
Justin Timberlake producing Shadow Boxers
Shadowboxers, who also visited EastWest Studios last August, were back in the studio working on new music with engineer Chris Bell and producer Justin Timberlake. “They were in Studio 1,” says assistant studio man.ager Keith Munson. “There’s an 80-channel Neve 8078 console in there, and it’s actually one of the larger rooms in town.” Studio 1 is also one of the L.A. area’s most historic. That Neve console is the one used on Thriller, and the room—which first opened in 1965—has hosted sessions from Sinatra and Marvin Gaye to Blondie. EastWest also recently held a listening party for Shania Twain, whose upcoming album was mixed at the facility.
Electronica group Hillsong United tracked their latest album, Wonder, in Studio SSL4 at the Record Plant. SSL4 is equipped with a 9000J console and custom Augspurger monitors. Engineering the session was James Rudder, with help from first assistant Tim McClain and second assistant Chris Dennis.
In addition to the Diana Krall album sessions detailed on page 36, Capitol hosted tracking sessions with Seal for a Decca Records project. Seal worked with producer Nick Patrick, engineer Don Murray, staff assistant engineer Nick Rives and conductor/arranger Chris Walden.
Recently at Sunset Sound engineer/producer Nick Launay was in, mixing new music from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Additional sessions include Epitaph artists Rancid working with producer Brett Gurewitz and engineer Kevin Bivonia; David Crosby self-producing with engineer Dan Garcia; and Herbie Hancock self-producing with engineer Cesar Mejia.
L-R: Amy Burr (GM/studio manager), Ben Milchev (assistant engineer), Aaron Becker (chief technical engineer). (Photo: Allison Offenberger)
Jessie J At Larrabee Studios
Pop singer Jessie J visited Larrabee Studios to record vocals in Studio 4 with engineer Simone Torres, vocal producer Kuk Harrell and project producer DJ Camper. Though he can’t divulge too much about the project, staff assistant engineer Ben Milchev offered a few insights about the session, and working at Larrabee in general: “She used a Sony C800 vocal mic,” Milchev says. “I believe that is her regular mic...The atmosphere was very comfortable, very friendly and Jessie was tracking vocals from the live room. We had a little vocal booth set up for her, and Kuk was in the driving position at the [SSL 4000G+] console on the other side of the glass, producing and just watching everyone work together. For me, as a fly on the wall, it was really magical just seeing them work together.” The session was Milchev’s first assisting Torres, though he has known her since they both attended Berklee College of Music. Part of the Larrabee staff since last September, Milchev observes, “Larrabee is mostly a mixing studio, so tracking sessions are always a treat. But also being in the same facility as mix engineers such as Manny [Marroquin, who works in Studios 2 and 3] and Jaycen [Joshua, who mixes in Studio 1], just being able to talk to them and work alongside them is a privilege.”