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Mix Regional News: Southwest U.S.


With the Super Bowl in Arizona this past February, The Saltmine Studio Oasis was the place to be, tracking and mixing many artists, including Young Jeezy and O.T. Genasis for a “CoCo” remix for Atlantic Records, which was engineered by Saltmine producer/engineers Tyler Nervig and Kyle Colley.

Young MC also mixed sound for his new movie, Justice Served, in the Saltmine’s Studio B mixing room with engineer John Gray. Gray also worked with artist FriskOLAY laying down vocals and SSL mixing the track “Booty” for Ferrara Records with a video just released.

Lil Wayne also came back to The Saltmine twice in 2014 to record and collect some “good karma”—which he got when he recorded “Lollipop” for Tha Carter III at the studio in 2008—by recording a handful of songs for the forthcoming Tha Carter V. Staff engineer Andre Nelson got to lay some heavy guitar to fatten the production on “Gotti.”

Meanwhile, The Saltmine Studio A is currently getting a new modern monitor makeover, installing “Megasound Cluster 5” monitors that will feature four TAD TL-1603s plus TAD TD-4001 drivers and massive wood horns per side, powered by Bryston amps and crossovers and dual 18-inch subwoofers. Westlake BBSM15 TADs and custom Augspurgers continue to pump sound to the other SSL rooms in Studios B and D, the Villa.


EAR (Evergroove Academy of Recording), the education arm of solar-powered Evergroove Studios (Evergreen, Colo.), has embarked upon a new series of workshops for audio engineers, producers and musicians. Brad Smalling, Evergroove’s founder and master recording engineer, teamed up with fellow master producer/musician/engineer Alan Evans and two-time Grammy Award-winning recording engineer David Glasser to bring two workshops this spring to the Denver area: “When You Think You’re Ready—You’re Not. How to Properly Prepare for the Recording Studio,” and “Let It Bleed—The Art of Live Studio Recording.”

“It’s important for me to try to pass on what I’ve learned and make it easier for the next person who comes along,” says Smalling. “We’ve focused a lot of energy on supporting the Denver/Foothills music scene, and this is another way of ensuring that Colorado continues to be acknowledged within the industry as a center of excellence in production, recording and mastering.

“Historically, sound engineers have had to learn on their own, by trial and error,” he continues. “That’s a painful way to acquire a high-profile skillset, and worse yet, the age of the Internet has brought forth a great deal of misleading information. I’m excited to team with Alan and David this spring to put out good information, and I think Colorado’s recording community will be just as excited about the names we’re lining up for the fall.”

The spring 2015 workshop series is the first in a planned series of hands-on, practical learning sessions, with topics already being planned out for the following year, including drum production, guitar production, vocal production and bass production.

“This is an exciting new format for us,” says Jenny Smalling, business manager and co-founder at Evergroove. “We’ve always considered ourselves partners and educators as much as service professionals, and this is a fantastic opportunity for us to share the experiential knowledge that’s made the ‘Evergroove sound’ a unique voice in the modern recording industry.”

In other news, Evergroove has seen the following projects come through the studio: Michael Aldridge, with Brad Smalling producing and engineering his album All or Nothing (Aldridge also produced); The Primary, with Smalling engineering and the band producing; Springdale Quartet, with Smalling producing and engineering (the band also produced) the album Decades; and Woodhouse, with Smalling producing and engineering (the band also produced).


Blues/folk/country artist Jim Allen recently recorded his album Ten Songs at XYZ Audio in La Mesa, Calif. The project was self-produced, and studio owner and engineer, Sam Boukas, engineered it. “With Jim, much of the main bed tracks were just Jim playing his Larrivee acoustic and singing a live vocal,” Boukas says. “To capture this, I used an AKG 414 on his voice and put it in figure-8 mode to reject the guitar. On the guitar, I used a Blue Dragonfly and an Oktava 02r.

“One thing I love to achieve is a very phase-coherent, 3-D image, so I actually placed the Oktava right next to the 414 and pointed it at the guitar,” Boukas continues. “Some of the vocal got into the mic, but it was perfectly in phase. The result was very dimensional. To add to the overall ambience of the tracks I mainly used the Apollo UAD EMT 140 plate reverb plug-in.

Jim’s daughter, Rachel Allen, who plays trumpet for the La Jolla Playhouse Theatre, came in to play on a cover of Tom Waits’ “Shiver Me Timbers.”

Boukas is also working with local San Diego band The Peterman Four. He and the band are producing the album together, and Boukas is also engineering.

“On this project, I’m getting a lot of use out of the Shure KSM313 ribbon mic, which I love,” Boukas says. “For guitars it captures the true sound that’s coming out of the amp. That mic, coupled with a CAPI VP28 mic pre, is the perfect combination. I built two of the VP28s and I use them everyday.

“One thing I can say is, I don’t mind it when a mix has some asymmetrical qualities, and I’m a huge fan of mid-side microphone setups,” Boukas continues. “I’m often shocked at how few recording engineers even know of the MS technique. I learned a lot while recording with producer Jerry Finn on Blink 182’s self-titled album and the Box Car Racer project.”


Morgan Rose, drummer/producer/founding member of alt-metal band Sevendust and also a member of Ghost Embrace, recently worked on tracks at HyperThreat for the second Ghost Embrace album, due out this spring.

“Morgan is pretty easygoing in the studio as far as setups go,” says Johnny Fantozzi, Rose’s drum tech. “In a live setting, he likes his cymbals super tight and his snare drum cranked. When we hit the studio, I like to loosen the cymbals up so we get a smooth decay, I tune the snare drums lower for a fat tone and more body. It’s funny because he will hit the snare a few times, and you can tell he doesn’t like the feel of it. He always asks me how it sounds in the control room and he trusts my judgment. He understands that the studio setting is way different from a live show, and he is always willing to make compromises to get the best sound.”

The project is ongoing, with Jerome Lee on bass, Nema Sobhani on guitar, and Eric Moon, who is orchestrating the material.

“I’ve worked with Eric Moon on several recordings and the thing that always amazes me about him is his ability to hear a song once, write it down as a chart, and almost immediately come up with a brilliant orchestration to accompany it,” says engineer Rick Thompson. “He’s a master at building layers, finding tones, and making them blend. What I do when I’m engineering Eric is just try to be an extension of his workflow. He likes to work quickly as the ideas pour out of him, so I find myself constantly moving from track to track, opening virtual instruments, editing MIDI notes, and doing my best to capture his ideas.”

Annette Freeman is producing the project, and Jesse Avalon is also engineering.