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Mix Regional Sessions: Chicago


Kaleo worked on “Way Down We Go” and “Automobile” from the album A/B (Elektra/Atlantic Records), with engineers Nate Dickinson and Austin Thompson, assisted by Jonathan Lackey. They worked in Studio 4, with basic tracking to the Studer A820 2-inch tape machine…Fifth House Ensemble was in Studio 4 working on the album Nedudim (Cedille Records), with producer Steve Rodby and engineer Bill Maylone, assisted by Lackey…NHL announcers Doc Emerick and Eddie Olczyk returned to Studio 6 to record game dialog for EA Sports NHL 2017. Engineer Stan Oda, assisted by Tom Zalduendo, captured the raw game calls…Mavis Staples was in Studio 5 to record the title song and theme for the upcoming Oprah Winfrey executive-produced drama, Greenleaf. Mat Lejeune engineered and mixed on the SSL 6000, and the music was composed and produced by Tim Lauer. Staples’ mic of choice is a Neumann U 47…Spike Lee spent a few days recording ADR, voiceover, loop groups and background vocals on a song for his 2015 film, Chi-Raq, with engineer Mark Wilkening and assistant Zac Schmidt.

Stephen Shirk at the Sphere Eclipse A tracking Tall Walker. Photo: Tim Anderson


Scoring sessions for the upcoming documentary Finding Oscar took place with producer Paul Pilot, John Stirratt (Wilco, Autumn Defense) and Joe Adamik (Califone, Iron & Wine). Engineer Stephen Shirk tracked through the studio’s vintage 32-channel Sphere Eclipse A console, and he used a healthy dose of tape-speed manipulation on the studio’s MCI JH-16 2-inch machine. Matt Cerritos assisted on the sessions…Davy Knowles tracked his forthcoming blues-rock full-length album to 2-inch tape, with Anthony Gravino engineering and co-producing…Neil Strauch engineered string recordings for composer Lawton Hall…Shawn Maxwell’s Alliance cut their next album with engineer/producer Nick Eipers (Chicago Sessions)…Hoodsmoke returned with Anthony Gravino as engineer to finish cutting basics for the follow up to their very recent 2016 release Rough Around the Hedges…Greg Duncan’s jazz ensemble cut tracks with engineer Nick Broste…Tall Walker, Moonrise Nation, Matthäus, Minor Characters and Brother also continued recording with engineer/producer Shirk.

Joe “Dante” Delfino behind the console, with artist BeFlow and (on the couch) intern Dan Taylor.


Tedashii worked on the single “Be Me” with producer Gawvi and chief engineer Joe Delfino (mixing). For the vocal mixing, Delfino ran his vocals through the Heritage Audio 1073 for some saturation/color and slight EQ. For compression, his vocals sounded best running through an LA-2A, and then some slight EQ with the Great River EQ-2NV, as well as some other little tricks in and outside the box…Dave Pracyse & Threat The King worked on the EP Apply Pressure, with the band self-producing and Delfino engineering (mastering). One of Delfino’s go-to pieces for this project was the Neve Portico II MBP…Bosco worked on the album Undeniable, with producer James “Dagga” Love and engineer Delfino (tracking/mixing). They used the AKG C12 on most of his vocals, running through a Vintech X73i and, for some vocals, through the API 512c; then for compression, either through the Distressor or the Tube-Tech CL1B. The go-to compressor for mixing was a Shadow Hills Mono Optograph…Jade.The.Ivy worked on the EP Euphoric Wasteland, with the artist self-producing and Delfino recording and mixing. They recorded live drums, bass, electric guitar, vocals and saxophone. On sax, Delfino used a Sennheiser MD421 close-miked and a U 87 in omni for an ambient mic.

Elias Soranio of Nonpoint singing into the Slate ML1 at Uptown Recording.


Robert Irving III (former Miles Davis music director) did more work at the studio, with sessions including the recording of Wanda Hutchinson (singer from the Emotions), Ernie Adams (drummer for Al Di Meola), and Wallace Rooney…The band Nonpoint (Spinefarm Records) blocked out for the whole month of February to record and mix their ninth major-label release in 15 years. The band and chief engineer Rob Ruccia embarked on a 14-song/28-day journey and completed the record slated for a late-June release. Most of the sessions were analog, using the studio’s new Toft ATB16 and MCI 2-inch 16-track tape machine (previously owned by the late, great Merle Haggard). They also beta tested the Slate VMS, as the studio had one of the first test units for the microphone system and software. Ruccia would use one model for lead and a different model for backups/overdubs, preventing any coupling of frequency response and resonance.

The B Room at Soundscape.


Zayn Malik (formerly of One Direction) was working in Studio A with Jeff Arenson on his debut solo effort…Jamila Woods has been working on her debut solo project “Black Girl Magic” with owner/chief engineer Michael Kolar…Carl Tatz of Carl Tatz Design visited Studio A to re-tune the Phantom Focus System…Studio B was redesigned to factor in modern laptop production techniques with a new console setup: Malone Design Console with Avid Artist Series modules. Other new gear in Studio B includes a vocal chain consisting of a Rupert Neve Designs 511 mic pre, Inward Connections Brute vocal comp and Inward Connections Nitro EQ; and a Neumann U 87 vocal mic modded by Bill Bradley at The Mic Shop in Nashville…Studio A also received a few new pieces of gear, including a Thermionic Culture Phoenix Mastering Plus tube mastering limiter and a Manley Massive Passive tube mastering equalizer.

New Trier High School Jazz Band at IV Labs


Gone to Color worked with producer Brian Deck and engineer Shane Hendrickson in Studio A. They had a two-week run of overdubs, everything from electric mandolin to marimba to pump organ…Grammy Award-winning children’s artist Justin Roberts worked with producer Liam Davis and engineer Hendrickson in Studio A. They started live tracking for an album—guitar, vocals, banjo, upright bass and percussion…New Trier High School Jazz Band worked in Studio A with producer Nicholas Meyers and engineers Freddie Breitberg and Rollin Weary…Pocket Radio worked in Studio A with producer Anders Nordstrom and engineer Chris Harden.

Doug McBride and Beth Liebling at Gravity Studios.


Gravity producer Doug McBride worked with Nashville-based alt-country trio Maybe April…McBride also completed the debut album for a yet-to-be-named supergroup led by Beth Liebling (Hovercraft), alongside senior staff engineer Sam Fell, who contributed to song structure as the band created the songs in the studio…Fell recorded in-house artist Aras Volodka to 2-inch, 24-track tape, as well as a vintage Mark I Rhodes, baritone guitar, early ’70s Ludwig kit, an upright tack piano, and flute. The songs had anywhere from three to eight musicians performing. Most of the musicians were located within Studio A; the flutist was located in Studio B with a Flea 47 during tracking, while the tack piano was placed all the way in the front office…Fell also worked with local band Old Grand Dad on a three-song EP. The session was recorded live with some minor overdubs…Tim Yamaya and Dan Farnsworth have been producing several singles with artist/group Eric Lee Carpenter. ELC started the new batch of songs recording the band with Fell; Yamaya and Farnsworth then took over to produce, adding a range of synths and percussion.

Engineer Fil Kinetic, instructor and engineer Wendy Van Sickel, and pianist Adrian Metzger at Horse-Drawn Productions.


Engineer Eric Yoder recently mixed a new track for DJ Sultan, featuring Elephant Man. The vocals were tracked in Jamaica, but Sultan wanted an American-pop sound, so he came to Horse-Drawn. The session was created on a PC laptop; by the time the session reached Chicago, it was all in Pro Tools, at close to 100 tracks. The song was then mixed via Pro Tools on a Yamaha DM2000, using outboard gear. The final was printed through a TC Electronics M5000, and then Horse-Drawn chief engineer, Jackson Bomher, did the final mastering in the Indigo Mastering Suite. Elephant Man added a lot of layers of vocals so different textures could be created. The song will be released on Sultan’s upcoming album, release date yet to be announced…Concert pianist Adrian Metzger recorded Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 8 and Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin on a 9-foot Model D Steinway grand piano in the live room. The project was produced by Metzger and Wendy Van Sickel, and engineered by Yoder, Mitchell Soja and Van Sickel.

Jimmy Fountalas at Stonecutter Studios.


Singer/songwriter Heidie Fifield recently completed her debut EP No Love Like Our Love, produced, engineered and mastered by studio owner Chris Steinmetz. On the Track “Blue Eyes,” Steinmetz ran various source sounds through a Chaos pedal and then into a Leslie cabinet for some haunting soundscapes…Marty Casey (Lovehammers, L.A. Guns, Rock Star: INXS) has been prepping the release of “Valentina,” which was co-written, recorded and produced by Steinmetz…Metal band Fools Brew are currently finishing their second album The Reckoning, with Steinmetz engineering and producing. Steinmetz used iZotope Ozone 7 and Nectar plug-ins for some intense vocal sounds…Steinmetz is also wrapping up production for the new project Superbig’s album Barely Holding On. He used vintage Neve 1073s for vocals, as well as a UAD 610 preamp followed by an Empirical Labs Distressor for guitars. He also used a wide array of the UAD plug-ins for mixing…Brent Brown recently completed his new album For Play, which Steinmetz produced. He made regular use of SoundToys Decapitator and EchoBoy plug-ins.