Hummingbird at Ocean Way
By Barbara Schultz
Ad music and sound design creator Hummingbird Productions has contributed original compositions to campaigns from Coca-Cola, Wrigley’s and others, and often collaborates with popular musicians such as Band of Joy bassist Byron House and Taylor Swift drummer Dennis Holt. But for a recent campaign for Alabama Power, Hummingbird’s original music was performed by an orchestral ensemble led by David Angel. Hummingbird CEO/founder/creative director Bob Farnsworth engineered the session, recording to Pro Tools HDX in Ocean Way Nashville’s Neve 8078-equipped Studio A.
“It always blows us away when we are allowed the opportunity to compose original music for commercials employing an entire orchestra,” Farnsworth says. “Our music for the new Alabama Power campaign is classical—it starts out mysteriously and slowly builds to a huge finish, ebbing and flowing along the way. When recording tracks using just electronics, the music tends to ‘stair-step;’ that is, the emotion within the piece of music isn’t properly conveyed. When a person plays a real-life instrument, the music can rise and fall naturally and organically, like an ocean wave.”
Adam Landry (left) and Justin Collins of Cosmic Thug
Photo: Wes Frieden
Pony Boy with Cosmic Thug
By Barbara Schultz
There’s a film noir-cool quality about the latest music from Pony Boy, aka Marchelle Bradanini. It’s in her sultry vocals, some surf-style guitar reverb, and haunting keyboard sounds. This recent Nashville transplant made her EP The Devil in Me with Justin Collins and Adam Landry, who call their production partnership Cosmic Thug.
“We like to consider ourselves part of the band,” says Collins. “We do a lot of arranging, playing multiple instruments, and coming up with parts all across the board, as well as engineering.”
Photo: Elaine Reed
Working in Landry’s studio, Playground Sound, Landry (guitars, drums, bass, keys) and Collins (guitars, vocals) added Robbie Crowell (drums, bass, keys) and Carey Kotsionis (vocals) to the group. They tracked to an Otari MTR-90 tape machine.
“For her vocals, we used a Sennheiser 421 through an API Lunchbox mic pre through a Distressor,” Landry says. “We rarely print effects while tracking; however, we do use it for monitoring purposes. We use a quarter-inch separate reel-to-reel for slap-back most often, and multiple reverb sounds. Effects always come later in the mix.”
Collins says they mixed on Landry’s TAC Scorpion console and printed the stereo mix to Pro Tools. “We never use plug-ins,” he explains. “It’s just a couple of compressors, a custom SSL mod stereo compressor, a reverb unit or two, and our favored slap-back TEAC quarter-inch tape machine, which is fondly named, ‘Babydoll.’”
Pictured in the Ardent Studios atrium are (L-R) Lucas Peterson, assistant engineer; Tyler Kellogg, drums; Morgan Travis, guitar; Brent Cowles, lead vocals, guitar; Jeff Powell, producer, engineer; Dave Cole, bass; and Jonathan Alonzo, guitar, vocals.
Jeff Powell Records You Me & Apollo at Ardent
Colorado band You Me & Apollo first visited Ardent Studios in Memphis to cut a two-song single with renowned producer/engineer Jeff Powell. However, following the success of that single—“I Don’t Want to Be Loved” and B-side “Finding Peace”—the band recently returned to record its as-yet-untitled album, due out this month.
“Our experience with Jeff is hard to put into words,” says lead singer and guitarist Brent Cowles. “We felt as a band that musically he brought out the best in us, and we were just blown away when we finished the album.”
Powell, who started out at Ardent 25 years ago answering phones, is now an independent producer/engineer and considers Ardent his home base. “I recently spent a 10-day run at Ardent with You Me & Apollo,” Powell says. “It all started with my one-day singles offer. If a band really has their act together, they can walk out at the end of the day with a two-song digital master and the lacquers for a seven-inch.”
Some of Powell’s credits include work with Bob Dylan, B.B. King, Tonic, Big Star, The Bottle Rockets, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Primal Scream, Lucinda Williams, Ryan Adams and The Afghan Whigs. His early years at Ardent landed him sessions working elbow-to-elbow with producer/engineer legends such as Jim Gaines, Glyn Johns, Rob Fraboni, John Hampton, Joe Hardy and Jim Dickinson. Getting the call to work with legendary Tom Dowd certainly was a career highlight.
“I got to do six records with Tom Dowd,” Powell says. “He put me in the engineer seat for my first major label record all those years ago after having me assist several engineers on a couple of projects with Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers. He gave me my big break, really. Most of my recording is done at Ardent, so that’s my family. I love those guys and I love the studio.”
Carl Tatz-Designed Yellow Hammer Opens
Opened in February of this year, Yellow Hammer is a 630-square-foot, full-tilt custom Carl Tatz Design studio built from the ground up for film composer Justin Miller in the back yard of his Nashville home. The studio encompasses a CTD MixRoom, piano booth, computer closet and hall-of-shame foyer. It features the PhantomFocus System driving a Dynaudio M1 monitor/Bryston 4B SST amplification combo and a custom application of the Carl Tatz Design Signature Series acoustic modules by Auralex. It also features the new Carl Tatz Edition Dual 15K-L desk by Argosy Console.