Gilbert Velasquez inside V-Music’s control room
San Antonio–based producer/engineer Gilbert Velasquez , a member of the Recording Academy’s Texas Chapter Board of Governors, reached a few personal milestones in 2010. He is looking back on 40 years as a working musician; 30 years in music production; and 15 years as the owner and operator of Velasquez Productions, which encompasses V-Music, a full-service turnkey production house, his live-recording services and Velasquez Music Publishing.
His recording career began simply enough in 1980: “I was a studio musician, and the owner [of Amen Recording Studios] says, ‘Hey man, I’m really swamped; do you think you can do this,’ pointing at the console. And I said, ‘Sure.’ So I became very familiar with analog recording techniques, along with Mix magazine, and I went to the library and educated myself on the physics of sound.”
During his career, Velasquez has been at the forefront of Tejano or Tex-Mex music, working with artists such as Selena y Los Dinos, Little Joe, Jay Perez, Latin Breed and Mazz, and winning a combined total of eight Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards in the Best Tejano/Mexican American categories. He has also garnered dozens of local accolades. “I’m very blessed, and I’ve always felt that the work that we do here has a certain quality to it,” he says. “When I got that first [Grammy Award], I said, ‘Hey, somebody out there notices what we’re doing.’”
Velasquez travels nationally and internationally to produce artists in multiple genres of music, but makes his home in the comfortable surroundings of V-Music, which he built inside a converted warehouse near downtown San Antonio and operates with a staff of three. “I spend a good 10 to 12 hours a day here,” he says. “In this part of the country, I’m very well known and because of that my door is open and I keep busy. Selling studio time is a small percentage of what I do. Mainly, I do turnkey production work. I created this environment for myself, and I have no complaints. My mixes translate well so something’s right here.”
V-Music comprises a 30x20-foot tracking room, a pre-production suite, a break room and a 20x15-foot control room housing a Windows-based Pro Tools system and Mackie D8B digital mixer. Velasquez notes that he often records to an Alesis HD24 hard disk recorder. “I use Pro Tools more for editing. I have yet to totally move into Cubase, but I’m going that way eventually. It works real well with the rest of the Steinberg stuff that I work with.”
While Velasquez works primarily in the digital domain, and says that the advent of DAW systems enabled him to invest in his own facility, he embraces an old-school production philosophy that promotes the art of capturing live performances with minimal editing and processing. “The art and science of recording is getting lost with all these programs that you can buy,” he says. “Every kid with a laptop under his bed is calling himself a recording engineer. Pro Tools is a dangerous program because you can line up every nuance of a recording to where you’re taking away the heart and soul of a performance. It sounds too perfect. Music breathes, and it moves. We’re not lining up audio files here.”