I am writing this at 35,000 feet aboard flight UA5710 from Los Angeles (LA) to Salt Lake City after a week of recording there for an exciting new commission.
It can be incredibly exhilarating working in LA, a city totally dedicated to the craft of television, music, and film. When driving around you constantly come across unexpected delights: a huge Steinway piano showroom; Drum Doctors, a warehouse where you can hire just about any drum from the last 100 years; the incredible Getty Museum and iconic Disney lot, plus so many sound stages and studios, and numerous locations that you vaguely recognise from films.
I have conducted at the Eastman Scoring Stage in Warner Brothers before, which is a very impressive orchestral film facility, but this time I was looking for a smaller more intimate studio with both a great sound and vibe. Dino Meneghin, one of my LA-based composer friends suggested I check out Igloo Studios in Burbank. Once I heard that the wonderful soundtrack to Birdman by Antonio Sánchez had been recorded there, I set up a Facetime call with one of their engineers (Phil Levine), and eagerly booked some time in Studio A for my trip to the West Coast.
Three weeks later, on a very sunny morning, I arrived at Igloo Studios in Burbank.
Immediately as you enter the studios it has an incredible atmosphere. The row of about 20 Grammys sitting on the shelf probably plays into this… But the feeling of entering the cocoon of this softly lit control room surrounded by racks and towers of glowing vintage gear is one of the delights of recording in this space.
I had brought in my LA-based drummer and percussionist Kevin DePree to work on this project. With Kevin’s knowledge of drums and my desire to push the boundaries of new sounds and textures… Together we had curated a very unique set of instruments to record. I also had access to my own library of sounds via the workstation set up in the control room.
As soon as I heard the drums through the B and W monitors I knew this was going to be something quite special. Phil hit record in Pro Tools and so began the session. As promised earlier, I’ll share more about this unique recording process with you when I can in a future blog.
On my last night in the City of Angels, Kevin and I enjoyed an early evening game of golf. I’ll admit now to only playing golf about once every two years! Kevin invited the solo player behind us to join our game, and he turned out to be the music executive for a major streaming service, so we had a lot to chat about and ended up having a beer together over the final few holes. As the sun set Kevin replaced our golf balls with glow balls… So we could continue to play in the dark.
This is Los Angeles… Where else in the world can you have a game of golf and randomly bump into people working in the music and television industry…. As I mentioned earlier about Los Angeles… It’s exhilarating.