Childhood

Childhood are five young South-Londoners and they tracked a fantastic psych rock record rooted deep in the late 70's at Maze with us. It's called "Universal High" and it's out now!

Allright, we've had a lot of british blokes here lately, but one of them is really a frenchman. Monsieur Thomas Tomaski to be exact, and we made good use of his mother tongue on this record (just listen to the track "Melody Says"). 

We tracked and mixed this album in under a month, but the band came prepared and laid down much of the record live as a five piece. The drums were crammed into our vocal booth (as they ought to be for "that 70's sound) and we layered horns with analog synths all day! We were impressed with these guys, especially with the amount of tinder dates all of them were able to fit into 14 hour studio work days.

We love this record so much, it's smooth and full of soul. Do yourself a favour and check it out!

http://www.childhoodband.com/

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/childhood/id73238590?app=itunes

 

Write here...

Dan Croll

It's been almost two years since Dan Croll from Liverpool came to Atlanta to record his sophomore album with us at Maze. It's called "Emerging Adulthood" and it's in stores and your favorite digital music platform now. He brought along a batch of songs so undeniably catchy that everyone at the studio was infected with the earworms immediately. Check out the latest single "Bad Boy" for proof below and catch him on tour!

The making of this record was unique in the sense that Dan is a true solo artist, who writes and records every part for every instrument on his albums by himself. He renewed our appreciation for 6-part vocal harmonies, the Korg Guitar Synth and cowbell solos. Somehow he also succeeded in binge watching all seasons of The Walking Dead (fitting since the show was filmed in and around Atlanta) while he was here, which is rather impressive considering he single-handedly performed a full band's worth of tracks for the album.

He is also a man of many stories and our favorite one is still when he got in an Uber here in Atlanta to catch a ride back to his AirBnB, only to find out that the driver was blasting his 2014 debut album "Sweet Disarray" (which despite its smash success in Europe was relatively unknown in the US then). He then proceeded through some pretty awkward small talk with the driver, who soon asked him what he was in town for. "I'm Dan Croll and I'm here to record my next album!", in response to which the driver reportedly slammed on the brakes and turned around in disbelief. Turns out his Uber was one of his biggest fans, and those were still rare in the US at that point in time.

We're certain that will change with this album, which is packed with infectious and richly textured pop-songs with smart lyrics. We highly recommend you put this record in repeat, we've been listening to it for over a year and still love it a much as we did when we made it.

https://www.facebook.com/dancroll/

https://www.musicglue.com/dancroll/home

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/emerging-adulthood/id1240932723?app=itunes

Mixing, mixing, mixing... and Coffee (or Covfefe?)

We had the chance to work on a lot of mixes this year, so we thought we'd showcase some of our latest prints here:

We had the pleasure of putting the finishing touches on Franz Ferdinand's contribution to the "30 Days 30 Songs" campaign against the orange plague that currently affects our nation's capital. It was so much fun to work on new music from these legends, who are sounding as fresh and manic as ever!

We're amazed at the amount of fresh music is coming out of Australia these days. New artist Jack River is no exception to this rule. We mixed her aptly named debut release "Highway Songs #2", which made us feel like we were listening to an old mixtape (yes, tape!) made for a good old fashioned road trip. Because of the oceans between us, it wasn't possible for us to actually get in the same room to mix, so we resorted to Skype calls and boradcasting our mixes live over Nicecast. It's a new age of mixing for sure!

More lady made rock n roll! This time from the Scottish powerhouse Honeyblood, who wanted to give the single "Ready For The Magic" the Maze treatment. We happily obliged; what a killer track on a great album!

Phew, that'll do for the moment. Back to work now...but first...coffee:

VHS Collection

Congratulations are in order. Our friends VHS Collection have reached eight figures on Spotify! It's funny, since we joked a lot during this session about how changing that one lyric or synth part would "add zeroes" to their royalty checks.

They were at Maze in May 2016 to track and mix an EP worth of songs, which have been released as digital singles over the past months. We laughed a lot with these guys and are happy with the tunes! Spin "Waiting on The Summer" below and check them out on Spotify, "Ghost" is another favourite of ours.

GGOOLLDD

We got to host this rowdy pride of Wisconsinans aka GGOOLLDD twice over the past few months and we had a blast recording and mixing a strong group of songs for their upcoming EP. Two singles have already seen the light of day, check out recently released single "Secrets" on Spotify and the (pretty riveting) video for the lead single "Undercovers" below:

As you can hear, the band loves huge bass tones, a passion we emphatically share here at Maze. An old P-Bass (played phenomenally by Nick) into our trusty 1970's Ampeg SVT came in handy for this objective and we tried nearly every distortion pedal in the building, which made for some tough choices (the Graphic Fuzz won the day this time):

Just a small selection of the pedals auditioned.

Just a small selection of the pedals auditioned.

Since the band was only able to stop into he studio for a week at a time due to their busy tour schedule, we worked lloonngg days, but it felt like family from day one as the band always travels with their Chihuahua/dog-child and are a pretty hilarious folk in general.

Still, sometimes you need to treat yourself to relieve the collective studio-cabin fever, and our good friend Rob Velazquez, Chef de Cusisine at General Muir, treated us to their Ramen night and the result was delicious (the crappy phone pic doesn't even remotely do it justice)!

Ddeelliicciioouuss Shoyu Ramen with brisket, courtesy of Chef Rob.

Ddeelliicciioouuss Shoyu Ramen with brisket, courtesy of Chef Rob.

Magic Giant

Magic Giant recently released their debut album "In The Wind", a whirlwind of color, much like the guys themselves. They came from LA to finish tracking the album. It was fun to record (and tune) banjo, mandolin, violin and a bunch more acoustic instruments - that doesn't happen all the time these days. But make no mistake, these dudes know how to make a dance track so we made good use of our synth collection as well.

Not vegan, but oh so good. 

Not vegan, but oh so good. 

They're also the band with the healthiest diet we've ever had here. Someone was always brewing up a fresh smoothie or picking up goods from the farmers market. We also learned that we don't have as many vegan food options in our neighborhood as these boys are used to, although our local smoothie and Cuban sandwich place Lotta Frutta didn't fail to please!

So many huge pop anthems on this record, give it a listen!

Shock Machine

We've just wrapped mixing sessions for a new project called "Shock Machine" by James Righton, formerly of the band Klaxons from the UK. Look for his collection of elegant and pithy psychedelia tunes to be out on a record soon, for now you can check out the self titled  (video above). The collaboration with James is a great example of how records are made in the age of the interwebs. We literally broadcast our mixing sessions straight out of Pro Tools to James' vacation hut on the beaches of the Virgin Islands, taking time to give us feedback on the mixes between Tennis matches and Scuba diving excursions. Who said you couldn't mix work and play?

One of the two hard drives used for the mic of Shock Machine's first record.

One of the two hard drives used for the mic of Shock Machine's first record.

This mix was a exciting not just because of the great source material provided by James (unbelievable this record was cut in a cabin somewhere in the French countryside), but also because of the newest addition to our mix buss chain: The Chandler/EMI Curve Bender. This is one of the most musical stereo EQs we've ever heard and it's great at adding life and weight to mixes, but it adds tone even with all controls set to zero. It's a classic sound that is familiar to us for good reason: we've all heard it many times before. Chandler Limited created this unit as a faithful reproduction of the EQ section in EMI's legendary TG1234 console at Abbey Roads Studios. Come hear it for yourself sometime!

A welcome addition to our mix buss chain: The Chandler Curve Bender

A welcome addition to our mix buss chain: The Chandler Curve Bender

B-Room Makeover

Our new and improved B-Room.

Our new and improved B-Room.

We used this weekend to add some much needed acoustic treatments to our B-Room mixing/editing suite. This additional workstation has become crucial, as we are working towards making the record making process as efficient as possible in times of lower monetary and time budgets. The B-Room allows us to work double barrel, making edits, comps and "In The Box" mix recalls without disrupting the workflow in the A-Room.

Especially the latter requires listening conditions that allow us to make informed decisions. The burlap wrapped fiberglass panels reduce reflections and filter overrepresented frequencies from the walls, floor and ceiling so we're actually hearing what's coming from the speakers. That being said, the field of acoustics is a complex science, but it's remarkable how much of a difference even inexpensive treatments can make to improve your listening environment.

Thanks to our interns for all their help building frames, cutting burlap and drilling holes to mount these panels securely. This is all about sound, but it looks pretty cool too!

Andrew using his arts and craft skills..

Andrew using his arts and craft skills..

Royal Canoe

Winnipeg natives Royal Canoe were in the house for the mix of their upcoming album. We had a blast putting the finishing touches on this exciting record, a colorful batch of songs combining soul and R&B with mathy twists and turns. Besides mixing, Ben Allen was involved in the production of the record, as well, having sent ideas back and forth between Atlanta and Winnipeg in the months leading up to the mixing sessions at Maze. These guys did nothing to weaken the stereotype of polite Canadiens by the way, Royal Canoe are extremely pleasant fellows who went out of their way to make these sessions go as smoothly as possible!

A big part of the sound here at Maze stems from the fact that our mixing set up incorporates a variety of outboard gear and complex routing through patchbays and our mixing console, so the process is truly a team effort between Ben Allen, assistant engineer Ben Etter and one of our four interns. Since our mixes aren't done completely "in the box" (i.e. in Pro Tools), every piece of gear is meticulously documented on recall sheets to ensure that we can accurately revisit mixes at a later date - like in the days of analog tape. Computers are great, but even in this digital age leaving a paper trail is sometimes still the way to go.

Deerhunter

Our old friends from Deerhunter returned to Maze Studios earlier last year to record and mix the now critically acclaimed "Fading Frontier". Woking with these guys is always an intensely creative and emotional experience. As hard as they work, Bradford and the guys also have a deep appreciation for the labor on the other side of the studio glass. This time around, every Maze staff member received a custom engraved Deerhunter blade. Thanks y'all, always a pleasure!

Neon Indian

So Alan Palomo, the genius behind Neon Indian, stopped in at Maze for most of February to finish up tracks from his new album VEGA INTL. Night School.  Alan brought an insane collection of analog synths with him, to the point that Ben started to think his collection might need a few more bits!  Alan's brother Jorgé played guitar and bass on the record as well. 

It's called gratitude.

I've always heard that no one ever accomplishes anything alone.  There's always help along the way, that life is a team effort.  Nothing could be closer to the truth in my world as well. Big thanks to my assistant Sumner Jones for all his hard work and especially his maintenance of my old Scrambler.  

 

Also, big thanks to my engineer, Jason Kingsland, for his stellar ears and general good attitude. Jason's the guy who is often keeping the train on the tracks while I'm yelling at everyone.  

 All photos on this post by Sam Kweskin.

 

Delta Spirit

 

 

 

 

Well, in between a couple of other things going on here at the studio we manage to squeeze a quick but brilliant record with Delta Spirit.  San Diego via Brooklyn this lot and what a record.  14 songs in 3 weeks and it sounds fantastic. 

Being ever efficient at one point we had 5 workstations going at one time:

 

Studio A

Studio B

Studio C

Studio D

Studio E (and E2!)

 

 

Look for the album in September via Dualtone Records.  All photos on this post by Sam Kweskin.

 

 

 

 

Kaiser Chiefs!

Just spent a couple of weeks atop the UK charts with the Kaiser Chiefs new album, _Education, Education, Education and War. _

It's a great rock and roll record. There's even a tune with 2 guitar solos, one of which might have been ill advised. You decide. Check out the album here.

Wales Toes

While Reptar was tearing up SXSW, I was en route to Bethesda, Wales to the beautiful Bryn Derwen Studios. I'm working with English band Fanfarlo and having a great time. It's a residential studio in North Wales and very secluded. We're basically in the middle of the countryside with no car and nothing really to do but make music. Band is great, studio is great, and our engineer, David Wrench just informed me that he mixed the last 2 Caribou records, so I think we're in excellent hands.

Stay tuned, as I'll be constantly updating (ie, every week!) and trying to keep up!

Best,

b
e
n

I'm an excellent driver....

...but a horrible blogger. If only I could afford to pay someone to follow me around the studio, taking pictures, downloading them, editing them, posting them to this website and then writing witty blog posts...if only.

But, it's just me...

Here's a brief history of the last 6 months:

Mixed 3 songs for MIA mid-2010

"Tell Me Why"
"XXXO"

AND, remixed "XXXO" with Jay-Z!

I also did another remix that they didn't like so much. I thought the tune had a completely different vibe so I submitted this one and the dudes at Interscope literally laughed at me. But, I dig it. Perhaps you will too. Feel free to enjoy it.

Later, I produced and mixed a record with Deerhunter. It was a challenging couple of weeks, but I think the end result sounds pretty great. Some other people think so too. My favorite track is "Coronado". Bradford's lyrics are ridiculous. David Barbe of Athens' Chase Park Transduction was instrumental in the success of this album.

Not content to sit on my laurels for any real length of time, I made a record with Atlanta locals Gringo Star. Good boys, good songs. Only band I know that's been sued by Ringo Star.

 

Cut Copy @ Southern Tracks with the soul posse 

Shortly thereafter, my new mates Cut Copy rolled into town to mix the forthcoming Zonoscope, out on Modular very soon. Nicest band in Australia perhaps, though their basketball game could use some work. Their taste in coffee is epic and I have since caught the bug. I hope to pull some shots for them when they roll through the ATL in March. Juno got some airtime on the vid too.

Then, I actually did rest on my laurels for a spell. Went to Santa Cruz, CA to visit my buddy Tony G and to do some surfing. I'm a total novice and was constantly berated by the locals for my foam board and poor skills. I still managed to have an absolute blast. Thanks T. Why don't I live on the West Coast?

After all that rest, I was ready to work again, and began work on the new Reptar EP, which we're actually mastering this coming week. If you don't know Reptar, then you don't know yourself. Once you are spiritually and sexually prepared to have your life changed, please go check them out. The show is amazing and they might be the nicest dudes in Georgia, and I know a LOT of really nice dudes in Georgia.

Spent most of November mixing Finnish prog-pop outfit Rubik. Imagine Kate Bush meets Dungen and you get the idea. Better yet, go buy the album when it comes out and you can actually get the idea.

December saw the arrival of Ernest Greene, aka Washed Out. Ernest and I spent a few weeks crafting a record that I'm  proud of. No title yet, it's not even mastered, but there are some moments on this album that are breathtaking and I'm really digging it. Ernest also happens to be one of the nicest dudes in Georgia.

 

Dr Dog and Juno the dog

After Washed Out, I hit Glow in the Dark again for 5 days with Dr Dog, who might be the nicest dudes in Philly. I don't know, because I've never really hung out in Philly, but I have a feeling that they're up there with the nicest of the nice. Scott made Juno and I matching hats and I learned how to love yerba mate. Also, who knew that a Sphere console from the 70's could sound so good?

Now, I'm wrapping up mixes on the Reptar EP which should be heading to Joe Lambert for mastering on Monday, if I can finish it tomorrow!

Hopefully, I can manage to be a better blogger and do this like twice a month instead once every 6.  Here is your free ringtone of the month, BTW.  Just right click to download and drag it into your 'Ringtones' folder in the top left corner of iTunes.

Best,

b
e
n
_____

Matt and Kim of epic proportions...

Hey all.

So, working on the new Matt and Kim record here at Maze. We've been at it for over a month and while I'm a little fried, I'm also very excited. I think it's a really cool record with great songs.

We use only the finest gear.

We have the most premium snacks, like these.

Matt likes keyboards: lots of them.

Next door, my buddy Exit is working on his Common remix project. It's gonna be badass!

Michael Dorio and Brad Hagen from Trances Arc stopped by to say what's up. Brad lent a little percussion to the record for us.

Bruce Lee.

Plate reverb is the only reverb

Imagine a world before computers.

Imagine making records with only 4 or best case 8 tracks. Imagine life where a performance would be captured on tape and never edited, tuned or manipulated on a DAW.

Imagine standing in a recording studio the size of your bedroom, with a tape machine the size of a refrigerator and a console with huge knobs and a guy wearing Ray-Bans and smoking a cigarette while he's turning them.

Now look to your left. See that big wooden crate in the corner? That's a plate reverb. That is the sound of music from the early 50's through the 80's, all 6ft and 400 lbs of it.

There is no reverb but plate reverb.

Well, spring reverb is a very close second. Everything else is just an algorithm.