CRē•8 Music Academy’s vision is to fill the gap between traditional audio engineering & production schools, and then translate this to what happens in the commercial studio realm. The school, a professional music production facility with strong ties to Westlake Studios, opened its doors in 2015 and recently BAE Audio’s Colin Liebich was invited to track a live recording session alongside students there. Among topics discussed by Liebich was the history, selection, and usage of BAE outboard equipment — both inside and outside the renowned studio.
Westlake, one of a handful of the remaining giant recording studio complexes left in Los Angeles, has a rich, star-infused legacy: it was where Michael Jackson recorded “Thriller,” and continues to be a centrifuge of pop smashes like Beyoncé’s “Beyoncé” and “Night Visions” by Imagine Dragons. Currently, the studio is outfitted with 24 channels of BAE 1073s and four BAE 1032s.
Commenting on the recent single-day seminar that he led at the facility, Liebich says “Westlake was a new opportunity for BAE Audio and a very special experience altogether. To record and mix where Michael Jackson worked, and to speak to students alongside the producers from CRē•8 was pure magic.”
As the first manufacturer representative to conduct a session workshop at CRē•8, BAE Audio’s Liebich had a clear message for producers attending the session: “Hands-on application is important because learning technique online and at the studio are two very different things. It is good for any student to be exposed to real analog gear versus taking it all in online. If they can’t be hands on and use the gear, then they can’t really get a good feel for it.” Liebich observes.
Doug Fenske, a recording industry veteran, is Director of Education at CRē•8 Music Academy. “The curriculum at CRē•8 consists of the production tactics that my peers and I have been using all across Los Angeles and in the pop music domain for the past ten years,” he says. CRē•8 offers four individual music production courses with the option of full time or part time options. Each course is meticulously designed to help artists, songwriters, and producers bring their careers to the next level.
During the workshop, Liebich was joined by Dusty Wakeman of Mojave and Kevin Parker of Royer Microphones. Together they shared a variety of recording and production techniques through a live demonstration. Tracking was done with analog gear, using Royer’s ribbon and Mojave’s condenser mics through BAE Audio’s 1073 MPL preamps along with BAE 312 and 1073 D preamp/EQs.
Wakeman of Mojave enjoys teaming up with BAE because their products are so complimentary and of impeccable quality. “Microphones only sound as good as the preamps they are going through, and preamps only sound as good as the microphones you put into them into. I think that BAE makes the best recreations of the vintage stuff by far, and that’s what I use.”
The workshop started off with a little background history in the control room, and then jumped right into the tracking session. A three-piece band consisting of drums, bass, guitar and lead vocals was mic’d up simultaneously. The band included Matt Becks, alumni of CRē•8, musician and touring drummer, who brought Malik on vocals and guitar and Tom Capossela on bass. As the band played, students got hands-on experience experimenting with and tweaking the EQs, moving knobs and adjusting the sounds as the band was performing. After it was recorded, they listened back on the SSL 9000 and recapped the sounds they achieved and how they were able to accomplish them with the various microphone placements and BAE preamp configurations.
“The students get to see how to use the gear and why this equipment would be used versus other equipment,” recalls Liebich. “This is more than just a how-to, it’s all about hands on. I encouraged them all to feel, see and hear what the gear does. This style of teaching draws students in and gives them direct interest. Also, being able to answer the student’s questions firsthand and walk them through a complete recording from beginning to end is exceptionally important.”
“The students at CRē•8 are getting actual production experience and are being exposed to real studio techniques, building and learning habits that they can effectively use to capture, construct and compose their musical ideas.” Liebich concludes ” Once you’ve created your digital composition you have the ability to run it through analog gear and manipulate the sound and add a bit more authenticity to it. Even when your workflow is primarily digital, there will always be a great need for analog gear.”
For more information on CRē•8’s programs, please visit http://www.cre8musicacademy.com