On Nov. 1, 2010, Senior Ian Gardea, a computer science major, officially opened his doors for business with his very own Antetrust Studios. Gardea has been musically inclined since he began playing guitar at age 13. Now a member of two bands, Ghosts of April and Down to June, Gardea can relate to the needs of the bands that enter his recording studio.
Gardea, who started recording years earlier with a tape recorder, became inspired to start his own recording studio after a trip to Michigan in the summer of 2010. His band went into 37 Studios at the price of $2,000 for five songs, a standard deal for most recording studios. Upon returning to Virginia and receiving the mixed and mastered songs, Gardea found that he was disappointed with the quality. After spending a great deal of time over the summer re-mastering the songs, Gardea became interested in starting his own studio.
Having read forums, books, articles and more during his research, Gardea says, “you learn from doing, not just by reading.” After much research and years of investing in the necessary equipment, Gardea began recording. With the goal of helping bands get their foot in the door, Antetrust Studios, as the motto says, “raises the ante of the music business.”
Gardea’s studio is anything but traditional. Instead of mandating that a band must use his space for the musicians to record, Antetrust Studios offers the option of accommodating to the band’s needs. Not only does Antetrust Studios have the basic instruments like drums, guitars, keyboard, amplifiers that the band may use but it is built as a traveling operation where Gardea actually goes to the band.
Gardea usually begins with drums, when recording, laying down rhythm before adding the other instruments. If the drummer isn’t comfortable playing to a metronome–which plays a beat to the time–whichever instrumentalist is most comfortable will go first. After drums, Gardea adds guitars, bass, and whatever other instruments the band wishes to include next. Vocals are always last.
“The vocals are the most important part of the song,” said Gardea. “If the vocals are bad, the whole song is bad.”
While this process sounds simple, there is a lot of equipment and even more attention to detail that goes into each step. Gardea has a multitude of microphones, for the purpose of recording, that are meant for a specific decibel level. A decibel is the intensity of a sound, measuring the pressure of the sound. Because different instruments convey different sounds, this makes various microphones necessary. Sometimes, multiple microphones are necessary to record an instrument. For vocals, Gardea uses a specific microphone that isolates the sound, helping to block sound outside of the singer’s voice.
After all parts of a song have been recorded, Gardea proceeds to mix and master the song. For this step of the process, Gardea uses Sony Acid, a computer program he runs on his dual monitoring system. Mixing is when you take a song and make all of the various sounds agree or harmonize. There are two takes, the wet and the dry. The dry take is the straight recording to which no alterations have been made. The wet take is the version of the song that has been altered to sound better.
The true art of producing a song, however, lies within the mastering. Mastering, as Gardea explained, is when the producer makes pristine, precise adjustments to the song so that the sounds not only work together, but also sound good through all speakers. Mastering is a challenge because it requires so much attention to the details of a song. While Gardea enjoys a challenge, he says it usually takes about a week to master the song before it is complete. Not only is it standard waiting time, but also Gardea doesn’t want to rush it. His goal is to take the time to make sure it sounds as great as possible.
“A good producer should be able to accommodate to everybody,” said Gardea. That is exactly what he offers with Antetrust Studios. He is able to produce and record any genre of music–rap, techno, psychedelic, metal and so forth. Gardea claims that he can record anything that can make a sound. The recording experience he provides with Antetrust Studios is meant for the band to have something they can show record labels, so the band can propel itself forward in the music industry.
“Right now, I’m not doing this for the money,” said Gardea. “Obviously you have to pay me for the final product, but I will give it my all to make sure the musicians are satisfied.” His love of music is what drives him. While Antetrust Studios still has room to grow, Gardea hopes it will be a long-term project. There are no certainties, but Gardea believes failure isn’t an option. “Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “Even if it goes nowhere, even if it falls face first, I can always say I tried. How many people can say that?”
INTERESTED IN RECORDING AT ANTETRUST STUDIOS?
Location: 5917 Orcutt Avenue
Newport News, VA 23605
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: Antetrust Studios