We recently visited an amazingly-named studio here in Los Angeles, Grandma’s House of Babes, home to producer, engineer, drummer, and longtime Westlake Pro client Joseph Holiday. Joseph spoke to us about his evolution as a musician and producer, some of his favorite gear, and his recording philosophy.
“Make good stuff, make a lot of stuff and mostly make a lot of good stuff.”
My name is Joseph Holiday – just an independent producer, mixing engineer, writer, and collector of weird things. I grew up making records on tape and then a bit of that was ADAT and there’s things I miss about it, and there’s things I don’t miss about it. Just the speed in which you need to work these days, digital is great for, especially with just integrating all the soft synths and stuff. But I am surrounded by a bunch of analog gear that I still like to integrate into that workflow.
I grew up in New Jersey playing drums. I loved being in the studio, but it seemed like every time I was in the studio, I didn’t have enough time to execute the ideas that I wanted to do, like creatively, like “let’s put a mic in the bathroom but record the kit out here,” stuff like that. Like, I was just always running out of time, so that always annoyed me. So, I think that’s why I always had this thing in the back of my head to start recording myself – just strictly to be experimental and to try things and not run out of time.
It got me really into production and making records, and then eventually I would start making my own stuff. There’s nothing that’ll stoke the fire when you get a new piece of gear. I got this Moog Mother 32 here about a month and a half ago and its awesome, it’s insane – probably next time you guys come over, this will all be modules. Like any new piece of gear you really want to learn it, so I have been spending a lot of time and getting re-accustomed to the sequencer, which is not very different than the one in the 101 – I have had that synth for almost 20 years now. It’s great to get a new piece of gear – it certainly helps stimulate the workflow, and you just write in a different way to get in before because you just have this new voice.
I have a few pieces of gear – the Toft console is great. It’s perfect for tracking drums, the EQ’s are awesome, they’re super colorful. I don’t really think they’re that subtle – they’re great and colorful and vibey. Then I have four channels of API, a channel of Chandler, which is you know usually most drums – kick, snare, two overheads. that the channel is great in a room and then I really dig the warm audio stuff. I think absolutely for what you pay versus what you get. It’s unbelievable! I wish I could buy 8 channels of that Pultec EQ because it is a monster. It sounds amazing! Even on bypass, just hitting the tubes, just sounds insane. And then the Distressor I’ve had for years, it’s great! A lot of character, just slamming kick drum and room mics.
There’s just some old analog synths over here. The Juno 106 and the SH-101 that I’ve had forever. And then as far as Mics, the Neumann M149, which is like 90% of the vocals I record are recorded on that thing. For guitars, always the Royer 121 Ribbon, or just a 57, or both.
If I was growing up now, in this time, just literally just try every single idea you can. There’s no wrong answer, I think. All the music – if you’re on Pro Tools, Logic, Ableton, it all ends up the same way. We listen to it all the same way so I it doesn’t matter how you get there to me. There’s going to be curious that tell you’re doing something wrong – just I don’t listen to them. Do it the way that sounds right to you, trust your instincts, and you’ll get there. And you’ll fail miserably, like I did, probably for years, and then just something you’ll do will be better than the day before, and then you just keep building on that. We’re not driving an ambulance, you know, we’re not brain surgeons – like, no one’s going to end up in a coma if we mic something the wrong way and there’s phase.
To keep being able to create, and in the last couple of years make a living doing that, is great. 14 year old me is super excited about that because I’m just a music nerd at heart. I’m into so many different styles of music. Now, with the fact that you are able to just put anything up for consumption, everything can have an audience now and that’s great. But like any industry, you have to adapt, you have to change with what’s happening and you have to keep an eye on that, because if you don’t change you’re going to get left behind. If you are making records not on a laptop, that would be awesome. Or even if you’re also making records on a laptop, I just think the bar has been raised, and that’s great. We just constantly need to be raising that bar.
Make good stuff, make a lot of stuff and mostly make a lot of good stuff.