Inside Stella Sound studios with Justin Stanley
Justin Stanley and Rachel Eckroth take on Project 1040
Tucked away in a quaint suburban avenue north of Hollywood, Stella Sound gives you the feeling that you've entered a magical whirlpool of auditory pleasures as soon as you step in.
Strung up to the walls and in every corner, you will find peculiar treasures - a beautiful array of old instruments and other goodies that furbish a warm and welcoming atmosphere, making this one of the coziest music production spaces in L.A. One of these beautiful quirks is his modified upright Strauber piano, which sounded almost like a harpsichord.
That upright piano has got a story to tell.
"This is my upright that's been used on a lot of the records I've produced. Most pianos have a sostenuto pedal that softens the sound. On an old upright, they have a felt strip that comes down over the strings. I added tacks to the felt strip.
The nice thing about this sound is it's not a harsh as a tack piano. A tack piano is when you put tacks on the actual hammers that hit the strings. It's also a great sound, used for honky-tonk and originally used as a substitute for harpsichord. The Beatles made it pretty famous.
When I had my studio at Henson Studios in Hollywood, my doors were open just as I came back from grabbing a coffee. I sat down at the piano and started working on an idea.
Not long after, someone knocked on the door and it was Paul McCartney! He asked if he could play it and of course, I said 'sure come in!'. After playing a few tunes, he asked if they could use it on his record.
So, they brought some mics in from the other studio down the hall and I sat there while watching one of my musical heroes lay down a take."
An outstanding studio for outstanding artists.
Aside from the vast collection of acoustic quirks and instruments, there is also an impressive assortment of analog vintage outboard gear to be seen wherever the eye may wander.
And its no wonder then too, that Justin Stanley has garnered a reputation for his trained ears that cater to many palettes and styles as a producer, recording engineer, musician, and composer.
The list of outstanding artists he’s worked with includes names like Eric Clapton, Prince, Sheryl Crow, Beck, The Vines, Jamie Lidell, Snoop Dogg, Daniel Merryweather, Jet, Nikka Costa, Robbie Robertson, explosions in the sky, Cold Cave, Paul McCartney, Patti Smith, and UNKLE, to name just a few.
The perfect candidates to test our prototype.
Stanley is actually a longstanding supporter of LEWITT mics. His favorite mic is the LCT 940, which is why he was the perfect candidate to test the prototype for our upcoming microphone system.
So, together with Stanley and American Singer-songwriter Rachel Eckroth, we got to record a vocal session and test some of the functions and sound modes that went into our first released prototype of the ultimate microphone system.
Eckroth played keyboards with the experimental jazz trio Antelog, performed as the backing vocalist and keyboardist for the popular singer-songwriter KT Tunstall and served as part of the house band for the NBC's 'The Meredith Vieira Show '. She also plays keyboards and sings with Rufus Wainwright.
The performance was a piano-voice ensemble entitled 'It Never Was'. That the performance was delivered incredibly smoothly is reflected in the recordings. There are extremely intimate textures and details that bring her silky-smooth vocals and dreamy lines in perfect harmonic balance with the piano.
What was particularly interesting to observe was the way that different sound characteristics would alter the performance qualities, and to hear what such renowned and accomplished musicians and engineers such as Stanley and Eckroth had to say about Project 1040 and its development thus far.
Take a step inside the studio and see and hear for yourself in the video!
What is Project 1040?
Project 1040 is a worldwide collaborative effort to design the ultimate microphone system. It‘s an initiative that we‘ve taken, to try to change the status quo of your studio workflow by giving you a tool that makes the process of recording easier and much more efficient.