Keep your eyes peeled out the next time you’re traversing a bucolic East Village block. Put on your The Force goggle and you just might see it: The studio that made the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs.
This is the creative space of the prolific music-to-picture composer Goldi, and it’s safe to say there’s no studio like Goldishack anywhere in Manhattan – oh heck, the galaxy. It’s a Millennium Falcon of a facility, camouflaged within a genuine carriage house built in the 1890s.
Goldi has made more than a few modifications to this peaceful-feeling structure. Long ago the gentile rhythm of horseshoes shuffled around down below, mixed with busywork unfolding in the office above.
A century and 1/3rd later, it’s Goldi who gets to work upstairs, piloting an analog/digital hybrid studio that helps him to make music for production libraries, advertising, film, and TV. Come up for a listen, and you might need a double take on the motley array of outboard, analog synths, summing mixers and patch bays – then listen to the results Goldi gets, and things start to make sense.
What is the straightforward logic he applies to mapping out the studio workflow? What’s this parallel summing solution he’s worked out? How does he work inserts to his benefit? What massively important tool is he removing from the equation?
That’s just the tip of the iceberg of what you’ll discover in this interview, packed with audio integration tips that will be useful no matter whether you’re a composer, mixer, recording studio engineer, or in post.
What’s his deceptively simple trick for achieving the Motown sound – and what makes it a better way to mix? Don’t miss this headroom-saver. Also, why mods are so mod, and his DIY recipe for amazing acoustic ceiling panels and speaker stands, all made from reclaimed materials. Plus, dig into why 2.1 is the mixing format for him, and how he uses it to its fullest to check mixes.
Best of all, this throwback country setting right in Manhattan isn’t just a temple of self-expression, but also a vital community hub. Goldi is making a real difference with music – another not-so secret to success.
Composer Name: Goldi
Location: East Village, NYC
Soundtracks Served: I compose both freelance and for a few production music libraries. One of the libraries, 4 Elements Music, also has an indie record label called Go Rogue Records which publishes full songs for licensing.
I love writing full songs and I’ve co-produced some of these albums for them with Isaac Carpenter (AWOLnation) and Rob Reale (owner). I also mix/remix for other artists as well.
For Example… My compositions have found their ways into TV shows, advertisements, promos, openers, and a presidential campaign. A few examples:
“Take Me Home” – “Shameless” Season 6 opener (Showtime):
Jill Stein’s Green Party presidential campaign launch video (music score)
Documentary film score for American Autumn
“Preacher” — a track off Go Rogue Records latest album release Neon Dream II
External Inspiration: I gravitate toward composers who combine classic organic instruments with more modern synth elements and sound design like Max Richter, Trent Rezno, and Clint Mansell who rocked me years ago with Pi and Requiem For A Dream.
Big Premiere: It was a gradual process, but Goldishack started here in 2005.
Room Inspiration: I got lucky finding an 1890’s carriage house in the East Village that is naturally isolated from street noise and neighboring buildings. It used to be a horse stable downstairs and an office upstairs. Now there are cats everywhere and a studio upstairs.
The studio gets great natural light and overlooks a yard that makes you feel like you’re far away from the city. The isolation allows me to do things like work all hours, use a subwoofer and further flexibility usually reserved for professional installations.
I don’t track drums or larger ensemble stuff here but for vocals and single instruments it sounds great. For mixing it’s stellar.
The one caveat is construction in the neighborhood: analog reverb + foundation construction = time your mixdowns appropriately!
Key Personnel: Just me and my cats, one of whom is great at piano.
Workflow Requirements: It’s really important to set up a studio that works for me, and not the other way around.
For example: I don’t want to patch 10 things to record a guitar. So I’m always thinking about how to improve things, because old habits die hard.
For example: Question: Why is that synth over in the corner of the room? Answer: Because it’s always been there! WRONG ANSWER.
I try to have my gear placed in order of importance: stuff that I need to touch most often, like master buss processing or recording synths, is within reaching distance. Most EQ’s and filters that I tweak during tracking or mixing are also within reaching distance.
Other gear that’s “set it and forget it”, like buss compressors, reverbs, delays and some tube gear, is further away but still within walking distance. Once in a while I’ll tweak these for something special, but mostly they are on fixed settings that magically work on every project. Some of these are these are set up as mixing sends before summing, others are set up as inserts in my DAW.
I sum 32 channels analog split into 2 (x 16 channel) summing mixers. I’ve put “set it and forget it” outboard gear on 16 of those channels, configured as sends between the DA and the mixer. These are mostly compressors and some tubes. The other 16 channels go straight to a 2nd summing mixer “dry”. Additionally, there’s another 24 channels of outboard insert effects that show up in my DAW as plugins.
Initially I was worried about the ADDA conversion of insert effects but they sound great and are especially powerful because, unlike send effects, both the input and output levels can be set in the DAW.
Audacious Analog: I like sounds that make me smile. That’s why I do this. I do this to smile.
Over the years I’ve learned that the less audio processing my computer does, the more I smile. I’ve spent way too many hours tweaking plugins only to find that I like the dry sound better. So now I try to keep all effects like compression, EQ, filtering, reverb, delays, distortion and even panning in the analog domain.
I’m certainly not 100% analog and will use some plugs on every project, but never for distortion, saturation or extreme filtering. Nor do I use software synths since these days outboard synths are not only affordable but sound fantastic. I’ve yet to find a soft synth that can match the bass sound out of an Arturia Microbrute.
Pan Demonium: I do LCR (left / center / right) mixing because, not only do I like the way it sounds, but it takes another process — panning — away from my computer. So my DAW outputs are all mono, and those are routed to summing mixers which decide which way they will go. And since there are no pan pots on my mixers, my choices are left, center or right. Reminds you of the Motown era, eh?!