Interview: Simen Solvang
We recently caught up with our friend Simen Solvang: producer, and co-owner of The Joint Recording studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Read our interview below.
How’d The Joint get started?
I met my business partner (Mike Nazario). We talked about setting up a studio, we weren’t sure if we could do it. Two weeks later we did it anyway. We built the space out over the next three months. We’ve been open the last five months, and have been getting crazy booked with awesome people.
You guys built out the entire space?
Yeah from scratch. It was an empty white concrete room. We put in the floors, built a fully floating booth- a room inside a room. We built all the acoustic treatments. The build was a little reckless. We knew how to do it, but didn’t have too much experience with the construction process. There were definitely some dangerous moments like “is this 500 pound object going to fall on us?” but we made it through.
Primarily we’re mixing, mastering, recording, and producing. Mostly vocal recording, a lot of mixing in the hip-hop and R&B world.
We’ve had some fun people through here. Today I’m mastering Adrian Daniel’s album. I did a song with him called “Devoted” which has been picking up on Spotify. We had Allan Kingdom through here. We had Sammy Adams through here. Shameik Moore has come through here. And more people are coming…
How’d you get started in music?
I started playing instruments in kindergarten, kind of copying friends. These girls in my kindergarten class started playing violin, so I was like “I’m going to start playing violin.” Then my sister started playing piano, I was like “I want to play piano.” So I switched more to piano. A bunch of my friends were into blues and punk music in middle school, they were all playing guitar. So, I started playing guitar. Then I formed a band in middle school; we’d play Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix stuff like that.
When I was 16, I got a copy of Fruity Loops. I got super addicted to that, which is how I started getting into hip-hop and beat making. I used Fruity Loops for years, and then I got into MPCs, made beats in Logic for a little while. Now I mostly use Ableton and ProTools for recording.
What did you study in college?
I studied Music Industry, which is basically half general music education, half business. But as much as possible I didn’t go to class, I’d be in the studio. The school had to make a new rule for their studio because of me. There’d be a slot-sheet that came out every week on Wednesday. I’d just wait there and sign my name up in all the slots where I didn’t have classes. I would take up literally half the schedule. So the school made a rule that you could only book a maximum of eight hours a week. They were like “no one else can do their projects Simen!” It was cool though, I became friends with all the artists. I sat in on their sessions and engineered for them. So, I was in the studio all the time anyway.
When you were out of school you worked more commercially?
I went to work for Michael Perez. I worked with a lot of people recording modern jazz. I got a really firm education in the fundamentals of engineering. Not just the digital side of stuff, but like: how to hand-wire a studio, how to fix all the different grounding issues, building gear, building preamps, EQs, compressors. I started running some sessions, getting introduced to more boutique audio gear. I learned how to set up and run 24-36 lines at a time for a jazz band, and still make sure it all sounded good with preamps, EQs, and compressors on almost every channel – but without a board.
It’s a lot, but you get good at it. You practice, and learn what to listen for.
Are you still working with a lot of analog equipment?
We use some analog stuff. I have an analog modular drum machine that I put together over the years. I use it sometimes, but not as often as I’d like. All this eurorack stuff has become really popular in the last two, three years. It’s been growing steadily, but it’s kind of exploded recently. It’s become much trendier, which is cool. It’s such a small industry and its getting supported and growing.
There’s probably a ton of interest in that sort of thing locally.
Yeah, Brooklyn is definitely the place for it. There’s that culture for like DIY and alternative music in general. There are at least two dedicated modular synth shops in Brooklyn. I mean, to have any is amazing.
Outside of the studio you’ve been DJ’ing as well?
I’ve been DJ’ing for live artists recently. This summer I DJ’ed for Kandace Springs. We had some fun gigs, opened for Miguel, did two shows at Bonnaroo, opened for Allen Stone’s sold out show at the Brooklyn Bowl.
I’ve been doing a lot of shows with Nana B. We’ve been working on a bunch of stuff.
A lot of dope music is coming soon.
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