Meet Antonia Gauci, in-house studio engineer at one of Sydney’s most prestigious recording studios, Studios 301. Antonia has worked with a wide variety of artists, the likes of Lanie Lane, Midnight Pool Party & Alison Wonderland. She is an all-around cool cat who is so immersed in the music industry that she wears about five different hats: engineer, producer, musician, radio show host & music writer.
A week in her life will both inspire you and make you feel lazy.
I kind of do too many things.
My main job is in-house Assistant Engineer at Studios 301. I help our clients get set up and use the studio. It’s my job to set up what they need, know how it all works and help out if there are any issues while they are recording.
There’s days when I’m also in the drivers seat engineering sessions and making the creative decisions with the artists/band.
So basically I’m just constantly surrounded by music in all its various forms.
Today Guy Gray and I are recalling a mix from a few weeks back.
Our client has re-recorded vocals in Hong Kong which we’re going to add into our session, and he’s after a few track tweaks… so I grab my wad of notes and begin recalling our choices from the end of the last session so that everything’s the way it was when we recorded the “final” mix.
I patch in the outboard gear and run the console’s recall system so all knobs, buttons and faders across the board sit precisely as they were, recreating the same sound. It takes about an hour to get things in order as I have to reset everything with my own hands, but we’re lucky our SSL can take snap shots of the board, show stored settings on it’s computer screen and let me match it all up accordingly.
Guy spends about 20-30 mins tweaking until we can’t tell the difference between the previous mix and our recall, then proceeds with the changes that have been sent through – Vocal up, less delay etc.
After an hour we bounce out a version we’re happy with and send it off to HK for approval. 15 later we’ve received the thumbs up and hand clapping emoji’s via What’s App, and can go ahead with bouncing stems and backing tracks.
The rest of my day is a repeat of the process above as we’ve got another 4 tracks to get through. I’m also glued to my computer at points throughout the day, answering emails, listening to demos, prepping gear for the next few days, talking to my editor in Melbourne and trying to organise content for the radio show I host. At 10pm I start pack down so there’s a clean slate for the morning’s session.
For the next few days I’m tracking two songs with Jenny Broke The Window.
9am – Load in. The boys set up in the studio while I piece together the control room with the gear I want to use.
Mics are assembled around the drum kit, I make a list of what’s being sent where and start patching it all in. We’ve decided to set up so that bass and drums can play together in the live room, but the bass amp is in a booth for separation.
There’s a few things to set up with the session, importing files we want to track to, testing all the lines work, and after a few back and forwards from room to room, I’ve moved mics, checked phase, fiddled with a transient designer… and we’ve finally settled on a drum sound.
We lay down takes of drums and bass, make a few structural changes, edit some backing stuff and then move onto several layers of guitars and vocals.
Before we know it, it’s almost 10pm and we’re calling it a night.
Day two with JBTW and we’re on song number two, ‘Happy Anniversary’.
There’s hardly any setup today as we left things over night, but we make a few changes to the drums out of curiosity.
Drums go down, bass down… a couple of guitar parts. We break for lunch and then onto Sam’s vocals. He uses a TC-Helicon for his FX and harmonies, which sound real cool. Today it’s temperamental, so we take some time to stop it making the weird fizzy noise before we press record.
For this track Sam had organised a friend to sing a verse and some backing vocals, but she’s had to pull out last minute. He spends most of the afternoon trying to source a singer, and in the evening Jenny pops in to save the day. We go through the sections where she’s to sing, and in no time she’s nailed the verse, some harmonies and a few extra vocal lines.
9pm and we start pack down. Instruments go back in their cases, cables are rolled up, gear back where it lives at night, all while our work is being backed up to several drives. We move our gear into one of the smaller studios where we’ll be tracking keys in the morning.
11:30pm – I’m answering emails in bed and downloading files that I’ll use for my radio show later in the week.
First thing I do is transfer files off my drive to the studio computer, and make sure there’s no errors on play back.
We chat about which synths we think will fit the songs and decide to open up ‘Pillow Talk’. I set them up with a Roland Juno 106, a Jupiter 6 and a Dave Smith Instruments Poly Evolver, and loop sections of the song for them to play with sounds. When they’ve found something we like, I record it in.
We also decided to change the intro of the song, and it now has some Poly Evolver magic at the front.
I spend some time topping and tailing regions so the session is clean and organised, ready to mix. We talk distortion, and I start throwing different ideas out to them, using plugins in the box.
The rest of the day is spent mixing. We break for some ping-pong in the afternoon and at 7pm we head to the 301 loading dock for MT Warning’s EP Launch. It’s the first time we’ve all seen him play and we’re pretty impressed.
At 8:30pm we call it a night. I stay behind answering emails and going over demos for another project I’m about to start. I’m in bed by 10pm which is exciting and super rare for me.
Last day of mixing.
I spend the day finishing off the tracks. Once I think they’re close I send them through to the band and wait for feedback. We’re on emails talking about tweaks and then I repeat the process again until we’ve settled on something we all like.
In the evening I’ve been booked to finish some vocal tracking with my friend Cass Greaves. Our session kicks off with a large steaming bowl of pho, and it gives me a good 45 mins to get my head out of one session and into the next. I change sessions over on the computer, set up the U67 for Cass in the booth, create a headphone mix and adjust the LA2A.
I love working with Cass, ’cause she’s super fun and nails it in no time. It gives us a chance to open up the other songs we’ve worked on and make rough mixes for her band.
10:30pm – I back up and pack up.
11:30pm – In bed answering emails and finally listening to new tracks I’ve been sent to check out through the week. I start to transcribe an interview I did the week before for my editor but I fall asleep half way through.
Most Saturdays I’m at the studio, but today I’m working from home on my radio show. I spend the morning importing mixes I’ve been sent into a fresh Pro Tools session. I add the THUMP stings and let it play through while I research the artists and write up the things I want to say.
It takes me a few hours to get through all this because I’m always super critical of my v/o, but I eventually get it done.
I export the file and then go drop it into FBi.
My first day away from the computer.
I head on over to a friend’s house in Newtown for a band rehearsal. The five of us make heaps of noise for a few hours, workshopping song ideas. It’s real nice to be on the other side of things.
At night, I check emails again and start prepping for the week ahead.
It was nice to take some time away from assisting to be involved in a project and be hands on in the creative process.
Getting a few hours in the week to hang and make music with friends. I don’t get much time to do that these days.
Long hours mean I’m constantly tired and away from friends. I missed out on a few things I wanted to catch, but sometimes these things happen, oh well.
Words of Wisdom
Working in a studio takes a lot out of you. It’s vital to be patient, understanding and positive when it gets mentally and physically draining. Work hard. Genuinely love what you do, and amazing things can happen.