Recently we had a visitor from Spain who wrote in that he was interested in seeing what we do. Here is a letter he sent us recapping his experience: “Hello! My name is Nacho and I’m on holidays here in Santa Cruz, I have my own studio in Spain and I hear about your amazing products, do you think is possible to visit you and know more about?
In Spain is really difficult to have a contact with your gear…
Thank you, I hope to hear back from you.
Have a nice day! “
I took a bus number 17 to Feather Lane, a mysterious place away from Santa Cruz Downtown lost in the redwoods. I thought I was wrong ´cause the bus was so far out of town, not a place for a conventional audio company! But number 17 is a magic number, so you can´t get lost!!! Anyway the landscape and the views of the woods were spectacular, so at least I had a great time, me and the nature!
The bus stopped, and I looked in all directions, “O.K follow the instructions and let´s see whats happens”… I walked along the way until I found a Burl sign… Here I am. I came in to the property and was amazing; surrounded by trees, plants,wild animals and wild humans too! I thought, man, were fu++*ck I am? Hot tub, barbecue, organic vegetables, redwoods, a big barn…
I saw eyes looking trough the window, oh shit, this is America and maybe they have guns!!!
” Come in Nacho, come in…”
I crossed the door, and the music was great, one of my favorite Crosby Stills Nash and Young song, was like a revelation to me, one of this feelings that makes you fit in the right place at the right moment:
Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy
‘Cause of you
And our la,la,la, la,la, la, la, la, la, la, la…..
Inside, the blazing fire and Will, Rich, Sue, and Bowie (The dog)… Will was the contact, he show me all the house and introduce me to Rich “The Guru” of Burl. The house was like a cabin, the perfect shelter in the middle of the redwoods, a place to feel safe and comfortable, the paradise to work, create and party. The first floor was the part where the office is located, big windows full of light and shadows from the forest, great tons of old vinyls (sorry Rich for that but I found one of Julio Iglesias and one of Madonna!!!).
Down in the basement, the provisional studio… Full of classic and vintage gear with gorgeous views, maybe the bigger studio room I ever seen ; I mean the forest. The mixing board is located just in front of a huge window, you feel part of the nature… When you record or mix, you listen the music and see the big ancient trees, that´s all. Will explain me some special features about Burl Audio and the philosophy of the mark… I´m not the best one to translate all the technical information, but I can summarize in two words all what it means to me: Heart and Soul. I have to mention too that in the studio there´s also a bar with the best espresso in town!
He leave the house, but still in the property, and just in front of the house Will show me where the new studio will be… Is a old barn with two beatiful babies; 24 tracks Studer tape recording and amazing homemade beer (nice combination). They want to build it up and make a great studio recording, with different rooms and lodging for the musicians. We crossed the door and found ” the factory”, where all the Burl pieces are imagined, created, ensembled and packed… Seems easy?
After, Rich told me about the importance of the hand made process and the local support, all the pieces are made in Santa Cruz…
So, we drank our beers inside the house listening to great music and talking about music, of course. They explain me some good and funny stories, the one of the fire in the old studio, the beginning of Burl, the European Mothership tour… Will take me back to Santa Cruz, and Rich said something about meet me tomorrow in the town and have some party, but I thought it was just things that you say but never do… I leave the house with two opposite feelings; happy and excited about this unique experienced and a little bit sad ´cause probably I will never back again to this place and I will never see this wonderful people anymore…
The rest is history, barbecue party all night and the beginning of a friendship… This is all I can tell… Green is the color of Burl Family.
Rich came to visit us after Paris, where he had some Burl work. Because he was in Europe he takes some days to relax and enjoy our island, Mallorca.
By this time, we were finishing a song “Plastic Nature” at our studio, all the tracking was ready and the song was waiting for the mix. I thought Rich can be very useful helping us, the man who invented this magic burl tone can teach us something, for sure!
Also, is good to have someone that listen the song for first time, keeping the freshness and perspective! So we had nothing to loose… The only problem for me was the fact that Rich came for holidays; he is all the year busy working at huge studios, with the design of new equipment, mixing and producing bands…So, I was a little afraid to ask for this job too, but I wait for the perfect moment. Our studio is very familiar, located at Pollença, in the center of the old town, is an old Mallorquin style house. We build it in the third floor, is very modest and minimal, but “I like the vibe” said Rich! I was very surprised about Rich’s reaction, he was totally into the project, you could feel his passion, he was completely part of the song and a member of the band. Why was he spending so much time on our mix? Of course he liked the song, but the answer is love for music, love for what you are doing. Is not the “professional” that separates his live from his job, Rich lives and enjoys all what he does… During the morning and afternoon we visit the Island and explore the gastronomy and local things, he had a Baptism in Deià Sea. Wonderful but too cold for me…
Backing to the mix:
“How Crazy do you want me to get?”
“Rich feel free to do what you want”
This is a small guide of good advices:
– The red lights only means stop when you are in front of a traffic light. In a analog mixing board sometimes is just a starting point.
– Don’t be lazy. Experiment, you never know how is going to sound until you taste it… This means extra work, but the song will thank you. In our case, Rich found our secret weapon “The Stairs”. Made of stone, wood and big walls was an amazing natural reverb that fixes so well in the mix. We remic the signals trough a twin reverb and then we record it from the stairs. We used on vocals and electric guitars (adding some space echo) and it works really good, sounding a very smooth and natural reverb. Imagination is always the best gear! Also, the position of the microphones was unusual for us, getting a really good sound of the source. – Keep in mind that you are mixing a song, not individual tracks… So don’t loose the feeling of the song. Rich works in the whole song, adjusting some compression, changing some eq. then adjusting the volume, backing to the balance, listen to the song, and doing some things in “live”. So the mix is not completely auto, you feel like in the 60´s , mixing with the hands and taking this process as a creative part too, is art! You can transform a song in the mix, in our case we win some weight, it sounds bigger and clear, all the instruments are in their “space”. I remember the sound of a guitar (not the lead one) we wanted something very atmospheric, in the background, sounding like strings. Rich thought the same and we hadn’t told him anything about it… This is very important to me; sometimes you are not completely sure about a decision and if someone has the same intuition, that’s the way! About the sound of the guitar is simply beautiful, it came from the distance and sounds very magical and dreamy!!! – The mix process is fun, and if you are with friends is better! You can’t separate it from the record process. Sometimes you learn things about how to record it! The mix start in the composition of a song, making space for arrangements, choosing which instruments to play… – Compression (parallel, bus, steam…) can be very artistic too, adding transients and color to a drum bus for example. – The perfect mix doesn’t exist, but the perfect feeling, the sampler of a moment exists! We always remember these sessions, and we thought that we can keep this soul forever… Music is about this, try to preserve an instant!!! And of course, mistakes are part of it. So we had a wonderful time together, work with Rich is an adventure, you know how it starts but never know how it ends… Wait for us in Santa Cruz, in the middle of the wild woods, without neighbors and with all the burl equipment can be pretty dangerous!!! Wait for us Paradise… Nacho Together.