Recording in Top-Secret Studio (Menudo?)
by on May 30, 2011 in Misc
A few years ago, when my bass player Orlando Sims suggested I talk to his friend Seth Atkins Horan about producing my next record, I thought Seth’s name sounded familiar.  And when I met with him, he LOOKED familiar.  But I couldn’t figure out why until Seth said, “you know, my first ever engineering job was working as an assistant on your album Dirty Little Secret at Mad Dog Studios.”  Holy cow! That was back in 1999, and we only worked together for a few days, but I definitely recognized him!  In fact, if you have a copy of Dirty Little Secret, you’ll see Seth’s name listed in the credits!
When we re-connected almost ten years later, Seth was a full-fledged engineer/producer, having won three Latin Grammys, and on his way to winning an American Grammy during the recording of my album Make Your Move (He looks pretty tough in the photo below, but he’s a very sweet and mellow guy to work with!)
For the past 11 years, Seth has worked closely with one of the most successful Latin producers of all time: Robi Draco Rosa.  Robi, who is an amazing, Grammy winning artist in his own right, started out as a singer in Menudo (!), and went on to produce and co-write (along with Desmond Child) huge hits for fellow Menudo-ite Ricky Martin (Livin’ La Vida Loca, She Bangs).
From This:
To This:
Together, Robi and Seth built an incredible studio in the heart of Hollywood called Phantom Vox — so-named because Robi was the “phantom” singer whose vocal tracks are layered into some of Ricky Martin’s biggest hits (I actually saw and heard the ProTools recording session in a seminar I went to with Desmond Child – it was really cool to hear the two different singers and how their voices combined to get that great vocal sound in “Livin’ La Vida Loca”).
The moment I first stepped into Phantom Vox studios, I felt like I was in an artists’ haven.  The control room (where Seth runs the recording gear) has a cool vintage vibe, with persian rugs on the floor, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and loads of guitars everywhere.  There’s all kinds of analog recording gear (tape machines & vintage keyboards), as well as a state-of-the-art digital recording rig.
The tracking room (where the musicians record) is a GORGEOUS, spacious, dark wood, high-ceilinged room.  The vibe is perfect for immersing yourself in the moment.
We tracked all of our “basic tracks” (drums & bass) for Make Your Move at Phantom Vox, as well as vocals and lots of random overdubs we were inspired to add in the moment.
The atmosphere at Phantom Vox was so magical…I wish I could take you on a photo safari of my experience there, but I learned that photography and videography of Phantom Vox Studios is not allowed!  You see, Robi uses the studio as a location for his own photo shoots and album covers — he’s even transported boxloads of the studio’s contents around the world as his stage setting on tour!
While I wasn’t allowed to take photos and publicize them, there are a few shots of Phantom Vox posted on the studio’s website, plus there’s a really cool 360-degree “studio tour” that gives you a feel for the room.  CLICK HERE TO SEE
I’m looking forward to recording more songs with Seth at Phantom Vox in the future, and of course, I’ll let you know when it happens!
@copy 2016 Ali Handal