Where is Chalk Creek Sound (CCS) located?
What kind of operation is CCS?
CCS specializes in recording individual artists and small ensembles. As implied on the "About" page, CCS is not quite a full service studio that can handle any imaginable recording scenario - at least in-house. The CCS studio is located in the basement of my home in a single large room that can handle about four musicians comfortably, through 16 simultaneous inputs, using typical instrumentation. While I could theoretically fit 12 people in my room (say a choral ensemble), it would start to get a little tight then.
Also, in case you missed it on the "About" page, I am currently running CCS part-time, and can't devote my full time and attention to your musical ambitions for the time being. I can still help you, but at a slower pace. If that is a problem, I can refer you to a full-service studio that will do a great job for your music.
What are CCS' terms/rates?
How much does it cost to record a song at CCS? A full album?
This is the kind of question that gets an answer that starts with "If you have to ask..." I'll finish the thought by saying "... you may not be prepared to record." But I'll humor the question anyway for the sake of managing expectations:
Of course, the correct answer is "it depends." It's not really possible to tag a specific number to any project cost until it's finished. But if I were to liken it to the cost of physical objects - for a typical pop song, we're talking "big screen TV" money. For a similarly-produced album, we're getting more into "used car" money.
Granted, this is for a no-compromise, full production. If you're just looking for a quick demo, of course that will cost quite a bit less, and can probably be done for "eating out at a nice restaurant" money.
Producing great music is not a cheap experience, and takes a significant amount of time and energy for both artist and engineer; but in the final analysis, the results are worth the investment a hundred times over. Nobody can put a price on great music that adds to the legacy of humanity and brings joy to others. And that's my ultimate goal here. I'm not in it to get rich.
What gear do you have?
*sigh* This question...
The short answer is that my gear selection has about as much sex appeal as Stephen Tobolowsky. I'm not rocking a console that costs as much as my house and uses as much electricity as the Eiffel Tower, nor a museum of microphones used by the who's-who of the music industry. And on and on.
Which is to say (metaphor aside), I run a pretty lean, no-frills operation that, while not an insubstantial investment to me, has been put together after a great deal of trial and error, and yields me the best results for what I do while keeping my spouse (reasonably) happy. So yeah, I simply can't afford luxury gear, and I don't feel like I have to when its value is so dubious and endlessly debatable. On that point... feel free to read my soapbox on the subject here. (Spoiler alert - I list my gear somewhere on this page.)
Here's the painful lesson I've learned over a lot of years - the real value of paying an engineer to record you in their studio is the engineer - not the gear they have. Their familiarity with their equipment and their space counts for a lot! (To say nothing of their skill, experience, cheerleading skills, and knowledge.) So when all is said and done, and you think my recordings suck - blame ME, NOT my gear. While I feel reasonably confident in my skill set, I also have a healthy aversion to the quality of my previous work - such that I feel the need to constantly improve. Like any engineer worth their salt in this trade.
Do you do mastering?
Yes! But it is highly recommended that mastering be done by a third party in the event of my doing recording and/or mixing. There is no substitute for a fresh set of ears to examine and finalize your recording(s).
On the subject of mastering, I don't compete in the now-defunct "loudness wars." (I meter at K-14 or K-12 [depending on the genre] levels on the K-System scale proposed by mastering engineer Bob Katz, and target between -16 and -14 LUFS [integrated], and a loudness range of 6 to 10 LRA.)
In plain English, that means that masters done by CCS will have the sort of dynamic impact that has been woefully absent in popular music for the past two decades... even if that means your song/album sounds relatively quieter* than others. It's OK! #turnitup
*Keep in mind that it's not unusual for a person's streaming client/smart speaker/TV/whatever to have some form of loudness normalization enabled by default. This means that any song that is mastered at really hot level will actually sound quieter than other songs that meet the appropriate loudness target. So there's also a practical reason to not slam the oxygen out of your music!
What's with the cactus and the flamingo?
On a trip to St George, I was browsing through the local Cracker Barrel inventory, and found these neon pedestals shaped like... a cactus and a flamingo. I just had to have 'em for my studio. I find them so whimsical that I decided to design my logo around them. Yeah yeah, I'm some distance away from Vegas and the Mojave Desert, which is what I think these shapes evoke for most people, but... whatever. Neon rocks.
DO YOU HAVE PHOTOS OR VIDEOS oF YOUR STUDIO?
Who is Nathanael Davenport?
Music and Engineering Philosophy:
What you're about to read may make it seem that I have a preference for acoustic music, and while there is a ring of truth to that, I feel confident in saying that I am open to many different genres of music, and the means by which they are recorded.
That being said, I consider myself "old school" - mainly in the sense that I hold to that idea that a great recording is 90% songcraft and 10% engineering. Put another way, I believe a great mix starts with a great musical arrangement - the best recordings are the ones that practically mix themselves.
In the early days of music production, before (and, to some extent, after) multitrack recording and overdubbing even existed, mixing occurred in 3D space, and the musical arrangement would sometimes have to be modified to accommodate the acoustic realities of the space where the music was being recorded. (For a modern take on this approach to 3D mixing, see the album "Coyote Sessions" by Glen Phillips, which was recorded with a single Cascade X-15 stereo ribbon microphone [which I also own, coincidentally].) Something about that resonates with me deeply - specifically that the most important part of the music production process is what happens before we start pushing electrons - the music itself.
So if we work together, it's paramount that we take whatever time is needed in pre-production to get the music right!
There is a prevailing mentality in modern music production, that deficiencies in the music - whether in the arrangement or the performance - will be "fixed in the mix." I try to avoid that approach wherever possible. I believe that music is most likely to stand the test of time when the humanity of the artist isn't suppressed... but embraced.
Subsequently, I prefer to record music that is easily portable to a live performance, i.e. that doesn't require 120 tracks, that doesn't require hours and hours of editing, doesn't require extensive use of pitch correction or effects, or even overdubbing for that matter. Those are my ideals; and though it's usually not possible in most situations to have my cake and eat it too (some genres of music lean heavily on artificial means), those ideals inform my artistic choices in a production role.
With the traditional business model of live performances selling records now flipped on its head - recordings now sell tickets to live performances, with most consumers hearing the music before they go to the shows - portability between the studio and a live show is more important than ever. (And let’s face it... most people would rather see a full live performance than a glorified karaoke concert with a click track.)
Five Favorite Songs:
I'll preface this by saying that this list is not comprehensive and subject to change, so here is the list, in no particular order:
That being said, there's a couple of pieces in the classical genre that really get me every time:
For a more comprehensive list of favorite tracks, see this playlist on Apple Music.
When not taking care of my kids, producing music, or taking care of my yard and home, I like to write (obviously - this whole website is a poster child for TL;DR), ride scooters, make pizza (which I am always happy to make for clients), and also serve on the Coalville City planning commission. I also dream of being a surfer... which is a lot more fun than actually trying to become one. (Subsequently, I am really into surf rock - among other things).
The Quick and Dirty CCS Studio Tour