Last December, the City Paper highlighted many of the engineers responsible for the sweet sounds you hear at some of the city’s most-loved venues. Now we want to continue shining a light on that Charleston sound, this time with just a few of the Holy City’s many audio engineers who are churning out gold via everything from makeshift living room studios to state-of-the-art recording facilities. These are the guys who can take a raw recording and turn it into multi-layered magic that jumps out of your speakers and into your, dare we say it, souls. Ladies and gents, meet the producers.
Studio: Mantis Records, North Charleston
Years producing: 14 years
Speciality genres: Webb loves working with all genres, however, his raw sound attracts Americana artists
Artists produced:Mac Leaphart, Danielle Howle, Guilt Ridden Troubadour, Mike Freund Band, Hans Wenzel & the Eighty-Sixers
Upcoming projects/projects underway: Melanie Estrada, Whitt Algar
Elliott Elsey, Larry Ford Jr., Jeremy Lubsey, and Vlado Meller
Studio: Elsey and Ford work at Truphonic Studios, while Lubsey and Meller keep things running at Vlado Meller Mastering. The two companies are technically separate entities, but they share a building and collaborate often. They’re located at 816 St. Andrews Blvd. in West Ashley.
Years Producing: Elsey – 5 years. Ford – 10 years. Lubsey – 5 years. Meller – 48 years.
Specialty genres: Truphonic: Hip-hop, R&B, blues rock, pop-punk. Meller Mastering: Pop, R&B, jazz
Artists produced: Truphonic: See Water, Dangermuffin, Matt Monday, OxyXMoron. Meller Mastering: Tank & the Bangas, Frank Ocean, Allan Kingdom, SondorBlue
Upcoming Projects: Truphonic: Three new Brave Baby songs, Stop Light Observation’s newest single. Meller Mastering: Mark Bryan, DJ Bless, Estee Gabay.
Studio: Coast Records, Downtown
Years producing: Zutell has produced his own music since middle school, and he’s been producing professionally for five years.
Specialty genres: Indie rock, pop, singer-songwriter
Artists produced: Little Stranger, Heyrocco, She Returns From War, Human Resources
Upcoming projects: Youngster’s new LP, Tyler Boone, the give & the take
Black Dave and Martin Grooms
Studio: Shared home studio with no official studio name, North Charleston
Years producing: Dave – 11 years, Grooms – 15 years
Specialty genres: Rap
Artists produced: Matt Monday, MJX, Black Dave, Martin Grooms, Sunny Malin, Illadell
Upcoming projects: Matt Monday’s 2017 LP, Grooms’ mixtape, Dave’s mixtape
Studio: The Space at Rialto Row, North Charleston
Years producing: As a job, 12, but Zimmerman learned production at a church as a kid.
Specialty genres: Everything from indie rock to electro pop to R&B and funk
Artists produced: SUSTO, Grace Joyner, Brave Baby, Jordan Igoe
Upcoming projects/projects underway: Debut from Babe Club (formerly Rico & Miranda) and 2 Slices. Brand new releases from Estee Gabay, She Returns From War, Grace Joyner, Brave Baby
Studio: Fairweather Studio, James Island
Years producing: 13 years
Specialty genres: “I don’t necessarily focus on genre. I really admire producers like Rick Rubin who can put their hand in anything from Slayer to Tom Petty, Beastie Boys to Johnny Cash. I have worked with indie/alternative rock bands, bluegrass groups, hip-hop artists, and opera singers.”
Artists produced: Sideshow Americans, Gaslight Street, Regina Ferguson, SondorBlue, Little Stranger
Upcoming projects/projects underway: SondorBlue sophomore EP, Gaslight Street new album, new album from Forty Mile Detour
Studio: Right or Wrong Recordings, James Island
Years producing: 2 years
Specialty genres: Hip-hop, pop, indie
Artists produced: Walter Brown, Quinn Cicala, Illmortal, Dolph Wet
Upcoming projects/projects underway: Walter Brown, Tourneforte, Catholics, Illmortal, Haunters
Eric Rickert and Jeff Leonard prefer knocking out albums all at once to producing them in short, separate sessions
Eric Rickert and Jeff Leonard
Studio: Ocean Industries Studios, James Island
Years producing: Leonard – 16 years, Rickert – 17 years
Specialty genres: “If it’s a genre, we’ve done it,” says Leonard. “We do a lot of strings work, because we have such a big, live room.” Though they’re willing to be a studio that produces albums in short, separate sessions over an extended period of time, that’s not their ideal scenario. “We like to do the process in one big chunk if we can,” says Leonard. “To block off two weeks or a month at a time and go straight at it.”
Artists produced: Shinedown, Royal Teeth, Sun Dried Vibes, Sleeper Agent, Katie Rose
Upcoming projects/projects underway: Recently finished Katie Rose’s EP Everything Yesterday, currently working on a new Sun Dried Vibes record.
Jeff Hodges and Eric Stair
Studio: Charleston Sound, Mt. Pleasant
Years producing: Hodges – 33 years, Stair – 12
Speciality genres: rock, country, pop, contemporary Christian, podcasts
Artists produced: Darius Rucker, Band of Horses, NEEDTOBREATHE, Fitz & the Tantrums, Stop Light Observations, Elise Testone, Grace Potter, Citizen Cope, Paul Shaffer and Bill Murray, Ben Fagan, Jameson
Upcoming projects: new Darius Rucker, Sol Driven Train, Mary Alice Monroe audiobook, Tori Kaminsky, Don Seymour.
Alan Price, Scott Gould, Thomas O’Brien, and Chris Viera
Studio: Hybrid Audio Solutions, West Ashley
Years producing: Price and Gould have been producing as a duo for almost four years, opening Hybrid Audio Solutions in 2014. Prior to that, both Price and Gould have substantial resumés as musicians. Price has toured as guitarist for the multi-platinum band Shinedown as well as Call Me No One, while Gould has also toured extensively with various groups and written music with members of Stone Temple Pilots, Them Crooked Vultures, and Our Lady Peace, to name a few.
Specialty genres: As musicians, both Price and Gould have a rock background, but as producers, they don’t limit themselves to one genre, working with musicians of all types, from country to punk.
Artists produced: Shanshala, First World Problem, Samee Canon, Trick Knee, Modern Fires, Page Mackenzie, Orange Doors, Madam Adam, Bullets Benign, Unit 8, Tristina Miller, Black Power Mixtape
Upcoming projects/projects underway: Just finished recording a song with country singer Rodney Creel, finishing up a new Madam Adam EP, upcoming recording sessions with former American Idol contestant Josh Johansson, and a multitude of other projects.
Studio: Encore Music, Mt. Pleasant
Years producing: 16 years
Specialty genres: hard rock, guitar-driven genres
Artists produced: Marytree, Coffin Syrup
Upcoming projects/projects underway: A/V content with country rock bands, videography packages with Lee Archer
Rodrick Cliche was swooped up by soul extraordinaire Raphael Saadiq
Studio: His studio is Jeneyus Productions in North Charleston, but Cliche also works out of Rialto Row, Plantation Studios, Fairweather Studio, and Southern Wave Studios
Years producing: 19. Cliche is also a pianist, composer, and bandleader whose big break in the industry came when Raphael Saadiq recruited him via Myspace to tour as a professional organist for Joss Stone. He’s also co-produced/recorded with Saadiq.
Specialty genres: hip-hop, soul, blues, gospel, funk, rock
Artists produced or co-produced: Pastor H.E.Dixon, NEEDTOBREATHE, Natasha Gray, North Charleston Dream Center. He co-produced gospel legend Dorinda Clark Cole’s Grammy Award-nominated album, Living It.
Upcoming projects/projects underway: Chris Dave & Drumhedz, Wolfgang Zimmerman, Rodrick Cliche, Four20s (Cliche’s band), and Natasha Gray