[The Ensoniq PARIS blog presents its first in an ongoing series of profiles of PARIS artists]
Veteran guitarist, engineer and producer Gantt Mann Kushner owns and operates the Gizmo Recording Company in Maryland, USA. His PARIS setup is a two-MEC 32-input/16 output system; other secret weapons include a beautiful Baldwin piano, mics and preamps that range from Neumann to Demeter and above all - ears and experience.
EPB: Welcome to the blog, Gantt, as our first featured PARIS artist; can you tell us a little about yourself and Gizmo Recording?
GMK: Thanks, Kerry!
I’ve been playing guitar for about 44 years now. I began fooling around with tape recorders when I was playing in one of my first bands. My dad had one of those Sony Superscope reel-to-reel machines. I discovered that if I plugged my guitar into it and ran the output into my guitar amp I could get this really cool distortion. One of the guys in the band looked over one day and said “Hey! That’s a tape recorder! Why don’t you record us!”.
From that humble beginning I eventually graduated to a Teac 3340 1/4” 4 track with a little Peavey board which I sold to raise the money to move to Las Vegas. Years later , while on the road playing music, I found a Tascam Portastudio in a pawn shop. That got replaced by a Fostex 1/4” 8 track which got replaced by an Otari 1/2” 8 track which got replaced by ADATs.
I bought my Paris system about 7 years ago – six months before Emu announced that they were dropping the product! But I was committed and I now have two MECs with a total of 32 inputs and 16 outputs. I also own Protools LE (with a Digi 002) and Digital Performer (with a 2408 and an 828MK II). I use Paris about 95% of the time because I love the sound and I know it inside and out. I do use PT and DP to take advantage of some of the newer plugins that I can’t run with Paris.
The plugin issue is probably what’s going to eventually drive me to another DAW. Paris won’t run in OS 10 (I’m a Mac guy) and none of the new plugins run in OS 9 anymore. Paris also doesn’t have latency compensation for plugins so offline editing for automation is a challenge.
Anyway, I record all kinds of music at Gizmo Recording Company. We have a nice 7’ Baldwin piano (I had a guy walk in the studio one day and say “Wow dude – analog piano! Way cool.”) and that attracts a lot of nice jazz, classical and “world” music projects. I’ve also done my share of rock’n’roll, C&W, R&B and wedding band demos. I used to do a bit of jingle work but it seems that all the jingle producers have their own studios now. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how to re-invent myself to keep working and earning a living...
EPB: Pop, tuba-and-accordion-driven funk, country, vocal jazz - your body of work, and your client list, cover an impressive and eclectic range of musical styles. It's clear you aren't working from any sort of formula - it's all ears.
How do you balance all of that from a musical perspective? Do you have an "inner template" for how mixes of material that diverse should achieve their musical goals?
GMK: When I was growing up I got exposed to all kinds of music. My parents listened to New Orleans jazz, big band swing, opera, orchestral music, Broadway shows, Jewish music, folk music from Greece and Russia, a bit of the contemporary “pop” jazz of the day and whatever else caught their fancy. My mom loved Billie Holiday, Beverly Sills, Maria Callas and Barbra Streisand and my dad loved Art Tatum, Horowitz, Jascha Heifitz and Itzhak Perlman. I loved (more or less in chronological order) The Ventures, The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, The Byrds and many other ‘60’s bands. The Beatles and The Byrds got me into country and western music. I fell hard for the Nashville Sound and spent the Disco years playing in local country bands.
So I guess my listening experience has shaped my ability to hear into many styles of music. I also encourage clients to bring me CD’s that have elements of the sound they’re looking for so we can get the right sounds down from the start and compare sounds as we mix.
EPB: Got a short-list of your half-dozen favorite projects so far?
EPB: Are there particular styles of music that you feel PARIS' strengths suit best?
GMK: If I did a lot of pop production w/ sequencing and special FX I might gravitate towards something like Logic or Digital Performer but Paris still seems to do the job for the stuff I find myself recording. Besides - it still sounds great! There’s a 3-dimensional-ness to the sound of Paris that keeps me coming back.
EPB: What motivated you to go with PARIS?
GMK: I bought my system about 7 years ago. I was sick of the ADAT sound and Protools was too expensive. There was a Paris users group that, in addition to providing incredible support for each other, was constantly raving about the sound. That group was a big part of my decision to give Paris a try.
EPB: We all know of PARIS' hidden "analog-like" response. Do you "ride it into the red"? If so, are there any particular mixes you could point to where you do?
GMK: I push Paris pretty hard. I’ve become a little bit more conservative since my favorite mastering engineer commented on seeing a lot of clipped wave tops that looked like “overs” but all seemed to clock in at -.1 dB. I don’t push it quite that hard these days unless the style really screams for that saturated sound. The second Tony Denikos CD would probably have hotter mixes than most of my jazz stuff.
EPB: One strength of the hardware/software combo is the embedded DSP. A drawback of this closed format is that since PARIS became an unsupported platform, official plugin development for it has stopped. Fortunately, private developers like Chuck Duffy and Mike Audet moved to take up the slack, and privately devloped/ported plugs now form the bulk of available EDS plugins.
Is there a particular effect, or class of effects, that you'd be most interested in seeing ported or created as EDS plugins?
GMK: Mike Audet is doing some great work but it’s all for PC and I am, for better or worse, a Mac guy. I’ve actually given serious thought to switching to PC to take advantage of the progress that Waves and Universal Audio have made but I haven’t had the guts (or the finances!) to make the change yet. I’d love to be able to use Mike’s new FX, especially the D-4 reverb. Maybe us Mac guys can pool our resources and send him an old G4!
EPB: How do you handle control-room talkback while using PARIS?
GMK: I have a Coleman Audio TB-4.
EPB: Do you take advantage of PARIS' internal routing in any particular way?
GMK: Beyond setting up open mic channels (to hear without recording) I don’t do too much tricky patching.
EPB: Got a PARIS "power-user" tip?
GMK: Learn the keystrokes for calling up windows and views – it saves tons of time over mousing around menus. Before getting serious about a mix I’ll rough in all my levels, then take an automation “snapshot”. Then I’ll go thru each track that I figure needs automation and drop an automation point between each phrase – vocal tracks, lead instruments, BG vocals, etc. Then I’ll begin to listen critically for microscopic level changes. I’ve also begun using the EDS compressor and Chuck Duffy’s Freak-Q on my stereo buss for a little bit of mastering before sending mixes off to the mastering engineer.
EPB: What's coming up on your studio calendar?
GMK: We just finished tracking the next Quintango CD. Next is editing and mixing. Beyond that I have few small projects going and I’m working on finding a way to market myself as a mixer and consultant for folks who have their own home studios. I’d also love to help create acoustic and electric guitar tracks for singer/songwriters who have their own setups.
EPB: Any closing thoughts to share with PARIS users, current or future?
GMK: I’ve been coming to realize that it’s a New World for all of us in the music business. The proliferation of affordable semi-pro gear has really leveled the playing field for the average musician. 15 or 20 years ago studios like mine changed the way the big studios did business and many of them didn’t survive the transition. Now home studios are doing the same thing to people like me. I’m too young to retire! My plan is to thrive.
- Thanks for your insights, Gantt!