Anne Gauthier is a producer, engineer, and drummer who cut her teeth in the Montreal punk scene, touring with bands like TR/ST and The Frenetics. In 2015 she relocated to Louisville, Kentucky, and recently took over as head engineer for La La Land Studios when its founder, Kevin Ratterman [Tape Op #89] moved to Los Angeles. She's worked with Murder By Death, Bonnie Prince Billy, Rachel Grimes, Ray Lamontagne, Jim James, and more. Gauthier's got talent, vibe, an incredible work ethic, and Glyn Johns [#109] on speed-dial.
So, is it true that a Tape Op article led you to Kentucky?
I was hoping we'd talk about that! I had a loft space back in Montreal that I used to record in and I was wanting to get more into the analog side of things. I found this article about Kevin [Ratterman] and I thought, "This guy seems cool." I listened to his recordings and they sounded amazing. Plus he was a drummer and I'm a drummer. I got in touch with him when I came through town on tour. At some point he reached out and told me, "I need help. It's too much." I said, "I'll do it. I'll come down." So, yeah; a Tape Op article started it all, which I'm very grateful for.
And now you live in Louisville.
So random, yeah. Of all places.
When you moved to Kentucky in 2015, Kevin was still running La La Land and you all were working together, right?
Yeah. At first there was definitely a learning curve for me. I was coming from an all-digital setup in Montreal, where I had been working on my computer and my little board. I had an API 3024 [4 channel preamp] with another 4 or 8 channel preamp that I was connecting together. It was pretty simple, but it was mobile so I could travel to people's spaces. It took me a couple of months to learn the patchbay and gear here, to get the tape machine rolling, and all of that. But I did my first session by myself after three or four months. I worked with Kevin a lot, and then, at some point, he started touring more – that's when I started doing more sessions on my own.
What were you recording in Montreal?
Mostly projects from my musical community. My loft was a giant shared space, but it was all friends so I left my gear there. There's a lot of cool industrial loft spaces in Montreal that are somehow still around, even with gentrification. Our space was split in half: One half was a bunch of artists and the other half was musicians. The room was split in two with a sliding door, so it was almost made for recording.
When did you start playing in bands?
I started playing drums at 15 and joined my first band right away at 16. That's what I mostly did, until my 30s. I think my first tour of Canada was when I was 19, because I couldn't legally get into bars. That was with The Frenetics, my first serious band that made records and toured a bunch.
Were you involved with the recording of The Frenetics albums?
Actually, no. The only recording I was doing when I was younger was on a 4-track cassette that I got when I was 20. I did a lot on that. I always thought those [4-tracks] sounded cool.
Are you doing much tracking to tape at La La Land these days?
I'm doing as much as people let me. Sometimes there's a time constraint. I just got this cool 8-track, 1-inch machine. I've been using it as much as I can, when bands are up for it. I recorded a band a couple months ago and we only had seven mics in the whole session, with two guitars, bass, and three drum mics going through the 1-inch. It was pretty incredible. I thought, "I could not mix this and it already sounds like a record," which was a cool confirmation that it's a great sound.
Wasn't the White Stripes' Elephant recorded on 8-track?
I think so. [Yes, by Liam Watson, Tape Op #88, #15. -LC] And the fact that there's just three drum mics means there's not a lot of phase issues. I mean, there's always gonna be a little bit of phase, here and there, but there's not that much with three mics and it can sound so big.
What's your mic'ing technique with three mics? Are you doing the Glyn Johns triangle thing?
No. It's funny because I got to work with him last...