How and when did Peace Music start?
The studio has been here for almost 20 years now — I started it in 1991. At first, it was called Inter-Music Studio, but after two years we changed the name to Peace Music. We wanted to choose the dumbest name imaginable, and that was it.
Does the studio still double as a rehearsal space?
We have a control room and the small live room and that's it. It's not that big of a space really. We used to use the live room as a rehearsal space at times too. In the beginning rock bands used it, but we also had an Indonesian gamelan ensemble that practiced here as well. I played the kendhang drum with them. We don't use the studio for a practice space much anymore.
You also play on many of the things you record. What would you say is your main instrument?
Mixing is truly my main thing — just being an engineer. For me that is the same as playing guitar, bass or drums. I guess I just like instruments, so in each project that I play with I feel I'm simply adding to the spaces that are open as best that I can.
That sounds like the stance of a true producer.
I just got a Farfisa for the studio. It's just come out of the repair shop. They are pretty hard to find in Japan, so I had my friend in New York get one for me. The reverb circuit is not working, but everything else got fixed.
What kind of console are you currently using?
It's a relatively small Amek board, quite unlike it's model name, the Big. It's 44-channels in-line with four stereo returns. I rarely use more than 24 channels at a time. Before that we had an American CAD console and also a Soundtracks board. I definitely prefer the Amek over both of them because of its wider range and fidelity.
What is your main multitrack recorder? Do you ever record analog?
I have a 1-inch 16-track machine here, but the last time was two years ago for Yura Yura Teikoku's Kudo Desu album. That's mostly because there isn't really any more tape stock left in Japan. It's really hard to get ahold of now, and even if I wanted to record with it, we would have to probably order it from the U.S. I'm mainly using a Tascam X-48, which is a 48-track hard disc recorder. I don't like the sound that you get with Pro Tools so much, especially the way the high end gets brittle and fatiguing. It's just too hard on the ears. I think you can really hear degradation as the number of tracks increases too. But I do have Pro Tools LE, and I think that version 8 is sounding a bit better than before. The spring reverb is fun to play with, and there are a lot of MIDI instruments too. I bought a Mellotron simulator, which is also cool. Either way, when I mix it's always on the Amek, in the analog domain. Before the X-48 I was using a Tascam DA-78. It seemed like an easier conversion from that to the X-48, and in fact the sound is a bit similar as well. I've had some technical troubles, but overall I'm happy with it.
What's your outboard setup like?
I have a Urei 1178 stereo comp, which I use for drums and things, and a dbx 160A, which I like putting bass through. I mainly use them only during mixing. For tracking, I usually stick to the Amek's mic preamps in the board.
Do you compress and EQ as you record as well?
No, when tracking I just get a level and go. The studio is pretty small, so even if you move mics around, the sound doesn't really change that much. My recordings usually make use of a lot of that natural bleed within the room. The Tascam X-48 has some stock plug-ins of its own, and I'll use the compressor sometimes. I go for a really squashed sound, which it delivers pretty well. Many people have said that I seem to...