Produce Like a Pro recently had the pleasure of meeting with Eric Valentine at his home studio, which he aptly calls “Topangadise.” Eric joked that he’s spent the majority of his career in windowless control rooms “caves,” so the room has plenty of natural light for a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. Good for the soul, he says!
Eric has also owned Barefoot Recording in Hollywood since 2000, where he’s worked with a “who’s who” of incredible artists like Queens of the Stone Age, Smash Mouth, Good Charlotte, and Third Eye Blind, among others. In addition to being an amazing producer and engineer, Eric also co-founded UnderTone Audio where he designs professional audio equipment. UTA notably produces the Unfairchild compressor which we discussed at length!
Eric Valentine’s Barefoot Recording
Prior to becoming a renowned recording studio, Barefoot Recording was built as a post office in the early ’50s. Some time later, Andrew Berliner acquired the space, converting it into Crystal Industries Recording Studios in 1967. At the time, the studio hosted an all-star list of clients, including Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Supertramp, Eric Clapton, and James Taylor. Most notably, perhaps, Crystal Industries is where Stevie Wonder recorded Songs in the Key of Life.
In the late ’80s and early ’90s, producer Matt Hyde leased the facility to work on such projects as Jane’s Addiction and Porno for Pyros. When Eric acquired the building in 2000, major renovations were made as a restoration effort, and Barefoot Recording has hosted its own incredible list of artists over the past two decades.
The UTA Unfairchild
In his home studio, Eric tracks and mixes on a hybrid set-up with both outboard equipment and in-the-box processing. While options paralysis can be a hurdle at Barefoot (as in, “Which of these 20 guitars should we use?”), a handful of favorite pieces at home has streamlined Eric’s workflow. Operating with limited space, Topangadise features only Eric’s “desert island” gear, like an 1176, Distressors, an Orban EQ, and his own company’s Unfairchild compressors.
As its name suggests, the Unfairchild is designed exactly like the fabled Fairchild of the ’50s, but with modernized features. Among these updated functions are the following:
- True bypass
- Output VU metering
- Fine gain control to exactly match left/right levels
- Detented parameters for precise mix recall
- Improved circuitry to increase the tubes’ lifespan
Eric has a pair in his studio and tracks nearly everything through them, including vocals, drums, and guitars. Please check out the interview to see Eric explain the Unfairchild in greater detail!
Have a marvellous time recording and mixing!