Written by Paul Tingen
“The most inspirational day of my career was probably when I was working on the first Hollywood Vampires record. It was so cool to be a part of that! Bob [Ezrin] was producing it, and of course the band is Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Joe Perry, and we had people coming in like Joe Walsh, Paul McCartney, Marilyn Manson, and Brian Johnson. Brian did vocals with me in the control room at Bob Ezrin’s Anarchy Studios, and at one point he was holding on to my shoulder while singing. That was a real pinch-me moment. I was like: ‘this is AC/DC right here!’”
“It was a magical record. One day I was at the hotel in Los Angeles and I got a text in the morning telling me that a country record I had recently worked on, ‘Drink To That All Night’ by Jerrod Niemann, had gone platinum. I’d put my heart and soul into that record, so that meant a lot. Next I walked over to Johnny Depp’s house, and set up for Paul McCartney, who was likely to come round that day.
Paul did arrive, and recorded his song ‘Come And Get It’ while sitting at the piano, playing live with the rest of the band present—Alice was singing backing vocals—while we also had Abe Laboriel Jr on drums. There was a lot of noise going on in the room, and the only microphone I could get to work on the upright piano was a PZM contact mic. Later, we recorded vocals, so I set up Johnny Depp’s Neumann U47 for Paul, going into a Neve 1073 or 1064 and perhaps a Distressor. One of his vocal overdubs was done as what he called ‘the mad guy,’ which was the screaming voice he used on ‘Oh! Darling,’ on Abbey Road.”
“It was nice to see that they too were star-struck by having Paul McCartney in the room. I was like, ‘This is awesome! How did I get here?’”
“While we were recording his ‘mad guy’ vocal there was a moment at the very end of the take, after the end of the song, where the band unexpectedly goes into double-time. The track had ended, but I left Pro Tools to roll. Paul had taken his headphones off and was starting to walk away when he heard the music. He put his cans back on and started singing along. I was really happy that I did not hit ‘stop’ on Pro Tools, otherwise that little gem of a piece would not have been on the album!
“After the vocal overdubs Paul also did a bass overdub, and he came in to listen back and work with me on his vocal sound, while chatting with Johnny, Alice and Joe, who were also in the room. It was nice to see that they too were star-struck by having Paul McCartney in the room. I was like, ‘This is awesome! How did I get here?’”
LOST IN MUSIC
Justin “Corky” Cortelyou’s presence at these all-star sessions was the result of a long and winding road, driven by a love of music. While at high school in Greenburg, Pennsylvania, Cortelyou played trombone in several youth orchestras and jazz ensembles, and also guitar in local bands. He went on to study music and engineering at Middle Tennessee State University, and cut his teeth assisting legendary mixer Chuck Ainley and later the equally legendary Mike Shipley.
Justin started as a night manager and assistant engineer at Soundstage Studios in Nashville until Mike Shipley and actress/country singer Crystal Bernard moved him to Los Angeles. Cortelyou eventually teamed up with producer and songwriter Tommy Henriksen, and the duo moved to Nashville in 2008, where they started working with yet another music legend, Bob Ezrin.
Bob Ezrin is, of course, famous for producing classic albums by Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel and Kiss, and also being at the forefront of many new technological developments in the studio. Ezrin has an incredible track record, and during the 10 years Cortelyou spent as the big man’s engineer and mixer at his Anarchy Studios in Nashville, he was involved in the making of great records by the likes of Deep Purple, Phish, Andrea Bocelli, Alice Cooper, and of course, Hollywood Vampires. Amazingly, in addition to his busy schedule with Ezrin, Cortelyou also found time to step out on his own and work with artists like JJ Shiplett and Jerrod Niemann.
The latter two projects provided further career highlight, recalls Cortelyou, “JJ’s album Something To Believe In (2017), is one of my all-time favourites. It was one of those records where you’re mixing, and you can’t wait to be finished, because you just want to sit there and listen to it. Particularly with a song called ‘Waters’ I remember being so lost in the music that I was forgetting what my hands were doing with the faders!”
“Jerrod Niemann’s High Noon (2014) started out as a low-budget demo project, and as we progressed, the label became more and more enthusiastic, and went 100% behind it becoming an album. The single, ‘Drink To That All Night,’ eventually went to number one, and Pitbull was involved in a remix of it. It was fun to be part of that ride! Of the work I did with Bob, in addition to the Hollywood Vampires album, the Deep Purple records were great to work on. These guys really are the best! We also did a record with Phish, Big Boat, for which tracking started the day my daughter was due, so that is still very memorable to me!”
ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY
Cortelyou is talking in the past tense about his work with Ezrin, because last year he decided on a major career change. In July 2019, after 10 years of working with one of the music industry’s most celebrated producers, Cortelyou branched out on his own. The opportunity was provided by Scottish-Canadian country artist Johnny Reid, who had bought a historic studio in Nashville, Scruggs Sound Studios.
“Bob produced several of Johnny’s records. He is a huge artist in Canada, a country artist with a soul voice, an amazing singer. I had helped Johnny to create a studio in a barn that he had renovated, and then he sold his house and at the same time Scruggs Sound came on the market. It was Randy Scruggs’ studio, who is the son of Earl Scruggs, a famous banjo player. Randy was a huge producer and session guitar player, and saw many famous artists in his studio, including Crosby, Stills & Nash, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton.”
“I offered to help Johnny out again with Scruggs Sound. The studio was a little bit drab, but we thought it needed just a couple of coats of paint and some new fabric. But as we were taking off the layers, we found more and more wrong with it, and we quickly decided to rethink the entire place. In the end we did a good 18 months of renovation, bringing in Steve Durr as the studio designer and acoustician. As the project proceeded, I ended up partnering with Johnny, and we opened the studio in April 2020 as Soultrain Sound Studios.”
“This studio is me setting up as an independent engineer, mixer and producer. It’s one of these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to be in a studio like this.”
It may sound odd to open a commercial studio in this day and age, but Cortelyou explains that the project is not quite what it seems. “Our mission statement is that Soultrain is a private boutique recording studio. I started with helping Johnny find the gear, and an acoustician, and so on, and gradually it morphed into an opportunity to have this as my home base. Mainly it is a space for me to work. We don’t want to compete with Blackbird. But of course, clients of mine, and of Johnny, may book it.”
“This studio is me setting up as an independent engineer, mixer and producer. It’s one of these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to be in a studio like this. But it was a really hard decision to stop working with Bob. He has done so much for me and I have been so happy to be able to work with him and learn from him and listen to all his amazing stories. We are still friends and will always be. But in Soultrain I now have the opportunity to work on getting my own identity, even though I’m most comfortable in the behind-the-scenes role.”
Still, even starting a private boutique studio was always going to be a risky venture in 2020. And then the COVID-19 outbreak put a huge spanner in the works before the studio had even gotten out of the starting blocks. Speaking via Skype from Soultrain early last June, Cortelyou remarks, with a sense of understatement, “it was definitely not ideal to be in the middle of a pandemic when starting a new studio endeavor. But then, I don’t think there is ever a good time for a global pandemic to hit!”
“On a positive note, I was working with a reggae artist called Gramps Morgan when we went into lockdown, and I’d just finished all overdubs for his solo record. He’s part of Morgan Heritage, a Grammy award-winning reggae band. I was just about to go into mix mode, and so could continue working. I took a few pieces of outboard with me, like my Neve 2254 and 33609 compressors, the Burl Mothership, and some baffles, and I created a control room in my guest bedroom.”
“When we later went into phase 1 out of lockdown, I moved back to the studio. We have done some vocal overdubs since then, and people come in via a separate entrance and go into individual booths, and we’re wearing masks, keeping our distance, washing hands a lot and sterilizing everything.”
“Blackbird have also has had sessions, and they have it down. They take your temperature as you come in, everyone has to wear a mask, the lounge is off limits, all the session players have to stay in their areas and bring their own headphones, and the studio sterilizes everything with UV lights and so on. It’s an odd way of doing sessions, but that is what we all have to do right now.”
People could be forgiven for thinking that creating a new studio in 2020 consists of nothing more than finding a nice space, buying some baffles, monitors, a soundcard, load a computer with a DAW and tons of plugins, and hey presto, another state-of-the-art 21C facility has been born! However, Cortelyou’s Soultrain story hints at it being rather more involved than that. And indeed, behind him three distinctly 20C features are visible: a large mixing desk, an impressive wall of outboard gear, and an Otari MTR-90 24-track analogue tape recorder. What, Mr. Cortelyou, is the deal?
“I’ve never used the Otari, it’s a left-over from the earlier studio. Maybe one day! But, first of all, it’s true, plug-ins are amazing right now, especially many of the newer ones. The FabFilter plug-ins sound great, for example, and with their Pro-EQ3 you can do amazing things like linear phase and natural phase, low latency, oversampling, and dynamic EQ. But I don’t know whether outboard creates harmonics, or something else, but to my ears it adds depth, dimension and saturation.”
“I work in Pro Tools and actually mix predominantly in the box, so all the hardware is on inserts. In my experience there is a big difference when running things through outboard gear. Maybe it is subliminal, and maybe I feel outboard is more creative because I can look over the wall of gear and try different combinations. It makes me like a mad scientist, trying different boxes to see if they give me the sound I’m after. I may insert an SSL compressor and overload it a bit. And each AD channel of the Burl has a set of transformers that add harmonic texture.”
“All this is interesting, because when I worked with Mike [Shipley], he was completely in the box, apart from using a Fulcrum summing mixer. He only had 8 I/O of hardware inserts. When I started with Bob, he had an SSL AWS console, and then we also went to a summing mixer, and were mostly in the box. But for me, running it all through the gear really does bring a dimension to it. And especially with drums I can dial in my EQ and compression on the console so much faster than I can using plug-ins.”
NO COFFEE TRAY
There’s a line of thought that says that in order for a project to be successful, it’s important to start with the why, and then move on to the what, before finally landing on the how. Following this logic, having explained the why of using outboard, Cortelyou elaborates on what he has in Soultrain, before explaining how he uses it. He starts with the largest and most eye-catching what element, which, rather unusually in this day and age, is not as a rule used as a laptop and coffee tray.
“It’s an SSL 4000 E-series! The original desk in the studio was a Neve 8232 that needed a good bit of work, so we decided not to keep it. I initially looked at getting another Neve, but in the end I felt that it would not be flexible enough during tracking. I like to use outboard pres when tracking, so don’t need a Neve desk for that, and I love the flexibility an SSL offers. It allows me to control my monitor side while using compression and EQ to get everything to sound really great and pumped up and like a record for playback to the client. If I really like it, I can print it.”
“I also love the inline section on an SSL, which allows you to quickly adjust your throws to Pro Tools. Tracking sessions run super smooth when working on an SSL. My favourite EQ on an SSL are the E-series with the black knobs. It just so happened that a producer in Nashville was selling one. Johnny found it on Craigslist, and asked me, ‘is this something?’ And I was like: ‘that’s it!!!’ It was the perfect size, and fits beautifully in this space.”
“Johnny found the SSL on Craigslist, and asked me, ‘is this something?’ And I was like: ‘that’s it!!!’ It was the perfect size, and fits beautifully in this space.”
“The desk is 40 channels, with 32 channels of mono with E-series channel strips, and four stereo modules. The latter are great for stems or reverbs and delays. The great thing about this SSL is that it came with a Tangerine computer system, which integrates with Pro Tools. You can set up the Tangerine plug-ins on each channel and the VCA automation actually will write to the tracks in Pro Tools. Which is awesome. When mixing I tend to use only the left side of the console, the first 16 channels or so, as hardware inserts. I run my drums through them, for example, so I can add SSL EQ and compression, and sometimes I’ll use the inserts to send to outboard.”
The SSL clearly was a big find, and even more so, says Cortelyou, because, “we saved 90% of the cost of a desk by buying an SSL. With the money that we saved we were able to load up on tons of outboard gear. We kept some of the best pieces that were already there, and then bought a lot of other things. The left row of gear in the wall of outboard is mainly the mic pre section, with some Neve 1073s, old API 3124s, which sound better than the new ones, Inward Connections Vac Rac vacuum tube limiters, the Coil Audio CA-70s, and Undertone Audio MPDI-4 units.”
“The Undertone Audios are my goto mic pres. They can be superclean or very colorful, as you prefer, and you can have transformers on the input and output and change the impedance. They are amazing. I love them on drums. The Coils are fantastic tube mic pres, especially when you want that color. Basically you can get any tone color by adjusting the negative feedback.”
“In the middle row I have a bunch of compressors. There’s the Retro Instruments Sta-Level, which I use on bass a lot, four Empirical Lab EL8 Distressors, Neve 2254s, which are probably my favourite, anything you put through here comes out sounding good. I also have the Shadow Hills Mastering compressor, which is nice as an option.”
“There are two Tube-Tech CL 1B compressors, which came with the studio, and I have three different three different flavors of the Universal Audio1176: the new UA classic, a Revision D, which is my favourite, and we have the Purple Audio MC77. The four DBX 160s also came with the studio. At the bottom of the second row is a Lexicon MX400XL Dual Stereo/Surround Reverb Processor.”
“The third row has a working AMS RMX, an EXR SPII psychoacoustic projector, which is like one of these sonic maximizer things, Lexicon Prime Time II, two Mercury Pultec EQ-P1 EQs, a Neve Metal Knob 33609, which sounds great on everything, an Undertone Audio Unfairchild 760M II, and an RCA BA6A, I got it because it sounds amazing. Mike Shipley always had it in his vocal chain. In the machine room we also have a tube stereo EMT 140 plate from The Record Plant in New York as well as an EMT 250 that came with the studio”
Cortelyou concluded his exposé of the ‘what’ at Soultrain by elaborating on the studio’s monitors, in the process veering strongly into how territory.’ “We had a modification done on the center section of the console, so it functions basically like a Dangerous Monitor ST controller. I will generally get my sound on the PMC two two 6’s, and I then do my rides on the Yamaha NS10s. Throughout the process I will occasionally put on the big PMC MB3 monitors, which I love. We also have a PMC two two sub 2, which can be turned on or off for any of the three sets of monitors.”
“I know exactly what I am getting from all monitors. I like working on the smaller PMC monitors with the sub, and that translates really well. I don’t have to guess or go in my car to listen. The low end and transient responses of the big speakers also are so quick, it is kind of deceiving because you end up listening louder than you think, because everything is so clean on it.”
Having landed firmly in how territory, Cortelyou continued with explaining how he records various instruments, and vocals. First up is, well, getting up. “When we have a session, I tend to come in at 8:30am to make sure everything is set up properly. In fact, when we record drums, we tend to set up the night before. We have a Gretsch house kit, though Nashville session drummers will typically bring their own kit.”
“I typically use a lot of drum microphones, 16 or more, though many of them will get muted in the mix. My drum set up is pretty standard. My kick mic is a Shure Beta 52 and I have two microphones on the snare top, one is a small diaphragm condenser, the Neumann KM140, which takes high SPL really well, and I will tape that to a Shure SM57 or SM77, and align the capsules.”
“I usually start with Neumann U87s or AKG 414s on the toms, but if that’s too hifi, I switch to Sennheiser 421s. My overhead is usually an old stereo tube Neumann SM2, but if I want something a bit more open, I’ll use two AKG C12s. Or sometimes Neumann U67s. I might have two sets of overheads. There will also be several sets of room microphones, maybe a pair of Royers or Coles, and a mono crush mic somewhere that is totally distorted.”
“My favorite mic pres on the drums are typically the Undertones MPDI-4. I have 16 channels, so I can run all the drums through them. Lately I have been using one of the APIs for the kick in to the desk, to give a little bit more punch, and I send the kick out to a 1073 to give a little bit more woofyness. I generally run my drums through the insert returns on the desk. I will take out the line amp, but I can use the compressor and EQ. And then the small fader will send to Pro Tools.”
LOOKING LIKE AN IDIOT
Cortelyou’s story of the how of his recording sessions briefly sidetracks into the ‘when’ as he discusses the musicians’ arrivals. “When we have a band session, the drummer usually shows up a little bit early, around 9 or 9:30am, and we will get some sounds. The other musicians come in one at a time and we will get some guitar sounds and bass sounds, and by 10 o’clock we are usually up and running. Nashville sessions are like clockwork!”
“For the bass I usually will just take a clean DI, and a signal from the bass player’s rig. Many bass players have tons of different pedals. If there is a part that needs more of a bass amp sound, I’ll either use the UAD B15 plugin, or I’ll actually re-amp the DI part. I’ll often roll off some low end and get some more of the attack in the upper mids to get more definition in the bass.”
“Moving on to acoustic guitars, if I want a pretty, shimmery acoustic sound, then I use something like a Neumann KM84 or an AKG C-452, and I may also take a DI, which can be really nice to blend in. I will sometimes do a high-end/low-end microphone technique, where I will have an AKG C12 and a Shure SM57 or a ribbon microphone, and I will align the capsules. The Neumann SM2 is good for Celtic style acoustic projects, and doing a mid-side with the SM2s is really nice, as you get the air of the room and the size.”
“When recording acoustics, I always plug up one of my ears and then walk around and listen to where it sounds best. Every acoustic is different, every player is different, and the room also plays a role. I know I look like an idiot doing it, but it works really well. The place where the microphones end up changes, but a lot of the time it is facing the sound hole, but closer to the high strings, and where the body meets the neck.”
“My mic pres usually are the Coil Audios. I like the texture that they have, and if you pull the negative feedback to the left it really opens up the top end. This captures especially fingerpicking acoustics well. If that is not working, or it is a hard strumming part, I will try the Undertones MPDIs. Or if I am using a C12 and a 57, I’ll use a couple of Neve 1073s. It depends.”
“For electrics the Shure SM7 is my starting point, paired with a Royer 122. I will usually put the SM7 further from the center of the speaker, where the sound is not quite as harsh, and the 122 closer to the cone. I will bring those mics through the console, so I can blend them. I don’t like having a ton of tracks and I commit that blend onto one track in Pro Tools. Usually electric guitars are already pretty compressed, but during mixing I will often send them through my favorite outboard compressor, the Neve, and an outboard API 560, which has a midrange that fits electrics really well.”
“When recording acoustics, I always plug up one of my ears and then walk around and listen to where it sounds best.”
“Finally, my typical vocal chain is the UA 1176 Revision D, going into the RCA BA6A, and then a Mercury Pultec EQ for some more top end. The microphone I use depends on the singer. We have a bunch here, like a Sony C800G, which is great for pop and if you want something modern and upfront, and a gorgeous Neumann M249C, which gives a classic sound. We also have a couple of Telefunken U47s, two modified Neumann U87s, where they took out the filters, two standard U87s, two U67 reissues, and an AKG C12.”
Cortelyou’s web site (https://www.justincortelyou.com/) has a nice biography, that starts with the line, “It’s all about the song, so let the song dictate the sound. That’s how Justin approaches each project from tracking to mix.” Asked to elaborate, Cortelyou acknowledges that the above-described recording approaches are starting points, and that he adapts them as required.
“Yes, everything depends on the song. For instance, I had an artist called Ervin Stellar, who is a huge Bob Dylan fan and he loves the sound of these old recordings. So we started with our Gretsch house kit, and then the drummer brought in some old Ludwig toms, and we ended up spending a lot of time on getting the right drum sounds. We taped a wallet to the snare drum, and put some tea towels on the toms, which were recorded with Sennheiser 421s.”
“We tried a bunch of different microphones and mic pres to really get that time period. We ended up also treating the room. We set up all the baffles, and created a tent over the kick drum. We even tried out different drumsticks and mallets, just to try and get different textures and get the feel right. So the song and the preferences of the artist complete drove the recording process, and the set-up.”
“By contrast, if I’m doing a modern country project, particular when I’m not sure whether I’m mixing or somebody else, I’ll do my more general setup. I call it ‘DI drums,’ because I make sure everything sounds good, and at the same time you can take it into whatever direction you want. All of the sounds are there and the transients are intact. For that reason I also make sure I don’t track with a whole lot of compression, plus that makes editing easier as well.”
Cortelyou mixes many of the projects he records, and also mixes tracks he did not record. His mix process sees him working entirely in the box, but with a considerable amount of outboard on the inserts of his sessions. Cortelyou’s Pro Tools system is off to the side of the studio, and the question how he monitors while mixing gave rise, to, well, read on…
“I have a little Avid Artist Mix on top of my monitor cart,” comments Cortelyou, “and I do my mix rides all in Pro Tools. So when I switch to working predominantly in Pro Tools I hit this button here, and we have a TV that comes up from behind the console. I also have wireless keyboard and wireless mouse, so I can bring that all up on the desk.”
The TV screen is huge and it rising automatically in between the monitors was both impressive and entertaining. So even in Cortelyou’s case the console eventually ends up used as a glorified and very large coffee desk, even he does not recommend using the fader slots as excess coffee disposal units!
All that aside, Cortelyou elaborates, “I have Pro Tools mix templates, but they really only contain some drum bussing and a bunch of reverb and delay aux tracks, and I import those into my session before I start mixing. I will print drum tracks that I ran through the console, and other tracks that have hardware inserts on them, and will keep these tracks in the session, but make them inactive.”
“I start with about 20 aux effect tracks, with modulation like flanging and chorusing, a SoundToys Crystallizer doing some oddball things, reverbs like the UAD AMS RMX16, UAD EMT140, Eventide H3000, Slate Digital VerbSuite Classics, delays from SoundToys EchoBoy on the EchoPlex setting, and so on. I also have the Eventide MicroPitch, which is great for adding spread and shimmer and character to acoustics and vocals. Plus, there’s an outboard Bricasti reverb as an insert, hooked up via midi, which makes it work like a plugin.”
GOING TO 12
“Mike Shipley often called mixing a process, and he said that once you get your process down, mixes fall into place easier. My process is that I generally start off with the drums, first doing broad strokes on the kick and snare and then dealing with the other drum elements. All kicks feed a kick aux, and the same for all snares, and then the rest of the kit goes to an All Drums bus, plus there’s a Drum Crush aux. All of these tracks have quite a few plugins on the inserts and sends, and I will mess with side-chain compression, and they all go to the Drum Bus aux that controls the levels of all drum tracks.”
“Once I have the drums more or less where I want them, I will add bass, and then guitars, and other instruments, and I will get an overall blend of all the instruments. I use a lot of subtractive EQ at this point, filtering out stuff that’s not necessary, so everything fits together better. I generally use the Massenburg MDW EQ6 for this. I think the subtractive EQ approach comes from working with Mike and Bob [Ezrin]. They were not be shy about using EQ. Mike used to say: ‘the knob goes to 12 for a reason!”
“Once I have the track where I want it, I add in the vocals. I will have done all the non-creative stuff, like comping, editing, and tuning. For the latter I use Melodyne, and then going into AT at a Retune speed of 40. That way each plugin has to work less hard and will produce fewer artifacts. I’ll also tune with heavy monitor compression on, so you really hear any artifacts, and I don’t get any nasty surprises when I put the vocal back in the main mix.”
“EQ-ing and adding delays and reverbs is part of the more creative process, and I’ll do those during the mix. Mike and Mutt [Lange] would notch out frequencies syllable by syllable, but I don’t have the time to do that. I’ll even things out with Clip Gain before sending the vocal to any plugins, and will then use automation for vocal levels. I like the iZotope RX7 De-plosive on vocals, and the FabFilter Pro-Q3, with the dynamic EQ setting, so it affects when it hits certain threshold. Or I put on the FabFilter Pro-MB multiband.”
“I’ll tune with heavy monitor compression on, so you really hear any artifacts, and I don’t get any nasty surprises when I put the vocal back in the main mix.”
Finally, everything goes through the master section, which, like almost everyone, Cortelyou has at the top of his Pro Tools session. “My mastering chain varies, but often contains the Xfer OTT compressor, and the SPL Iron mastering compressor, and the Ozone Exciter, for some top end. I love the Iron. It has things like MS mode and the AirBass feature that extends the bottom and top end, and the MonoMaker, which puts everything below a certain frequency in the middle. It allows you to open up the top, narrow the bottom end, and this really helps with the punch in the mix.”
LUCKY TO AVOID DISASTER
The extensive wisdom that Cortelyou shares here naturally has not come out of thin air, but is the result of many years of learning, practice, working with great engineers, mixers, and producers, and learning from mistakes. When asked what mistakes he learned the most from, Cortelyou laughs loudly…
“I’ve made so many, it’s hard to just pick one! But I recall doing a session with singer Chris Daughtry when I was still pretty green. I had the mic pre too hot, and the vocal ended up really crunchy and distorted. Luckily it was just a demo, but after that I thought: ‘you know what, let’s just be conservative with my levels. You can always boost later.’”
“When I just started off, I got yelled at in one situation. I was interning with Chuck Ainley, and in charge of labelling tapes, and one day I was labeling the spines of the 1-inch 2-tracks. I omitted to write ‘Do Not Use’ on the older versions, and we were about to send them out, and when he saw that he flipped out, and rightfully so. If these had been sent out to the mastering guy it would have had serious consequences. So since then, I make sure that everything is labeled just right.”
“I don’t know how many people would just grab a random power supply and plug it into a drive, and it would start smoking!”
“In another situation I was very lucky to avoid disaster. The computer was under the desk, and I had hard drives on the desk. We had just done a full tracking session with a big Broadway artist, Kristen Chenoweth—13 songs with tons of musicians. I did a little bit of work on it, and then thought: ‘I need to back this up. I just can’t have it only on one drive.’ So I backed up everything, put the drive away, and as I turned, my knee caught the FireWire cable, dumped the drive while it was still spinning onto the floor, and it was toast. Luckily, I’d just made the backup, so I did not lose a single thing. That really rammed home the importance of always making backups!”
“In the early 2000’s, many people use different drives that had different power plugs on them. When I worked at Soundstage Studios in Nashville, I don’t know how many people would just grab a random power supply and plug it into a drive, and it would start smoking! Half of those times people did not have a backup. Backing up is huge. Today I use Carbon Copy Cloner, and I back up to our Dropbox folder. So we have a local backup, and we upload to the cloud.”
Clearly, Justin Cortelyou has had many “pinch-me moments” during his career, both of the enjoyable and not so enjoyable varieties. In his brand new room at Soultrain, he looks set to continue his long streak of positive “pinch-me” experiences…
© 2020 Paul Tingen