While we were in Nashville for the Produce Like A Pro Academy Masterclass, we had a chance to take a tour of the wonderful Blackbird Studios! We’ve done tours of this studio in the past, but this year Mark Rubel gave us a more in-depth behind the scenes look starting from the hallway that leads to studios C & D.
This hallway is filled with a lot of the “overflow” gear which tends to be very obscure/rare- like the LA1D, which is a special 1176 custom build for the state department. It has no adjustable attack or release and it is optimized for Arabic! We don’t know how many of these were made because they were all made for the government.
As far as the studio goes, John McBride wants the clients to have access to “every coloured crayon.” They don’t want a client to feel like they’re compromised because they don’t have some access to the sonic pallet, and that’s why they have all of this gear!
We then made our way to the opposite side of the Blackbird lot where the Blackbird Academy is held. The Blackbird Academy is a 6-month program where students get a chance to learn what it takes to work in a studio and/or to run live sound. Once completed, students are often hired into professional recording studios in and out of Nashville. During our time with Ryan Hewitt he mentions how many of his interns and assistants come out of the Blackbird Academy.
During the tour we were lucky enough to get a look inside of Creative Workshop studios, which was the first studio established in the famous Berry Hill. Today Berry Hill boasts 65+ professional studios to its population of 536!
On the last leg of the studio tour we found ourselves in the middle of a session prep where students from the Blackbird Academy. Mark Rubel gave us a run-down of what mics and gear he was going to be using for the session and their purpose in the overall mix.