Alpine Red is the personal recording studio of producers Chip Johnson and Kit Karlson. This is our home base when producing, mixing, or adding tracks to projects.
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Interview with Alpine Red
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: We produced an album last summer with Pat McGee. He had the dream of making a record that had the sound and feel of the albums he loved growing up. Something that would fit with the 70's James Taylor, and Jackson Browne records. We were lucky enough to get "The Section" to play on the album over a life changing four day session in LA. Watching Leland Sklar, Russ Kunkel, and Waddy Wachtel add their instant magic to Pat's songs was something we'll never forget.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: We've been lucky over the past year to work on great projects in many different genre's. We are currently working on a indie-pop EP with Charleston artist Brendan James, a country LP with Jonathan Bryan Williams, and a singer-songwriter EP with Stephen Kellogg.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both! In today's world recalls are common and digital is perfect for that. You can also do so much with Pro Tools in regards to editing and sound design. That being said, outboard gear adds a special thing to the mixing process. We have Dangerous 2-Bus, API 2500, API 5500, Pendulum ES-8, and an ever growing number of compressors/EQ's to run our mixes through. We get the convenience and freedom to work in Pro Tools, but have some analog mojo ready to go for mixing.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: If you have a vision for what your album should be like, we will get you as close to that as your music allows. Obviously if you sound like Ryan Adams, but want to be Taylor Swift, that can be difficult to achieve. But, whatever it is you want to accomplish, we will be honest and open about how close you can get and help you get there.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Nothing beats taking an album in the car and feeling like we collectively accomplished exactly what we set out to achieve.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What kind of art do you want to make, and what do you want to accomplish with it? All other decisions can be answered by knowing that information!
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Retro Sta Level, API 2500, Chandler Curve Bender, Chandler TG2, Lawson L47
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Laid back, but fast. We like the environment to be comfortable and easy, which is why our studio is in a house. We also like to make sure the artist spends his time here recording (not waiting for the technical stuff), so I keep everything set up at all times.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Pop, Singer-Songwriter, Indie Rock
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: The main thing we bring to the song is vision and relevance. Those are two things we are constantly seeking. What is it that you want to accomplish with your music, and how does that fit in with today? Other than that, we both have ten years of time spent in a van, and in studios with our bands. We've been on the other side of the "glass", as band members, and we know how to help artists navigate the process.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: It typically starts with a solid preproduction session. Finding the perfect tempo and key is crucial for the success of a song. But most importantly, we all need to collectively figure out the vision for the project. Without a compass for the direction of the art, all decision can end up being arbitrary. From there we get a great scratch track of the song (making sure it is the perfect tempo, key, style, etc) and build whatever makes sense next. Sometimes it's drums, sometimes it's programming, sometimes it's keys…
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: The studio is in a house in Gainesville, VA. We're running a Pro Tools HD3 rig, and have a decent amount of outboard gear. 20 channels of preamps (Chandler, UA, API, BAE, Focusrite) allows us to track a few people at a time if necessary. More often than not, that is used instead to keep all the instrument worlds set up and plugged in so we can move fast.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Manny Marroquin, Michael Brauer, Tony Maserati, Serban Ghenea, Peter Katis
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Producing and mixing is the most common work. We (Kit Karlson and Chip) also have a decade of touring experience with bands, The Alternate Routes and Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers. We are well versed in filling out a track as if we were a member of the band we're working with.