Words by Kinch Kinski
Photography by David Matthew Images
In the northern Melbourne suburb of Epping, Brendan Marolla and Lyndon Wesley run a production studio called Bounce. They aim to help independent artists take the next step in their career with a holistic, flexible approach to recording.
Marolla has more than 15 years experience in the music industry as a producer, engineer and singer-songwriter. He previously ran Tropic Records in Townsville, where he produced around 20 albums and EPs. Wesley is a singer-songwriter and music director who runs a separate business called SongCity offering songwriting coaching and courses.
As a singer-songwriter, Wesley has supported the likes of Mark Seymour and Ross Wilson.
The pair started Bounce after doing sessions at studios where little to no production help was given at all; just an engineer to make sure the sounds were captured.
Bounce is a small studio but enough for most independent artists. It has comfortable rooms for mixing and pre-production work, a main recording suite big enough to accommodate a full band and a smaller room for vocals.
The studio is kitted out with a range of quality microphones, including Audio Technica, AKG, Sennheiser, Microtech Gefell and Shure. The recording set-up features Metric Halo converters, various tube mic pre-amps and Dangerous Music monitoring and analog summing. Marolla uses both Pro Tools and Logic Pro X.
Sitting at the mixing desk Marolla brings up a track and hits play.
“Here’s an artist that we think should do quite well; she’s moving to the UK next year to pursue music.”
The artist is Annika Willoughby, a singer with a sweet, earnest voice and solid pop songs who has been recording at Bounce recently.
“It’s a really great vocal track, it’s really intimate. This is one of the artists who went through the whole process,” Marolla says.
He’s referring to the unique multi-layered services Bounce offers to clients. The studio can be hired for a daily rate of $660. This will get you the rooms, the equipment and an engineer to operate the desk – pretty standard stuff. But most clients – like Annika – choose packages that can include song coaching, artist development, arranging, pre-production, production, session musicians, mixing, mastering and more.
For artists who take on the full Bounce service, work begins long before the first notes are recorded, with song development sessions with Wesley.
The process varies depending what stage the songs are at – everything from fully fledged, arranged songs to snippets of melody and chords recorded on a mobile phone – and it can be time consuming. In some cases, Marolla recommends starting song development a month before the date set for recording, but both Marolla and Wesley agree it is well worth the effort.
“Getting the song right first is the most important thing. If you have a great song, it’s going to shine through,” Wesley says.
Once everyone is happy with the songs, the pre-production stage begins, focusing on developing a sound for the album, working on arrangements and sometimes even creating fully fledged demos of songs.
The song development and pre-production work means that when it comes time for Marolla to start recording, he already has a strong idea of the song “in broad brush strokes”.
Marolla then sits down with the artists and does the hands-on work of getting the music recorded, edited, and mixed.
“Wesley will do the pre-production and I’ll have all his ideas, then I’ll add my ideas to it and do the hands-on producing with the artist and the musicians.”
The cost of services at Bounce varies quite widely depending on the project itself and the services required. Discounts are built into packages depending on the way different services are bundled together and Marolla and Wesley do what they can to accommodate all budgets. Even when a project’s budget can’t be met, Marolla says artists often find a way to pay the extra money once they have a ‘taster’ of the service.
“We try not to play the price game because there are plenty of studios around that charge less than us,” he says.
“But the artists who want these services will come to us, or go to a studio like ours that focuses more on a marketable finished product.”
Bounce also has extensive connections with session musos. Marolla and Wesley themselves are session guitar and keys players respectively. They recommend guitarist Anthony Taylor (“He makes you sick he’s so good,” enthuses Wesley), drummer Daniel Marolla, pedal-steel player David ‘Silver Fox’ Moore, and cellist Loren Byrne to name a few.
For those with a budget to spare, there’s even the option of bringing in Jared Haschek, a friend of Wesley’s, to write and record orchestral parts for an album or EP. Daniel Marolla – Marolla’s brother – also runs DM Creative Media and has produced film clips for artists recording at Bounce.
Marolla and Wesley give a lot of time, energy and expertise to the musicians they work with and it never hurts to have a couple of pros in your corner.
Head to bouncestudios.com.au for more info