Published on November 5th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Producer Anne Gauthier On Louisville, La La Land, Glyn Johns, Her Career Goals & More
La La Land is an analog/digital based recording studio in Louisville, Kentucky. It is built around a 40-channel vintage Trident board, a full array of classic analog gear, and 1000-square-foot tracking room with 3 isolation booths. It’s been home to many local and national recording artists alike, including My Morning Jacket, Ray Lamontagne, Horse Feathers and Basia Bulat.
Anne Gauthier is a Canadian recording and mixing engineer working out of La La Land. She took over from Kevin Ratterman in 2018 as the studio’s head engineer and producer. Gauthier got her start playing drums in Montreal when she was 15, toured the country at 19, and eventually toured internationally with the band TR/ST. Her recording credits include Murder By Death, Strands Of Oak and White Reaper, and she has worked on sessions with Jim James, Jake Shears and Ray Lamontagne.
While in Louisville for this year’s Louder Than Life Festival, I had the pleasure of being introduced to many folks within the music scene of the city. The fine folks at sonaBLAST! Records introduced me to Anne Gauthier, which led to us doing Q&A for The Hype. More on Gauthier can be found online by visiting www.annegauthier.info, while La La Land keeps a home at www.lalalandsound.com.
When did you know that what you were doing in the music world was going to be a career and not just a hobby?
Anne Gauthier: I’ve always strived to have music be a career, and have been a touring drummer since I was 19. I started working full-time in the music world about 6 or 7 years ago when I got hired to tour internationally with TR/ST for a couple of years before moving to Louisville.
Was the goal for you to always be an engineer and not the person out front as a performer?
Anne Gauthier: The goal was always to be involved in music, I came to want to be an engineer with the realization that recording albums in studios were always my favourite part of the process of being a musician. I made 2 records back to back the summer of 2008, and that thought really got cemented then. I always had been recording one way or another by necessity with a four track, computer or whatever else was available to me but this was the summer that the lighbulb kind of went off.
What was your first credit that you were really proud of on the production end?
Anne Gauthier: I tracked and co-produced Tyler Lance Walker Gill’s record 2 years ago. He is a classic country singer with some highly political lyrics. “So-Called Christian Politician” is a standout on the record and will make any Southern-lefty cry and feel powerful all at once! He’s securing the last of his funding to release it to the world, so I hope to see out there soon. I think Kentucky and our southern state friends need to hear what he has to say right now!
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What a treat to have british recording legend Glyn Johns land at La La Land and work w our engineer Anne Gauthier for a Screamin' John and TD Lind session! We got to soak in a whole 60 years of recording stories, see the famous “john bonham” drum recording technique in action and get some old school tricks from a 77 year old master of his craft.
Your studio La La Land is said to have a larger studio/tracking room than any Nashville studio. Is that really the case?
Anne Gauthier: Well, that is a great question. I was just at this cool studio on Music Row in Nashville called The Tracking Room a couple of months ago, and was told that it was the biggest tracking room in town. I assume the local real estate explosion has affected the amount of studios in Nashville, as well as the size of those that remain, but I hope I’m wrong and can continue to visit other big tracking rooms in Nashville!
Also of note is that La La Land is 1 of only 2 major studios on the East Coast led by a woman as head engineer. Is that something you pay any mind to?
Anne Gauthier: Not really! I’m usually holed up at La La Land 60 to 70 hours a week doing my thing. Although, it was shocking to learn there aren’t any other head engineers of major tracking/mixing studios who aren’t male — except for a couple in California and one or two on the East Coast.
Who are some of the great artists that have recorded at La La Land in the recent past? I’ve heard that Glyn Johns was there recently?
Anne Gauthier: We’ve had all kinds of amazing acts during my years here, including Jim James, Ray Lamontagne, Strand of Oaks, Jake Shears, all kinds of jazz, hip-hop, post rock, industrial, new wave, and opera-electronic classical — really! The list goes on and on. I’m truly lucky that this studio caters to everyone and makes everyone feel welcomed. I am probably as much of a country fan as I am a fan of hip-hop and every other kind of music. I can’t say that there is actually a style of music I wouldn’t enjoy recording, maybe polka? But who knows. Maybe the best polka band in the world could change my mind!
And yes, Glyn Johns came in to produce an album by Screamin’ John and TD Lind. I was his ProTools engineer for the session, we hit it off and I get to e-mail him once in a while and tell him what I’ve been up to! He’s been so supportive. The British guy that invented rock & roll recording and the weird punk kid from Canada by way of louisville who is about 40 years his junior, who would have thought that meeting would ever happen? He is so passionate about the art of record making still, it was very inspiring to be around.
What is a typical day for you like at La La Land? Is it all spent in the control room?
Anne Gauthier: I am the head engineer and manager at the studio, so my schedule will change depending on what is happening that day. Tracking days would involve setting up the session both in the tracking room and control room, as well as collaborating with the band regarding plans for the day/week. Mixing days look like me being holed up in the control room. On these days, or any day that I do not have a session, I answer emails, coordinate musicians, and keep up with equipment maintenance. The studio also showcases local visual artists and hosts exciting events — as well as not-so-exciting meetings.
What do the next few months look like for you? Is it all La La Land all the time?
Anne Gauthier: Yes, pretty much. I’m doing some mixing and some tracking. I’ve been getting a lot more local hip-hop artists coming into the studio lately, which has been super exciting to mix and aid in production. There is such a healthy and diverse crew of MCs and producers in town, but not that many studios and mixing engineers have been helping them achieve a certain final quality, so excited to help with that, and help to showcase their music outside of the city.
I am also getting an 8 track 1” tape machine set up in the studio. With that, I’m ready to get full bands in here to record a little more old school, and — on my end — to commit a lot more to sound decisions while tracking. Most of my favourite records have been recorded to tape. There is a lot to that process that benefits performances on records – ultimately making some great and memorable songs.
La La Land is indeed a Louisville spot. What is it that keeps you a resident of the city?
Anne Gauthier: I moved to Louisville because of La La Land, but this city is very affordable and easy to live in. It’s so great for artists. It is also very central, so helpful for touring musicians.
Who are some of the Louisville music scene-related people that you are especially connected to?
Anne Gauthier: I am connected with Girls Rock Louisville and its fine folks. The studio is partnering up with the Louisville Is For Lovers compilation right now to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The compilation is a Who’s Who of Louisville Music over the years. It’s such a small town; I feel like everyone in the music community is connected one way or another! La La Land just sponsored the first Latin Music Awards in Kentucky, LRS Fest, and Poorcastle. We want La La Land to be at the centre of the Louisville music and cultural community; we have such a cool space that is very conducive to bringing people together, creatively and community-wise.
Finally, what was the last concert you attended for fun?
Anne Gauthier: Jake Shears at Zanzabar, and Guns N’ Roses at Louder Than Life.