Build a house from the sound up

Build a house from the sound up

“This is where I’m sitting, and this is my dog, Ringo,” Anne Haugen, SOUTH Music’s head of production, told me, pointing to a lumbering bichon across the vice president’s desk in the front room. After leaving the group of team members gathered on the front porch to enjoy their lunch in the Los Angeles sunshine, Anne and creative director Matt Drenick continued the company’s “SOUTH House” tour.

Built in the 1930s, this charming Craftsman home is full of character, making it a perfect fit for the diverse crew of creatives who call it home. Located in Hollywood’s trendy Larchmont Village, SOUTH House is a stone’s throw from some of Los Angeles’ finest cafés, restaurants and bars – a huge hit with visiting and corporate clients.

After acquiring the property in 2021, SOUTH Music was keen to build the most creative environment ever. But there was a lot of work to do before the award-winning music and audio production company could call this house home.

Having worked in audio studios across the country, Matt has stepped up to play an integral role in executing SOUTH House’s creative vision. “The idea was that we wanted to have a hybrid recording studio that allowed for all aspects of production – composing, mixing and development – ​​while giving artists the option of working independently or collaboratively,” he explains.

Matt reveals that his overall inspiration for the house was influenced by Berry Gordy’s house and Motown’s Hitsville House, with production rooms modeled on the famous Chiron Studios, a Swedish recording studio occupied by writers such as Max Martin and international pop acts such as Britney Spears, Bryan Adams and Celine. Debt. Matt led the planning and design process and considered the most productive use of the 2,500 square feet.

From installing hand-crafted panels to sourcing “acoustic doors,” Matt and sound engineer Robin Holden worked with a contractor to maximize the space. Reflecting on the renovation process, Matt says: “I walked around with a little piece of paper and started writing down the rooms it could be put in. Then we worked together to shape it, tweaking everything, right up until the end.

In addition to the staff of composers who each have their own individual studios, there is an artist-in-residence room within the studio. An eclectic series of high-profile musicians were in attendance to compose music in the studio, including film and television composers, Kate Diaz and Joanna Kranich, and indie composer Elliot Glaser, of the “Numbpop” trio, FYOHNA.

Alongside visiting talent, a number of skilled composers, producers and engineers – hailing from the UK to Uruguay – are working from SOUTH House on a more sustainable basis. The state-of-the-art equipment has been put to good use in the past two years, with SOUTH Music producing for commercial, film and TV, as well as projects for brands such as Samsung, Cadillac and Call of Duty.

The studio is also frequented by collaborators seeking to produce recordings such as Marina Darling, Este Haim, Evan Rachel Wood, Miller Campbell, The Gold Minutes and Battleme. Lead singer of alt rock band Veruca Salt, Louise Post’s “Sleepwalker”, released in June 2023, is the latest album to come out of the South, and has received accolades in NME, Consequence of Sound, Brooklyn Vegan, Stereogum, and more.
Elsewhere, in the world of long format, Matt undertook musical supervision for the soundtrack to Jarad Moshe’s feature film, Aporia, starring Judy Greer. Using SOUTH House as a creative hub, Matt worked closely with the director, inviting bands from his own label – Get Loud Recordings – to help record the romantic sci-fi epic.

Considering the eclectic and stylish environment, it is clear that the SOUTH Music team was brimming with enough imagination to eliminate the need for an interior designer. From the classic 1940s jukebox, to the carefully curated walls of framed art, movie posters and photos from concerts, SOUTH House is a team effort full of heart.

When we reached the end of the tour, Anne and Matt took a few minutes to reflect on the benefits of their new work environment. “We had a studio before, but it never worked out,” says Anne. “Getting this home during the pandemic gave us a clean slate that we could transform into exactly what we wanted.”

“Our philosophy has always been to create a space that will facilitate work beyond commercials; great artistic projects, whether it’s a short film or an album. We wanted to create an environment that inspires people and keeps things interesting.

“We were able to design a space that accommodated as much space as possible for us,” says Matt. “This is not a traditional recording studio, and as a result, the sound that comes out of here sounds completely different and can really be felt in every recording we’ve done so far.”

The sound of the South seems to start at home.

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