Recording with Pier Giacalone at Hopetown Sound

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Last month I made a one-day appointment to record a single at Hopetown Sound with the engineer and producer Pier Giacalone. He has a nice studio in New Hope, PA and has some really great sounds coming out, so after a few phone calls, the date was set.

The studio is in this quaint location out in the boonies and the house numbers skip a few, which had me turning around a couple of times, but luckily my GPS saved my butt and helped me find the place. Others would probably not have any problems. I’m special.

Sprint service is sketchy in that area, so people coming to play (like Scott Grande, who played drums on my track) need to have the studio phone number or be willing to communicate in text messages only. Scott had no trouble finding the studio….

Pier has a very warm and casual demeanor, and made me feel comfortable from the moment we met. He reassured me that he liked the music we were recording, and that he was ready to work – – which is important to me. **note: If a producer shows no interest at all in your music/voice/songs, you may want to keep looking.  I sent Pier some sound samples to make sure that he was interested in working with me beforehand. I also get a little nervous if producers want to spend too much time chatting before getting to the recording process. Why? Because at the end of the day when they are tallying your bill, nobody ever says, “You arrived at 1pm, but I talked for 3 hours, so I’ll just charge you from 4pm….” Occasionally some chatting time is shaved off, but unless you have a stopwatch going, it gets added to your bill. So, Pier’s focus on getting equipment set up while we discuss the music and the process was a relief. Plus, the more I chit chat with new people, the more nervous I get and the greater the opportunity for me to say something that will embarrass myself. Ridiculous, but true.

The studio has an AWESOME Voice/Acoustic booth! It’s a room with a window so that you can see the engineer.  (Shouldn’t they all be set up this way? Some aren’t.) There are also mixer controls so that you can control the volume of the backup and yourself while recording. This is the FIRST time I’ve encountered this. Even if other studios had it rigged up, they never told me how to use it, so I would avoid touching any knobs out of fear that I’d ruin something. Recording at Hopetown Sound, I didn’ t have to say, “I can’t hear myself”, “can you turn up the mix?”, “I’m too loud”, etc etc etc. The in-house drum kit had the same controls so that Scott could adjust the headphone volumes to his liking as well. It’s like peach pie. Good.

The bathroom….had toilet paper! And AND AND AND…this is exciting….soap! It wasn’t fancy-shmancy or anything like that, but I’ve come across so many *disgusting* bathrooms in studios that it was a pleasant surprise. Of the 5 studios I’ve recorded in, only 2 of them have had toilet paper. Seriously. As someone who likes to not smell like pee, I’m glad Pier stocked toilet paper. And to the rest of you who apparently like to pee all over the walls and then shamelessly tell me where the bathroom is with a mocking, “I’m not quite SURE if there’s any toilet paper in there..”…you know who you are. And your mother would not be proud. Anyway….Pier’s bathroom had toilet paper! It’s headline-making news.

Pier was nice to my drummer friend, which was seriously helpful in recording a great song. 3 People usually = 3 Opinions, and a greater chance of conflict…..but nobody argued, nobody had fights about the sound, nobody cried at all! There was no grimacing or calls to friends afterwards to gossip about so-and-so’s bad musicianship. (As far as I know!) lol  It’s almost like we were on some other planet…where people are nice and birds clean the house and all talking is actually sung instead of spoken. Then, I have a reprise section while peeing in the bathroom that has TOILET PAPER!! It was surreal. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. or maybe not.

**For the ladies: The studio is located at the bottom of a steep paved hill. It’s best not to wear your tall high-heeled boots. From, one who parked at the top of the hill and very slowly took tiny steps all the way down like a Geisha with a toe splinter.

I digress…

The song got recorded in the one day. It took longer than I planned because I scribbled down a string part before I left home while my kid was whining and banging on the other end of my keyboard. Shame on me for not preparing better! I also lost my mind and forgot how to play the violin in the studio for a while. But it all came together, and there was even one pizza place still open by the time we were finished. (Usually I don’t eat or drink anything….since there is no toilet paper in case I have to use the loo at these studios.)

There was also a long table chocked full with every kind of drink a singer could want. Tea packets, clean mugs, a microwave, raw sugar, honey, coffee, (Scott had some coffee, which I’m sure made the beats cleaner! Maybe?) and…..chocolate. OK, so that’s not really conductive to singing…but I did enjoy a piece on the drive home.

Pier had the song back to me in a very short amount of time, and I LOVED the edits and production. What I noticed about the mix? He actually produces. He adds to and shapes the song and PRODUCES it. I’m totally happy, and will definitely be back to record at Hopetown Sound again. So glad I found this great studio and producer!!!

You can find the studio’s demos, links, pictures and other info here:


Categories: Music Blogs

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