To Something Better A Cucumber or a Camel
Feb 282010

4. Furry Friends

Any good recording environment needs pets.

In 1993 we had Barley.

I was working at White Crow Audio in Burlington, Vermont under the tutelage of my buddy Tom Walters.  Barley was his dog, dear friend, and—in the studio—colleague.


Barley put everyone at ease, even musicians with allergies.  Even a certain producer/engineer going through serious drug and alcohol addiction withdrawal.  Of course i won’t name names, but said producer could terrify the drummer into into an involuntary bowel movement before a take.  Mr Producer would throw very expensive, vintage equipment across a room in a tantrum.  (”No, no….not the Pultec!!!!” and then duck.)

Barley liked to lie under the Neve 8068 console in the control room.  Mr Producer never threw anything—or even raised his voice—when Barley was under the console.  Why?  Barley was a natural calming agent for everyone trying to focus on the creative moment, trying to deliver recorded sound that would hopefully one day mean something special to many, many people.  He would loosen up even those just trying to create a hit based on demographic research.  Barley didn’t discriminate.

Our feline guys at Red Sun are Tee Tee and Béla.  They each have remarkably distinct and discriminating tastes and are not at all shy about showing their opinion during playback just by walking right out of the room.  If you’ve got something, you’ll know it, ears will be peeled.  If you don’t, there won’t be anyone nearby warming your feet.



Béla holds expertise in the avant-garde, anything resembling children’s music, and monophonic translation.  Loves Björk, Steve Reich, Eric Dolphy.  He’s also very fond of Thai-Lao classical music,  although that particular enthusiasm hasn’t had occasion to prove directly useful in our shop just yet.

Tee Tee’s expertise lies in High-Life, African Funk, the Nina mystique, serious bottom end, European lounge, Piaf integrity, and optimum stereo imaging.  Often he’ll hog the sweet spot between the monitors.  You can tell when he’s working because he has such observable focus.

Tee Tee

Tee Tee

Both guys produce subsonic frequencies with immense healing and spirit-lifting power.

Play time reminds us to take the ears breaks that are so necessary when doing extended audio work.  Tossing a ball or running around with a piece of ribbon momentarily takes your mind off the contour of the bass, or the vocal take, or whatever we convince ourselves is putting everything on the line in a given studio moment.

On top of all that, these members of the crew get paid in treats!—and while that’s more than most interns earn in this business, pets will never be mistaken by a client as being legally capable of going out for a beer run.  Not most clients, anyway.

It can be great to have friends with you in the studio.  Nonhuman friends often provide a unique tone of relaxation, a reminder that while our work is serious we humans don’t need to take ourselves too seriously.

I think the listener hears that in the final result.

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