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Welcome to the Jungle

By Steve Harvey. Ensconced in a Los Angeles neighborhood known as the Jungle, beachside Shindig Music + Sound recently marked its second anniversary by expanding its space and services, unveiling a new 5.1 mix suite and production/green room.

Playa Del Rey, CA—Shindig Music + Sound celebrated its second anniversary in mid-March with an expansion of its space and its services, unveiling a new 5.1 mix suite and a new production/green room to complement its existing amenities, which include unobstructed vistas of sand, surf and sun. The company now offers a full suite of audio post services, including stereo and surround final mixing, sound design, voiceover recording, original composition, music licensing, music searches and a recently launched music library.

Shindig’s facility is in a beachfront triplex in a compact residential neighborhood built in the 1950s that is historically known as the Jungle. “At first we had two units here, one of which I live in,” says creative director Scott Glenn, who founded the company with sound designer and mixer Daniel Hart and executive producer Debbi Landon in mid-March 2017. All three previously worked for 15 or more years at Hum Music & Sound Design, a Santa Monica-based shop that was founded by Jeff Koz—brother of jazz saxophonist Dave—in 1997.

As it turns out, everyone at Shindig is ex-Hum. Caroline O’Sullivan, head of production, was there for a couple of years before joining Shindig, as was Austin Shupe, who came onboard as in-house composer last year. The Shindig team has also partnered with Susan Dolan, head of music research and licensing/music supervisor, a 10-plus-year veteran of Hum. “If someone wants to license a track by a signed artist, she has relationships with all the labels and publishers, and helps find the songs and negotiate the deals,” explains Glenn.

The building’s upper unit was initially turned into a small audio studio. Advances in production technologies and the proliferation of home studios, combined with the lingering effects of the 2009 recession, have drastically reduced the number of live sessions in the industry. “So to have a studio space where you had a big live room and a sizable control room and iso booths really didn’t make sense for us from a monetary perspective,” he says.

But when the third unit became available, Shindig jumped at the chance to add enhanced mixing capabilities. Hart’s new 5.1 mix room includes a voiceover booth and is below a lounge space with an additional kitchen that has been repurposed as a workspace and green room. Shupe has now moved into the original studio on the upper floor. If a project needs a larger recording space, then Shindig books time at The Village, Capitol or EastWest, says Glenn.

Related: Audio Post Faces Rising Expectations, Falling Budgets, by Steve Harvey, Nov. 20, 2018

The gear for the new 5.1 mix room was sourced from various outlets, says Hart. “I buy a lot of gear from Brian Loney at Sweetwater; he’s been my rep there for close to 20 years. We also bought a lot of gear from, Vintage King and RSPE.”

Hart, who has pairs of vintage Yamaha NS-10 and Genelec 1031A monitors, says, “I thought the Adam A7Xs were a good choice for a 5.1 package. We’d had experience with those in prior studios and I like the way they sound, especially in a 5.1 field. They’re a little closer to a true reference monitor for me.”

He considered installing an Avid S3 or Artist Mix unit for his Pro Tools HD rig. “I work in-the-box so much that all I would probably end up using is one fader to do automation moves.” After consulting with several mixer friends, he opted for Avid’s iPad-enabled Dock. “It’s something you can quickly move your hand to and do some automation, and it doesn’t take up a lot of real estate. It’s really easy to do all the panning; you can just touch and move stuff around on the iPad screen.”

In addition to a Universal Audio Apollo interface and 6176 channel strip, and a Dangerous Music Monitor ST/SR system, the room’s Argosy Console Halo desk also houses Hart’s Electrix unit. “One is a time-synchronized effects box [the Mo-Fx], which has distortion, flange, tremelo and delay. I have another at the side that’s a formant shifter [Warp Factory]. Anybody who doesn’t have one doesn’t know how great a piece of gear it is,” says Hart. “Every time I saw one, I would snatch it up.” For VO recording, a choice of AKG, Audio-Technica and Shure mic models are available.

Related: Music Mix Mobile Marks a Decade, March 18, 2019

“Our bread and butter is working with advertising agencies and, to some degree, production companies, editors and visual effects companies. We’ve also done some independent film and some TV stuff,” says Glenn. As the ad industry has evolved, there have also been opportunities to work directly with brands where there is no agency of record, he says, including American Eagle Outfitters, Experian and Dell.

“There are multiple reasons behind us adding the mix and voiceover services,” he continues. “It allows us to package things better; it’s something that Dan does well, so we might as well sell it; and it’s one of the aspects of the audio process that still is regularly attended, so you get facetime and hangtime with clients. It’s a good way to build relationships.”

The advertising focus informed Shindig’s decision to put down roots close to Playa Vista, one of several neighborhoods in the L.A. area referred to as Silicon Beach, where tech companies including Google and YouTube have facilities. “Of 15 major advertising agencies in Los Angeles, nine or 10 are located there,” says Glenn. “So ostensibly it’s convenient for them—though we find it’s hard to get people to come.”

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Indeed, relatively few ad clients attend sessions anywhere anymore. But if they’re going to attend any, where better than Shindig, where the sand starts on the other side of the patio wall?

“Some of the mixes we’ve done here that clients have attended, we put them on the balcony, give them drinks, they hang on the beach. We feel that the more we can give people that experience, the more inclined they will be to come and work with us,” says Glenn.

As a bonus, the triplex doubles as a client retreat. “We’ve probably had 15 or 20 individual single people, couples or groups staying here overnight, just because it’s something that we offer. If we’re not working on the weekends—and Dan and Austin have remote setups—they have a beach house to themselves. It’s a perk of working with us,” says Glenn.

“We have a saying: The hardest thing is to get them here. The second hardest thing is to get them out once they’re here.”

Shindig Music + Sound •