Allen Farmelo's custom API desk.
Producer/engineer Allen Farmelo is an advocate of simplicity and originality when it comes to equipment — so much so that he customized his API Legacy Series console to fit his personal aesthetic. After six months of designing and building his console with Brooklyn designer Francois Chambard, Farmelo used his new desk to record the band Graph Rabbit's debut album, The Snowblind, in his home studio, The Snow Farm, based in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn. Pro Sound News spoke with Farmelo—who also works out of Mavericks Studio on the Lower East Side in Manhattan—about his console, his choice to record the Graph Rabbits album with only one microphone, and more.
What made you decide to build your own console?
(Buying a console) is a big step in someone’s career. I also knew I’d have to live with that console for the rest of my life and I really didn’t like anything out there that I could afford. I wanted something special, something that conveyed my aesthetic design. If I’m going to sit and touch something every day, it’s got to look good.
What does the custom console include?
My console is an API Legacy Series console based on the 7600 channel strips. Francois Chambard designed the furniture. The electronics aren’t a custom design; that was just getting everything to work in a console format.
How long did it take to assemble?
From inception to the final product, it took about six months. It wasn’t constant work, but between Francois building the console and my acquiring of the parts, six months is pretty quick. I first saw the drawings in September and I know we installed the console in early March.
While recording Graph Rabbit's album, The Snowblind, you used the same Telefunken AK-47 to record everything. Why did you make that decision?
This choice to use only one microphone on everything provided a sonic cohesiveness that helps the whole album feel like a unified world. This turned out to be a significant production choice for a concept album like Snowblind. Similarly, using only the API 7600 input strips for both tracking and mixing helped glue this world together sonically.
There’s an explosion of really good pro audio gear available and a lot of people thought you need a variety and bought one of everything. I got to the point where I was struggling to get mixes because everything has its own tone, so I finally said I wanted track everything on one preamp and mix on one track. If you think about it, it’s like an artist using a different brand of paint for every color—it just doesn’t make sense.
What do you think? Is such a singular approach the way to go or does eschewing other gear restrain the potential of the production? Share your thoughts in the Comments Section below, and in the meantime, here's a sample of the Graph Rabbit album to judge the effectiveness of the approach.