With home-recording on the rise, this Junction Triangle studio has found success by letting musicians have it both ways.
Thanks to the proliferation of highly advanced home-recording tools, many might be inclined to sound the death knell for the traditional recording studio. However, two young recording engineers and musicians, Leon Taheny and Josh Korody, have found success at Candle Recording by offering an artist-focussed space and taking a flexible approach, amassing a client list that includes Tokyo Police Club, The Wooden Sky, Burning Love, Modern Superstitions, and Dinosaur Bones.
How they got started: “I didn’t know I wanted to record or produce until pretty late,” says Korody. “I knew that I wanted to do music for a living, I just didn’t really think that playing was realistic. But I thought that maybe there was something else I could do that was a bit more behind-the-scenes.” While attending the Music Industry Arts program at Fanshawe College in London, Korody had some free studio time at his disposal and managed to persuade local garage-rockers The Mark Inside to do a little recording with him. “I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I got everything recorded. As soon as they started playing live in the room, and I could hear it back, I was just like, ‘I want to do this.’”
“After I graduated, I was in limbo,” he continues. “I didn’t know what to do, there were no jobs, so I bought a couple hundred dollars’ worth of equipment and I just started recording local bands in my hometown of St. Catharines. Just anyone I knew—I would do a record for a hundred dollars. I got more practice and more people wanted to record with me and then eventually I took a chance on Toronto. It was a gradual thing.”
Taheny similarly started out as a musician, but in his case it was one major project that established his career path. “I grew up as a teenager making music on computers—electronic stuff,” he says. “I was in bands and I had friends that I was recording. That’s kind of how I got into it at the start—I just kind of fell into it. But then, when Owen Pallett came to me with his first [Final Fantasy] record, that was the first thing where I was like, ‘Oh shit, now I’m a producer/engineer, I guess.’”
When the lease ran out on Taheny’s former space, he and Pallett entertained the idea of opening a studio together. While that didn’t pan out, the new space that Taheny found was too good to pass up, so he immediately put in a call to Korody. “In a day or two, we went from ‘how about…’ to ‘done’: the lease is signed, we’re moving in and ripping up the floor.”
Building the space: The project continued moving at a rapid pace after the lease was signed, with construction only taking about two months, a part of which included the daunting task of wiring everything together. “It’s the thing that everybody who does their first studio doesn’t think about,” says Taheny. “You’re just like, ‘Oh, I’ll hook it all up,’ but then you realize that it costs $10,000 to have someone come in and do it. So all this wiring here, I think there’s 1,200 points—you’ve got to strip it, you’ve got to crimp it, you’ve got to check it…” This may sound hellish to some, but not to Taheny. “I loved it!” he says.
Who works on what?: With two engineers in the mix, there’s potential for things to get complicated when deciding who gets what job, especially when there’s money at stake. So far, Taheny and Korody have been able to resolve this without any conflict by considering what’s best for the incoming client.
“It always depends on the project,” says Korody. ”Sometimes, it benefits the band if we’re both working on it and sometimes it’s better if it’s just one of us.”
“We have a listen to it and see who would be best-suited,” says Taheny. “Josh is great at getting guitar tones and rock stuff. I’m not quite as good as getting the space that Josh gets for that. And then I’m more focussed on acoustic instruments and strings and things like that. We have our fortés.”
And in the end, the success of each individual project comes back to benefit the studio. “There’s not tons of work out there—unless you can really get a name for yourself, you’re not being hounded for jobs,” Taheny says. “But it makes sense that [some producers] can be a little bit guarded and keep [a project] for themselves—you’ve got to make money. With Josh and I, the way we have it set up is that if Josh works on a band, I still make a bit of money from him renting the studio business, and then vice versa. So, in passing it off, we still have a bit of an incentive. Fortunately, this studio has been great for us and we’re both getting extremely busy now.”
Bridging the home-vs.-studio divide: As opposed to booking a giant block of time in a studio to record an album start-to-finish, many musicians now break up the process, using the studio to track the instruments beyond the scope of their at-home technology. “People are going back and forth,” Korody says. “We do have a lot of people come in and record drums and then bass and then take it home. For some people, they might want to spend three weeks on a guitar sound—sometimes, it just makes sense for them to spend their free time doing it themselves, then coming back and doing some mixing.”
Adds Taheny, “There’s people who are just so used to working at home and you’re just bringing a different fidelity to what they’re doing—it’s great and works really well that way. I’m totally open to the whole idea of it, because that’s how I would do it. And things are kind of moving that way.”
The importance of a musician’s perspective: One of Candle’s biggest advantages is that the owners are active musicians themselves, often moving in the same circles as their clients. “I feel like that’s one of the reasons why it seems to be working so far,” says Korody. “Working with bands, I feel it helps, because you’ve been in the same situation—it helps to share that common ground. Maybe you become a little more sensitive to people’s creative ideas and you can accommodate musicians better.”
In fact, the duo often serve as each other’s clients. “Both Josh and I have been recording each other’s bands since we got together and that works out really well,” says Taheny. “Josh is producing [my band] Rituals right now and I did his Breeze recording.”
Taheny feels his experience as a musician makes him less likely to pass judgement. “I can’t really do that, because I can see where [the clients are] coming from and I know how it feels,” he says. “When we were doing the Rituals record, I’m on the couch playing videogames, just barking, like, ‘No, it sucks Josh, do it again’—I’m totally that guy. So in that way, I encourage people to be a little bit bratty in the studio. This is your time, you’re paying money to be here, so do whatever you want. This is what the experience is all about: It’s about you just getting your creative shit out and we can swear at each other and it’s not in a mean way. We’re just trying to get the song to sound good; let’s just make good tunes.”
The most common mistake musicians make: “Sometimes you work with bands and they just haven’t practiced before they come in,” Taheny says. “Before you come into the studio, spend the two weeks before practising as much as you can. That’s the way you should be: You’re excited and you’re practicing and you’re ready because, finally, someone’s going to capture it and you’ve got to be ready for that kind of thing. That makes my job more exciting—when people are excited to do it.”
221 Sterling Rd., Unit 18, 416-436-1796, candlerecording.com.