Sound of Music Studios celebrates 20 years of A/V production with wide view of Richmond music scene

by | Jun 21, 2016 | MUSIC

Over the past two decades, the engineers at Sound of Music Studios have set a Richmond standard for producing major label records, internationally acclaimed films, and live in-studio performances.

Over the past two decades, the engineers at Sound of Music Studios have set a Richmond standard for producing major label records, internationally acclaimed films, and live in-studio performances. Chief Engineer John Morand, with gold and platinum credits to his name, opened Sound of Music in 1994 with Cracker and CamperVanBeethoven frontman, David Lowery. Sound of Music has since worked with a broad range of artists including Daniel Johnston, Sparklehorse, Strike Anywhere, Sons of Bill, Steve Wynn, D’Angelo, Carbon Leaf, Nina Pearcon (of the Cardigans); and has hosted producers such as Joe Boyd and John Wood (Tim Buckley, R.E.M), Steve Fisk (Nirvana, Agents of Good Roots), and Dennis Herring (Modest Mouse, The Hives).

After occupying several downtown locations, Sound of Music has made a permanent move to 1710 Altamont Avenue in Scott’s Addition. With 11,000 square feet, the upgraded building will allow a supporting staff of talented producers and technicians to join Morand in the next phase of the studio–a new chapter that will see Sound of Music incorporate video production more prominently into its repertoire.

Morand and his partners have plans to operate the location as an all-inclusive event space for concerts, art openings, private functions, as well as studio spaces.

“Our experience comes from all over the spectrum,” says Morand, “besides producing music, we have also worked on TV shows, movies, music videos, and filmed live concerts through the years. With the growing role of social media and web-presence throughout the industry, video and film have become an essential part of our clients needs.”

As a way to celebrate their platinum anniversary, Sound of Music is proud to present the top videos associated with the studio from the past year. This highlight reel represents a cast of local and international technicians, producers, and artists.

“We would like to thank all of the artists and producers who made each project possible,” said Morand “With our new location taking shape, we look forward to creating new media that helps our musicians cope with the now internet-driven industry.”

Lauren Hoffman and the Secret Storm — “In The Sun”

Lauren Hoffman’s repertoire with Sound of Music began in 1994 with her debut album, Megiddo. Recorded and produced by Lowery and Morand, Megiddo was released on Virgin Records in 1997.

Ever after, Hoffman has involved Sound of Music in her succeeding releases: Choreography (2006) and Interplanetary Traveler (2010). In her newest incarnation, The Secret Storm, Hoffman’s signature songwriting is dressed with a southern gothic edge. Hoffman has habitually embraced releasing her songs with video accompaniment by incorporating filmmakers, choreographers, and dancers in collaboration. Hoffman explains that she has at last created a platform to “channel all of her artistic influences”.

Recorded and produced at Sound of Music, “In The Sun” is complemented by the vision of director, Thomas Smith, whose short narrative discloses an unsettling case study of complacency, comfort, and desire.

The Sally Rose Band – “Gotta Be Gold”

Another glittering example of Charlottesville’s folk-pop scene is The Sally Rose Band, described by Morand as “hearty, ya’ll-ternative songwriting with a dynamite band.” Directed by Rich Tarbell and Brian Wimer, the “Gotta Be Gold” video was released in December of last year. The band spent Spring & Summer of last year recording Gotta Be Gold (October 2015) at Sound Of Music Studios Morand. Rose fondly recounts their time at Sound of Music, “Staying up late, eating grocery store sushi, sleeping on the floor, drinking cheap red wine and shaping the edgier, rockier sound for The SRB.

This record embodies sinking, fuzzy guitar riffs, one sugary folk duet, Grace Potter-esque vocal stylings, 90’s grunge era progressions, a hint of spooky soul and guest appearances by Erin Lunsford (Erin & The Wildfire) and Lauren Hoffman.” As Toby Leaman of Dr. Dog notes, “‘Gotta Be Gold’ is the embodiment of sweet, girl power rock n roll.”

Victor Haskins & Lonnie Liston Smith– “Recorda-me”

Trumpeter, improviser, composer, arranger, band leader, and educator–at just 23 years of age, Victor Haskins has racked up quite the resume. Recorded and filmed in-studio, this video features Haskins and jazz great, Lonnie Liston Smith (courtesy of Miles Davis), performing “Recorda-me”. Victor holds a Jazz Studies/Performance degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he completed the four-year music program in only three years (the first and only person to ever accomplish this feat).

Some notable highlights of his career thus far include the creation of his own improvisational concept–Melodic Improvisation–as well as an independently conceived musical genre that is based on that concept, called ImproviStory. He has also been the Director of the first and only Jazz Outreach program for the Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts National Symphony Orchestra Education Department since its inception in 2014. Richmonder, Lonnie Liston Smith, has an extensive career of playing alongside jazz greats such as Ethel Ennis, Betty Carter, and Joe Williams, Art Blakey, Max Roach and, of course, Miles Davis.

Anthony Curtis– Electronic Press Kit

As part of an electronic press kit for Anthony Curtis’ 2015 release Lush Life, this short form video was made by Nate Griffith of Porterhouse Films as a promotional piece before touring the record. Well known for his technical prowess as a prog-rock guitarist, Lush Life is the first album to feature his singing and songwriting–his solo career to date has been only instrumental. Over his career, Curtis has worked extensively with Tony Levin of King Crimson, and renowned jazz guitarist Cecil Taylor.

CAKES – “Who Gon Check Me”

The dissonant baby grand piano intro of rap artist Cake’s new single “Who Gon Check Me” slows your roll from the start. This track is perfect to play while you’re getting dressed for a night out, or when you’re bumping confidence while pushing toward your goals and aspirations. Cakes told us, “The record is a fun anthem for both, males and females everywhere. I’ve been working with Trae Coles, who is the producer behind the record, for about eight years. He is very passionate about his craft, and is amazing to work with. The record was recorded at Sound of Music Studios, and overall it was an incredible experience.”

Coles’ studio, Engine Ears, is also located in the new Sound of Music complex on Altamont. Shot by 2TrueFilms, this video is one of the first in-studio sessions shot at the Altamont location.

Southern Belles – “Getaway”

Combining jam band antics with a southern rock bent, the Southern Bells recorded their album Close To Sunrise with Morand in Spring of 2015. This music video for their “Getaway” was funded by a Kickstarter campaign of $15,000; and features the album’s producer, Bryan Walthal in a sardonic, comic narrative. Congratulations to the Belles for winning their place at the 2015 Lockn’ Festival through the Rockn’ to Lockn’ competition.

These guys never fail to keep busy, with plans to make 2016 “another 120+ show year”. The group’s guitarist, Adrian Ciucci comments, “Hopefully 2016 will certainly be another 120+ show year, hopefully the start of a new records and hopefully some of these tours will work out with bigger acts and that will get us into some bigger venues. Always a project.”

Lady God – In-Studio Documentary

This in-studio documentary catalogues Richmond’s rock n’ roll debutante, Lady God, in session with their second double 7”, Lady God #2. Recently dubbed “one of the most fully realized rock outfits to come out of the city in recent years,” the group’s hi-gloss flare has certainly made its mark on the scene since their debut at the Broadberry’s Instant Pleasure Fest in fall of 2014.

Morand started working with the punchy trio that year, mixing their first double 7”, The Pebbles (May 2015), which had been recorded at the Virginia Moonwalker with Russell Lacy.

Shot and produced by Porterhouse Films, this mini-mentary animates the group’s backstage antics and creative process. Lady God has since welcomed the addition of former Diamond Center keyboardist, Lindsay Phillips.

Tarrant – In-Studio Documentary

Released in 2016, Tarrant recorded and mixed their first full-length, self-titled album with Morand. Tarrant combines the songwriting prowess of Austin transplant, frontman Jordan Tarrant with a cast of Richmond heavy hitters–Dusty Simmons, Craig Harmon, Jared Pool, Russell Lacy, and Chrissie Lozano. Morand praises the group’s ability to retain an organic, americana sound, while subtly showcasing each player’s technical ability. This in-studio session documents the events unfolding around the debut CD. Again, video production by Nate Griffith of Porterhouse Films.

Distortion Mirrors – In-Studio Documentary

Produced by Porterhouse Films, this video is a documentary press-kit piece for the Leeds based group, Distortion Mirrors, for their debut album Lost Tapes. Think mid-90’s Smashing Pumpkins, indie rock influences. Frontman, Luke Worle, lives in Sheffield, England and came exclusively to Sound of Music to record Lost Tapes. The band began as an arty Dream-Pop bedroom project called “Starry Eyed Wonder” but quickly changed gears. This video documentary features Richmond legend, Mick Mueller of Single Bullet Theory on bass; as well as two of the Sound of Music’s classical studio musicians, Jessica Blanks and Zoe Kemp, on violin and cello.

Those Manic Seas – “Outlier”

Known for their TV-headed vocalist and light show, post-rock performance oriented group, Those Manic Seas, produced this video for their single “Outlier” in November of 2015. Made by Shannon Roulet and Drew Rollo, the video features a montage of archival footage from Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968) directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Since last June the group has recorded and mixed their forthcoming album Outlier with Morand, which has just recently been sent off for mastering at Peerless Mastering in Boston. “We’re really proud of this group,” Morand says, “major props for touring over 90 days in this past year.” The group plans to release Outlier in Fall of 2016.

Nervous Ticks – Live Music Video

RIP NVT 2013-2016. The Ticks sadly ceased being a band only a few months ago. Filmed during a live performance at Sound of Music by cinematographer Oliver LeClair, this live music video captures the energy of the group’s “all black everything” rock show. Shot at the Studio’s former Broad Street location, this video is exemplary of what would be available as part of a media package to bands wanting to record and perform at the studio.

Manzara– Live Music Video

This live music video is part of a live CD that was performed at Sound of Music, with cinematography by Olivia LeClair. Fronted by Canary oh Canary’s Michael Harl, Manzara combines a classic mathrock sound with ambient-electronic vocals. This video features SONG TITLE from their 4-song EP the hills are aLIVE AT THE SOUND OF MUSIC, recorded and mixed by Morand and mastered by Bryan Walthall at Stereo Image Productions.

Shua Key- “Comebaq” Music video

EDM hiphop artist, Shua Key (aka Josh Bae), is making his debut alongside Sound of Music’s new creative director, Angie Huckstep(who wrote this piece), who edited this video produced by Morand and Sound of Music partner, Matt Treacy. Shua Key has been working with Morand on his forthcoming album imnotwhatiusedtobe, to be released this summer. “[At Sound of Music] we come from this world of guitars,” says Morand “and Josh’s work is a great example of artists who come to us outside of rock genres… we are excited to release his upcoming album in 2016.”

Heart Pines – Electronic Press Kit

Featuring former Sound of Music engineer, Bryan Hoffa and his wife Jess Hoffa, this electronic press kit video produced by Porterhouse Films is yet another example of media content available through the studio. This duo is part of Charlottesville’s “off-the-radar” scene, whose sound blends post-american songwriting with elements of dub, and dark southern gothic… with a twist — notice the group’s use of outsider instruments, as Jess Hoffa bows a saw. This video captures the inspiration for their last release, Lark Mirror, and what makes the band tick! Contact Sound of Music about making an EPK as part of your record.

Richmond International Film Festival – Event Specific Documentary

Recorded for the Richmond International Film Festival, this event-specific documentary is a shining example of how Sound of Music can capture any event or function, and produce video output for any promotional purpose. These performances were part of RIFF’s showcase of local musicians, and musicians involved with featured film scores: An Evening of Film and Music at Sound of Music Studios. In the video, Morand explains that this event included screening the North American debut of a film about Russian band, Pussy Riot, called Putin Vs. Pussy; with performances by Mint, Shrewdness of Apes, Scott Burton, Shadower, Andrew Scott Bell, and Shannon Carey of Luray. This video was shot and produced by Matt Treacy at Sound of Music Studios.

MOST MEMORABLE: Lamb of God – Music Video – “Set to Fail”

This video for Lamb of God’s “Set to Fail” was filmed at Sound of Music’s 321 West Broad and Main location in 2007. Morand recounts, “There was a contest to get into the video, we had kids lined up all around the outside of the building… when they really got going you could feel floor flexing.”

JOHN MORAND’S FIRST MUSIC VIDEO: Cracker – Music Video – “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)

Cracker’s video for “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now) was the first film project that Morand worked on… ever! Released in 1992, this video off their debut album was nominated as an MTV Video Music Award for “Artist to Watch”.

IN MEMORIAM to Mark and Teresa Linkous: Sparklehorse – Music Video – “Someday I Will Treat You Good”

“Someday I Will Treat You Good” was recorded by Morand, and released on Sparklehorse’s album Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot in 1995. Directed by Scott Minor and Mark Linkous, the video also features Morand’s sister, Jennifer.

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner




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