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Studiophile: March 2013

| March 1, 2013

West suburban-based Sonic Palace Recording recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. IE’s Scott Assmann recently caught up with founder/owner Matt Mercado.

IE: What’s your background in the studio business?
I got bitten by the recording bug when I got my first Tascam Portastudio for Christmas in my teens. I started forming bands and recording the demos that led my band Daisy Chain (Mindbomb) to a major label recording deal with Mercury Records. Later, I co-produced our first record with Max Norman (Megadeth, Ozzy Osbourne).

IE: Why start your own studio?
I started Sonic Palace so everyone who records here can have a comfortable and professional atmosphere at a reasonable price to create great music. After working with several major label producers, I learned how music is made in the big leagues, not just for local demos, and I try to bring that experience to every recording session.

IE: What kind of experience did you have being a start-up?
Starting your own business is a journey. You have to wake up everyday and say to yourself, “What can I do for my studio today?” There were times in the beginning when it was just my dog Coco and myself sitting in the studio waiting for clients to call.

IE: What were a few highs and lows of the past decade?
Highs are hearing the music we produce at Sonic Palace getting a great buzz, either in movies, TV, radio, or the Internet. Everyone involved gets a smile out of that. There aren’t too many lows – we’re in the music biz after all. A low day in the music biz is a fun day in the real world. If it were a drag, we’d get other jobs!

IE: What is the studio’s mission?
We believe we are very creative and try to capture the artists giving their best energy. After that, we can polish, manipulate, and have fun with it. Beginning this year, I’ve decided to make artist promotions a major goal of Sonic Palace. It’s not just enough to have a solid recording, we are also helping artists promote their music as well.

IE: What makes a project successful?
The music business has two entities, “music’ and “business,” and both have to be equal partners in order to be successful. It starts with a good song properly recorded, then a better promotion plan. You can have the best recording in the world, but without the “business” side being fed it’s not going far. After the recording you’d better be prepared to hit the stage in any genre. People (and the music industry) want to see the artist they’ve been listing to on their iPods live-in-the-flesh. Make sure you’re an important part of your scene, don’t just be a taker. Support artists and fans in your clique and hopefully they will support you.

IE: As a producer and engineer, what do you bring to the table in a session?
I’ve been making music all my life and have had major label, indie label, and DIY releases, so there’s a lot about the biz I’ve picked up over the years. As a producer, I understand the artist is going to be the one promoting the song, so I always try to make the artist shine and give them a product they are proud to promote. With the addition of engineer Kyle Reese [going on his 5th year at Sonic Palace], we have a team eager to make some great music.

IE: Where do you see the recording studio industry today and where is it going?
Personally, I believe studios are going to have to offer more assistance in artist promotions. It’s not just enough to have a nice shiny recording, you have to have a game plan to brand the artist and make profits out of all the hard work involved. Recently a local rapper Brian [aka CEO] asked for some advice on promotions. He showed me his ReverbNation page. His page had only a few hits and his chart position was 3,483 for unsigned Chicago rappers. I gave him some promo tips and with his hard work he recently got to the top 10. I thought to myself, “Whoa, I guess I do have some good advice.”

Hey Studiophiler: To get your studio or band listed in “Studiophile,” just e-mail info on who you’re recording or who’s recording you to, subject Studiophile, or fax (773) 751-5051. We reserve the right to edit submissions for space. Deadline for submissions is the 15th of the month (March 15th for April issue of IE).

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Category: Columns, Monthly, Studiophile

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  1. G W Prewitt says:

    Great interview! Matt Mercado is not only a great musician but an outstanding producer and engineer. His rates are very affordable and you will leave the studio with something you will be proud to play for friends, family and your music fans. Matt has high integrity and is an incredible businessman. I followed his career as a musician since the early 90’s and have worked with him in the studio since 2004.

    I view him like the All American Football Player who is destined to be a #1 draft pick by the NFL. The only question is “when?”

  2. Juicey Juice says:

    Matt’s an amazing producer and killer musician. The quality of his recordings are as good as anyone’s in the business.

  3. Paul "Pannick" Ochtrup says:

    I’ve listened to Matt’s recordings all the way back from the early Daisy Chain demo’s. Matt has always been a terrific songwriter with a great ear and killer sense of melody. His attention to detail in the studio is way above the pale and the music he and his bandmates in Cosmic Fury have recently recorded proves this. Great interview, Matt! Best of luck!

  4. SLAMS says:

    MATT MERCADO NEW Chicago based Pop Rock band.


  5. Allan Wayne says:

    As a performing artist and demo recording artist for over 40 years, I have worked with the best, (and a few of the worst) sound engineers in the world. After discovering Matt Mercado and Sonic Studios 5 years ago, I was able to limit my travels to other cities to obtain high quality sound on recordings. It was right here in Chicagoland- at Sonic Studios. Listen to some of my over 500 recordings done at the best studio and with the best in engineers in the country. Then listen to some of my trackings at Sonic with Matt. Matt provides a rare thing in the sound studio world- the truth. He provides construction critique and positive suggestions to improve productions. His unique musical artistry allows him the ears of a producer coupled with the ears of an sound engineer. A recording artist or rehearsal should not want to wait for the show,or release to find and fix problems. They should rehearse/record with Matt at Sonic and the production will shine.

  6. Great interview Matt, and a pleasure to work with. Top notch musician & producer!

  7. Lethal says:

    Matt cares. He’s fun to work with im looking forward to recording my next 12 song lp with him

  8. Joe tedesco says:

    Matt is FANTASIC, both as a musician and a producer. I was awestruck when he gave me my first double door show, I have been a fan since the 90’s Daisy Chain, Mindbobm, supermercado..this guy will NEVER stop!
    I have 5 full lengths under my belt and Matt did such a fantasic job on our latest release I have no idea why I ever went anywhere else!
    PRPS to you brother MATT!!!
    ~Joe tedesco