Hi. My name is Alex Caminiti. I am a creative guitarist, record producer and mix engineer carrying the torch of those who created the alternative sound popularized in the 90s (which was directly influenced by the music of the 60s and to a lesser extent, 70s and 80s). Years after teaching myself how to play guitar and produce/mix in my early teens, I finished assembling the first version of my studio in 2005 as a junior in college. My studio and productions were no different in goals, values or style then as they are today. My Studio Zoot is my life's work, and it now exists on 4 acres — 15 minutes from the Ithaca Commons — where I live with my wife Sara and our toddler Felix. We are actively working toward creating a studio capable of achieving a sonic fidelity comparable to the legendary studios of yore: Southern Tracks, Long View Farm Studios, Bearsville and The Plant.
As a musician I have written/co-written, produced/co-produced, recorded and mixed four full length albums and two EPs from 2003 to today (record #5 is in production throughout 2019). Furthermore, I have created vast amounts of both released and unreleased music and worked with dozens of bands and solo artists throughout the years to produce Singles, EPs and Full Lengths. I am a dedicated producer, engineer, mixer and studio musician who creates my own music for the sole sake of creative expression. I believe that I can help anyone - playing any style - produce music that has an emotional and sonic depth that other producers and studios cannot achieve. I thusly purport to be a cool and potentially "better" option versus other studios because I think better means "different, unique, high fidelity with great care and attention paid to details when other studios just want to make $$", not better in the sake of "everything about me is totally dope and I am the best because I won an award X years ago or have a bunch of Neumanns."
The thing is this -- great recordings and albums are multifaceted. It is not just the song, musicians, the room and equipment... it is a collaborative effort. Greater forces are at work -- and throughout my life I have figured out how to harness them... and how to tighten up the resulting tracks and mix them in a way that they slam with vibe like music blasted out of speakers in the 60s and 90s. If that's not what you are looking for, then I can still help you make a great recording... but what I really want to do is create and be a part of the next wave of rock music that is going to be popular in the 2020s. IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN. ROCK MUSIC WILL PREVAIL.
I am of the opinion that a producer should be cool; someone who musicians would want to hang out with, while trusting their musical and sonic instincts. A great producer is someone who can guide the ship and keep everyone in positive spirits whilst creating the best music possible. I strive to be that kind of producer. I don't want to tell you how to play, I just want to help you make what you play the very best that it can be. I do not see my job as a producer to accept something just because it has always existed; rather, to be an objective listener and sonic/emotional composer -- allowing you to convert the song you play live - with all its energy - into a different entity that will have a comparable energy as when it is played live. If you can play a song live, then we can make it sound larger than life. Guaranteed.
My 90s Alternative influences are obvious… and it was Brendan O’Brien, Nick DiDia, Andy Wallace, Scott Litt and Steve Lillywhite who produced, engineered and mixed a lot of it. I loved it when I was young for the same reasons that I do today - it was a momentous and epic moment in music and was produced, engineered, recorded and mixed by true jedis.
As both a musician and producer, I am intentionally following in their footsteps as best I can by utilizing their tried-and-true techniques. By using much of the same gear, techniques and production philosophies as Brendan O'Brien, I am able to achieve a vibe that is evident in all of my recordings.
Call that "vibe" what you will,
I call it
Live, but produced.
Every track begins with a live in studio performance of a well-written song, with maintained, set up and tuned instruments in a nice room -- recorded with well-placed microphones through high end, transformer based preamps (BAE 1073 & DW Fearn). When the best takes are recorded, I tighten up the tracks to create a more impressive sound by locking the bass and kick, nudging all the individual tracks so that things either blend or stand out more — sometimes combining different takes into one.
When the basic tracks are all set, tracks are overdubbed and/or replaced as needed and textural layers, percussion and effects are added to create a cool vibe unique to the recording. You can bet your ass that there is not a rock song worth listening to without tambourine.
I make tracks sound like humans [not computers] played and recorded them… because humans do play and record them, so that’s how they should sound.
Mixing is crucial to the music I produce and I am able to create a heavy vibe and mix for powerful impact -- loud guitars, a strong bass/kick connection, and a big ambient drum-room sound with lots of natural-sounding reverb and favoring echo/delay on vocals and guitar over reverb. Everything needs to sound natural, live and energetic -- but it should sound like a record, not just a live performance. There’s a difference between the two, though it is difficult to quantify and explain.
This intricate, time-tested process of combining all of these elements conveys an emotional response that has been largely lost through ultra-clean, overly-quantized digital recordings mixed in-the-box. This, to me, is both tragic and worthy of investing my time and energy to keep alive. I don't care how many Neumanns or how much gear you have. Having a wall of gear does not necessarily mean an engineer knows how to place microphones, or that a mixer is going to spend time mixing (or knows how to mix).
Furthermore, I not only mix in the analog domain, but I record and mix with JCF AD8 converters — something that needs to be experienced to be believed. Although there is a debate of sorts as to whether analog summing does anything, you would have a tough time winning any kind of debate with me as to whether or not mixing through my system "does anything." I think that anyone who mixed through my rig would realize how important it is to the overall sound. It's easy to think it is not necessary because digital recording sounds so good these days (and it really does)... but, I mix analog... and I always will.
The Alternative Sound
There is a prominent drum-room sound woven throughout all of my favorite albums; undeniably an aspect of why they are great and have connected with so many people.
The produced, yet natural sound of these recordings supports the music by giving the bands and their music a human identity... a visceral sound which connects the music to the listener.
The sound is legendary, timeless and is an obvious part of the music's popularity.
I intend to keep the sound alive.
My Favorite Albums
RHCP - Blood Sugar Sex Magik
STP - Purple
Pearl Jam - Versus
Soundgarden - Superunknown
DMB - Before These Crowded Streets
Jamiroquai - Traveling Without Moving
Train - Drops of Jupiter
Jeff Buckley - Grace
Incubus - Morning View
Live - Throwing Copper
Fiona Apple - When the pawn...
Rustic Overtones - Viva Nueva
Three Eleven - Self Titled
The Beatles - Abbey Road
Led Zeppelin - Houses of the holy
Boz Scaggs - Silk Degrees
For one reason or another, the sound of these albums has been largely abandoned in modern recordings. Unfortunately, singles are the new albums and the alternative sound seems to have been largely utilized on albums (that is, complete works intended for start to finish playback). The cohesive room sound provides a sonic glue of sorts -- a way to bind an album together even when a stylistic dichotomy exists between various songs. I believe that there is something about hearing the room within which the drums [and musicians] recorded -- something about the sound allows the listener a more visceral experience. Something about it makes the music more powerful.
An engineer friend of mine has always said,
"The song is the boss and we are its humble servants".
I believe that music should be produced so the result is how the music should sound — not just what the hourly budget affords. That's why I offer the option to mix per song. You don’t have to mix flat rate, but if you are mixing full band material — it is quite affordable for the level of mix that you get. Given the innate complexity and time-consuming practices involved in the style of production in which I specialize — such albums are not as financially viable as they were in the 90s. Just because the money is not there, however, does not mean the music cannot exist. It must... and I am here to ensure its existence.
As a musician, I care deeply about music and want to provide musicians with an intangible experience. One that results in recordings with character and vibe, whether it is a single or an album. Such an experience is beyond simply booking hours.