Toyland Recording Studio Melbourne
The year 2014 was a great one here at Toyland Recording Studio Melbourne. It has been another diverse year for music styles, something I thrive on – that variety keeps the ears fresh, and the production imagination versatile. We were busy with our usual mix of music and media projects; while the media jobs are interesting in their own way, those projects have a very limited shelf life – they are created, they go to broadcast or venue use, and then they disappear. It is the music that goes on forever! Those are the projects that stand out in memory, and are closest to my heart. I’m proud of all the albums made at Toyland in 2014, and it’s awesome to see those released in 2014 getting great reviews and leading the artists to all manner of cool musical adventures.
Sydonia released their brilliant album ‘Reality Kicks’ which was significantly recorded at Toyland (mixed and mastered by Adam Calaitzis); the album showcases big rock production values, and proves that magnitude of sound can be realised at Toyland. The band gave a beautiful shout out on the production in an interview with Rod Whitfield for Heavy Magazine:
“… the boys have nothing but the highest praise for the studio and the main engineer there. ‘Adam Calaitzis at Toyland is really quite creative when it comes to the mixing process,’ Sydonia frontman Dana Roskvist praises. ‘There’s a lot to take in when you’re sitting there. Sometimes it can be a bit of a shock to the system when it sounds different, and you gotta give it a bit to grow on you… But yeah, I think he’s doing a fantastic job.‘” [Heavy Magazine]
Jantina And The Jaguars, fronted by the talented singer Jantina Gardner, recorded their self titled EP at Toyland. The EP was launched in October; their style of bluesy indie rock is super cool, and it was a pleasure to work on those songs.
Mammoth Mammoth came in for a mammoth July session
drum tracking in our awesome sounding drum room; their fourth studio album (produced by Jason Fuller) is due for release sometime in January 2015 – any time now! Definitely one to look up for fans of super heavy stoner rock! Trade came into the studio in January to track an instrumental album of Krautrock/psychedelic rock – a completely different project for musicians primarily known for grindcore (Marty from the The Day Everything Became Nothing, and Xavier from Roskopp/The Day Everything Became Nothing/Fuck…I’m Dead!) Something completely different indeed!
Wendy Rule returned yet again to Toyland to record ‘Black Snake’. We are longtime collaborators – I made Wendy’s first album ‘Zero’ in 1996, which was formative in establishing Wendy’s style, as well as producing ‘The Wolf Sky’ (2006), and ‘Meditations on the 4 Elements’ (2007) – and there’s a specialness in making a series of albums in such a fine songwriter’s journey. Wendy said of the process:
“Because the themes of the album are so deep and real and true, I knew that the recording itself had to be a ritual of sorts… I like to ensure that every album I make is beautifully produced, with excellent musicians, in a great studio. This is my life’s work and my deep passion, and I want to share something … that I’m truly proud of.”
Highly respected Australian Goth/Darkwave trio Ikon are synonymous with Toyland Recording Studio – over twenty years every one of their full albums has been engineered and mixed here. In 2014 it was again a delight to collaborate with songwriter Chris McCarter on ‘Everyone, Everything, Everywhere Ends’; Toyland has a wonderful collection of vintage analogue synths, and you can hear the beautiful dynamic Oberheim Xpander (1984), Oberheim OB-Xa (1980), and the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 (1978) all used to great effect on this album. The album includes 2 CDs beautifully packaged in a recycled board softpack with black foil blocking. The first single ‘I Burn for You’ is available in purple, white and clear 7″ vinyl. ‘Blood of Love’, a track from the album, was named as a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Competition out of more than 19,000 entries worldwide; judges for the competition include Robert Smith of The Cure, and members of Garbage.
Friends of Alice Ivy released a resplendent full-length album ‘The Golden Cage and its Mirrored Maze’ (recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by Adam Calaitzas at Toyland Recording Studio Melbourne). The album showcases a textural richness, detail, and depth. This process came together in intensive creative production consultation, as songwriter Amps Ivy illuminates:
“I truly don’t believe any other producer would understand us as well as Adam does. He’s not only a technical guy who can architect reverbs that sound like they come from the Gods, he’s an adviser on a number of levels; for every idea he ditches, he adds a thousand that are better. A real producer, he is as much part of this album as we are!”
Instrumental band Mushroom Giant, specialising in original progressive post-rock have been ongoing visitors to Toyland Recording Studio Melbourne to craft the intricate album ‘Painted Mantra’ (recorded and mixed by Adam Calaitzis) which was released in a Limited Edition of 500 CDs in 6-panel matt cellosheen digipack card case, as well as digital formats, through Bird’s Robe Records. This imaginative, detailed album was launched on May 17th with the trademark Mushroom Giant new media experience of projections designed to “enhance (or diffuse) the theme of each song”.
The Terraces released their album ‘Season So Far’ recorded at Toyland (produced and engineered by Adam Calaitzis). They are a great, fun, blokey punk band – songs about working class life and football passion – featuring notable member bassist Steven King (Rose Tattoo).
The album was not only released as a CD and digital edition, but pressed to vinyl (200x Black Vinyl, 200x Red Vinyl, 100x Grey Vinyl) for the dedicated punk collectors. The Transitions were in the studio in August to record the EP ‘7 inch’ for release on American label Black Hole Records; this one was also released on vinyl in limited edition Black (200), Oxblood (200) and Clear Green (100), launched in November 2014. Bastard Squad came in to record a new album of oldschool hardcore punk in the vein of The Exploited and Discharge – that’s one to look for this year – and Organ Donor were in the studio in December 2014, so watch out for their album release in 2015! Now You Die came in to record the song ‘Government Control’ in January, rushed through for a music video they released on the 7th of January 2014 – features zombies!
Country & Blues
2014 saw some very fine country music grace Toyland, with Australian country music luminary Damian Howard coming in for an intensive few weeks in February to make the album ‘Once In A While‘. This album features some tasteful playing from Lee Morgan, Ed Bates, and Jon Emry, and some absolutely magic backing vocals from Australian rock royalty Marcia Howard and Rose Bygrave (Goanna). Damian has had a very busy year performing the songs from this album around Australia, including many major festivals, and it was a delight to see him win the ‘Rising Star Award’ at the Mildura Country Music Festival Awards. In an alternative country flavour Falloe wrapped up ‘The Unloveable’ album (recorded, produced and mixed by Adam Calaitzis at Toyland Recording Studio Melbourne). Although the band have dispersed to pursue other projects, the album is still getting some love from radio Double JJ. A really beautiful album, with some standout iconic songs! Andy Ronquillo came into Toyland to record his debut CD ‘NeoVintage’ in May. Andy is a recent graduate of The Victorian College of the Arts, and a young talent to watch out for. ‘NeoVintage’ notably featured the gifted Australian drummer Peter Luscombe. Ben Smith came into the studio to record his second as-yet untitled album, which is due for release very soon.
\m/ Metal \m/
The metal certainly flowed at Toyland in 2014! Adamus Exul released their sophomore album of aggressive and melodic black metal ‘Arsenic Idols’ in March on the Aeternitas Tenebrarum label, and embarked on their first interstate tour in July. The album was recorded, produced, mixed and mastered entirely at Toyland Recording Studio Melbourne, and it has been awesome to see the album receive much respect in the underground press. Divine Asension released ‘Liberator’ on Swedish label ViciSolum Productions, a female fronted symphonic metal epic, to an awesome response. The drums, vocals and acoustic guitars were all recorded at Toyland Recording Studio Melbourne. Subterranean Disposition, the doom metal project of the multi-talented Terry Vainoras (Earth, Order of Chaos, Canyonaero), graced the studio for the initial guide and drum sessions for the album ‘Soundtracks for Our Landscapes of Failure’. Terry was joined by Dan Nahum (The Veil, Dead River Runs Dry) on drums, and it will be interesting to see the recording unfold in 2015. Besar Bodoh came into Toyland in June to record an eight song demo EP ‘First Blood’ for digital release. An interesting alternative metal group, with folkmetal overtones. Great crew to work with – looking forward to more from them.
The Arbiter came into the studio in May to record the song ‘Allergic’. Great bunch of enthusiastic musicians. They brought a film crew with them and made a really awesome video for the song, shot on location in the studio by filmmaker Joe Ritson, that captured the energy of the band and the fun vibe of the studio. Sarfaust rocked the studio in October, to record their debut album ‘Atomic Shadow’ due for release in early 2015. The band notably included guitarist Jason Saunders (Atomizer, Hobbs’ Angel of Death, Sithlord). Thrash and oldschool death riffage are their stock and trade, and we pulled some classic tones reminiscent of Exodus, Kreator, and early Sepultura. A must have album for thrashers!
A number of bands came through Toyland for recording (engineering by Adam Calaitzis) on projects being steered by producer Jason Fuller. Hotel Wrecking City Traders came into Toyland in August unfurling their experimental psychedelic rock jams. Resulting releases include the Christmas single ‘Loose Alcoholic’ which featured vocals by Raul Sanchez (Magic Dirt/River of Snakes). The brothers also released the EP ‘Ode To Chunn’ and their album ‘Ikiryo’ on their own label Bro Fidelity Records. The Kill came in to record drums for their new album ‘Kill Them… All’. Blasting grindcore just released on the 4th of January! Broozer also came into Toyland Recording Studio Melbourne to get the excellent sound of our drum room as a foundation to their second album titled ‘II’.
Temper Temper (a band some may remember from the 90s live music scene) came in to record some indie pop – always nice to see a happening band reunion. Alternative pop singer/songwriter James Parry came into Toyland with his producer Jordon Marson, to do some tracking for the follow-up to his 2011 debut album; fans of thoughtful and introspective songwriting should look for that release in 2015. Producer/singer Melissa James was in the studio a number of times to work on pop arrangements, and I look forward to seeing Melissa’s projects go forward to release in 2015. Singer and dancer Chris Bakis came into the studio to record a collection of his original music, which was launched on the 7th of December with live performances of his music and a live recording of his first video clip for the retro jazz-influenced ‘Stompin’ Boppin’ Baby’.
#itouchmyselfproject at Toyland Recording Studio Melbourne
NSW and created by JWT Sydney together with digital agency Soap Creative and PR agency Hill & Knowlton. Some of Australia’s leading female music artists – including Olivia Newton-John, Kate Ceberano, Deborah Conway, Little Pattie, Katie Noonan, and Suze Demarchi – came together to give voice to Chrissie Amphlett’s anthem; with a simply stunning film clip that powerfully conveyed the message of breast cancer awareness.
It was my absolute honour to be involved in the #ithouchmyselfproject, both as a tribute to Chrissy Amphlett and a contribution to breast cancer awareness in the community, which is the divine legacy of Chrissy Amphlett beyond even her music. We were proud to host the recording of the string section for the song at Toyland Recording Studio Melbourne, and it was a delight to work with music producer for the project, Clive Young. Cancer Council’s ‘I Touch Myself’ campaign won a Silver Lion in the Cannes Branded Content & Entertainment category; it was Australia’s only winner in the category.
More about that project, and other awesome albums produced at Toyland Recording Studio Melbourne in 2014, in our ongoing blog series – so keep an eye out for those updates.
Toyland Recording Studio Melbourne 2014 Show Reel
As we move on to the new shiny year of 2015, full of the promise of more amazing music projects, I must express my appreciation to all the awesome musicians who graced Toyland Recording Studio with their presence in 2014; it has been an honour to bring all those musical dreams to reality. Thanks for being part of the ride! Here’s to an awesome 2015 – to more good times and great music!
Happy New Year everyone! Let’s make it a rockin’ one!
– Adam Calaitzis, Toyland Recording Studio Melbourne