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Houston recording industry produces regional and national hits

Houston has a recording studio industry which produces regional and national hits. Ed Mayberry visited Tierra Studios, which also acts as a music publisher and record label.



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Tierra Studios is in a residential section of Houston.  Singer songwriter Bryan Harkness overdubs acoustic guitar to earlier recorded tracks of a song called “East Texas Nights.”  Engineer Glenn Wheeler.

“Replacing sections of the track that they weren’t happy with.  You know, he may have played a little bit too fast or too slow in a section, so we would play it back in his headphones and actually record just a snippet or, you know, two or three bars, maybe, and then take the machine out of record and go back to the original track.”

Gilbert Sedeno is producer on the sessions.

“Basic tracking, you start with the bass, drums, keyboards, guitar.  And then you start adding the elements just to kind of start building the arrangement, building the tracks—the soundtrack, if  you will.  And we’ll do one or two tracks of rhythm guitar, maybe on one side and the other, and then lead guitar and fills and whatever elements on top of that, so that usually the process.”

Ed: “How do you know when you’re done?”

“(Laughs) When you drop!” 

Bryan Harkness has been signed to release recordings on Tierra Records, as Angela Grant explains.

“We’ve actually been working with Bryan Harkness for about two years, because we hired him as a studio musician to play guitar for other projects that we’ve done.  The first thing that we release from Bryan is going to be his single ‘We Don’t Have to Walk Alone’.”


“You know, Gilbert Sedeno, the producer—I sat down with him and what we tried to do was make everything blend, okay?  We have a lot really different styles, really, on the album.  It’s country, but as you tell in country nowadays, it’s a lot of different styles.  It sounds pretty cool.  It’s gonna turn out great.”

Aaron Morris is Tierra’s A&R man, who’s job is…

“…finding singer/songwriters, musicians that are going to be a good fit for our company.”

Ed:  “It’s amazing to see all this under one roof, really, and especially with the changes in the recording industry, and record-buying habits and all of that, and downloads and so on.  Is all the new way of doing things taken in to account in your business model?”

“The means for distribution have definitely become quite a bit easier.  To take a product to digital distribution, and have it available worldwide without having to worry about warehousing and physical distribution and just the turnaround time that it takes to do things like vinyl and CD—which we still do.  But you know, blogs and social networking is a very integral part to the way that we are promoting our artists.”

The studio has also been working with the producers behind Beyonce and Destiny’s Child on another girl group.  Gilbert Sedeno is a fan of the digital recording age, thinking back to those days of overdubbing on multi-track analog tape.

“You had, ‘okay, rewind it,’ so the tape rewinds literally.  And it has to adjust itself, so it goes forward, backward, forward, backward, and it’s a matter of seconds, ‘do it again, because I’ve got the idea, okay I’m ready to go, I got it now.’  And you’re waiting for that tape to lock in, and it’s an endless wait.  Then you hear the ‘oh, I missed it again,’ so you got to go through the same process, and psychologically, it messes with you.”   

The Bryan Harkness album on Tierra Records is set for a January release.  Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.


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This story first aired July 6, 2009.