Hi Alex, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Let’s start with a bit about yourself, your studio and your career:
My name is Alex Musa. I’m an artist, producer, mixing, mastering engineer an owner of MuZs Records Studios.
I started making music at the age of 14 in the Dominican Republic. Being in a rap and r&b group around that age made me realize that I can do more than just rap and sing. We would create songs and record them at a local studio where the guy in charge wouldn’t really make the effort to make our songs sound as good as they could, but he would do that with other artists. He would only give the most creative beats to other people and we would end up with the ones that nobody wanted. At the age of 16, I moved to the states as my parents were seeking a better opportunity for my family and a better life.
While attending school and trying to learn a new language, one day I decided to download a demo version of Cubase 2 which I used to record my first song by myself. I then found myself to be interested in learning about the music engineering part. Not too long after that, a good friend of mine introduced me to FL Studio and that is when I started making beats. By the age of 18, I recorded, produced and engineered my first demo as I became better and more efficient using those programs. Six months later, I took an online class about how to use Pro Tools, and I became very comfortable with this DAW and its features. I opened my first recording studio when I was 19 in the bedroom of my apartment, which gave me the opportunity to collaborate and connect with a lot of artists, producers and other engineers locally. At that point, I was making records sound very competitive to the music that was popular back then. I would have people from other states come over to work with me, and we would work for days until we’d come up with something very special and unique.
At the age of 23, I decided to open my first professional studio with a good friend of mine at a commercial location. I had learned a lot in that process, which helped master my engineer skills and get familiar with studio equipment and how to use it. I started working on different genres and making music that took me out of my comfort zone, from pop, rock, reggae and jazz. Since I was already making hip hop, rap, r&b, dance, Latin and urban music, it wasn’t that big of a challenge. The studio didn’t last long after my partner moved to a different state and I ran into some issues economically and emotionally. When that happened, I decided to take a break from music and gave away every music-related thing I owned.
After a year and a half, I reunited with a long-time friend of mine who was the one who originally taught me how to make music and be successful in the music industry. He encouraged and inspired me to start making music again since I always wanted to do it for me and that was the only thing that would make me happy. Also, I felt like I had to prove a point to those who doubted and never believed in me.
At the age of 27, I decided to open my second professional studio and name it MuZs Records. At this point of my career, I decided that if I’m going to do this music business, it will have to be at a professional/commercial standard level. Therefore, I decided to invest towards my dream and goals, which was the best decision that I have made in my entire life so far. At this time, I decided to make great music with amazing people and, to be honest, I’m not going back.
MuZs Records is located in Harrisburg, PA. I have been living here for the past 10 years and it is an incredible, low profile city where I’ve felt comfortable doing what I love. The studio was built in 2016 based on my needs and convenience that would make my job easier and my clients’ experience better.
I am one of those engineers that believes that you can make great-sounding music without analog gear by having a good taste in music and knowing what great quality sounds like by using your ears. I find myself using analog gear very often but not as a necessity. I just love the color and harmony distortion that every piece of equipment gives me. I love using:
1.Heritage Audio MIC PRE HA73jr – For vocals and instruments, which is my main go-to preamp. I also run my mixes through this guy because it gives me a very colorful representation of my music, and also an amazing harmony distortion.
2.Purple Audio TAV EQ – For vocal equalization, drums and percussions. I just love the fact that it makes my drums sound very present in the mix.
3. SSL G Bus Compressor – For gluing the whole mix together. I don’t really have to say much about this piece since it has been used on many records out there that we love.
4. MAAG EQ2 – For vocals and main bus. I like the way the top frequency air band makes any audio source sound great.
5. Elysia Xfilter 500 – For adding and removing unwanted frequency of the entire mix. This EQ gives the entire record a very sweet vibe that once I learned how to use it, I started adding to my mixes more often.
6. Avalon VT 747-SP – For vocals, instruments, EQ and compression. As of right now, the main use of this piece is for the melodies and the sequences on a project and, to be honest, I pretty much find myself using it on everything.
7. Universal Audio 2-1176 – Mainly for vocals and compression. Sometimes I like to add it in my stereo bus for punchiness and loudness.
8. BBE Sonic Maximizer 882i – For instruments and background vocals. I like the vibe and the harmony of this unique piece of equipment.
9. TC Electronic M350 Reverb – For vocals and background vocals as it gives me a very accurate representation of what a real reverb should sound like as a plugin.
10. UA Apollo 8, RME Fireface 802, M-Audio Profire 2626 – As my audio interfaces and converters which all link together to give me 24 channels i/o of pure class A conversion.
11. Focal Twin6 BE, Yamaha HS5 – As studio monitors which I think is the perfect combination of the true sound that the music consumer will hear when your audio material translates to the real world.
12. Rode K2 – As my main microphone. I have been using this microphone for a long time and I can’t say anything bad about it. It is a tube mic and it has color, presence, and also very nice highs and lows.
I went with acoustic panels and ceiling tiles for acoustic treatment. It helps with sound reflections and also absorbing and keeping the noise from coming out. I also use bass traps to contain lower frequency issues in the room.
“I’ve learned that every speaker will not sound good in your studio environment. Your room has a lot to do with the size of the speaker, the acoustic treatment, and also the type of music that you produce. I would say try as many speakers as you can and find out what is the best for you and the music that you work on. The same thing with the studio gear. And like they say, learn the gear and use your ear.”
Start small. Stick to something, get great at it, and if you feel like you need to upgrade, then do it. $2000 studio equipment won’t really change the way your music sounds if you don’t know how to use it or if the music that you’re creating doesn’t sound good from the start. Try different methods and ways how to record better audio and to compose better songs. Once you master that, the mixing and mastering phase is not a challenge. Hope that helps.