For a relatively new venture, Four Hundred Acres Recording Studio has made an impressive musical imprint on 2016. Situated 30 minutes north of Melbourne’s CBD, the purpose-built recording space is the product of a brimming partnership between musician come engineers Rohan Sforcina and Robert Vasey. The pair knew each other long before they joined forces at the start of the year – touring together and playing in bands – instilling into the studio an open- minded and receptive attitude towards recording, mixing and mastering. As Sforcina explains, at Four Hundred Acres it’s the artist that comes first.
“I would like to think that I’m an engineer that is willing and able to do whatever the artist is desiring out of a session, and I think I’m quite flexible and like to be quite personable... I don’t have a priority of getting my own agendas or ideas on record, but like to create a space, an environment that an artist feels like they’re getting the most [out of] and what they were hoping from a session, if not more.”
While it’s a simple and straightforward premise, Sforcina attributes the success of the studio to this very approach; rather than rushing bands through their doors, it’s very much about making every session a positive and rewarding experience.
“I think just getting in touch and connecting with as many people as we can has always been a priority,” says Sforcina. “And obviously having a lot of different music coming through and having releases coming out from the studio – all that stuff helps a lot. In terms of how we’re trying to grow it, we’re just trying to make it a good experience for people and people generally, I feel like, want to come back because they often do.”
As owners of an independent studio Sforcina and Vasey have done a remarkable job in compiling an essential, yet innately versatile equipment list. It’s a constantly expanding arsenal of on hand gear and recording equipment, cleverly catered to getting the best out of the studio.
“Having things on hand like distressors and 1176s and things like that are always very useful, especially when recording drums and those sort of things,” says Sforcina. “It’s a really good drum room, so having these lying around for drums is a real plus. But, you know, it’s really session to session and different things come up quite often, so it’s hard to put my finger on [any go-to pieces of gear], but I’d say that the distressor is one of my favourite pieces of gear, definitely.”
You only have to take a quick scroll through the Four Hundred Acres Facebook Page to see that the studio has been at out. However as far as recognisable releases go, it’s hard to go past Sforcina’s work on Gold Class single, ‘Standing At The Fault’. The track featured on a split with Sydney’s Mere Women, and came off the back of the Melbourne four piece’s critically acclaimed debut album, It’s You. I asked Sfrocina how he went about capturing the band’s penetrating live sound on record – their reputation built upon pulsating live performances.
“That was a really interesting one in that regard because they had a fairly clear idea of what they wanted it to sound like. And a lot of that was... I guess they didn’t want to get too caught up with technicalities and really wanted to get things done quickly and sound fairly live and raucous.
“And so, we set them all up in the same room – it’s very much guitar amps in the same room as the drums, there’s heaps of spill in everything – and we recorded and mixed the whole thing in about six hours really,” he continues. “So it was a very quick and exciting kind of project to work on, and that was really just capturing them as they are – they’re a really good live band and it was just the same in the studio really.”
The recording studio has the capacity and know-how to track acoustic and electric instruments, vocals and ensembles, and beyond enlisting the services of Sforcina and Vasey, allows for the use of external engineers in sessions. Their doors are additionally open to freelance engineers in need of a professional space and setup to track, mix and/or master clients’ projects – Sforcina having experienced the impromptu nature of freelance work himself.
At Four Hundred Acres there’s a willingness to spread their project base far and wide; their creative ambition and flexibility as engineers a genuine strength of the studio. Recently, Melbourne psych rockers Greenthief even took to their studio room to capture a live recording of their new album Tremors – played in its entirety. I pose to Sforcina that this versatility is an extension of their ability to prioritise the needs and desires of the artist.
“Yeah definitely. I guess you’re right that it does lend itself to having a lot of different types of things coming through, because the priority is very much the experience,” he responds. “Obviously the results are a huge part of it as well, but running a studio, you really do want to have people enjoy the time doing a record or their session or whatever it may be for, and so it tends to mean that people are coming through for the experience.”
For more details and bookings, head to fourhundredacres.com.