Interviews With Professionals! - Tony Bryant - Owner of Sunny Studio (Recording Studio) and Musician
Tony Bryant - Owner of Sunny Studio (recording studio), musician, producer, and teacher of all things music production! The story of how Tony and I met is super amazing. As subscribers to this blog know, I've been working on a Full Cast Audiobook Production of Perception and Deception: A Spy Series for quite sometime. I've been using Apple's recording software GarageBand to produce the final product, and although I had background in recording and production through my own music, working on this audiobook has brought on an entire new set of recording challenges.
The greatest challenges were setting up my equipment for the best sound possible, as well as staying within required guidelines in order to publish through the audiobook distributor. I spent countless nights staying up until 12am-1am studying the software, watching videos, doing everything I possibly could to fill my brain with all this new knowledge, and though I learned a lot, there were areas where I desperately needed help. You can't ask a YouTube video a question (most of the time). I told my family and friends, "All I want is to have someone, in person, take a look at my setup, and tell me how to fix the sound issues I've been experiencing." So I went online to search for just that...
And that's how I met Tony Bryant and learned of his recording studio Sunny Studio Hove. His areas of focus are recording, teaching, production, and rehearsal. For a very reasonable hourly rate, Tony will sit down and chat with you via Zoom, answer all your questions, and build a customized lesson plan to your needs! He advised me on equipment, instructed me on how to adjust the levels of my audio interface, guided me through GarageBand via screen share, and fixed all the sound issues I'd been having. He even studied the guidelines of my audiobook distributor and helped me set up my software so that the book will pass all requirements. On top of all that, he provided beautiful materials for me to refer back to after the lesson. Things that I had spent weeks trying to understand, he taught me in an hour! WOW!!!
If you're producing an audiobook, or you're a recording musician, I highly, highly recommend setting up some time to chat with Tony, and allowing him to make your life a million times easier!
Here's the link to the services he offers:
Pursue your passions everyone, because even if you get stuck, God will bring the right people to you! Praise Jesus for bringing an amazing angel into my life! I hope you all have a blessed week!
So without further ado, let's begin the interview!
Tell us about your musical background!
I started playing piano as a child, sang in a church choir and then began to take music more seriously when I was about 13 and started playing drum kit. My Mum describes an almost obsessive desire to play the drums from deep inside me, a passion for the instrument I still have today. My Dad took a lot of persuading to get a drum kit in the house but I kept asking until eventually I think he just got bored of saying no.
Music and particularly vinyl was a big deal in my house growing up and my Dad was a DJ. We had music playing all the time at home and in the car, listening to a lot of folk and rock music, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Segar and REM. These artists installed in me a real love for storytelling music and an appreciation for great songs.
Around this time I was also experimenting with mixers, microphones and speakers at home and I was lucky at school to gain experience working on the technical side of live theatre shows, mostly as a sound engineer. As I got older this led to me working in a local theatre, operating lighting and sound for musicals, dance shows and a wide variety of other theatre performances.
I went on to complete a degree in Music Technology at Huddersfield University in the UK and then afterwards went to Music College back in my hometown of Brighton, to focus on performing and ensemble skills. I was very lucky to get a rounded education covering both these aspects of Music and this has always helped to keep my work options open. The next stage of the story saw me train to become a school music teacher and do my Masters in Music education.
Tell us about Sunny Studio and your mission!
It is hard to talk about Sunny Studio without thinking back to my teaching career and how that led to me starting the studio. I was a school music teacher for 10 years, teaching children from 11 to 16 years old. I taught in the classroom; music theory, many different instruments, music performance, music history, world music, ensemble skills, composition, music technology and recording. I was a passionate music educator and saw first hand the immense power of music as a motivator to young people both educationally and socially. Although I loved so many things about teaching music, the stresses of working in this environment eventually got the better of me and I realised that for my own health I needed to find another way to approach music teaching.
Around the same time I started to convert the garage at my house into a practice space for my drums. What started as a childhood dream to have a soundproof practice space at home grew and grew as it progressed and Sunny Studio was born. Sunny Studio is deliberately named as the sun seemed brighter when I spent time working on the studio. I came to realise that it was becoming much more than a personal space and was turning into a business. The studio offered an opportunity for a brighter work life where all of my different skills could be combined in one place. It was to be a recording space, an editing and music production space and a private teaching space in one. I carried out the studio conversion, sound proofing, acoustic treatment and studio install all myself.
Sunny Studio now offers clients recording, production and music teaching approached in a professional, safe and supportive way. We record full bands, solo artists, VoiceOver artists and more. I record live drum tracks for people’s songs and I record YouTube content. I produce, mix and master audio and video content for various projects and clients. I teach Music Technology, Recording and Drum Kit lessons. This year especially has highlighted that all of these services can happen here in the studio or remotely for people from all over the world.
What are some things you did to grow your wide array of talents (i.e. from playing instruments, to singing, to becoming so knowledgeable in the complex field of audio engineering.)?
The short answer is I could never choose one thing what I wanted to do, but I was quite convinced early on that I wanted to perform and produce music. I wanted to get a varied education covering music performance and music technology. I believe strongly that this has helped me to always see the bigger picture, being able to understand the recording or performance world from the eyes of a musician and technician. Also as a young person playing music in bands I was always interested in the whole process of writing, performing, recording and marketing music. It was also a necessary part of the process at the time as there was often no budget to outsource this to others. This led me and my bandmates to try and do everything I/we could do ourselves, from recording demos, designing web sites, producing CD’s and anything else to make these projects move forward.
Think back to when you first started getting into music or when you first started your business. Do you have any advice for people who are just getting started in these fields of work?
The world of music can be an amazing place to work and exist within. I feel very lucky that most of my adult life I have been able to have Music as part of my existence and part of my work. I remember clearly tutors telling me at Music College that to be successful you have to be willing to be flexible and adaptable. My experience now proves this to be sound advice! Not only within Music but I have had times where I have had to be willing to do other jobs in tandem, I have often worked as a painter, kitchen fitter, carpenter and many other jobs to help bolster the music work.
At different times in my life I have been a live sound and lighting engineer, a recording engineer, producer, video editor, a music teacher for both adults and young children, a performer, worked in original bands and cover bands.
All of these different roles have been motivated by a real passion for music and the arts and have all allowed me to be creative within them. I have never been motivated by money, status or fame, but a desire to make music and be involved in the creative process. I would advise anyone getting started to take pride in what you do, care about the outcome, be kind to others and the reward at the end will be so much greater.
I had the opportunity to check out your awesome YouTube channel (I subscribed right away!). Can you tell the audience more about what your channel offers and why they should subscribe?
Developing the Sunny Studio YouTube channel, creating content on my own and collaboratively with others is one of the most rewarding parts of everything I do. Creating one YouTube video I can at times be a lighting engineer, a camera operator, a musical performer, a voiceover artist, a video editor, an audio engineer and audio mixer and sometimes more than one of these at the same time. It combines so many of the things I enjoy doing and then you can share the creative outcome with a worldwide audience who can access the content instantly and for free.
Throughout the process of building Sunny Studio I relied very heavily on YouTube to help me with so many aspects of the studio design, acoustics, sound proofing, equipment reviews and comparisons and even aspects of interior design such as pallet walls. I started to really appreciate how many people were creating incredible content for YouTube and what a wealth of high quality information there is on the platform. We are so lucky to live in a time where top industry professionals are willing to share their vast wealth of knowledge and experience to anyone who wants to watch.
The vision for my channel was a platform that highlights performers that come to record at the studio. I started the “Sunny Studio Sessions”, solo performers and small groups playing a mixture of their own original music and some cover songs. Each video would only be one song rather than a gig in the format of “Tiny Desk” for example. Most of the videos on the channel are stripped back live one-take performances of great music from folk, pop, rock and blues genres.
Since starting the channel I have started to experiment with offering some other alternative videos too, such as equipment reviews and through COVID-19 I have also started producing remote video content. Some of the videos from the channel have also been played at various online music festivals over the last year. I was really proud to work with the brilliant Wendy Pickles and her “In My Tribe” collective choir to create a COVID lockdown collaboration with 16 different performers and a horse. You will have to watch it to see!
I’d love to grow my YouTube family so if you can please enjoy watching the videos, comment, share and subscribe.