Searching for the Sound of the Southwest

An Interview with Ken Riley of Rio Grande Studios

There are places that have a pulse all their own, a sound that emanates from the ground and resonates deeply in those who know how to listen. Those who recognize it, record it. Places like Muscle Shoals, where greats like Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and The Black Keys sought its infusion of Southern rock, R&B and Soul. Or Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree, Calif., where the open desert helped sculpt the sound of artists like Queens of the Stone Age, Kurt Vile, Foo Fighters and Brant Bjork. Those who can capture the magic that seeps from these spaces are considered the best recording engineers in the world.

Albuquerque is one of those places. Its heartbeat spans millennia, from the music of the ancient Puebloan people, to influences brought by way of Spain and Mexico, to today, where every genre of music that echoes within this city is touched by the soul of the land. Its local recording studios are eternalizing these sounds and helping put the Land of Enchantment on the melodic map one track at a time. Places like Elephonic Recording Studios, mixing an eclectic array of sound from rock to hip hop to spoken word; Central Root Studios, which record a gamut of sound but have a passion for reggae, hip hop and ska; Empty House Studio, a full-service studio specializing in drum set recording; and Rio Grande Studios, which is located in a centuries-old adobe house that was once part of a hacienda built from the very mud of Albuquerque. Its owner, Ken Riley, has his ear to the ground, infusing Albuquerque’s essence into the songs of both local and national artists. Click on the link above to hear his interview.

These are just the tip of our city’s recording talent.

Elephonic Recording Studios

Herever recording at Elephonic

Herever recording at Elephonic

Empty House Studio

Central Root Studios

Shea Longi of Mondo Vibrations

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