Station To Station: This Studio Is On A Train

Over the course of three weeks in September, a train has been traveling from New York City to San Francisco, making nine stops at train stations across the country. This train is the heart of Station to Station, a public art project organized by artist Doug Aitken.

Photo by Alayna Van Dervort courtesy of LUMA Foundation

Along the way, artists – musical, visual, literary, culinary and more – will board the train for portions of the journey. How will they spend their time aboard this train? In a recording studio full of gear from Rupert Neve Designs, Moog Music Inc., and sE Electronics.

Equipment includes a Portico II Channel, Master Buss Processor, twelve channels of Portico microphone preamplification (via 3 x Portico 5024s), sE’s Egg 150 Monitors, and a full complement of sE microphones and Moog gear – all tied together through a 5060 Centerpiece 24×2 Desktop Mixer.

Train engineer – recording engineer, that is – Justin Stanley (Eric Clapton, Jamie Lidell, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Nikka Costa) provided an in-depth interview, from which segments are reprinted below:

“The Centerpiece has been a key component and the heart of the Station To Station recording studio. It’s like having a large console at my fingertips that I can pick up and take anywhere…it’s enabled me to accelerate my workflow and pull mixes together faster than ever before.”

Photo by Mara McKevitt

“I also have the MBP set across the insert on the master buss, which allows me to have a huge sonic palate of texture, compression, and even spatial placement…the M/S feature is one I’ve always been looking for since using the old EMI mastering consoles back in Australia.”

“I’ve always been a big fan of the RNR1 ribbon mic, which I used on the last two Clapton records, but had never tried it on electric guitar. Jonathan at RND suggested I give it a shot – I did, and was blown away by with the tonal characteristics and full body of sound it could capture.”

Photo by Mara McKevitt

“The RN17s captured the unique sound of the train’s space. We placed a stereo pair in front of the drum kit, wide enough to capture the bleed of the amplifiers in the room. EQ was never needed, as they gave great detail. They never sounded boxy.”

“It’s been an amazing trip so far with round-the-clock mixing and recording, and I couldn’t have achieved it without the superb sound and outstanding performance of the RND equipment.”

Some of the artists recorded on the train thus far include: Thurston Moore and John Moloney, Giorgio Moroder, Ariel Pink, Cold Cave, Cat Power, and Eleanor Friedberger. Live performance recordings mixed on the train include Patti Smith, Jackson Browne, The Black Monks of Mississippi, The Handsome Family, and Mavis Staples.

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Station to Station has been connecting leading figures and underground creators from the worlds of art, music, food, literature, and film for a series of cultural interventions and site-specific happenings. The train, designed as a moving, kinetic light sculpture, has been broadcasting unique content and experiences to a global audience.

A public art project made possible by the Levi’s® brand, Station to Station raised funds through ticket sales and donations to support non-traditional programming at nine partner museums around the country.

For three weeks in September, the most interesting place in the world is a moving target.

Photo by Ye Rin Mok

For more photos and train updates, visit the Station To Station website, and check out this article on the WIRED Magazine site.