Balancing Act

Producers Jez Colin and Matt Cooper have a wealth of album credits to their names. Colin has remixed songs by Bjork, Maxwell, Sade, and Stevie Wonder. Cooper records for U.K. label Dorado Records under the name Outside, and writes and tours with Incognito and David Sylvian. In 1998 Colin and Cooper forged a partnership as The Latin Project.

Nueva Musica/The LatinProjectThe Latin Project blends electronicproduction and live performance.

Producers Jez Colin (a bassist) and Matt Cooper (a drummer andkeyboardist) have a wealth of album credits to their names. Colin,based in Los Angeles, has remixed songs by Björk, Maxwell, Sade,and Stevie Wonder. Cooper, based in London, records for U.K. labelDorado Records under the name Outside, and writes and tours withIncognito and David Sylvian. In 1998 Colin and Cooper forged apartnership as The Latin Project.

The Latin Project's debut, Nueva Musica (Electric MonkeyRecords, 2003), presents an intriguing fusion of programmed dance musicwith live performances of South American musical styles. “Wefigured there's no point in [simply] doing a programmed record, becausewe bring other things to the table,” says Cooper.

They recorded Nueva Musica in Los Angeles, London, and Rio deJaniero. All sessions eventually ended up in Colin's Mac G4/867, whichruns a Pro Tools|24 Mix3 system. Colin and Cooper cowrote nine of thealbum's ten tracks, programming synth and drum parts. “We createda solid direction together, and then explored details in our respectivestudios,” Colin says.

“We both have Akai samplers, so a lot of the basic tracks werecreated using those,” Colin adds. They also drew sounds from anE-mu E6400 Ultra and racks of synths. Colin also uses Ableton Live andPropellerhead Reason. “All MIDI is done in [Steinberg] Cubase5.1, and all audio in Pro Tools,” Colin says. “I sync ProTools and Cubase internally by sending MIDI Time Code through the IACbus in OMS.”

Although their music has a sampled feel, Colin and Cooper used nosample libraries. They played their own instruments and collaboratedwith a bevy of guest artists including Junno Homrich and Robbie Nevil.“Balancing the live and programmed elements is verydifficult,” Cooper says. “Most guest musicians played alongto an embellished version of the basic song idea,” Colin says.“But sometimes we deliberately stripped away our programming toleave room for the musician to perform, rather than fit in.” Inother instances, a performance shaped a track. “On ‘Lei LoLai’ and ‘En Fuego,’ the first element that went downwas the acoustic guitar,” says Colin. “We treated theperformance almost like a sample, and then built the track aroundit.”

Colin recorded a few guest musicians in his studio, while the duorecorded most acoustic tracks in the RecRoom — a commercialstudio in Los Angeles. “The RecRoom has a Pro Tools rig, so wetransferred our sessions onto a removable SCSI drive and recalled themthere,” Colin says. “[Engineer] Giorgio Bertuccelli has agreat-sounding baby grand piano, drum booth, and live room for hornsand percussion. We used all his mics and preamps.”

The Latin Project's quest for balance extends to their choices inanalog and digital gear. “A lot of our recordings first passedthrough tube-mic pres and compressors to get as warm a sound aspossible,” Colin says. “By contrast, most drum programmingwas recorded into Pro Tools through a solid-state interface — theFocusrite ISA430 — for sounds that have attack andpunchiness.

“I like to experiment sonically with musical elements afterI've recorded them into Pro Tools,” Colin says. “But tomaintain the integrity of the original instrument, it's important torecord its fundamental character really well. If the punch and thetones aren't there, then you won't have as much fun. It's important toselect the right type of front-end recording gear for a particularinstrument. That also gives you a diverse sonic palette when you listenback to the mix.”

For more information, contact Electric Monkey Records;;