×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Composer Gustavo Santaolalla’s Oscar-Worthy Music Studio

Santaolalla and producing partner Anibal Kerpel keep it simple and streamlined with a hillside bungalow space in funky Echo Park

For a self-taught musician who admits he still doesn’t read or write music, Argentine transplant Gustavo Santaolalla, a two-time Oscar-winning composer (“Babel,” “Brokeback Mountain”), appears to master any instrument he picks up. His studio, in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles, is jammed with instruments mostly of the string variety, including his signature churangos, ronrocos and ouds. But for Santaolalla, who shares the studio with producing partner Anibal Kerpel, virtually anything that emits a sound is part of the sonic arsenal, including plastic PVC pipes used for construction, one of which he demonstrated by producing a range of effects from a didgeridoo-like sound to the clarion call of a buffalo horn to the high pitch of a pan flute.

Although Santaolalla travels six to seven months out of the year — whether touring with his band Bajofondo, working on film projects or attending festivals — when he is in town, he spends much of his time in the man-cave recording space about a block and a half from where he lives. Among the numerous projects he’s

working on there include the animated feature “Book of Life” for producer Guillermo del Toro; and a stage musical he’s co-writing with librettist John Weidman called “Arrabal,” based on the music of Bajofondo. Santaolalla calls it a rite-of-passage story about a young girl finding her identity. “There is some traditional tango but it’s lots of different things,” he explains. “It happens in Argentina after the military dictatorship and deals with the desaparecidos — the disappeared. Very moving but also sexy.”

Location: Echo Park area of Los Angeles

Square footage (recording space): 570 square feet.

Aesthetic: Mid-’40s bungalow set on a hillside with a glass brick-lined hallway, den, kitchen and neighboring courtyard.

Equipment: Pro Tools HD3 on a Mac Pro Tower, Apogee Symphony converters, Tonelux summing box, AVID D-Command console, Adam A7-X (5.1 surround), Yamaha NS-10 speakers.

Recorded there: Santaolalla soundtracks, including “21 Grams,” “Babel,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Motorcycle Diaries”; albums by Juanes and Molotov.

More Biz

  • Katie Vinten and Justin Tranter Variety

    Justin Tranter and Katie Vinten Partner With Warner Bros. for New Label

    As previously reported, hit songwriter Justin Tranter and Warner/Chappell Publishing’s Katie Vinten are launching a new label in partnership with Warner Bros. Records, the company announced officially today. In her new role, Vinten, most recently the company’s co-head of A&R, will also serve as an A&R Consultant to Warner Bros. Records and will continue with [...]

  • Ella Mai

    Ella Mai Signs Worldwide Deal With Sony/ATV Music Publishing

    Singer Ella Mai, who is enjoying a worldwide smash with her song “Boo’d Up” and was nominated for two Grammy Awards last week, has signed a worldwide deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing. The song peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has been streamed more than 650 million times in the U.S. [...]

  • European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe VestagerSlush

    Liberty Global, Vodafone's $22 Billion Cable Deal Under Investigation by EU

    The European Commission has started an in-depth probe into Vodafone’s proposed acquisition of a raft of Liberty Global assets in Europe. The commission cited concerns that the deal could reduce competition in Germany and the Czech Republic. “It’s important that all EU consumers have access to affordable and good quality telephone and TV services,” Commissioner [...]

  • Kirk Kerkorian

    Kirk Kerkorian's Estate Settles With Widow for $12.5 Million

    The estate of late media mogul Kirk Kerkorian has a reached a settlement with his widow, who claimed she was entitled to a third of his $1.8 billion fortune. Una Davis will receive just $12.5 million under the deal, which is set for court approval on Wednesday. Davis married the mogul in March 2014, becoming [...]

  • Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg Strictly

    Variety's Innovate Summit 2018: What We Learned

    New insights into how data collection plays a role in the tech and entertainment spheres were revealed at Variety’s annual Innovate summit held in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg discussed the exciting future of television designed for mobile phone viewing with their new streaming platform, “Quibi,” an executive from “The Ellen Show” discussed the [...]

  • Capitol Music Group Names Amber Grimes

    Capitol Music Group Names Amber Grimes Senior VP of Global Creative

    Amber Grimes has been named to the newly-created position of Senior Vice President of Global Creative for Capitol Music Group, it was announced today by Chairman & CEO Steve Barnett, to whom Grimes will report. According to the announcement, in her new position, Grimes will be integrally involved in formulating and executing the company’s global [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content