Having built a discography boasting names such as Wiz Khalifa, Donnie McClurkin, The Roots, Open Mike Eagle, Billy Woods, Milo, and many more, Paul ‘‘Willie Green’’ Womack has established himself as one of the top record makers in independent urban music.
Recently Paul moved into a new studio in Brooklyn. As he was heavily involved in building the studio from scratch, we talked with him about the whole process, from coming up with an idea of a room concept to building, tweaking, and finally working in the new studio.
We hope you had a good move to your new studio. Can you tell us a bit about why you moved?
Thank you! It was just time for an upgrade. I had been in the last space for a few years and did a lot of great records there, but everything about this new situation is nicer. I've had some success in the last few years, and I wanted a space that matched that.
The new studio is more spacious and is part of a larger facility, Brooklyn Recording Paradise. There's another studio down the hall, and there's a great collaborative vibe, which is refreshing. We've all become so accustomed to working away by ourselves; it's nice to be able to walk down the hall and share insight, gear, or just chat.
The room that is now the 4th iteration of your studio didn't exist as you had to build some walls, a new floor, and an acoustic concept from scratch. Can you tell us a bit about the whole process?
The crew at Brooklyn Recording Paradise had been planning on turning the room into a studio anyway, so they handled the majority of the logistics of the build, but they included me in the design ideas. This was the best-case scenario because they had previous studio construction experience, and I could focus more on things like wiring, monitoring, and acoustic treatment.
Did you collaborate with an acoustician to help you to find the right treatment for the new studio?
I did it all myself, though not quite as scientifically as acoustics enthusiasts might like. I've amassed a lot of treatment over time, and for the new space, I wanted some diffusers for the back wall and replaced some of my DIY panels with something a little sharper.
So, I input the room measurements into GIK Acoustics' free rendering software on their website, which allowed me to plan the studio's layout and see what acoustic treatment I needed to order. Being able to use this resource was a game-changer because I needed to minimize the amount of downtime between studios, and while I have a setup at home, I also have a young child, so getting work done at home isn't easy.
I had a general idea of what areas I needed to address, but there was also a lot of trial and error, putting panels up and just seeing how things sound. Like I said, it’s not the most scientific approach, but I’ve got the room sounding how I want it, and my mixes are translating really well so that does the job in my mind.
Now that you moved all the heavy stuff across Brooklyn, what’s your take on mixing ITB against working analog?
I have a hybrid setup, and I do get out of the box on just about every mix. I took a couple of things out of my rack in the move, but I still use a few certain things all the time. That said, plugins are extremely convenient in so many ways - the recallability, the automation, and just the sheer number of options, to name a few. I could never come close to owning the amount of gear that's represented in the MEGA Bundle for instance, and there's not really a reason to. My outboard gear is mostly weird old stuff or various saturation units. It's always going to be fun to twist knobs and push buttons, but it's mostly for texture or a specific sound. If you really want to get into advanced manipulation of effects, hardware has limitations that plugins don't.
Which PA plugins are your favorites and what makes them so valuable to you personally?
Well the SPL IRON compressor and the Bettermaker EQ both live on my mixbuss, so they’re a part of every mix that I do. They’re both so clean and detailed while also being very flexible, they fit any kind of record I’m working on.
I also love everything that Unfiltered Audio makes. I love distortion and their plugins destroy things in the best ways, especially the new LO-FI-AF. And the SILO reverb does things none of my other reverbs do so it lets me create some amazing spaces and special effects.
Compared to your old studio you now have big windows. Is that something that has any importance to you?
The windows are a huge deal! The past couple iterations of The GreenHouse were in the basement, and many times I would go in in the morning, come out when it was dark, and feel like I lost a whole day.
During the pandemic, I was set up at home right by the windows and watched Brooklyn basically go underground and then reemerge. It made me realize that I do enjoy feeling connected to the rest of the world, even if it’s just through the window. Toiling away in basements started to feel really lonely.
What’s your impression of the new studio and the surroundings?
It all just feels like a big life improvement. I’m in a great neighborhood with good food and bars. My son goes to daycare around the corner, so I get to spend time with him on our commute. Working at the new facility has been great! Now that my room is finished and I’ve got a comfortable workflow, I feel like I’m already mixing better than ever. Honestly, I just feel happy to go to work, and I try not to take that for granted.
Can you tell us anything about what’s coming next with the studio or any current or upcoming projects?
Now that the studio is mostly finished (we’re never completely done, are we?), I've been doing a ton of mixing. I've got some R&B projects from LA-based singer Jon Schuyler, and Brooklyn singer Fielded coming out at the end of October that I'm very excited about. I'm also a really exciting rap album from Chicago rapper Defcee produced by Messiah Musik. All three are very different albums. It's a wide range of stuff. That's all I can say at the moment, there are a few other things coming up soon, but I can't talk about them just yet.
Stay tuned to find out how Paul Womack uses the plugins of the MEGA bundle to mix a bangin' Hip-Hop track. His Mixed with MEGA session will be released on the PA website soon.
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