Just across the Delaware River in Alpha, New Jersey is a musical man cave of Biblical proportions; a unique space, built from the inside, where you’ll find high-end recording equipment, hand-picked to give all who enter the chance to create their very best sound.
“Every piece of gear in here is hand-picked for quality. I didn’t skimp on a cable,” said our host. “The hardware makes a difference. Certain pieces are just magical.”
What kind of magic is there, however, without an experienced technician at the controls? The man for that job is Bob Giovannetti, long-time musician and, for the past 25 years, the producer behind Crystal Pig Studio.
Since 1991, Giovannetti has explored and mastered the art of music production. Starting out as a musician – a role he still holds as a key member of local bands Truth & Soul and Alpha Zero Three – he turned to production to fulfill an interest.
“I’ve always been interested in recording sounds,” Giovannetti recalls. “Friends would ask me, ‘Can you record me?’ I did it for free, just for the experience. It was a slow progression, but as I got into production, I became obsessed with the gear.”
The gear is a mix of vintage and modern. Giovannetti uses digital recording techniques at Crystal Pig Studio, but insists that old-school analog mixing allows him to take his clients’ work to the next level – one that he estimates is only 90 percent achievable with digital mixing software alone.
“There’s magic in that last 10 percent,” Giovannetti states.
Project by Project
Until recently, Giovannetti would record full bands the studio, using a creative setup that employed all of the space in his home – to the point where, instead of a bed, Giovannetti slept with a mattress on a drum riser for the sake of being able to turn his space into a studio at a moment’s notice.
“I suffered for my art for many years,” he deadpanned.
Today, Crystal Pig Studio operates primarily as a project studio, specializing in recording singer-songwriters who want to realize their musical dreams.
And, if a singer-songwriter comes to Crystal Pig in hopes of achieving a full-band sound, that’s when the real fun begins. Through a keyboard controller that connects to a seemingly-limitless supply of precise, nuanced instrument libraries, Giovannetti can program any sound conceivable to create a rich musical landscape.
“I live to take an idea and get an artist to realize their song,” Giovannetti said proudly.
Having performed in bands for most of his life helps, as well. This has allowed Giovannetti – a keyboardist by trade – to study his bandmates’ work on other instruments.
“I’ve been studying drummers my whole life,” Giovannetti said. “When I program drums, I program with every nuance a drummer would use. I can create realistic bass parts, or horns, piano, keyboards – any instrument imaginable.”
Additionally, digging into the particular genre of a project serves as an educational opportunity,
“If I get a big project, I put myself into that stuff for a while,” Giovannetti said. “(The genre) will be all I listen to.”
Nothing But Love
To immerse oneself as deeply into music production as Giovannetti has – and to turn it from a hobby to a growing business – takes time, energy, and sacrifice.
More than any of those things, however, building a business and reputation from the ground up takes unbridled passion, which is in no short supply for the studio owner.
“I’m passionate about music.” Giovannetti said. “I don’t do much that’s not music.”
This passion is a motivator for continued growth. Giovannetti resolves regularly to try new techniques and innovate with the tools at his disposal.
“I do it out of a deep love of taking the technology as far as possible,” Giovannetti told us. “I’m always looking to push that envelope.”
Indeed, it is this drive, a deep musical knowledge, and a mad scientist’s love of discovery that has made Crystal Pig Studio successful.
And, as he continues, Bob has his sights set on his next big project.
“To do this work with artists, and to write and produce full-time, that’s the goal.”