Making Music: Exploring Louisville’s Recording Studios, Pt. I

By Victoria Austen Moon

It has come to my attention that Louisville is home to several great studios, all of which deserve their own moment in the spotlight. This is the first in a series of articles looking at Louisville’s recording studios: the over-the-top home studios, the stellar new commercial studios, and how musicians, engineers and producers in this town are doing what they can to make Louisville music sound as great on tape as it does live.

The Place: Ear Candy Studios in St. Matthews

The Owner: Eddy Morris, Jr.

More than one momentous event has been brought about by a flood.

Thousands of years ago, the Bible speaks of a man named Noah who built an ark to house a remnant of people, animals, and plants when a gigantic worldwide flood came and wiped out everything in its path, leaving Noah and his merry band to replenish the earth. 

In 1937, Louisville needed its own ark when a flood caused around 200 deaths and forced over 200,000 to evacuate their homes. Roads became rivers as heat, light and drinking water failed across the area, and those who were there remember floating in canoes through downtown to get to safety. A massive cleanup effort was required to mop up the mess.

In 1998, Ear Candy Studios was born when owner Eddy Morris’ basement flooded out for the last time.

“Seriously, that’s what happened,” laughed Morris, as he sat at the console of the studio he recently built behind his home in St. Matthews. “I could have rebuilt down there, but the ceilings were low, so I was never going to get a great sound acoustically.”

Morris, who is the son of Eddy Morris, Sr., former front man of the Sixties rock group the Monarchs, had been recording in his basement for several years, slowly acquiring equipment as his budget allowed.

“It’s a hobby gone out of control,” he admitted.

Morris, who was raised in Atlanta, Georgia, began following in his father’s footsteps as early as 8th grade, when he formed his first band in 1978. He continued with other rock cover bands through high school and college, scraping together $300 whenever possible and making recordings as he could.

“The funny thing about recording in the mid-to-late Eighties was there was really no outlet for it. Now anyone can make a recording and burn the CDs on their computer and pass them around, but back then it was pointless to try to record, unless you were doing it for yourself .”

Morris got more and more into recording in college, when he would get songs down on his 4-track.

“I always loved recording, but I’d get frustrated with a 4-track because, well, because it only has 4 tracks! My mind was always bigger than 4-tracks. But I learned some cool stuff working with the 4-track; for instance I didn’t have reverb, so I’d set the 4-track up in the hall of this big house we lived in and back off the mic so the room would get in with it and adjust the amount of reverb I needed with how far away from the mic I was. I got some neat effects doing that, and I still use that technique sometimes.”

In 1990, he met fellow songwriter Moon, also an Atlanta native. When Morris and his wife, Andrea, moved to Louisville in 1991, he and Moon began writing and recording songs long distance, enjoying the tension between Morris’ solid rock sensibility and Moon’s jazz-pop leanings. When Moon followed Morris to Louisville in 1994, the duo joined with Morris’ brother, Mike, to form the Christian pop-funk band, Fish Tales. Morris recorded both of the cassettes released by the band, Catchineny? and Filet of Soul, in his basement studio, using low-budget, DIY techniques he’d learned while making shoestring recordings in college. Both cassettes garnered critical success in the Christian music industry, winning Morris and Moon a chance to perform for industry insiders at the Gospel Music Association and nominations for Band of the Year in 1996.

After several years of regional touring and promotion, the band began moving in different musical directions, and eventually disbanded. Moon went into the studio to record his solo debut, The Funeral of Mr. Disappointment, and Morris went back to the basement to record with a new band, Waiting for Change, which released their self-titled CD in 1998 on Eddy’s label, Ear Candy Records.

And then there was that basement/flood thing, and, Ear Candy Studios was born in earnest.

Taking his experiences as a musician, Morris set out to build the sort of studio he wanted to record in, a studio oriented to and for the needs of struggling musicians. He sunk thousands of dollars and a tremendous amount of effort into creating an optimal recording space.

“I took a lot from just the experience of trying to get a good recording in an open basement. For example, trying to get a good drum sound down there was hard to do, because the drums were so loud in the headphones you couldn’t get a good sense of the recording and didn’t know until a couple days later that the high hat was too loud or the snare mic was off. I wanted to be able to make each sound truly isolated in the new studio where you couldn’t hear a sound in there except what you needed to hear.”

“I also took from my experiences recording in other studios, for example, the comfort factor. That’s a big thing. Half of this studio is tied up in sofas, coffee tables, and stuff like that because when I’ve gone into other studios to record, the only guy comfortable in the whole place was the guy sitting behind the board. Everyone else is just sort of standing around. So I wanted to make this studio a really comfortable place to record.” 

Doing almost all of the work with assistance from his dad, the 1,000 square-foot studio was completed and opened just a few months ago. The new studio features 24-track digital recording, 14-foot vaulted ceilings, comfy sofas for bands to lounge on, state-of-the-art microphones, individual and customizable headphone outputs, an isolation booth for vocalists or drummers — and Morris’ dog, Josie, is always available for a game of fetch. Morris has already recorded two bands, mixed down a recording for a local dramatist and is working on his second Waiting For Change release. Morris is hoping for more clients as word gets out about the studio and is open to working with a variety of acts.

“One thing I’m willing to do is work with people who have recorded at home on computer but need a better drum sound, or want some help with the final product, things like that,” he said.  “The most fun I have recording is when I record people who have vision; people who have interesting ideas.” 

Currently, Ear Candy Studios is offering a recording special of $30 an hour to all new clients, or a package of all tape costs, 10 hours of recording time and a CD for $300. The studio is located at 414 Oxford Place in St. Matthews, and Eddy can be reached at 314-9638.