Producer Sammy Kannis set up Alchemy Music Group in 2006 as a music production and mix house, with services ranging from Production & Mixing to Artist Development, Songwriting and A&R Consulting.
‘Alchemy’ is both a philosophy and an ancient practice focused on the attempt to change base metals into gold, investigating the preparation of the "elixir of longevity", and achieving ultimate wisdom.
Created with a goal of identifying & developing raw musical talent and then throwing together a mix of producers, artists & composers to create the final result, Alchemy Music Group (and their production room, 'The Cauldron') is unique in Sydney's musical landscape.
Alchemy Music Group seems like an all-bases-covered entity - was it your goal to create a one-stop shop for artists?
After having owned a few commercial facilities in my time, I took a long break and observed how the industry was transforming and carefully planned out a future-proof room that could cater for all my needs as a writer/ Producer and still support the local commercial recording studio industry for tracking bands. So, for a solo artist with only live guitars, then yes, it is a one stop shop, if you are a band, then you only need minimal time in a big studio to track the rhythm section live, the rest can be done in my room all the way to final mix.
Its the Cauldron open to everyone or is it an in-house facility for Alchemy artists?
Predominantly it is for our artists, although I do a fair amount of mixing and analogue processing to tape for outside clients as well as external artist development and Production (when I have time).
Steve and Gary are amazingly talented guys with a wealth of wisdom and abilities, both are very busy on their own, but for Alchemy, they are masters of their craft and are called upon when they are available. As Gary is based in the UK, he does most of our sync/ music library side of things and mostly works from there then sends through stems for co-writing and mixing. Steve on the other hand is a very busy Producer with his own outside clients constantly on the go. My space is always open for him when he needs it.
How do you decide who does what?
When it comes to Rock/Punk or Motown with a UK edge, both Steve and Gary are invaluable, I do the Pop/Hip Hop/RnB side, but when all these elements are stewed together we definitely achieve a very special sound.
The industry has changed so much over the last 15 years - what do you see as the future for artists beyond streaming and syncing? Is the whole model about to change again?
In my opinion, the only way it can remain a sustainable industry is for the artist to make an income, I believe the only way for this to occur is platforms that provide not only a higher rate of royalty, but also allow the end user to purchase all of an artist’s merchandise directly from that platform.
Do you scout for new talent or does it gravitate to Alchemy?
We are constantly scouting for young talent and receive many inbox links to many other artist, the ones that we decide to develop must meet a very strict criterion. We are look for artists that have fire in their belly and aspiration not expectation.
What’s on the horizon for Alchemy - new artists/projects?
We currently have 3 of our artists with releases out there from Punk (Hitmen DTK) to Pop (Eros) to EDM (Phatty Boomstix) , on the Horizon, we also have a couple of Hip Hop artists coming through so watch this spaces
You have a great treasure chest of outboard - how much of your mixing is in-the-box?
Very little, the closest to ITB mixing I do is stems out to the console.
Do you have any favourite pieces of kit amongst that treasure trove?
My POM Fairchild and Neve 2254E comps
- Are there any favourite combinations that you like?
Pultec to Fairchild to ATR102
What a fantastic desk - when did you acquire it & how has it made your workflow different?
The Genesys Black was commissioned in November 2017, it has had such an impact on my workflow, because it is so intuitive and amazing along with total recall. I can switch between different projects within 2 minutes and make changes to a mix I did a week before while working on a totally different current mix. My outboard gear only takes a couple of minutes to recall because I have chosen a specific range of gear based on my personal taste and always have the same things inserted ver certain instruments and vocals when mixing. I am now mixing on an analogue console with total control of my DAW in a seamless alchemy of analogue and digital, this setup for me, is totally futureproof.
‘The Cauldron’ boasts both an AMPEX ATR102 and an OTARI MX70. Do you use Tape in every session?
Tape is a very big part of my sound and therefore is used on every project.
How much do you ‘commit’ during the tracking process and how much do you save for later, work-wise? Do you vary this methodology from project to project?
I never commit anything until the final mix is ready for mastering, I always have a couple of versions of the session for any particular song as I tend to go down all rabbit holes that manifest during production, then listen to the various ideas to collate the final version that then goes through the processing and mixing. This way, I always have options, but yes this method does change from project to project.
What are some stand out experiences in the studio for you? Any moments of lightning-in-the-bottle?
The Stand out moments for me, is when an artist/ musician happens upon a part identical to the one that is going through my head simultaneously and we capture that performance, that is true magic and why I love my art.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I am working on Eros’ album, I am also doing analogue processing to tape for various clients, this includes digital 2 track ITB mixes that I run through the console into the Fairchild and onto the ½ inch 2 track ready for mastering, along with multitrack stem processing to the Otari 16 track that then sent back to the client for mixing. I am also helping a mate build his second studio site.
You’ve recently gone with ADAM S3Xs after a long period with a popular D’Appolito-configured monitor. What went into the decision-making process?
My room was designed by the late Richard Priddle to not require a sub, the room is quite accurate so I originally chose my monitor based on ease of working, they were fine for the most part. Once I put the console in, I decided it was time for a change in monitors and went about trying out various brands, none of them worked for me really. I felt like speaker manufacturers were building speakers that were compensating for lack of acoustics in a room (just my opinion) I was tracking a band at A# Studios and heard the S3Xs for the first time in a tracking situation, because I track bands in others studios, it is always difficult to ascertain what it will sound like when I get it back here and work on it, usually I found that as a result of less than optimum acoustics and monitoring in particular studios, there would be a lot of work involved in rectifying material I had just spent days recording which was frustrating. Now having spent time tracking on the S3Xs, the sessions translated perfectly back at my place, that the moment I asked whether I could trial a pair in my room and my request was kindly accommodated. I kept them here for a month and through everything sonically at them and they performed better than I had imagined.
Has the ADAM changed your workflow?
The biggest change to my workflow is I don’t have to think as much; this is very important.