Decibel Studio’s Jesus Martinez Sets ‘The Breakfast Table’ with Mojave Audio Microphones

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Producer/Engineer on recording LA’s Latin folk community and bringing natural sounds into the studio with tube microphones

Producer/engineer Jesus Martinez has been a fixture of Los Angele’s Bolero community for the past decade. A skilled requinto player with an ear for bringing out the best in intimate, organic arrangements in the studio, he has become the engineer of choice for many members of LA’s thriving Latin folk music community while working out of Decibel Studios, the home studio he founded in 2018. Seeking a new way to promote the music and musicians that he loves during the pandemic, Martinez started ‘The Breakfast Table’ — a monthly streaming event that showcases LA’s rising stars within the Latin folk community performing live in Martinez’s living room. In order to do justice to the ‘authentic sounds of LA’, Jesus utilizes the Mojave Audio MA-200 and MA-300 microphones to capture the emotion and organic quality of these talented traditionally minded groups.

Natural sounds of a unique musical culture
Martinez’s specialization within Bolero music comes from a genuine place. A longtime gigging musician with family ties to the genre led him to pursue the music early alongside his audio education at Berklee College of Music. When he returned to LA and realized that there was an opportunity to serve the musical community that he had grown up within, he started Decibel Studios. “The community for Bolero is so strong in LA — I don’t think people realize how big it is if they aren’t immediately in the culture,” he explained. “That being said, the arrangements and instrumentation of it is very specific and require an experienced hand to capture properly without losing any of the sounds that make it unique. When I realized that my experience and background gave me an acumen for producing this music, I knew that I wanted to serve the larger community in this way.”

One of the signature instruments within Bolero music is the requinto — a short-scale, high-tuned guitar that features prominently in the music as a lead instrument. The naturally high-pitched sound of the requinto often makes it difficult to capture without sounding piercing, which is why Martinez has outfitted his studio with tube microphones and preamps such as the MA-300 to do justice to its natural trebly sound without any uncomfortable spiky frequencies. “Tube microphones really capture those natural sounds I’m after while also giving it a real warmth and girth before we go into the interface,” he said. “The first time I heard a Mojave microphone on a session I did where I was playing requinto, I knew I had to have it because it just smoothed out the piercing frequencies without losing what makes it special.”

Natural sounds play a big part in his producing philosophy given his folk roots. Often working with trios or small ensembles that play in the room all at once, Martinez is acutely aware of the power of the organic mix, and how capturing that naturally can make or break a recording. “Groups playing together have their own dynamic control and I always key off of that when working with them in the studio,” he said. “There’s something really beautiful about capturing that organic sound and feeling on a recording because skilled players will work as their own compressors or mixers to give the music the right dynamics.”

“That’s why having the right microphones in those situations is so important,” he continued. “You want to capture all that detail and dynamics in the moment without missing a thing.”

‘Setting the table’ for organic recording
Martinez’s work on ‘The Breakfast Table’ was a natural outgrowth of his work in the studio. Inviting his clients and other luminaries from the LA Latin folk community to perform during the pandemic allowed him another opportunity to showcase his love of live, organic instrumentation in full ensemble playing and share that music with a wider audience. “I really wanted to highlight all the talent there is within the Latin folk community of LA, and when the pandemic started it seemed like the right time to start producing streaming performances,” he said. “I called it ‘The Breakfast Table’ because that’s where the idea really took hold, having these discussions over breakfast at my house with my favorite musicians.”

Martinez utilizes a wide array of Mojave microphones for these sessions, including the MA-1000 on vocals, an MA-50 on Guitar, MA-301FET on Bass, a mix of MA-201FET and MA-301FETs on drums, and MA-300s as overheads. The variety of options has given him the ability to apply the natural tube sound her prefers to any part of the ensemble, capturing every element with perfect detail. “It’s an organic sound that I just love for this,” he said. “It’s what you want when recording this kind of music because that’s really how you listen to it when people are performing in front of you.”

“I truly love being able to hear the wood in the instruments and the resonance when I’m recording, and with Mojave I know I’m going to get it just right, every time.”

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