Music Composition, Teaching, Recording, Instrument Building
Earhead Recording Studios
Mars Hill, NC
Earhead is a professional recording studio in Mars Hill, North Carolina (just north of Asheville)
Earhead's approach is about flexibility to your music and your projects needs.
The studio is designed to adapt to your process and goals.
We have a large collection of microphones including AEA R84 Ribbon, AKG C414, Shure SM81, Bluebird, AT2050, etc.
We use stacks of beautiful tube preamps and fantastic RME interface and AD/DA-conversion.
Most of our recording and mixing is done in ProTools or Logic using top-notch plugins, and mastering in Audition.
We have resident instruments for your use including: a vintage Fender Rhodes, Sho-Bud II 20-string pedal steel guitar, and a 1903 pump organ, along with acoustic and electric guitars and bass, tube amps, Nord Stage II keyboard, mandolin, melodica, drums, djembe, DTX drum pad controllers, and small percussion.
Additionally, Hjertmann's evolving collection of Just Intonation instruments are available for use (10+ guitars, pump organ, piano, Bifur (hammered dulcimer), and more.
Our rates are artist-friendly, and much more affordable than the larger studios in town.
Send a message using the contact page on this site for inquiries, rates, and conversation about your project!
Please enjoy listening samples of some of our larger recording projects below!
In addition to what's below we did a bulk of the recording for Art Wavey's Selenite Life, Rhodes and mixing for Foxy Moron's Blame, drums for Bill's Garage, Big Scary World, mixing for Crisco Saints' last three albums, guitar, rhodes, & pedal steel for Charles Walker's 2020 self-titled album, vocal contributions to ONTOLOGIST's last two albums, Mixing and Mastering for Dom Frigo's Little Sun People, and more.
by Ben Hjertmann (feat. Emmalee Hunnicutt)
This album is in Just Intonation, including 78 microtonal pitches in total. More info about the project here.
The two performers were recorded playing intimate and intricate music with voices, cello, slide & fretless guitars, pedal steel, bowed psaltery and two zithers, all tuned in interrelated Just Intonation tunings.
All of the music can be performed live as duet. Only a couple overdubs of extra guitars appear on Jack of Spades.
The unusual pitch content has a secret way of sounding familiar and intuitive as the voices and instruments are all tuned by ear following many months of practice.
Self-Released, April 2021 at benhjertmann.bandcamp.com
by Kong Must Dead
This punchy EP includes heavy improvised guitar & bass, steel pans, wild electronics, invented language, carnival samples, computerized voices, cymbal resonance chords, ring modulation, FFT-resynthesized guitar feedback, mondegreened radio clips, and a beat made of bowed music stands.
Released on Two Labyrinths Records, August 2020.
by Emmalee Hunnicutt
Wooden Hollow is a collection of dreamy original cello compositions based on looping pedal pieces composed by Emmalee Hunnicutt between 2012 and 2020.
We recorded layers of cello with close mics and room mics, and no effects. The result is a natural mix of one performer and a room in a duet.
Enjoy the contemplative, rich layers of original cello music created through embodiment, improvisation, and composition over the course of ten years.
Released June 2020.
The Geese of India
by Jackie Barnes
Jackie Barnes' album was recorded at Earhead in the Spring of 2020. We recorded Jackie's multifaceted solo performances on guitar, voice, fiddle, saw u, bass, glockenspiel, percussion, plus some guest cello & vocals.
One of the most energetic and fun projects we've had the pleasure of creating here at the studio.
Jackie's saw-u, gritty guitar and tremolo voice on Only the Wild Dog, the dusty Morricone-style Fever of Unknown Origin, and the chamber strings on Why Can't I Just Find a Damn Place to Grow? are just some of our favorite moments from this fantastic debut release.
Released April 2020.
America (Or, One for the Mullygrubbs)
by Grant Wallace Band
“Nature is a haunted house,” wrote Emily Dickinson, “but Art—a House that tries to be haunted.”
Grant Wallace Band improvised in Earhead studio for three days, then assembled the results into a full-length album. They were joined by cellist Emmalee Hunnicutt. We recorded guitars, trumpet, alto sax, pedal steel, clarinet, electric bass, drums, cello, voices, Rhodes, kitchen sounds, autoharp, toy piano, bodhrán, piano, mandolin, and dulcimer.
Then, the haunting occurred on the evening of July 4, when the group set up microphones around the house and simultaneously, each in their own room with a battery of instruments and noise-makers, listened through the full album, adding a layer of sound throughout. The fireworks let themselves in through the open windows. The result is a digressive album, full of stylistic trap-doors, secret passageways, transcendental warblings and comic asides.
On the Way to Pleasure Way by Dom Frigo
For Dom's intricate album, we focused on a high-quality yet DIY sound. We captured a variety of acoustic, electric, classical, and pedal steel guitars recorded in a variety of different styles. Some are up-close and clear, others capture Dom filling up a room with sound.
We added vocals, bass, melodica, trombone, duduks, and homemade drums (couch pillows & broken cymbals).
The addition of silly digital drums & fretless (DI) guitar on Floriduh were recorded late at night through headphones to let the neighbors sleep.
Earhead was proud to work with Dom as our first major recording project in our new home base in West Asheville.
We think you'll enjoy the humor and twists of his lyrics, and the unique chords and counterpoint of his songwriting.
Released September 2019.
More to Come by Mercer
Chris Mercer's elegy to the analog era and a hero of late-night television.
This album was recorded partly at Earhead, and partly at the studios at Northwestern University. Over the course of two summers, we worked all day and late at night to capture drums, piano, Rhodes, guitars, pedal steel, bass, mandolins, and lots of vocals.
We used and learned from Mercer's recording techniques including a spatial technique of capturing a room with the stereo mics and moving to different locations around the room to fill out sections of vocals and strings.
After falling in love with Mercer's 2013 release Futures Market, we were honored to get to record with him for this follow up, and we hope there is more to come!
Released by Merstar Records, August 2019.
mashup by Kong Must Dead
Kong Must Dead's expansive album holds Earhead's largest recording and mixing undertaking to date.
The album is packed with multichannel drums, basses, guitars, keys, and vocals. In keeping with KMD's surreal sound palette, it weaves in steel pans, pedal steel guitars, Rhodes, drum-pads with warped 808 samples, iPad-controlled synthesizers, just intonation MIDI-controlled frame drums, stacks of living guitar feedback, and ingressive vocal multiphonics.
This was Earhead's first recording, mixing, and mastering for vinyl. It's powerful thing to hold the art in your hand, and to see it in a record store. Thanks to our neighbors, American Vinyl in Asheville for doing the pressing. And if you're in town, stop by Harvest Records for a copy.
Released on Two Labyrinths Records, August 2019.
Valle Crucis by Golconda
This album takes its name from the small community in the mountains of North Carolina where Earhead was born.
As our first official recording project under the name Earhead, it feels fitting.
For this album we focused on different types of guitar recording. We went for direct close-up acoustic for some songs, and a more raw and back-country-tuned sound on an old arch-top Gibson for others.
We added vocals, Indie-style drums, and some pedal steel guitars to fill it out. Then we concluded by adding shimmering bowed guitars and bowed cymbals to Solstice along with guest cello by Emmalee Hunnicutt.
Golconda's quaint and direct songwriting speaks to seasons of life, to inherited memories, and to the places we've loved.
Released on Two Labyrinths Records, June 2018.