It’s barely April and Cynthia Daniels’ busy season is “really kicking off”. The Grammy and Emmy-winning sound engineer, record producer and studio owner says her desire to live and work in the East “came together like a field of dreams.”
Alec Baldwin, Julie Andrews, Sir Paul McCartney, Steve Martin, Blythe Danner, Jimmy Fallon, Christie Brinkley, Nile Rogers, Rufus Wainwright, John Leguizamo, Mercedes Ruehl, Chris Martin, GE Smith, Taylor Barton, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé and Jay Z are just a few of the more than 400 celebrities and local clients who have recorded at Daniel’s state-of-the-art recording studio, MonkMusic Studios, in East Hampton.
“Everything I’ve done has prepared me for the next job without knowing it,” said Daniels, who has worked and trained with great producers like Phil Ramone. “I was exposed to live gigs, jingles and casting albums… during the heyday of recording in the 80s.”
It all started with his first great love: music.
“I’m an artist and always wanted to be of service to music in one way or another,” Daniels said. “I love electronics and science, and I was like, ‘I can express myself and make a living’ in this profession. “
His first engineering studio gigs were for Phoebe Snow and Dr John. She quickly fell into recording major jazz artists “because of the piano I had – a nine-foot Steinway in a small studio on the Upper East Side.”
Jazz work led to work in television and film. “We did all the music for 20/20 and ‘World News Tonight’,” Daniels said. “We remade the theme music on ‘Wide World of Sports’… at one point we did all the game shows and soap operas (stage music). Then came the opportunities to do great orchestras, the Great American Songbook, pop and Broadway vocals. “
“The first Broadway show I ever recorded was ‘Black n Blue’,” she said. “It was an eye opener because I was introduced to some of the greatest female singers: Linda Hopkins, Carrie Smith and Ruth Brown – and some of the greatest music that spawned jazz blues and ultimately rock and roll.”
After buying a home in East Hampton in 1998, she started splitting her time and constantly commuting.
“I’ve been in love with the East End of Long Island since I was 30, when I was first introduced there,” said Daniels, who explained that the weekend getaway home quickly became a question of “How can I be here all the time?”
“I had a small studio in my house and, thanks to digital editing, I realized that I could do some of my work here,” she said.
She saw “a need for film and voice-over work, post-film for sound, film mixing and above all for ADR, which is looped (re-recording of sound for television and film)”. She developed a celebrity clientele, but at the same time, it has developed a strong local clientele.
“Nancy Atlas heard about me and came to work on some of her music,” Daniels said. “I met other local artists (Inda Eaton, Mama Lee Rose, the Hoo Doo Loungers, Cliff Black and many others). I had no idea this would happen.
Daniels used to work from home, but it was when they moved to another studio in the east – World Cottage, which became 91 East – that she “basically took over that part of the business.”
“Every room in my house was a recording studio,” she said with amusement. “It was a dream house … until I met my partner,” she said, referring to Cori Krane.
“We met in late 2006, at East Hampton Indoor Tennis – just one of the many romances that have come out of the club,” she joked. They got married in 2011. “After a few years Cori said,” We have to do something about your boisterous career and your parade of clients. “”
The plan to step out five feet from the house turned into a 2,000 square foot addition. Daniels enlisted the help of famous architect John Storyk to help him create the studio of his dreams.
“John had designed a lot of studios I had worked in in Manhattan,” Daniels recalls. “He has an affection for the East End and had designed the Ross School auditorium.”
I was like, ‘If I build it and they don’t come, that’s okay – that’s what I do, and that’s where I belong: in the East End with my own recording studio. ” They came.
The studio was completed in 2011, the same year she won a Grammy for “The Julie Andrews Collection” CD. Last August, Jimmy Fallon recorded a duet with Dolly Parton at MonkMusic (Parton did his tracks in Nashville). At the height of the pandemic, Scarlett Johanssen recorded a duet with Bono for the animated film “Sing 2”.
Today she records with Alec Baldwin (“Boss Baby 2”). She is excited to be finishing an album by local musician Fred Raimondo called “Cinema”, and working with “Midnight in the Oasis” composer David Nichtern, on an album called “Pandemoonea”.
She describes her career path as “a confluence of 16 hours a day, a lot of luck and, hopefully, talent”.
“When I won a Grammy as an engineer and mixer for ‘The Producers’ it reminded me that ‘every sensation overnight takes about 20 years,’” Daniels said with a smile.
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