BEHIND THE SCENES: Mexican Institute of Sound + Toy Selectah Hit The Studio For Compass Project

STUDIO DIARY: with Mexican Institute of Sound + Toy Selectah
Recording around the globe with a cast of nearly 100 artists

A very important matter is the fact that we’ve been working the major part of this project over RED BULL STUDIOS around the world: New York, Los Angeles, London and Sao Paolo. I personally believe that in terms of the multi collaborations and the dynamics of creative sessions, a space and proper facilities, as the Red Bull Studios provide, were definitely a key to be able to work in a comfortable, creative atmosphere.  Without this environment most of the goals of this projects would not be achieved as they were. Space, technology, environment, equipment, station A, station B, vocal booths, main room, second room, all this was essential. – Toy

▼ Article continues below ▼


What was your pre-production like on this project?

Toy sent me a bunch of beats, so I spent a couple of months creating these beats into songs. I try not to use MIDI; my studio is basically a bunch of toys and old keyboards to work with. Then we started to travel and record sessions with artists in LA, NY, Brazil, UK, Mexico and some other collaborations in India, Jamaica and China. – Camilo

I am a beatmaker, DJ and producer, been making music for 20 years, always working with MCs and vocalist to create songs and hits from scratch, but starting with a beat. For this project, I took out all my triple “A stash” of beats, knowing that Camilo is a great, crafty musician who is very focused on textures. Camilo is simple and has an almost all analogue approach to things, which blows my mind. Also, concept-wise, he always finds the right startup idea for lyrics and themes. We’ve known each other for more than 15 years, and have respected each other’s careers since day one. When recording, we know exactly what the other is good for. We capitalize on that fact, understanding that I can take the lead on some things and that he can take the lead on the next thing. I definitely think that this project was possible because of our past experiences of creating records: from A&R to production, to mixing, to playing the bass or keyboards, and programming the right drums, or looking for the right sample. – Toy

Compass PRESS HI RES 2 Photo Credit Carlo Cruz


What kind of sound were you looking for and how did you achieve it?

Well it is a mix between what Toy does and my sound. I guess we both share the passion for the dance floor. I’m way more lo-fi than Toy, so that has been really exciting. Toy and Medico are working hard on pulling out the dust of my sounds. – Camilo

About our sound, some people believe that we are on very similar musical paths for the fact that we’re both Mexican and that we came from a hip-hop and sample-based production background, plus Cumbia proliferation. Another key element to our work, is that we found that the outcomes can perfectly show our designation of origin. This project is that – you could currently hear our origin connections with our prior works, but as Camilo pointed out, this time it was with a maximization of our artistic resources.  – Toy

How does it compare to your last releases in terms of style and the creative process?

This is a master’s degree in production. We worked with more than 90 artists across the world, so this is basically the mothership of all collaborations. – Camilo

What was your philosophy on live, full-band takes versus individual tracking?

When you do this kind of project, we did both. We had some featured spots that were completed in one take and some meticulous million-take artists. – Camilo

So who were some of the special guests?

Collaborators ranged from Boy George to Sly and Robbie.  – Camilo

What did you try to accomplish in the studio that you’re not able to do live?

Everything we record in the studio, we try to translate that for the live show. – Camilo

What were the toughest challenges you faced?

To be honest? The sessions were just fun. No challenges at all. I guess it got more challenging by the time we started doing the legal side. – Camilo

Any funny stories from the sessions that you’ll be telling for a while?

Originally Toy asked me, ‘What if we do a collaboration album and we record it in a couple of weeks and release it in a month?’ It’s been a year…10 studios and 90 collaborations later…. still not done! – Camilo
Toy Selectah and Camilo Lara - Lifestyle


How will you handle final mixing and mastering?

We are in that process now. Toy is working hard with Frank El Medico. He is doing the mastering and mixing. – Camilo 

What are your release plans?

Release it…or release singles…or just put music out…and tour all over! There is a documentary and some capsules with the release of the album that Red Bull created for us.  That was fun, since the documentary shows the whole process of how it was done.  – Camilo

Any special packaging?

Yes. Working with the amazing Mexican artist Gabriel Kuri and the man behind lots of Mexican classic album covers. The artwork is going to be killer. – Camilo


Band Name: Compass: Mexican Institute of Sound + Toy Selectah
Album name: Compass (self-titled)
Recording Studios: Red Bull Studios LA, Red Bull Studios NY, Red Bull Studios Sao Paulo, Red Bull Studios London, Experimental Workshop Mexico City, Reggae Center Studios (Toots Studio), UPT-007 Studios Jamaica, The End Studios Brooklyn, Anchor Studios Jamaica, Flood Studio Spain, Estudio Trece (Tampiquito, Mexico), Medico Studio Miami
Record label: TBA
Release date: TBA
Producers: Camilo Lara and Toy Selectah
Main Engineer:  Frank “El Medico” Rodriguez.
Mixed by: Frank “El Medico Rodriguez and Toy Selectah

Ableton Live
SSL Boards
Pro Tools 10

Follow on Twitter @toyselectah and  @camilolara

Have a unique studio story to share? Email editorial at performermag dot com.

Like this? Share this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *