Producer moves with the music

Ashley Thompson
Published on January 25, 2012
Terry Pulliam is ready to start recording from his home-based studio in Hantsport.
Ashley Thompson

Terry Pulliam opens recording studio in Hantsport; eyes Valley talent

A music producer who has worked with the likes of Sloan, Jimmy Rankin and Joel Plaskett is looking to record the hits of tomorrow from his new home-based studio in Hantsport.

Terry Pulliam of SoundMarket Recording moved his family, and world-class recording gear, to the Haven of Hospitality after spending more than 25 years deeply rooted in the diverse music scene of downtown Halifax.

Pulliam, a father of two children, said the move to a small town made sense from a parenting perspective.

“I want (my kids) to live in a lovely place like Hantsport where they can walk out into the country and I’m not worried about it,” he said during an interview in the spacious studio that occupies a large section of his Tannery Road home.

The self-taught mixer, a product of the days when Bob Dylan and the Beatles dominated the airwaves, started SoundMarket Recording in his home while working as a disc jockey and technical producer for C100 in the 80s. He has since recorded more than 400 albums.

“I’ve got a philosophy that I don’t give up the day job until the night job is going well enough to allow me to do it.”

The night job proved to be a pretty lucrative gig when then Halifax-based alternative rock band Sloan landed a big record deal after collaborating with Pulliam on their first album, Smeared.

“It’s nice not to have to advertize and have a line-up of clients. When Sloan… took off I didn’t have to advertize for three years. I just had people wanting to record with me,” said Pulliam, noting that he worked with Joel Plaskett’s early 90s alternative rock band, Thrush Hermit.

“There was a point in the 90s when one third of the albums up for ECMAs (East Coast Music Awards) were produced by me.”

Pulliam says collaborating with musicians to produce a hit is an electrifying feeling, but his proudest accomplishment in music has to do with consistency; he’s been a constant promoter of the Maritime music scene from the days he reported on such emerging Nova Scotian acts as Rita MacNeil and the Rankins, to his new search for talent in the Annapolis Valley.

“I was kind of cast as an alternative, grunge producer but, the funny thing is, that all along I liked country music, blue grass… blues and all kinds of music,” he said of his early recording days in Halifax.

“My specialty is recording and mixing music well enough to be able to play it, and get a hit on the radio.”

Pulliam, the host of a Facebook-based recording forum dubbed the Halifax Digital Audio Users’ Group, says a well-crafted song will leave a listener craving more.

“It has to have great vocals with a melody that people can sing along to, and want to sing along to — a memorable melody,” he said.

“And, it’s got to move people in some way emotionally. It’s got to keep (their) attention.”

Pulliam, who teaches recording arts at the Nova Scotia Community College Waterfront Campus in Dartmouth, anticipates a shift in focus to acoustic music in his new location, but he’s open to consulting with talented musicians of all genres, and stages in their career. 

“I can help at every level… from first demos to final records for the radio,” he said.

“I like working with people who make things happen out of nothing.”