Biography

 

the short version…

Marc Urselli writes, produces and records artists from all over the world. He also composes music for TV and film and does sound design for commercials.

Marc Urselli was born in Switzerland and raised in Italy. His musical education began with studying the piano at age twelve. At age seventeen he opened his first commercial recording facility in Italy.  He later moved to New York City where he began, and continues to work at the legendary recording studio EastSide Sound as the resident Chief House Engineer.

In 2005 Marc Urselli participated in the recordings of “Strength” by Roy Hagrove‘s project RH Factor which was nominated for Best Contemporary Jazz Album and in the same year Marc Urselli also participated in the recordings of  Lila Down‘s album “Una Sangre (One Blood)”, which won a Latin Grammy Award for Best Folk Album.
Additionally, in 2006 Marc Urselli won two Grammy Awards (Best Instrumental Rock Performance & Best Instrumental Pop Performance) for his work engineering and mixing the entire Capitol/EMI album “American Made, World Played” album by Les Paul & Friends (featuring Sting, Joss Stone, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, Buddy Guy, Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora, Goo Goo Dolls’ Johnny Rzeznick, ZZ Top, Sam Cooke, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall and many more). For a full list of clients and credits please visit the music pages.

Marc Urselli also does and has done live sound for artists such as Eliane Elias, John Zorn, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed and others.

Marc Urselli is an entrepreneur who wears many hats and loves many things, such as traveling, kitesurfing, guitars, art, web design, the internet) as well as an artist who has made his life out of recording, creating and producing music.

the long version…

Marc Urselli was born in Switzerland to a Swiss mother and an Italian father. He grew up bilingual and through his family he was immediately exposed to classical and country music. At age twelve, his family moved to Southern Italy and he started studying piano. After three years of lessons, his fascination with MIDI and samplers took over and after saving a number of weekly allowances, he invested in his first digital Casio keyboard. At age fifteen he bought his first four track tape recorder (Fostex X26) and shortly thereafter, his first twelve channel mixer. At the same time, he started recording the rehearsals of one of his first bands, the General Store. After that he continued to play keyboards in a number of bands, including Funeral Oration, the Funk Summer Funk project and the M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab.

“I hated living in Italy… except for a thriving punk/hard core music scene there was very little going on musically and artistically in general, but I tried to make the best of it and I started playing with a bunch of bands.  I also started getting actively involved in the local political scene in an attempt to make things better, create venues for free expression, music and art. Italy is a tough place to be if you are a creative and forward-thinking person with ideas and willingness to make things happen. I wanted to get out of there really bad, but I was still in school so I figured I’d try and do as much as I could for that place and for myself.”

He then went into high gear and recorded four demo tapes and one CD with different bands. Next he produced, promoted and shopped around a local band he strongly believed in (the Beatles-esque band Es). At age sixteen he started an internship at the major recording studio of the area, called Purerock Studios, in Brindisi, Italy, run by Nanni Surace.

“Even though I had been at Nanni’s studio a bunch of times as a musician and a producer, I hadn’t really figured out what I wanted to be or do. One day I met Nanni at a concert and he told me was going to sell his 32 channel large frame mixing board to get a new one. Overnight something clicked in my head and by the next day I knew I wanted to open a recording studio so I went interning at his studio and eventually bought the board. Nanni was a great inspiration, guide, mentor and friend!”

In 1994 Marc Urselli started up a music magazine focused on different forms of electronic music called Chain D.L.K. which he still runs to this day. That same year he also started working as a live sound engineer on tours and other musical events and concerts. He also launched a small promotion agency for independent bands called 4NI Promotions, which he continued to run for about two years and with which he promoted some local bands abroad and in Italy.

At roughly the same point in time, he was developing his HTML programming skills and started designing websites in his spare time. Eventually it turned into a serious side job, so he launched a small internet-based website design company called Feather Factory.

“At that time my life was already fully revolving around music, but I did have a passion for code and graphics. I went from teaching myself HTML to learning about Flash and PHP and challenging myself with bigger and more complex website architectures and designs. I never bought a book or took a course, I just learned online by looking at code and modifying it to suit my needs. I was (am) also very much into electronic music in many of its variations, but I knew this kind of music never received proper coverage in the place I lived. Meanwhile in my birth country, Switzerland, that scene was alive and well. In Italy an electronic music band would be struggling to get a gig, since the only places to play live music at were autonomous social centers and squats, which really only gave room to punk and hard core bands. Thanks to that scene and some people in it,especially Roberto Liuzzi, I had been exposed to the D.I.Y. -do it yourself- attitude and aesthetics and to the whole fanzine scene. I decided I’d start my own magazine to give space to the electronic/industrial music scene. For a long time I was the only one in Italy doing that kind of magazine. However, that wasn’t enough: I knew some of the bands I liked would never get played on a radio, covered in a magazine or booked at a venue, so I took it upon myself to create a PR company to export some of these bands out of Italy and import some from outside into Italy. I’ve always been quite the entrepreneur! I have all these ideas about things I wanna do, companies I wanna start… It always boils down to time and money…”

While studying chips and frequencies at the Institute of Electronics and Telecommunication in Italy (where he graduated with a score of 58 out of a possible 60), at age 17, Marc Urselli started building his first commercial studio. It was called Maelstrom Studio and in the last year of its existence it was equipped with a 16 track Fostex G16S half inch tape machine with Dolby S and the Argentini EP6500 in-line mixing console, an Italian vintage 1975 hand-built 32-channel modular vintage board. The studio consisted of one live room, one vocal booth and the control room. By 1997 he had started recording all the local punk and hard core bands within a radius of 100 miles. By 1999 everybody in the area had eventually come through the Maelstrom recording facility and he had pretty much established himself as a young in-demand recording engineer with dozens of demos, CDs and vinyls recorded and released.

“Everyone in the scene came through my space. I recorded so much punk and hard core I was getting calls to do live sound at punk/hc festivals and people were approaching me at shows all the time. I was really into all of it and I loved recording bands. I also recorded a lot of rock, metal, and occasionally some jazz. My studio was happening! I was doing live sound for bands, festivals and working closely with two PA rental companies who would hire me as the sound guy for live events. Everything seemed snug, but just like pretty much everything in and about Italy, sooner or later it starts feeling small and limited. Been there done that. I was happy doing what I was doing, but I wasn’t happy where I was and I felt I needed to better myself, learn more, go beyond… It was time to move on!”

At this point he could have capitalized on these achievements, maybe gotten a bigger studio, but instead he understood that there’s always room for improvement and that he had much learning to do. So he decided he wanted to go the extra mile (or the extra 3000 miles…) and move to New York City. In October 1999, at age nineteen, he boarded a plane for the first time in his life and landed in the Big Apple. Shortly after arriving he started to collaborate with a Florence-based recording label (Dune Records) and an international music promotion & webcasting company (DigiMusic) where he met engineers Fran Cathcart and Federico Panero. Almost immediately he started an internship at the recording studio EastSide Sound, a facility that his mentor Lou Holtzman had opened and had been running since 1973.

“Federico Panero, whom I had met through producer/musician Paolo Favati, a long time acquaintance of Chain D.L.K., had heard stuff I had recorded in Italy and had been impressed. So he took me over to EastSide Sound and introduced me to the manager. I was shown the bathroom, the coffee machine and the vacuum machine, and that’s where it all started. I knew I had to go that route even though I already had had a studio and had made recordings. EastSide Sound has been the greatest thing that happened to me in NYC. That studio is the cradle of recorded music in NYC’s Lower East Side and the owner of the studio, Lou Holtzman became my mentor and one of my best friends.”

Soon Marc Urselli started acquiring knowledge related to microphones, pre-amps and other vintage analog gear. At the same time he was working on his Pro Tools chops and became a lighting fast Pro Tools operator. To this day he continues to work at EastSide Sound (now co-owned by Lou Holtzman and Fran Cathcart) as the Senior Chief House Engineer.

In 2005 Marc Urselli participated in the recordings of “Strength” by Roy Hagrove‘s project RH Factor which was nominated for Best Contemporary Jazz Album and in the same year Marc Urselli also participated in the recordings of  Lila Down‘s album “Una Sangre (One Blood)”, which won a Latin Grammy Award for Best Folk Album.
Additionally, in 2006 Marc Urselli won two Grammy Awards (Best Instrumental Pop & Best Instrumental Rock) for his engineering and mixing of the 2005 Capitol/EMI album “American Made World Played”, an all star duet record to celebrate the 90th birthday of guitar legend Les Paul. The album featured, among others, Sting, Joss Stone, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, Buddy Guy, Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora, Goo Goo Dolls’ Johnny Rzeznick, ZZ Top, Sam Cooke, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall and many many more. He also records avant garde/downtown experimental/jazz for John Zorn’s label Tzadik. For a full list of clients and credits please visit the music pages.

“Working with Les Paul was such an immense honor! Not only did I get to work with some of the most talented artists in the world, but I actually engineered for the very guy who changed the world of engineering forever! Among many other things he is responsible for, Les invented the solid-body electric guitar (I have about 10 of those!) as well as multi-track recording (the technology my job is based on), so for me to be able to track and mix this hero’s playing, to be able to spend valuable hours listening to anecdotes and stories, to merely be allowed to be in the presence of such an icon who made history and yet is so sweet and nice, was priceless!”

Currently Marc Urselli is producing several bands and today his services as an engineer and producer are in demand both in the US and in Europe. He composes for TV and film and writes songs. One of his most frequent co-writing partners is the talented guitar player and long-time best friend Vincenzo Pastano, with whom he has been planning the release of an album.

Marc Urselli also does and has done live sound for artists such as Eliane Elias, John Zorn, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed and others.

Most recently Marc Urselli has also re-discovered his long lost passion for photography. He likes concert photography, occasional portraits and environmental and documentary event photography. He is a published photographer and a Getty Images contributing photographer. He also opened an photography business as ParkSide Photo (4ni Media) with his partner Genevieve Harley.

Other things Marc has a passion for include: traveling, art, guitars (collects them more than he plays them and is thinking of starting a line of pedals with a friend), the Internet (surfing it, programming it, designing it, using it, connecting through it, networking in it) and extreme sports (snowboarding and kitesurfing above anything else – Marc even created a wind/weather forecast website for his favorite kiting spots in the world).

“Gotta love the kiteboarding!!! Surfing ocean waves all by yourself pulled by a huge wind-powered traction kite and then enjoying the company of your friends is about as perfect as life gets! I am constantly struggling to find the right balance between sound waves and water waves. I always say that time and money are my enemies, because I never get enough of either of them to do all the things I want to do. So it turns out that my life is all about boards: mixing boards, message boards, kitesurfing boards, snowboards etc…“.