Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, the prolific award-winning hitmaker behind chart-topping songs by artists such as Toni Braxton, Mary J. Blige, Madonna and Mariah Carey, has upgraded the mixing console in the A room at his Brandon’s Way production facility in Hollywood. The two-room private complex, which opened in 1996, now features a new 48-fader Solid State Logic Duality Fuse SuperAnalogue™ console with SSL δelta-Control and integrated Fusion coloration processor, which joins an SSL Duality in the Studio B.
The very first production completed in Studio A at Brandon’s Way, which was named to celebrate the birth of Babyface’s first child, was a collaboration with Stevie Wonder, “How Come, How Long.” The song was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. Most recently, in November 2022, Babyface released his 11th solo album, Girls Night Out, a 13-song collection featuring some of R&B’s most iconic singers, including Ella Mai, Kehlani, Ari Lennox, Muni Long and Queen Naija, which was written and produced at Brandon’s Way.
“We had a 96-fader SSL 9000 J Series in Studio A, one of the first,” reports Paul Boutin, who has been chief engineer at Brandon’s Way for more than two decades. "This replaced the SSL 4080 G+ that was originally installed."
Studio A eventually became a writing room, with Babyface favoring the B room for most of his production projects and the 9096J was used less frequently, Boutin says. “I have a Duality in my room, so I know the board,” he says, so he suggested a second Duality to replace the aging J Series desk. The recently installed console in Studio A is SSL’s newer Duality Fuse version, which features a Fusion analogue processor integrated into the center section. Fusion offers six analogue coloration tools for adding tonal character, weight and space to stereo stems.
The new SSL Duality Fuse is outfitted with angled producer’s bays at each end, matching the footprint of the 9096J previous installed in Brandon Way’s A control room. The new console also includes SSL δelta-Control to seamlessly integrate SSL’s analogue console automation with today’s DAW-based workflows.
Boutin had been working on a project with Babyface at Record Plant for about six months when he was invited to take a fulltime position as an assistant at the new facility when it opened in 1996. At Brandon’s Way he has collaborated with Babyface on two dozen Gold records, 15 Platinum records and 16 multi-Platinum releases, and has participated on three Grammy-winning albums while garnering a further 18 Grammy nominations. Babyface, an 11-time Grammy-winner, four of them for Producer of the Year, a Recording Academy Trustee Award-winner and a 2017 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, has worked with a who’s-who of pop and R&B royalty, including artists such as Boyz II Men, Bobby Brown, Aretha Franklin, Katharine McPhee, Vanessa Williams, Celine Dion, Phil Collins and many, many others.
Babyface's history with making hit records with SSL consoles dates back to the mid-'80s, during his collaboration with Antonio "L.A." Reid. Kenny states: "SSL has always been at the forefront of my hit making formula. Nothing else allows me to achieve the level of production excellence."