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Interview: Marta Sofia Honer


A note about this interview: Mary Arendt, Coordinator of Alumni Engagement for the School of Music, interviewed alumna Marta Sofia Honer (BM '12, Performance) in early June to discuss her approach and methodology when remote recording. Photo: Elizabeth Weinberg.

Hi Marta! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me about your work and your remote recording methods. I’d like to start by asking you a little about yourself. How long have you been working in LA, and how did you end up on the West Coast after living in Chicago?

have been in LA for almost 6 years. After graduating from DePaul in 2012, I continued living in Chicago, but started thinking about what might be the best place for my goals and interests in the next chapter of my life / where I would potentially want to start a family. An area with the ability to freelance in a musically diverse way and having access to the outdoors and nature activities were my two top priorities, so LA fit the bill perfectly.

You have a really stellar performance list on your website (including Beyoncé!). Who have you collaborated with recently that left a lasting impression on your art? 

There are so many amazing artists and composers out there, it is truly hard to pick one. Beyoncé of course is a force to be reckoned with, and just being around her commands you to perform at your very best. 
This spring I was involved in the Industry opera’s latest production Sweetland which unfortunately closed early due to Covid-19, but that production was specifically special and important as the opera focused on very serious themes of cultural history and colonization, pushing not only the audience but also the performers into a very serious dialogue that is all the more prevalent today. I highly encourage people to research and view the opera. It is available to stream at​

What drove you to enhance your home recording space? Was it in response to the pandemic, or had you already established your recording methods? 

I had already been recording at home for several years, primarily as a means to work on personal music projects, but then also as a mode to work with more composers and collaborators. Much of the music industry in Los Angeles works at an incredibly fast pace, and there is not time to book a studio and collect musicians together for a session to meet deadlines, so remote work exists between musicians and composers even within the same city regularly. Within the past year I started getting more regular remote work and began to bolster and upgrade my home studio prior to the pandemic hitting, so I was fortunate to be already up and running. Since the quarantine hit I have recorded for a feature length film, commercials, and on songs for several artists. 

In your opinion, what equipment is necessary for making quality remote recordings? 

Of course you need baseline gear – a microphone, cable, audio interface, computer and DAW system. If you do not have the budget for expensive top line mics, don’t let that discourage you, and make what resources you do have work to the absolute best of their ability. Do your research to learn what type of microphone captures the sound of your specific instrument best, and figure out where the sweet spot of mic placement and settings are to make the best of what you have. Make sure you also sound treat your recording room to help create the best environment. This doesn’t have to be extreme or fancy—a high pile rug and a quilt as a sound baffle can do wonders and save on your budget. 

Do you favor a particular software program?

I use Logic Pro X as my primary DAW, but sometimes use Ableton as well. I also use Izotope RX7, which is an incredible audio repair software program that I utilize to remove extra room sound and other extraneous noises that might occur in my recording that is unwanted. 

Most students don’t have the funds to create the perfect home recording studio. What are the absolute basic necessities one would need to record remotely?

As noted prior, the basic necessities are a microphone and stand, an XLR cable, an audio interface to connect your mic to your computer, computer and some sort of DAW program. Utilize the internet to your advantage to look for used gear on Reverb and eBay. Many music gear companies are offering monthly payments with 0% interest to enable people to purchase gear during this time of severe unemployment. 

What kind of recording samples should artists have on hand when marketing their work?

I think this really depends on what arena of music you are in and what you are trying to provide. Personally, as a string player the audio samples I provide include me playing solo on both violin and viola, with the same sample provided raw and with reverb. I also have samples of me as an ensemble stacked. All samples are relatively short and to the point, as my goal is to highlight my playing ability and the quality of my sound recordings. 

What is the biggest issue you’ve encountered when collaborating with other artists or producers remotely? 

I honestly have encountered very few issues when working remotely, and I think this has much to do with the fact that I have spent a lot of time learning and discussing remote recording with colleagues that are more seasoned than myself. In fact, I’ve specifically asked them about difficult or tricky scenarios, which have helped shape how I discuss projects with clients to insure everything goes smoothly. It is important to be as prepared as possible and sort out details ahead of time. What assets are you receiving to record with? What sample rate do they want your audio files at? Is there sheet music provided, only MIDI, or do they want to compose your own parts? Things to keep in mind: If you are only receiving MIDI, do you know how to music prep and convert it into sheet music? Are you comfortable composing if there are no parts, and if so please request an additional fee for this work.

I would say some of the most common issues that you might come across are receiving assets that are hard to record to—i.e. not locked to click or tempo mapped properly, messy MIDI that you have to use to follow along or make sheet music out of, or oddly bounced reference tracks. 

In addition to the videos you’ve created on your own website, are there other tutorials or references you would recommend musicians watch to learn more about remote recording? 

I’ve recently made two videos outlining my remote studio practices that can be found here: and have also been making additional tutorials for a composer friends new remote database called Sound Travels. It is still a work in progress but I have already seen some of the other tutorials colleagues have created for it and I think it will be a great resource
So many audio recording tutorials are made by and geared towards people who are songwriters or play standard rock instruments, and I have spent hours scrubbing through sites and tutorials to find an answer to a question that is more specific to my field and instrumentation, so I am hoping that Sound Travels can provide clearer and more specific answers to those in similar situations. 
Musicians have responded to the pandemic by creating job platforms and opportunities online for other artists. Are you a member of any of these new sites? Do you recommend any remote-hiring platforms for music?

There are a variety of different platforms out there that you can create profiles for, but at the end of the day I believe that your personal network is still the strongest resource for finding work. Once you feel confident in your remote recording abilities, create some samples and content and reach out to your immediate network letting them know! I highly stress that if this is a new avenue for you to really learn and get to know your equipment and software BEFORE accepting a job as it will help not only your stress levels and time management, but also insure you’re delivering not only good playing but also great audio. 

That being said, here is a brief list of remote recording databases you can sign up for that I participate in. The only two that take a percentage or cut are Sound Better, and Jammcard’s platform is 100% free but their payment processing partner Stripe takes a 2% processing fee I believe. I do not endorse any database platforms that require the musicians themselves to maintain a paid membership in order to be eligible for jobs.

Thank you for sharing your time and expertise with us!