William Mele, Owner & Producer Moontree StudioDec 06, 2023 12:36PM ● By Tricia Hoadley
Far from the maddening pace of big city recording studios, William Mele has owned and operated Moontree Studio in Hockessin since 2012. It is both a recording studio and an incubator for ideas that continues to explore musical possibilities with up-and-coming recording artists. Recently, Greenville & Hockessin Life talked with William – as well as his creative partners Alex and Andrew Major -- about the studio’s new recording concept Sound Portals, their advice for young music makers and the incredible list of guests invited to their dinner parties.
Greenville & Hockessin Life: Take the readers of Greenville & Hockessin Life back to your early interest in the technical aspects of sound and recording. What first inspired you to pursue your passion?
William: I remember as a child watching my cousin Pat play guitar. Ever since, I have been addicted to music. It has always piqued my interest as to how things sound the way they do, and what goes on in the process of producing what we hear on the radio. I wasn't sure what career to pursue in college. I was sitting in English class one day, and I peered over to another classmate who had pulled up a link to this college called Full Sail University. I simply wanted to understand more about the technical side of it, so I decided to attend the college for the next two years, where I received my bachelor’s degree in Recording Arts.
Before anyone establishes their first firm foothold in their career, they very often spend years honing their craft in the trenches, gathering both skills and experience. Describe a few of those early gigs, where they were, what you did and what they taught you.
After sending my (not so impressive) resume at the time to recording studios across the country, I managed to land two internships in Philadelphia. The first studio was called Cedar Street Studio, where I learned more about mixing techniques, microphone placement and organization under the studio's owner, Ted Richardson. The second studio was called Third Story Recording, which happens to be Philadelphia's oldest recording studio. It was there where I was able to interact with clients, setup for recording sessions and eventually had the opportunity to run the beautiful recording console at the helm of the faders. Shortly after those internships ended, I decided to start my own studio, right in my backyard.
You began Moontree Studio in 2012. Provide a brief description of what the company does, and where you can be seen throughout Delaware.
Moontree Studio is a recording facility located in Hockessin that focuses on the audio needs of clients for music production, recording, mixing and mastering. We provide a relaxing atmosphere for clients to focus on their craft whether it be recording an entire album, an episode of a podcast, or anything in between.
Among the myriad of roles that Moontree Studio plays, one of the most fascinating is Sound Portals, a vehicle for up-and-coming musicians to use to showcase themselves and their music. What led to the start of Sound Portals, and how does it work?
After some years working with individual artists, I grew my relationships with many musicians and individuals involved with the industry. One of the ways I found so many amazing artists came from working live sound at Dew Point Brewing in Yorklyn. After a long night of working with Alex and Andrew, we decided to combine forces to give back to the community. We wanted artists to have an opportunity to record their work, while being put through the exposure of our upcoming Youtube page, “Sound Portals,” that provides artists with live recordings that showcase their talent.
We believe that it is a positive and fun way to give back to gig-hungry musicians who tirelessly give us their entertainment on a weekly basis through local performances. The Sound Portal service we provide is free of charge, with the agreed acknowledgement that we reserve the right to post whatever material we capture on our Youtube Channel. Artists come to the studio rehearsed and lay down live recorded takes of four to five songs. The entire session is filmed from different points of view and after it has been edited, it is uploaded to our channel. I also provide one free mix revision for all the material that is captured, and final mixes are sent out to the artists so they may showcase their material in whatever way they wish.
Reel off a few of the musicians you have worked with through Sound Portals.
We have worked with our very own Andrew Major, The Brandywine Riders, Zipline Lilly, Danielle Ruth, Too Tall Slim and The Guilty Pleasures, The Carly Simmons Band, The Deep Conversations Podcast, G Dash Jones and Blue Tulip.
Where can the readers of Greenville & Hockessin Life see the work you have done with Sound Portals?
Our work can be accessed through our Youtube Channel, “Sound Portals.” Sneak peeks and behind the scenes pictures and video of Sound Portals can be found on the Instagram account @Moontreestudio as well as our video creator Andrew’s Instagram @Rumkakeuniverse.
Moontree Studios is located in Hockessin, not in a major metropolitan city. What do you all find are the professional advantages of establishing a sound studio in Delaware, as opposed to say Philadelphia or New York City?
One of the benefits of being in a rural area like Hockessin is the solitude that comes with it. No noisy neighbors, beautiful views and fresh air. Our studio is a perfect environment for anyone looking for a nice change of scenery that is conducive to creativity. Major cities like Philadelphia and New York have amazing and often famous recording facilities, but they can come with a heavy price tag when you factor in renting the space and hiring an engineer. I never wanted Moontree Studio to be a place that focuses on the quantity of clients, but rather the quality. Compared to some recording studios, we might look small, but we pride ourselves in giving each artist the opportunity to thrive and grow in a place that is eager to give their work the attention that it deserves.
Let’s bring in Alex and Andrew. For any musician entering the music industry, it is often a balancing act between sharpening his or craft with the necessary evil of booking gigs and the exhaustive legwork of self-promotion. It’s a grind, and the three of you have gotten to know dozens of these musicians. As a valuable part of that process, what advice would you give a young musician who may be reading this article and is on the very same path?
William: Love what you do. Let your passion open doors. With a genuine love for music and a lot of determination, you can make the connections that can get your foot in the door. That is why I find it so incredibly important to support local music. With more support from your local community, you can make a name for yourself and establish friendships through music, a universal language. Every artist started somewhere, so why can’t you?
Share your music with others, and they will share it with you. It opens up a spider web of possibilities that can get your foot in the door.
Alex: Experiment. You can’t go wrong with experimenting. You might try singing and realize that it’s not your thing. You may try to produce music and realize that maybe that’s not your thing, but with each new thing you experiment with, the more comfortable you become with music. Find what you are good at, and be persistent, because persistence is key.
Andrew: My advice would be to not overthink, because sometimes overthinking will prevent you from starting in the first place. If you just take a leap of faith, you may learn what you’re good at, which will build your confidence and at the same time, you’ll feel better that you started. It will be challenging, but don’t stop. Just keep going.
What are your favorite spots in Greenville or Hockessin?
For some of the best tacos you ever will taste, I really enjoy Tasty Taco. It is located right behind the Wawa in Hockessin and is a true hidden gem of Hockessin cuisine. If I find myself in Greenville, it is hard not to stop at Purebread for a delicious breakfast or afternoon lunch!
Here’s a question for all three of you. If you could throw a dinner party and invite anyone – living or not, famous or not – who would you like to see around that dinner table?
William: I would really enjoy talking with musicians from the past as well as prominent figures in today’s music industry. To name a few, I would like to see Duke Ellington, Jimmy Hendrix, Jimmy Iovine, Pharrell, Rick Rubin, and Frank Sinatra. If I had the privilege to have dinner with them, I would inquire about the personal struggles and victories they have experienced in their lifetime and how it inspired the music they made.
Andrew: I would invite Stan Lee, the creator of the Marvel comic books, and pick his brain a bit. I would also invite Nasir Jones and ask him how he has remained so relevant in the music industry for so long.
Alex: The first person at the table would be Neil deGrasse Tyson, because I have a vast interest in astrophysics. I would also invite Prince. He’s the greatest musician I can think of, and I would love to be able to talk about music for hours with him.
What food or beverage can always be found in your refrigerator?
Andrew: Rum cake universe hot sauce, made by my hot sauce company, Rumkake.
William: It’s usually beer or tacos.
To learn more about Moontree Studio, visit https://instagram.com/moontreestudio, on Facebook or contact William Mele at (302) 377-6869.
Richard L. Gaw