My Toolbox: Salt Cathedral

Brooklyn based band, Juliana Ronderos and Nicolas Losada, better known as Salt Cathedral, released their new album CARISMA this past Friday. It is summery, breezy and fun pop music that feels like a cold drink in your hand by the pool. True to their roots in Bogota, the project flips back and forth between English and Spanish vocals. It is designed for warm days outdoors, which are coming soon. Just stay inside for now. There are two features from MC Bin Laden & duendita on the LP single “How Beautiful (she is).”

With the album out now, we asked the duo to take us into their studio to show off what type of gear they use to make music for a new edition of My Toolbox. This is a bit different from the typical dance producer feature, so expand your mind to see how pop acts make music.

Read on and get the album here.

“Juli and I started playing in bands and doing gigs everywhere. We got into production and recording when we started digging into electronic music. We had a cracked version of Ableton and from there we started working on music. Eventually we started buying certain things to make ourselves self-sufficient; a compressor, a good interface, speaker, a mic etc.

We see our place with all this equipment, and we are like, ‘’we became those guys with the expensive stuff!" It's great, but we care that it helps us to achieve an idea quickly instead of working for days making something sound good.

In general, we tend to gravitate to equipment that we know we could use in different ways. Sometimes is by chance, sometimes we think about it.

Salt Cathedral Home Studio


Juliana Ronderos:

1. Neuman TLM103 Microphone:

Salt Cathedral TLM103 Microphone

Neuman TLM103 Microphone

You always hear that Neuman's are the holy grail of mics. I'd recorded in studios with the U87 but it never occurred to me I could have a less expensive Neuman at home. After trying out many different condenser microphones I feel like I've found the one for me – the TLM103. Since I record in my bedroom, a lot of the studio condenser mic's I tried were way too noisy and picked up too much of the room. This one is an incredibly silent mic and it allows me to crank up my pre amp and compressor, sing softly and still register beautifully. It's my favorite.

2. LA 610 MK II

Salt Cathedral LA 610 MK II

LA 610 MK II

This one is great because its a tube pre amp but also a compressor in one. I really like the warmth of the tone and always record my vocals through it. Nico also uses it for mixing. Specifically for vocals it is special because it just goes well with my voice and since I sing fairly soft, it allows me to crack it up and sing softly. Also, it has very few knobs and makes it very simple to EQ, and compress beautifully whereas previously VST's would be way too complex.

Nicolas Losada

3. Space Echo Pedal 201

Salt Cathedral Space Echo Pedal 201

Space Echo Pedal 201

I’ve always dreamed about having a space echo and this is the compact version of it. When I play guitar with it, I use an expression pedal to control the intensity so I can achieve this crazy intense delay effect whenever I’m playing. I also pass the drums, synths, samples through it to get more character; moving to repeat the rate and intensity if I need to achieve a bigger moment during the song. A third use is, when I DJ, I bring the pedal to the gig and use it as an external effect. It’s so much fun especially if you’re mixing dub or reggae.

4. Fender Richie Kotzen Telecaster

Salt Cathedral Fender Richie Koltzen Telecaster Guitar

Fender Richie Kotzen Telecaster

I bought this guitar 10 years ago from a friend from Hong Kong. He is an amazing guitar player and person and every time he was playing that guitar I was so surprised by how it sounded. One day he said to me that he was selling it and I immediately made an offer. I like this guitar because it feels like a Telecaster but doesn’t have the distinctive twang because of the Dimarzio pickup. I’m a guitar player but I’m not into guitar players or guitars anymore, so, somehow I found a guitar that suits me. The tone of the guitar doesn’t scream fender or tele and that’s what I like. It’s very unidentifiable. Also, the guitar looks beautiful.

5. DJM-9000NXS2

Salt Cathedral DLM 9000NXS2


This is a weird one to talk about because it’s unexpected and I guess it comes from the idea that instruments are designed to do one thing, but when you use it a different way you can end up with exciting results. I got this mixer with a discount while I was getting into Djing. I would normally use it to DJ. Then, when we decided to change the live set, the DJM became the mixer for the setup. We run vocals, the MPC, samplers through it. We send the master out to a splitter that goes to the in ear system and to the house. Having the power to put everything in such a reliable mixer is incredible when you’re playing live.

I realized that there’s something very interesting about listening to your own songs through it when you’re DJing. You get away from the screen and you blend them with other music that sounds amazing. Immediately, you hear what your song is missing. It’s pretty brutal but that’s what is needed to in order to make things sound better.

The mixer also has incredible effects, specially the phaser and flanger. I pass synths, drums through to it so it has more movement and character.