Reef Recorders

Reef Recorder control room

After spending his early years in Sydney, Reno Nicastro's parents took him to a sugar cane farm in Innisfail, about an hour south of Cairns in the north east of Australia. There he picked up a pair of drum sticks and played in rock 'n' roll bands until he was around 14. His career as a musician gave way to setting up a series of nightclubs before he setup a recording studio. Today, Reno's main passion is recording and producing Australian girl duo Shakaya. Consisting of singer-songwriters Simone Stacey and Naomi Wenitong, Shakaya offer 'an intoxicating mix of Aboriginal, Vanuatu and White African heritage' - a distinctive mix of R&B and ethnic Australian sounds - that has earned them chart success and star status. It also won them a nomination for the Band of the Year in the 2002 Deadly Sounds Aboriginal and Strait Islander Awards - 'the Deadlys'.

Reef Recorder Studio racks'I had some space in one of my properties, so I built my offices here,' Reno says, 'I had this big space at the back, so I built a studio here. I sold one of my clubs to pay for it. 'By the time I started to look at everything, I realised that if you want the best studio, it costs a lot of money. I like buying things once I don't wanna save a $1,000 only to find that three months down the road, I wish I had spent that extra thousand. I like buying the best stuff, straight away.

For Reno, the 'best stuff' includes a Pro Tools HD recording system with a ProControl control surface, 14 Avalon microphone preamps, a Soundfield microphone, and Lexicon 480 reverb. 'I rung around and I talked to a load of people, and then I listened to a load of speakers,' he says. 'Everywhere you go has these Genelec speakers, I had a listen to them, I went to a couple of studios and the guys really raved about them, so I decided on them. I got a pair of Genelec 1038A as main monitors and a 5.1 setup using 1029As.
Then the girls walked in: 'I loved their voices so I produced a couple of tracks for them. The first time we recorded they blew me away. They only needed two or three takes and it was great, so that's how I left it.'

Reef Recorder - singersHe needed no further encouragement and signed them up. They settled down to writing and recording songs together for a year. Abandoning his original plan to launch the girls' career abroad after 9-11, Reno turned to a contact at Sony. 'I played him the track and he signed us on the spot. I just wanted a one-record deal - my aim was get a gold record on my wall – but the single climbed every week and I achieved platinum.'

Shakaya subsequent released another single called 'Sublime', and their debut album followed before the end of 2002. They undertook their first tour with Human Nature and Bardot, and followed up with support slots with Kylie Minogue, Usher, Ja Rule, Shaggy and Pink.