Latin Players: Victoria Morales of Victoria Records
The 28-year-old Monterrey, Mexico studio owner talks about her new label, live streaming recording sessions and being “the only girl in the room”
Victoria Morales is 28, and her name graces both a recording studio and a record label. Three years ago, the budding singer-songwriter moved back to her native Monterrey, Mexico after a time spent studying and working in Los Angeles, and took over the studio owned by her family. Formerly called La Mansión, it’s now known as Victoria Records, which is also the name of Morales’ new label.
Strokes producer Gordon Raphael, L.A.-based engineer Benny Faccone, and Mexican music stars Intocable, Pedro Fernandez and Pablo Montero are some of the studio’s clients. During a recent interview, Latin-Grammy nominated alternative group A Band of Bitches, who are on Victoria Records, were working on their new album in the building’s Studio A.
Morales talked to Billboard about signing teen heavy metal band The Warning, live streaming recording sessions, and working in an environment where she’s “always the only girl in the room.”
Billboard: Victoria, you call your studio the number one recording facility in Latin America. What is that based on?
Victoria Morales: We’re the most equipped. We have an SSL Duality, that’s the newest console that you can find in any studio in Latin America. Victoria Records is bigger than other studios in Latin America. We have three studios, but you have seven rooms to record in. We have seven consoles, Four are Sony Oxfords. There are about 20 in operation in the world right now and only four in Latin America, and we have them in this studio. We have a MIDAS XL200 for live shows in our main live room which fits an entire orchestra. We have rehearsal rooms, we have a little boutique hotel where the artists can stay.
The studio is in a former 1940s mansion. It was built by Malvicino, who did the installations of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, and studios for Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel and many others.
How did a 28-year-old with a background in songwriting come to be the CEO of a major recording studio in Mexico and president of a record label?
This used to be my family’s studio. My brother used to be in the business, but he’s not any more. I took over three years ago.
I was doing songwriting in L.A. at the time. That was going to be my thing. I had my first songwriting session when I was 16 in Nashville. I was the only person in my family who really got involved in the music industry, so it just made sense that I took over the studio. I never really thought of going to the business side, but it just kind of happened, and it’s been amazing.
What has been your biggest challenge as a studio owner so far?
We’re in Monterrey, Mexico. We’re not in L.A. or New York or Nashville. We’re not even in Mexico City. So the location has been the biggest challenge.
We try to make everything easy for artists to come here. We have our own hotel, We give them a driver who takes them everywhere. We have five offices where their team can just settle in and work for the month or two months where they are going to be recording. We make it really easy for them to record here.
You’ve also just started a label. Who’s on it?
We have singer/composer Nathan Max from the U.S. We have A Band of Bitches, and we have The Warning -- they were just on the Ellen show. They are three girls 10, 13, and 15 years old from Mexico and they sing in English. They started doing all these cover songs by Metallica, AC/DC and other artists. Coldplay was tweeting about them, Metallica was tweeting about them. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to sign them. Their EP is out on Victoria Records. It’s called Escape the Mind. Most people know them from their cover songs, and this is their original material that they wrote themselves.
What’s your vision for the label?
It’s an eclectic label, which is how my taste in music is as well. I’m open to all types of music, that’s why there are artists who sing in English, artists who sing in Spanish. They are all ages and different genres of music. At no point did I have a strategy about who I was going to sign. It’s just kind of been happening and I want to keep it fresh.
Yesterday, the whole recording session that A Band of Bitches did was live streamed. If we are here in the studio for ten hours why wouldn’t we be live streaming it all the time? That’s just how my brain works, because of my age and everything, so I think that’s what's been working with the label. With The Warning, it’s all been through social media. They’ve never been on the radio, but they’re on the Ellen show. There’s a new formula to make this work, and that’s what gets me excited; it’s what I do.
Your name is literally on the door. How has your reception in the business been?
It’s been pretty good. I’m always wondering how people are going to react, since I’m always the only girl in the room. I haven’t had people treat me differently or think that I’m not capable. The only thing is, because my brother used to have the studio and my dad was involved, sometimes when we’re closing deals they wonder, ‘does she have to get permission to do this?’
I just tell them I make the decisions. This is where it ends, right here, with me.