Ultraviolet Studio Student Manager Q&A

Tuesday, Mar 2, 2021
by Julie Shin, Communications Fellow

Ultraviolet Logo

Meet George Rettaliata. Rettaliata is Ultraviolet Recording Studio’s very own Student Manager and Audio Engineer. Since its debut in April 2018, Ultraviolet remains Princeton’s only studio space for audio engineering and musical production. The studio was started in hopes of providing creative resources and encouraging collaborative exploration. 

Speaking to Rettaliata, his passion for Ultraviolet is clear. In this interview, we discuss his recent projects and love for working with other student creatives. 

Julie Shin: Thank you for chatting with me today! To start, for those who might not know, what is Ultraviolet?

George Rettaliata: Ultraviolet is a studio on campus, and I guess now a virtual studio, that serves the general student body and student groups. What’s so special about it is that it’s free of charge and open

photo of a student playing a guitar

Rettaliata playing the guitar in Ultraviolet's studio space, located in Bloomberg Hall's Basement

access to basically anybody on campus, which I think is different from how Princeton previously looked at mixing, mastering, and producing. You used to need to have special prox access and go to Woolworth to have professors approve use of equipment and such. So, Ultraviolet is a great way to equalize the playing field. 

JS: It definitely sounds like it. Did you have experience mixing and mastering before Ultraviolet? Generally, how did you get involved with the studio?

GR: Yea, I am kind of a multi-instrumentalist myself so growing up I played a lot of instruments. I never really focused on the producing end of it until a few years ago where I had written a bunch of songs and thought it would be really cool to know how to record, mix, master, and produce a full album. Since then I’ve been doing a lot of projects for friends. Over the past three years I’ve accrued a good amount of knowledge on using various digital audio workspaces and whatnot like Logic Pro X, Ableton, Pro Tools, and Reaper. At this point I’m fairly apt and it’s a really cool thing to learn and keep as a fun activity. 

JS: For sure! It sounds like you think Ultraviolet is a needed and important resource for students on campus that hadn’t existed before. What would you say is your favorite part about the work that you get to do with Ultraviolet?

GR: I think the work I get to do right now is really cool because it meshes my interests with how I can best help others in using them. I used to be in an acapella group on campus and we mixed an album but we paid someone [off campus] to do it. I think it cost like $10,000 or something close to that, which is ridiculous. That’s a lot of money. Yes, they’re professionals, I’m not a professional, but I can do something quite similar to what they’re capable of doing, something that the average person can’t tell the difference between. But I can do it for free for any student group. I think that’s really special and amazing that we have Ultraviolet as a resource.

JS: When I was speaking with Jessica Bailey, the ODUS Arts Program Coordinator, she mentioned you are currently mixing and mastering for the Princeton University Rock Ensemble (PURE). How is that going? What other projects are you working on? If you can speak about them.  

Screencapture of an Ableton screen

Screenshot of George Rettaliata's audio project in progress.

GR: Right now PURE is working on a bunch of videos they want to put together. Typically, they have a live performance every semester. Obviously they can’t do that this year. Instead, they’ve created little groups of people to virtually record their music and send to me to produce. I’m not doing the video end of it but, ultimately, PURE is going to put together videos of people performing all the songs, which hopefully turns into a cool show they put on virtually. I’ve also done work for the Tigressions mixing and mastering a couple of their projects. I’ve also done stuff for individuals on campus like Glenna Galarion ‘21 and am actually working on Sophie Blue’s ‘21 dance thesis right now. I get to cover a wide variety of things. For PURE, I’m basically mixing and mastering. With Sophie Blue ‘21, I also get to help develop the sound and what she wants to have. 

JS: Have you seen an influx in projects that you’re working on amidst a more virtual semester? I feel like a lot of people are looking for ways to go beyond creatively because many things aren’t physically possible anymore. 

GR: Totally. This semester will definitely bring in more groups than last semester because people are quasi in a space where they can feel like students again, but they still don’t have access to everything. They’ll be anxious to do stuff and I think that this is a great semester to get stuff going. 

JS: On a similar note, how has a more virtual landscape been for Ultraviolet? How have you guys been staying active this semester or plan to?

GR: It’s common for me to reach out to individuals or student groups I know to collect interest. That’s how we’ve gotten Tigressions and PURE and Sophie as well. I think there are a few projects on the horizon that were responses to an interest form that I need to get back to. It seems like the virtual space is working well. I think it’s definitely a bummer in that the physical space of Ultraviolet is also really cool, like Bloomberg basement. I don’t know if you’ve been to the studio but it’s really cool. It’s studio quality. I definitely miss being there because I was there a little bit last year even though I didn’t have the job then. Regardless, it works virtually. 

JS: Yea, we’re all trying to make do. Could you describe the physical space of Ultraviolet a little more? I had not heard of Ultraviolet until this article and would be interested to know.

GR: It’s in Bloomberg basement. It’s a two room studio so there’s a sound booth and then on the other side of the glass

A view from the recording studio into the performance space

Another vivew of Ultraviolet's two-room recording studio space

wall there’s an actual recording space with a piano, drum set, guitar, a couple synths, and something like ten different microphones. It’s really awesome. Then, there’s a patchhole so you can speak through and have feedback from the studio going into the recording booth. 

JS: That sounds super professional.  Do you guys support individual artists? I know there are a lot of singers and songwriters on campus and want to ask if Ultraviolet has helped produce things for individual artists.

GR: I have personally. I don’t know that I have done any for Jess or my job yet but we are trying to promote individuals who come forward and are like ‘I want to do this. Can you help me do this.’ You need no knowledge if you want to produce something with Ultraviolet. I can be the one who does all of that. You just need to have a vision for what you want to hear. That’s what’s really cool about this opportunity. For example, Glenna is putting out a single, I think next week, and it’s called “Body.” Check it out. She’s also hopefully releasing a whole album in the next month or so and that’s something I got to work with her physically in the Ultraviolet space last year. Ultraviolet is something that should be open to individuals and what we’re trying to do. 

JS: What would be the best way for students to go about getting assistance from Ultraviolet on their projects they are working on?

GR: Email Jess. Email me. My email is gcr@princeton.edu. I will get back to you in less than a day. I’m pretty good with my email. There’s also a google form. Within a month you can have what you’re looking to have done. It’s a fast turnaround which is pretty cool. 

JS: Last but not least, is there anything we haven’t covered about Ultraviolet that you want Princeton students to know?

GR: I would say Ultraviolet is about as inclusive of an opportunity that exists on Princeton’s campus. There is no trying out or getting rejected. If you want to do something, you can do it. For example, I’m a philosophy pre-med student and I’m still able to mix music on Princeton’s campus. You don’t need to have previous experience in any sort of defined way in order to have access to this resource. It’s very accessible. That’s the big thing I wish people would know. Whenever I tell people about Ultraviolet, they say ‘Oh I don’t have any experience. I don’t know how to play an instrument’ but you don’t need that. That’s the purpose of Ultraviolet.

JS: That’s amazing! Thank you again for providing so much insight into Ultraviolet. I definitely plan to check Ultraviolet out in the future and hope other students will too.