How would you describe your style?
On one hand I work very much on instinct and feel, I try to avoid editing if I can and I don't try to emmulate the sound of others. I am however extremely detail oriented in my preparation and communications, and like to get a feel for what the client wants long before I dive into the creative side, so I can subconsciously bring out the kinds of things they want rather than doing it in a very obvious unnatural way. I am big on dynamics, a sense of space and perspective in productions. I like to have rhythmic elements play a big part in any mix.
Tell us about your studio setup.
My studio is medium sized in terms of pro studios, and my main seling point is the extremely high end acoustic treatment in the studio, which was designed by Munro Acoustics, who are one of Europe's best studio design companies. Having great acoustics always means the work is better, because you are mixing and mastering in a very accurate environment and always know you can trust what you're hearing.
My control room is set up to be intentionally minimal and clean in terms of workflow, because I work quickly. I have some nice tube gear and outboard compressers etc that I go to for a certain analog character, but I do a lot of my work in the box for every day tasks. My studios wired in such a way that I can route signals out to speakers in the live room, to amps for spring reverbs or over drive, or even out to guitar pedals, so I like to get creative in less conventional ways.
One of the best things I have set up is a 2000 watt PA system in the live room, which I haven't come across much in other studios, which means I can test mixes to see what they might be like in a club environment or something. On the other end of the spectrum I also test mixes on crappy computer speakers, as well as my Adam studio monitors of course.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
So many. For every song or album I like there's a great team of people behind them. I love most things that Jack White does in the rock world, in Hip Hop I'm a big fan of Kanye West and Dr. Dre productions, in electronic music the prodigy were my first love and lately people like John Hopkins have been floating my boat. Radiohead are probably my favourite band because they somehow exist in between all those worlds. Justin Timerblake records and more recently Kimbra are probably my favourite in pop. A random inspection of my Spotify playlists gives me Laura Marling, Queens of the Stone Age, the National, Soley, Tame Impala, Feist, Gillian Welch, Royal Blood, Hozier, Amy Winehouse, Neil Young, Beirut, Taylor Mcferrin, Santigold, Robyn, Bon Iver, Angel Haze, War Paint, Likke Li,
What are you working on at the moment?
I am mixing and mastering three hip hop tracks for underground UK label Coldcase Records.
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
I'm new to Sound Better but have already found a friend Oengus Smith on here, I've worked with him when he was doing live sound for a show I played and would recommend him to anyone.
Analog or digital and why?
Both, because sound is analog and life is digital!
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
I can definitely improve your music no matter what and will do everything I can to make it the best it can possibly be in a way that is pleasing to you, and I'll work to marry your tastes with the tastes of the audience you want to reach as well as the commercial music industry if necessary to create something you can be proud of.
What do you like most about your job?
Making something better than when it came to me, whether its improving a mix, a song or even helping a musician/writer grow creatively.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
People usually ask what software I use, but its probably the least relevant thing to ask about my studio...but I usually don't tell them that, I just tell them what plug-ins I use etc and go on to explain about the equipment that is actually important.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
People think that computers have made it much faster and much easier to make a great record. They have sped aspects of it up, but have also introduced so much choice, and they've changed peoples expectations of what can be achieved in the studio, so they can slow things down to a large extent. People also think digital audio sounds bad and tape or analog tools will make their production great, but the songs, the approach and the choices in the production will impact the result way more than any individual piece of technology or the recording medium once the pperson behind the wheel knows the technology.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
I always start by finding out what music they love and why, that is the best possible way to get to know someone, and that is the best possible basis for a creative partnership.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Be clear in communicating what you want, understand that quality work doesn't come dirt cheap and there is more to what a good producer/engineer does than meets the eye. At the same time know that most audio professionals that have a steady stream of work are on your side and only want to help you make the best music you can.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
Solar panels/geberater, A computer, an audio interface, A guitar, A Shure SM58 (useful as a weapon or for recording),
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I got my first tape machine for Christmas at the age of 11, and got my first computer recording setup at 16. I did DIY records with my own bands and experimented on my own in my teens but somehow go side tracked to study journalism in college, but I kept producing and writing in college regardless. I then decided music production was my only future and signing up for a masters in music and technology. My own purpose built studio has been up and running for two years now.
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
I recently completed work on the 4th studio album for a great alternative rock act called Paradox, I was very proud of it because it was over a year in the making and pushed the boat out quite a bit from their previous work without losing what made them great in the first place. Its probably got some of the heaviest guitar/bass/drum sounds of anything I've done, while also having amazing delicate acoustic songs with cello as well as the occasional bit of industrial sounding electronics. Our mantra was when it doubt distort it, which was great fun.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
If bringing someone back from the dead isn't out of the question, I'd pick Jimi Hendrix....I don't even listen to his records a whole lot even though he is a guitar hero of mine, but if he were alive now I'd imagine him being totally into hip hop and newer forms of music. From reading about the records he made it sounds like he lead the way with sonic experimentation and pushed his engineers and the technology, I'd love to work with someone pushing the boundaries that much beyond the capabilities of the technology. Often I do get experimental with clients in the studio, but we're not often pushing it for the entire sound/duration of a record, or at least not in a way that is obvious to us at the time.
Can you share one music production tip?
Never under estimate the importance of speeding up and slowing down tempos in all genres of music...either programming in tempo changes into a songs click track or leaving the musicians work without a click every so often and you'll bring a whole new excitement to a track. This can apply to electronic music also, but is especially important in the feel of stuff with real life musicians reacting to each other.
What type of music do you usually work on?
I keep things very eclectic but mostly rock, Indie, acoustic/folk singer songwriters, hip hop and electronic music.
What's your strongest skill?
I like to think it is bringing out the best of an artist and focusing on what's unique to their tastes and talents. I don't like making people sound like their influences, I like using that as a starting point to take it further.
What do you bring to a song?
A sense of journey...variety is the spice of life, and its amazing how musicians can sometimes forget to keep making tiny changes as the song progresses to keep the listener interested and to get a sense of progress.
What's your typical work process?
Its almost never the same, particularly when I'm recording/producing an artist. In mixing I'm a little more predictable, I kind of have a set way of working where I sub group different elements like drums and guitars etc together and run through my favourite compressers/EQ for those instruments, and I work in circles...you won't often find me working on a kick drum sound for more than a minute, I'll make everything sound a little more cohesive, then go around again and shape some more, then I'll get my creative effects etc going and so on.
When I'm recording rock music and acoustic instruments, I like to use a lot of room mics, I like to let clients track without headphones and use the studios PA for playback etc, so I aim to keep things a little more intuitive rather than making the studio this clinical lab type environment.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Almost every project I work on is unique in some way or other. I do quite a bit of straight up mastering, but also often work with a hybrid of stem mixing and mastering.
I do a lot of full productions with artists, taking them from song development/demmos right up to the final master. I intentionally try to mix it up every time I start a project, so I don't rely on the same tricks and same sounds, because its too easy to start developing this generic sound that you force on every client, that isn't artistic and its not why I opened my studio.