The “bottle” in which you capture the lightning is nowhere near as important as creating the lightning itself. The price of a microphone is irrelevant if you are not in the right headspace to perform your best. Gear doesn’t make the music: musicians do. I help musicians create their lightning and then capture it.
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Interview with Brian Starley
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Collaborating. There is nothing more exciting than making great art with creative people.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Listening. That's what engineers do, right? Accountability is next. A project has never been held up by me, and it never will be. I do what I say I'm going to do, and I do it in a timely manner, until a project is complete and everyone is happy.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will work tirelessly for you until your vision is complete and you are beyond happy with the end result.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both are necessary. Whatever feels right for the project and the project's budget.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Don't be afraid to commit. If you don't make any mistakes you'll never get any better.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: The boring answer is: production, recording and mixing. Signal flow, microphones, and signal processing are all prerequisites to any of this. I can go on about my 13+ years of recording and mixing experience, but none of that really matters... A great song is a great song. How that song gets birthed into the world is really up to the artist. I'm here to help them facilitate that. The truth: Putting yourself into someone else's life experiences comes with a lot of responsibility. I try really hard to get to know artists on a personal level before I work with them. How can I bring any value to this person's music or message? My role can vary greatly and is always different in each situation. Sometimes I'm there to just give someone confidence and then get out of the way. Other times I am a fresh perspective and a collaborator. In any scenario, I'm here to serve the artist. It's philosophical, but it's the truth.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That what I do is all technical. Recording, mixing and mastering are all artforms. Engineers are artists.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Every situation is completely different. I like to meet with my potential clients several times and discuss their project(s) at length to find out how I can fit into their process. If I don't feel I can meet the artist's needs, I'll try to refer someone who will be right for the project. Without taking the time to get to know someone and why they do what they do, there really is no way I can know how to help them. Getting to know the potential client is the first part of the process. Once we've established a mutual trust, the process can vary from project to project. I always choose the path of least resistance when it comes to an artist's workflow. Once I know the project and what the vision is, I can help steer the process in a direction that makes the workflow seamless, and fun. I will also change my studio around to create a space for them to feel completely inspired.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Control room. Live room. Headphones or not. Analog, digital, or both. We have a great selection of microphones and gear, but musicians make the music, not the gear.