Need an audio guru? I'm your man. Allow me to introduce you to the musical stylings of Jake Atherton.
An accomplished guitarist, producer, sound designer and composer, Jake tastefully dabbles in all styles and genres, ranging from sexual RnB to cinematic orchestral anthems to 80's throwback-style pop music. Regardless of intent, context or application, he always delivers professional work in a timely and fun fashion.
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Interview with Jake Atherton
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: My most common type of work would be production music, scores, sound design and original compositions. For example: I have done original music for Mrs. Dash commercials, Hip Hop Public Health promos and for podcasts with sports broadcast company SportsBiz Media Group.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I love cats that are well versed in all styles, trailblaze innovative new approaches and allow the music to speak for itself. Prince, for example, was an absolute genius when it came to instrumentation, songwriting and production. He is an artist I aspire to be like.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I keep my setup fairly minimal, but not unprofessional. KRK Rokit 5 G3 speakers, with a MacBook Pro, Scarlett 2i2 Focusrite interface, and I use Logic and Pro Tools as my main DAWs. I have a series of MIDI keyboards, as well as a collection of guitars, basses and stringed instruments since I'm very partial to that sort of vibe.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: It may sound unorthodox, but I like to approach every single job I do like it's the first time I'm working with music in any capacity in my entire life. I always want to take a different approach. Something I always aspire to do is to let the music either speak for itself, drive home the story or provide the best possible sound for the artist in question.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Besides wild shredding guitar solos? I bring a nice blend of contemporary sounds with old school vibes and a production that'll have you pressing the rewind button more than once. I love work that'll pop out at you and make you listen over and over again.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My musical ear. I am a multi-instrumentalist, and I also have perfect pitch. This gives me a unique advantage in my songwriting, production and composition habits. For me, having that music background allows my theory knowledge and songwriting experience to thrive in an atmosphere where the sky is the limit.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: It varies across the board, to be honest. For my current company, I do a lot of SportsCenter style cinematic sports rock, but I have also done hip hop, ambient and jazz for this job as well. I'm a huge fan of producing pop music, orchestral scores, funk, rock and RnB.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: ALWAYS keep fresh ears! Allow yourself time to rest, let ideas sit and give the mix a chance to breath before making any substantial changes or, conversely, letting it be without more listens. Fresh ears keep your sound fresh.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Rihanna. Not only is she fierce, confident and beautiful, but her music is always expanding and she's always digging deeper into different genres and working with producers that allow her sound to be the biggest and the baddest.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Fresh and contemporary, with a throwback feel and A LOT of energy and fun. Imagine Marty McFly in 2018.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I have been doing this sort of thing for 5 years or so now, and I hope that my talents across the musical spectrum will allow me to do all kinds of unique jobs in this field. I would love to compose music for a feature film, but I'd also love to produce the next Drake album. I'd love to be the touring guitarist for The Weeknd or Lady Gaga, but I'd also totally be down to mix and master their next album, as well.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: 1) Scarlett 2i2 Focusrite interface 2) Macbook Pro with all my must-have programs 3) midi keyboard 4) my classic Gibson Les Paul (yes, cables included) 5) Yamaha HS8 Monitors I presume the island will have a power source....
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Always keep an eye on the way a provider engages with you; are they friendly? Are they timely and consistent with their responses and communicative habits? Do they regularly touch base? Are they taking your suggestions into consideration? These little nuances can be the difference between a slam dunk working relationship and a sour awkward one.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: I always want to try to get to know the client on a 1-1 basis before the creative process actually begins. I want to pick the client's brain and see what drives them, what moves them, what makes THEM passionate about what we do as professionals. From there, I want to get as much info as possible from the client about what they want to hear, what sound they're looking for, and other logistics.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I think people are quick to slap the "beat maker" label, or just assume I press a few buttons on a computer. I think it's important, as someone who has done music of all styles, to de-stigmatize the producer as just someone who knows how to use technology well. This profession requires a great deal of musical ability, theory knowledge, strong communication skills and a developed ear.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: "Would you be willing to do this for free? It's great for exposure!" To that, I'm usually never shy to demonstrate how this, just like any other profession, is a legitimate career and requires pay. There are instances where I'll do something free of charge or at a considerably lower price than anticipated, but I believe it's important to value yourself, know your worth and stand your ground in an industry where people may take your work and time for granted.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The fact that I get to use music and sound as a catalyst for storytelling is something that makes me so passionate about scoring and composing. When I have the privilege to produce music for singers and rappers and other artists, it's the collaboration component that really brings everything home for me.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise that I will deliver professional, polished work in a friendly and timely fashion. I promise I'll be in contact, that my communication will be strong, and that we'll have a healthy working relationship for quite some time.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital makes my life easier, but analog warms the soul. There's just something so rewarding about producing and mixing on an actual console, turning knobs like a mad man and listening back on tape. I simply can't get my guitars to have that tape compression when I'm running through Pro Tools or Logic.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: There are so many fantastic session guitarists and musicians on here, so it's tough to pick just one cat.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Right now, I'm still with my sports broadcast job, and I'm currently working on music for production libraries, as well as an original album with a fellow musician; absolutely UNREAL singer. The album itself is very heavily based in 80s new wave/pop, but with modern rock elements as well.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I recently did the music and sound design for a Mrs. Dash commercial. I'll be the first to tell you that the spice isn't my favorite, but I had a BLAST scoring the music. It was almost like Toy Story in the sense that the spot had an inherent charm, tongue in cheek humor and whimsical feel. I got the chance to score to picture, and capture that fantastical, dream-like context. I also got to do some little stingers/sound design for other portions of the commercial; there was a little RnB tune at the beginning, and some campfire-song style acoustic guitar at the end, so I really got a chance to showcase a myriad of genres and production elements.