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Interview with -----_____----_____----_____<
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: The very first project I worked on when I formed my studio was for a friend of mine, whose band is named "Timefield." We re-tracked what he had done in his bedroom - which wasn't "bad" by any means, but some errant frequencies and tones were getting in the way. We toiled, and I even played lead guitar on it, until it was finally done. He took it to Los Angeles, and no less than two days later, a label had contacted him and he was signed. That literally never happens, and I'm extremely lucky to have been a part of that process. Good music + right place + right time.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I am working with a country artist named Michael Moncada. He's a driven, self-determined Iowa boy with a huge heart and a lot to say. I am tracking him at a facility near me in Iowa called The Magic Barn - it was The Magic Shop in NYC (where Foo Fighters recorded "I Am a River") before it closed down, and the new owner bought the whole studio part and parcel. It's a huge room, augmented with the custom Neve 80 series wraparound console.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I have just recently joined, so I will scour and let you know.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both are excellent choices. I primarily work in the digital realm, due to the volume of track building I do. I've tracked in fully-analog facilities that don't even use MIDI (everything is striped in SMPTE) and I can make things work just fine. If I had my ideal world scenario, I'd have a hybrid setup of analog outboard gear into a digital interface.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise to deliver the funk, the whole funk, and nothing but the funk. But seriously - I don't make promises I can't keep and say "I will deliver you world-class audio in three hours." I am realistic, but am also fully capable of delivering on the promises that I do make.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Being able to take something, either recorded poorly or extremely well, and transform it into something else entirely is a feeling that is indescribable. But I constantly chase it, and it's like a drug when someone says, "I never thought I could hear ___ that way; you've given me so much more than I could have hoped."
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Q. "How much is this going to cost?" A. "How much is this worth to you?" In the end, I only expect to be paid for the time that I put into a project. But I literally give everything I have, and then a little more, because it's in my blood. Otherwise, what's the point?
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I can't really say, because I've never had a client who has worked with me that would say I'm anything but honest, authentic, and easy to get along with.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: My most asked question is, "what is your end goal?" Every artist has a different answer. Some want to tour the world and become mega-millionaires; some want to be really proud of the song the wrote for their high school sweetheart. Each is valid in their own right, but it helps me to understand the scope of the project better.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Everybody will put their own interpretation to your material. Really listen to the examples provided to see if the right spark is there.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: A computer (loaded with all the software I currently have,) a guitar, a bass, a vocal microphone, and a good set of monitors.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I have been playing music for the latter part of 25 years, but only starting doing this professionally within the last few years. By professionally, I mean outside of the "bedroom" or "weekend warrior" ethos. I bought professional gear, moved into a commercial facility, and have been giving it my all ever since. My goal is to mix major-label material. I've done label work in the past, but I desire more.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Clean, powerful, focused. Every detail is pronounced, and nothing is left to be wanting. That could mean the softest violins caressing an acoustic guitar, to a wall of Marshalls flinging thousands of decibels at your face. Context is key.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I would love to work with Foo Fighters. Not because I'm starstruck by any means (which I am,) but because I think I could drive them back towards a more unique sound. I've been pretty underwhelmed with their last few outputs, and I have some theories as to why that is.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Do not use presets as the "holy grail" - they are meant to be a general starting point. I used to just load up "Awesome Rock Kick 1" and wonder why everything sounded so crappy. It probably worked for the specific recorded source material, but everything is different.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: My love, first and foremost, is rock music. From alt to the heaviest of screaming hardcore, anything and everything in between is where my hat lies. However, I've been doing more pop productions as of late, so it's interesting to see how my ethos combines with the subtitles and nuances that the genre needs.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My ears, hands down. I have mixed in the worst environments (like attics and basements,) to world-class facilities, and I can make anything sound the way it ought to. It's not so much about the gear to me anymore, and that allows me to focus on making the song come to life.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Having played music since the age of 5, I've seen, played, heard, and dealt with pretty much every genre. This makes me a polyglot of sorts; I can ride the dynamic waves of the softest to loudest crescendos, or make everything louder than everything else. It simply depends on the artist, what their vision is, and how I can best serve it.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I like to open a project file and not get bogged down by the minutiae. I strive to see the "bigger picture" and make wide moves quickly and without judgment. I then get down to business by focusing in on areas that need the most work, but typically I start from the drums and vocals. These are the centerpieces of any song for me.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: The current setup is a simple, minimalist mixing workstation. I have a pair of Adam AX77's, matched with two subwoofers, a pair of KRK V6's (old ones,) and all of this is being fed through an SPL MTC. My main A/D are two Lucid 88192's, coming off of a Lynx AES16 card. Everything I'm fed allows me to accurately monitor what I'm doing, and going to the "outside world" isn't a culture shock.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: My favorite mix engineer is Chris Lord-Alge. His contribution to the field cannot be understated. His methods may seem a bit unorthodox if you follow a "by-the-books" approach, but he's mixed some of the greatest-selling records of all time. Outside of that, I have a wide range of engineers I look to for inspiration: David Bendeth, Andy Sneap, Andy Wallace, Greg Wells, Butch Walker, just to name a few.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: For mixing and editing work, people come to me because my attention to detail is bar-none. I am consistently trying to improve, learn, and utilize the knowledge I've gained to make my mixes bigger, punchier, more detailed, and more musical.