Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
Newly released Joseph Arthur song Pluto. The track came about when I was asked to help get a drum sound; things were feeling so good, that we ended up working until 11 am the next morning. Over the next week, the track was finished, and we are now in the process of making a full album. I tracked, mixed, and co-produced with Joseph Arthur and Alex Burke.
What are you working on at the moment?
Co-Producing and engineering a new album for Joseph Arthur at Werewolf Heart Studios. Finishing producing and mixing an EP for new band Three on a Match; basic tracks were recorded with the three band members playing live with Benmont Tench, Marty Rifkin, Leland Sklar, Leon Mobley, and Danny Thompkins at Kingsize North Studio in North Hollywood.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
This is YOUR music; I will do whatever is needed to bring your vision to life, and will not call a job done until you are happy.
Tell us about your studio setup.
ProTools 10 and 11 with UAD and full complement of plugins at Werewolf Heart Studios. D/A through Lynx Aurora, monitoring and summing through Shadow Hills Equinox. Outboard gear including Distressors, Martech MSS10, UAD 6176, API 512C, OSA MP-1C, Overstayer Compressor, Fatso Compressor, Phoenix Audio DRS-8, Bloo LA2A, Mics from AKG, Neumann, Shure, ElectroVoice, Audio-Technica, and many others. Monitoring Adam A7's.
Black Lion Audio 003 running ProTools 10 and 11 with full complement of plug-ins for at home mixing; monitoring from Wathen Audiophile.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Make sure you vibe with the person you're hiring. Getting a great recording is as much, if not more, about being on the same page with everyone on the team, and enjoying the people in the environment as it is about the gear and the room.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
I hate these 'desert island' questions. As an engineer, it's pointless. It's a desert island. Where am I going to get electricity? And if I can get electricity, then why can't I get off the island to get more gear? Only way I know how to answer this would be to bring acoustic instruments. So, as long as we're unrealistically dreaming...let's bring a Bosendorfer Grand, a nice old Martin acoustic, a nice old Gibson acoustic, a sick vintage Ludwig kit, and an acoustic bass (might as well go upright, since being stranded on this virtual island will give a lot of time to learn how to play it).
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A general misunderstanding of the process, and the 'magic' that an engineer can work. Mixing is only one aspect of recording. The best albums in the world always got it right in the room. Lately, especially within the EDM and hip-hop genres, there seems to be a lack of understanding of the difference between mastering and mixing. Mixing is just that - balancing multiple tracks down to a stereo (or 5.1/7.1) output. Mastering is taking that two-track (or 5.1 or 7.1) and leveling it and putting final polish on it. If your session is still in Logic or ProTools or Ableton, it's in the mixing stage - it's not ready for mastering until you've bounced it out.
Analog or digital and why?
Depends on the project. I would almost never track modern hip-hop or pop tracks to tape, but if the budget is there for an indie rock band, and the band is together enough to not require much, if any, editing, then analog. As far as outboard vs. plug-ins, mixing on an analog board and using outboard gear is almost always faster initially, but it makes any mix tweaks down the road much more complex. If the client understands that mixing on an analog desk is going to mean recalls will be costly and require more studio time, then analog is the way to go. If your project is major label, and will likely require a lot of recalls, then mostly digital - although a hybrid approach for summing with a few select pieces of outboard gear for processing important channels is more ideal.
What do you like most about your job?
Bringing a project from the germinated ideas of songs to a final mixed and finished project and seeing the joy that a client has when their vision is realized.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
Have you ever been in a studio before? What are your expectations for this project? What is the eventual goal for your project? What are some of your musical influences? Do you have any favorite producers who's sound you really love?
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
Guitarist since the age of 13. Went into the studio with one of the 4 bands I was playing in back in 2002 (a punk band, an industrial band, a top 40 cover band, and a 25 piece jazz ensemble) and fell in love with the studio process. Began interning at the studio, trading my ability to get guitar tones for lessons on ProTools. Eventually, I decided to go to school at CRAS, moved back to LA, and began an internship at Ocean Studios Burbank. I've been working in studios and the professional audio industry since then.
How would you describe your style?
Laid back and easy. If it feels like work, something's not right.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
Danny Elfman - grew up as a fan of Oingo Boingo and have always found him incredibly talented.
Can you share one music production tip?
If it's not fun, it won't sound fun.
What type of music do you usually work on?
I've done everything from indie rock to country to hip-hop.
What's your strongest skill?
Vocal tracking and production, including editing and tuning. I believe in getting the sounds right from the beginning, which requires the creation of the right vibe and the right instruments. I will tune drums before touching an EQ.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Rob Schnapf, Daniel Lanois, Ry Cooder, T Bone Burnett, Dave Cobb, Niko Bolas, Mark de Clive Lowe, Jon Brion
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Tracking, Editing, Tuning, and Mixing. Full service recording engineer - about the only thing I don't do is master (but I have a number of mastering engineers I work with, depending on budget).