Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
I produced, mixed and mastered a local garage/blues rock group that went on to make a video for a song I worked on, with one of the stars of the TV show True Blood. They later went on to go on two national tours, and will most likely play for a living. I was the first person to make their music sound they way they were hoping.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm producing, mixing and mastering a group call Grand Futurist Vision, which is electronic, chillwave...some times with spoken word poetry or guest rappers. I'm also producing, mixing, mastering a band called Deer Come Heer...a natural, bright eye-esque group of twenty somethings with unbelievable songwriting. Also mixing/mastering a post rock outfit.
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
no i am new to this format
Analog or digital and why?
Both, but mainly digital. At this point, you only need some analog. There are so many avenues for giving your sound the warmth it needs, and companies like Waves and UAD and Slate Digital have been doing this type of modeling for years and years. If you pay for custom guitar tracks, those will be done with real tube amps and our AKG 214 condensor mic/and or the sm 57, depending on what's appropriate. As far as mixing and mastering, there is no need for these things to be run through an actual tape machine, unless you are in Dinosaur Jr....but if that's the case I doubt you are reading this!
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
My promise is this: your music will leave my hands sounding as good as it possibly can. It will be up to broadcast quality, industry standard and ready for any type of release, be it going on your own private EP, or in the next Interstellar on the IMAX. With today's technology, there is literally nothing we can't accomplish with your music.
What do you like most about your job?
I love the feeling of someone hearing their music in a state they never have before. To see in person, the look on the artist's face when they realize that this is THE sound they had in their head, and I have just technically acheived it, often for the first time. There are few experiences quite like this!
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
Most people just want to be sure they're spending their money in the right place. My answer is this: meet me half way. Pay for the first song, I'll do the work...if you're not happy and feel you would need to pay someone else, I will gladly give you your money back. I no longer do work first and then accept payment when it's finished, because I've had too many groups break up during the project, or decide they don't want to put a given song on an album, and then have issues paying. I have no issue giving you your money back if that's what needs to happen, although it hasn't ever happened yet.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
The biggest misconception is probably that this skill can be attained in a few short years. The fastest I've ever seen somebody become good enough to ensure industry standard quality across varying platforms is around 7 years. Be wary of anyone that has been doing it for less time than that.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What they're using the final product for? See above ^^
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Have somewhat clear ideas of what you want to accomplish with your project...be it an excuse to market yourself on social media, book a tour, play locally, submit to a publishing company to have music licensed for tv and film etc. And, have a fairly clear idea of what you want your song or group of songs to sound like. Have examples of what you like (soundwise) on hand.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I attended and graduated Full Sail University in Winter Park Florida in 2001 after several frustrating years of being recorded in studios that were exorbitantly pricey for what I considered to only be medium quality. They all had that "local band" sound...nice sounds, but usually lacked the depth of major releases. They always sounded great in the studio, but often didn't sound that good in other speakers. The fact that it would typically cost $100 to get a few things touched up or fixed, was so frustrating I deciding to learn how to it myself. That led to making a career out of it. Out of school, the first studio I worked at is called Mike Conway 24 and 48 track recording, and is still open for business in Lutz Florida, just outside Tampa Bay. I learned as much that first year out of school as I did the whole year in school. I started of mainly tracking hip hop, but slowly got moved to local cover bands and garage bands, ultimately to full church groups, up and coming original bands that were being scouted by major labels and full choir ensembles. I've been mixing and mastering for studios and on a free lance basis for 14 years now. There is nothing I can imagine doing for a living at this time- I truly love it!
How would you describe your style?
Fluid and Precise. Transparent AND Warm.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
Ben Gibbard from Deathcab for Cutie...he's a genius.
Can you share one music production tip?
Always make sure you're finished "demoing out" a song before you attempt to recreate it in pristine, high definition...for keeps. You're typically going to be revising the song one to three times before it's ready to go on an album, so bare that in mind when working with a new song. I know it's tempting to want to get that amazing brand new song you just wrote on to the upcoming album, but trust me on this....DEMO IT OUT!!!!
What type of music do you usually work on?
Mostly pop, singer songwriter (acoustic) and rock genres. Of course there's hip hop, edm and various electronic (like chillwave etc).
What's your strongest skill?
My strongest skill is my precise ear, that's aged like a fine wine for 16 years of recording, mixing and mastering. Followed closely by my organizational skills-the ability to not lose sight of the big picture and the final product.
What do you bring to a song?
I'm a songwriter, singer, guitarist, bassist myself. I have various musical projects on the internet, for all the world to critique, so I bring that. I get it, that what I'm being given to work on is not mine, it's the artist's ART. A lot of mixing engineers don't get that and they want to approach this work from the perspective of an audiophile. But everyone has different ideas on what they think sounds the best, even audiophiles. I've read message boards (gearslutz mainly) where mixing engineers talk about how horrificly terrible the vocal reverb sounds on Fleet Foxes records. They don't seem to understand that it's an artistic decision. I bring excellent communication, a lack of personal agenda (other than making them happy and getting compensated) and years and years of musical knowledge and experience. When I mix, I treat each song as a potential hit- thus there are certainly things I recommend and advise on accordingly to the artist. I also bring a good deal of creativity in the right, appropriate places.
What's your typical work process?
I always start with the beat, so in most cases the drums. i do tend to mix drums a little differently than some in that i like to compress kick, snare and toms individually until I get the sound i'm looking for. Rides, Highhat, Crash cymbals I typically go for a very natural sound, so i don't buss them all to a compressor, but rather let the limiting on the final master be all the compression they get. My goal is to is to maximize punch while retaining a natural sound, so for me that often means a pretty hot mix of overhead mics, room mics, general kit sound...unless of course the genre doesn't favor that type of sound, ie: deathmetal, various forms of heavy rock music. Next i move to the bass (bass guitar or keyboard, whatever is holding down the low end) and go about getting that locked in with the kick drum. Again, it's all dependent on the song, so these are of course, generalities. A lot of the time that will mean sidechaining the kick to duck the bass a bit. Sometimes that will mean altering the brightness of the bass guitar to match the brightness of the kickdrum, while always being mindful to stay true to the bassist's overall tone. Then guitars, keyboards and any other instrumentation. At all points, having a clear objective as to what the final sound of the song will be and making decisions accordingly. communication with the artist is obviously key in limiting the number of revisions you have to do. After all the music is largely in place, I then begin on crafting the vocal sound. Generally I go for full, warm tones...typically put the vocal fairly loud and up front. Artists are usually the most touchy/finnicky/demanding during this phase of the process, so discussions take place before hand to minimize my having to do extra work. I will typically do some stereo field manipulation of the music to craft a well enveloped vocal, that doesn't make the music sound small, but is loud enough to be decipherable at all times.
Tell us about your studio setup.
Yamaha Hs8 powered monitors, Shure SR440s (headphones), AKG 214 Condensor Mic, Yamaha P-115 Piano, Avid HD 16x16 Interface, Presonus BlueTube mic and instrument preamp, BBE maxcom/sonic maximizer, Acousticly treated room (aurelex) mopads for the monitors, Ableton 9.2, Cubase 7, Protools 10, Waves Diamond Bundle, Fabfilter Bundle, Altiverb And Lexicon Reverbs, As well as Izotope Rx and Oxone 5/6 for finalising. Basically everything Great you could ever want!!
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Butch Vig, Steve Albini, Steve Lillywhite, Brian McTear, Lou Barlow, Ben Gibbard, Andrew Futral, J Mascis, Doug Martsch, Vic Bondi, Tom Petty, I could go on until the end of my life, but there isn't time....
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Mixing, Mastering, Recording, Production, Composing.