I am a multi-instrumentalist, mixing engineer, producer, and all round music fanatic originally from Guernsey, currently based in London
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Interview with James Le Huray
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm currently working on a single for a rock band, and an album for an old time duo. Complete opposites of the spectrum, which is how I like it.
Analog or digital and why?
Both have their pros and cons. Whatever works best.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
I'll never settle for 'that'll do'
What do you like most about your job?
The only bit I don't like is the packing up.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
How much do you charge? Do you really own all of this gear? I thought you were a folk guy? It depends on the project, yes, and not exclusively.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
That I'm a purely folk guy. I play a lot of traditional folk stuff and got stuck with that label for a bit, but the truth is I love working on all styles of music, it's all great.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What do YOU want out of the project?
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Never be afraid to ask questions, I'm an easygoing guy and I'll happily discuss anything.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
WEM Copicat, Vox AC15, an original Rode NT2, er.... too hard, I love gear way too much!!!
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I've started playing in the early 90s, then I quit my day job to be a touring musician back in 2004. After that I went to university to study performance and production which was when I discovered my love of mixing and production. Since then I've been trying to work with as many different artists as I can.
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
Robert J Hunter's Songs For the Weary album was the first time I actively 'produced' a project rather than just engineering and mixing it; it was a real eye opener, but a great one. The lead single from that album went straight in at number one on the iTunes blues chart which was a really special moment, and one that can never be taken away.
How would you describe your style?
Despite working in the digital era I still take a very traditional 'tape' approach. If I'm tracking a band I like to make it as live as possible so it still sounds like a band. I don't autotune anything.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
Richard Patrick of Filter purely because I'm such a huge fan of his work. I'd love to work on a hip hop record too at some point.
Can you share one music production tip?
Listen to as much as possible, even if it's not your bag, everything has mileage.
What type of music do you usually work on?
Anything, I don't like to stick to a particular genre
What's your strongest skill?
I'm a good listener with an ear for detail.
What do you bring to a song?
I might make the odd suggestion here and there but I never try to get involved with the actual writing or structure of the songs, it's not my place to. So I guess what I bring to the song is honesty, I work with what I have available and try to make that as good as it can be.
What's your typical work process?
If it's just a mixing job then I'll listen to the stems a couple of times and find the parts of the song that really jump out at me, and that's my starting point for a mix, then it's a case of making the mix as good as I can. If I'm producing and engineering the recordings then I like to go to see the band live first if possible so I can get a feel for what their sound is and see how they work. Normally there will be the a few discussions about what artists they like and how they want their material to sound, I prefer to not go into a project blind.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I travel a lot so I have a portable setup that I use for mixing. My main studio rig is currently in storage whilst I'm moving.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Chris Lord Alge, Butch Vig, Ross Robinson, Peter Gabriel, T Bone Burnett, GGGarth... The list is endless really!
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Mainly stem mixing, but I have worked as the producer on several recordings too.