What's your strongest skill?
I'm more of a technical producer then hands on. Meaning I work best when I'm left alone to work in front of my computer for hours. So I would say my strongest skills are in the actual production work.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I'm in the process of finishing up an E.P. for independent artist Agatha LaFaye. The overall style of her project is very downtempo, synth, pop focused and we are both very happy with the way its all coming together so far. I'm also working on a deep house/vocal influenced track for recording artist Bethea Arielle. Besides that, I also teach music production and engineering from time to time, so I decided to write an introductory e-course on mixing which I hope to have available soon.
Analog or digital and why?
Its irrelevant. You make music with your mind.
What do you like most about your job?
The lifestyle it provides. I get to choose my clients, choose my work environment, choose my hours and mess with sound every day.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
For starters, don't be afraid to fail. Thats how your going to grow as an artist. If you invest your blood, sweat and tears into one song and nothing happens, get back up and work on more songs. If you enjoy making music, the process should be enough of an incentive to keep you motivated each day. Also, be patient and make lots of music. You can't expect to produce one track, promote it for 2 weeks on Facebook, and then sit back and wait for it to take off. You have to produce quantity, release quality and if your releasing quality music on a consistent basis, with the right hustle, something is bound to catch on sooner or later. And finally, be independent!
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I was 7 when I started to learn my first real musical instrument which was the saxophone. I played it for about 2 years. And even though I enjoyed playing it, I never really took off with it. I didn't find my true passion for music till I was around 12. I started listening to a lot early house, rave and dance music. And had a friend at the time who was a Hip Hop DJ. Having these two influences around me was all I needed to get the bug. I became obsessed with the art of playing records. I would stay up late listening and taping live to air radio shows and was blown away by how the music seamlessly blended from one track to the next. At that time, this was a much bigger deal then it is today lol. I said to my self, I have to do this. So, by the time I was 14 I had saved up for my first belt driven DJ turn table and managed to buy a few records. And I would practice mixing from vinyl to an boom box. They werent even connected to the same speaker system or mixer. I would just have a track that I had probably taped, playing out loud from my boom box, and a record cued up on my turntable. And I would match the pitch on the record to the tempo of the track playing from the boom box. Thats how I learnt how to match beats. I eventually got a job and upgraded my set up to a pair of technique 1200s and basically lived at the record store. That was my life for a good 10 years. By now I needed a change and knew I wanted to start making my own music. Thats when I bought my first small studio set up and started to mess around with production. It wasn't long after that I realized how much time and work would need to be invested in order for me to get really good at this craft. Not only with production but a big part of the learning curve was the engineering side. I took a year off and studied audio engineering and production at the Harris institute for the arts in Toronto. Just so I can get some of the foundation and theories down when it comes to composition, programming and sound. After finishing my one year at Harris, I struggled to find paid work, as most do in this ridiculously hard industry. But I managed after about 6 months to land an internship at a studio/label. Despite it not being a paid gig and my bank account pretty much empty, this was a good experience for me because I was working in the studio all day and in the end, I ended up releasing my first track through that label. A lot of my friends from Harris would tell me they were interning at studios and all they would do is fetch coffee or clean the bathroom. I refused to do that. Time is way to valuable to waste it for that and I knew if thats all I would be doing, I would be better off at home working on my own tracks. So I was blessed at that time in my life. Shortly after that internship I was bouncing around from dead end job to dead end job, never feeling happy and finally got fed up. That was when I decided to start freelancing, purely out of necessity to do what I love and to help other artists with their music. And thats when I launched my production company - Sub Level Music in 2008. Ive been doing music full time since then and taking it day by day with all its ups and downs.
Can you share one music production tip?
Don't worry about being original because it doesn't exist anymore. Instead, be unique and allow yourself to pull from your influences and mesh them together into something of your own. Whether is be musical or inspiration that comes from other places in your life.
What type of music do you usually work on?
Even though my musical taste and style is extremely diverse, I tend to mostly work in the electronic, house, dance and synth pop genres. I also do a bit of hip hop from time to time.
What do you bring to a song?
Besides trying to produce the best possible song to showcase the artist, I work hard at delivering a sound that will best amplify the artists vision and what their trying to say through their songs. Its important for the artist to take their time and decide on a general direction they would like to take their songs. And even though I'm always more then happy to give them my suggestions, I feel its ultimately my job to bring out what the artist is really trying to say through production. Both musically and sonically.
What's your typical work process?
Its all over the map and varies depending on my mood or the type of project I'm working on. The majority of artist projects I do usually start with the artist sending me a raw scratch track that they've recorded either on their phone or laptop. It could be a simple melody or a combination of instruments and vocals. Either way its usually very raw, but it provides me with enough direction to decided to the tone and energy of where the song needs to go. From there, I will build the entire composition and arrangement.
When it comes to my own personal projects, I either start by throwing some sound together in Ableton and see what happens. I'll sit in front of the computer for hours just mangling sounds until something interesting happens. I also love sampling from vinyl so a ton of ideas tend to start from just listening to records while I have my morning coffee. Usually it doesn't take long before a groove, riff, beat or melody hits me and thats usually when I hit record and begin jamming out.
Tell us about your studio setup.
Its a very minimal set. I recently upgraded to a Mac Book Pro laptop and am using Ableton Live 9 suite for everything. I also started using Push and so far I'm really enjoying it. For monitors I use the KRK Rokit 5's and a M-Audio interface.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
I work on various types of projects ranging from instrumental production to remixing, mixing and even mastering.