Freelance Producer and Sound Engineer based in Glasgow, Scotland.
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Interview with Ross Dorran
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I work freelance out of whatever studio I feel fits the artist and their visions and ideas so my setup changes widely. When I'm working at my project studio I work with a hybrid setup mainly within the box on Reaper with most of the the industry standard plugins but going out to classic outboard compressors such as my 1176's or Joe Meek's when needed.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Most of my work is mixing, as that is my specialty.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: The vast majority of my work is Rock however I also do a lot of alternative, blues and metal. I like to work on as wide a variety of music as possible, from screaming blood curdling metal to powder pop ballads.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I would describe my style as being solidly rooted in vintage sounds but remaining exceptionally modern. I take what was great from the best recording from the past and build on what I think is better and insert some of my quirky personality.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Number one would definitely be the studio workhorse, Shure Sm57 and a great all round condenser, Avantone CV-12 . Next would probably be a great pre amp, probably a Neve 1073 or 1073 inspired. Finally a decent computer and an Apogee D/A Converter.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: If you're coming to me to engineer/produce your record, I would strongly advise you to have really thought through and rehearsed your ideas and material. It will really help make the most of your studio time. That's not to say have every detail set in stone as I believe there should always be room for that bit of magic to enter the room. If you're looking for me to mix your record, I would say probably have a vision of how you want it to sound and if possible pick elements of records that influenced you.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: This really changes from client to client depending on how much information they have given me. Generally, the questions I ask are to gain as much of an understanding of their idea and get into their mind to deliver the results they are looking for.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: My promise to every client is to make it as musical as possible. Many engineers and producers promise the 'perfect' product. To me, music is created by humans and humans are flawed. Music should be flawed. I don't mean that music should sound terrible, be totally out of tune and out of time. Having every drum beat on exact time and every note perfect.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: For me, as much as I do like analogue, it's time to embrace digital and move forward. The costs of working in the analogue domain now, is out of the budgets of most clients. Many clients ask to emulate analogue which is great however working in the digital world means it is not analogue and won't sound like analogue. Digital sounds different, yes, but better or worse is totally subjective. It is just a different colour, some people like yellow, others red.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: When producing I will generally get the artist to perform their song and get their ideas of how they want it to sound and then use that to to inspire mic choices etc. Mixing, I tend to get levels of every track of the song and then build from there. I tend to become a crazy scientist when mixing after that. I am experienced enough to know what all my tools do, so I just let my taste, technique and personality dictate where I am going.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I think I bring my personality mainly. I have strong attention to detail, wide knowledge of all genres of music combined with my ability to look outside of the box. This results in having a fresh well thought out record.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: As a mixer, I am very inspired by Tchad Blake. I love his unique approach to every mix he does and his forward thinking ideology towards mixing. He retains a classic feel whilst sounding fresh and modern. As a musician, Jimi Hendrix. I learned to play guitar by copying old Hendrix records so I owe a lot to him. The way he revolutionised the way we play guitar today to me, makes him legendary, not to mention his songwriting and guitar technique.