Tell us about your studio setup.
Being a Free Lance I tend to work in many different studios. But I have my mixing and recording room in Italy, a "non studio environment" place with daylight that I managed to get acoustically and technically efficien so to be able to give the best price to my clients, thanks to the internet. It's based on a powerful Pro Tools HD3 system and a Dangerous Music analog summing mixer, plus a lot of analog and digital gear. My main monitors are EMES mastering grade speakers, plus yamaha NS10s (great for balance), Auratones 5C's (vintage, still very important check), and real world little speakers. I like to record with class A mic pres and I have a wide choice of Neve's, Focusrite's Amek's and JoeMeek's to make my collection of mics happy. And for the producers and my own arranging and producing I have a huge collection of Analog, digital keyboards (including Kork, Yamahas, Oberheim, Sequetial Circuits) and plugin instruments plus a more than 150000 sample library with many originally sampled sounds. Plus my collection of guitars and basses (and amps). All you need for a great sound.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on several projects. I don't like to talk about projects until they are published and available to the public; I believe is more professional that way. What happens in the studio stays in the studio. But I can tell that in two of the projects I am involved in the production and in others I am only the mixing engineer. I one I also do the recording and is a long term project for a major release. But there is always some time for interesting music, in my life. I hope to see you there!
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
I am the one to be recommended, :-) But if I find a pro that is worth my help I will write it here.
Analog or digital and why?
I started all analog and I know it deep. And I like digital since has made possible to deliver great production at a fraction of the cost. And now most of the quirks about digital sounding are gone. In my work, changing from one song to one other several times a day, the digital ability to bring back on the desk exactly the same sound I had left is invaluable and a must to keep the price tag in a possible measure where the records are not so profitable as before. So I like budget conscious clients and I work hard to let them perceive the value of my collaboration. And there are some things that in analog are just impossible... But I still like when I record the SSL to a half inch stereo master tape, if you can afford it.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
I promise them my best effort to make their music successful and immediate. And that both the industry and the people will enjoy to listen to it, non stop.
What do you like most about your job?
I am a music lover and I like to know new people that share that same passion.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
Is the lead guitar loud enough? :-P And my answer is almost always, yes!
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
I've been so lucky to work with clients that trust my judgement and like my work so I'm not really sure how to answer to that question. But for me is clear that there is a lot of confusion about the production and the mixing, especially now that there are less "A&R" people involved in the process. My real work is to "balance" and for me that means guiding the listener into a musical journey that enlighten and inspire.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
My main interest is to know what is the aim of the song, if is an album track or a single for radio. This is a crucial question since a radio friendly song must be a lot more focused on the "quick" reaction of the listener so everything must be neet and immediate. And a lot more time is spent on little details that in album songs don't need to be that worked out. I like album songs; often are the ones that surprise the listener and find their own way to success. Since I offer several mix revisions in my work I try to make the client happy no matter what but I really like to mix quick so that I don't loose the freshness of the first listening. But I'm ready to work hard in case the mix needs it.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Please do your work prior to sending to me your songs. Be sure to clean all the tracks from noises, false starts etc. And please send me only relevant material. I will try to fit all you send me in the mix (at least I will try), before deciding to do some cleaning. But this might be time consuming and will shift the focus from mixing to producing and editing. I assure you that is a completely different work and there is a lot more in mixing that most people are aware of.
I will be dedicated to the song and usually I don't stop trying until I like the song a lot and I feel touched by the music. So there is no minor song or work for me. And my goal is to have you as my client forever.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
Ah, that's easy (sort of)
1x Shure SM7
1x 1073 Neve pre
1x Urei 1176 Black face
1x Fender Telecaster
1x Dangerous Music 2Bus
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
Just too long. I started in 1975 as guitar player touring with famous local artists. But I was already into recording and a happy owner of a nice home studio based on the teac 3340 and a revox a77. In 1980 I started to engineer officially in a professional studio and in 1982 I did my first work as a mix engineer. Since then my career turned more into the engineering even if I found a way to sigh a major contract with Casablanca and bring forward my artistic side. In 1990 I was involved in one of the best recording studios in the world, the Capri Digital Studio, in the Capri Island. I was there for ten years working with the big names of the music industry and learning my way to the top quality in music, production and sound. Since 1999 I work as free lance traveling all around Europe (and more, sometimes) offering my skills to the artists and producers that ask for it. And I still find time to record my own music, mostly for movie, tv and theatrical works. But you can find a lot more on the web...
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
The project I like to share with you is my experience in Sound Design of the film "Enzo Avitabile Music Life" directed by oscar's director Jonathan Demme. It was all recorded live with incredible musicians from all over the world including Trilok Gurtu, Eliades Ochoa (Buena Vista Social Club), Jivan Gasparian (The sound of Gladiator!) and so many others that is too long to write down. I had to record, and mix the film soundtrack and the cd under pressure to present the film in Venice and I loved every moment of it. I hope you can find a way to see the movie.
How would you describe your style?
Powerful, clean and pro.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
This is a tough question. I've been so luck to work with so many artist I love that it looks like I've been very lucky. But I like a lot to work with young and inspiring artists and share with them my knowledge. Anyway I don't want to elude the question so: Bjiork (since I believe she found a really new music paramount.
Can you share one music production tip?
Wow, one of the many... Ok: I like to work on the feel of a drums track fixing little time problems but never bringing the things too deep to completely erase the "groove" of the drummer. All is made manually, spending as much time is possible so that if feels natural and exciting. Sometimes it takes hours but is worth it. All the song then sounds a lot more emotional and exciting. I use mostly elastic time for that, but I never use it to the point you can hear it work. Same with the vocal editing and tuning. I like melodyne since it makes easy to do small fixes, just the ones needed to let the music flow. I don't like to be distracted by bad intonation problems in a great sung phrase.
What type of music do you usually work on?
Most of my work is aimed at the pop market, but I also work very much in the world music scene and I like to work in jazz projects. I like all kind of music and I try to experiment in any genre. Maybe metal is the one that I work less even if it happens, now an then.
What's your strongest skill?
My musicality and sense of balance. And a deep knowledge of the music that seems very useful sometimes when producing young bands.
What do you bring to a song?
Thanks to my long years of experience I tend to bring to the song an organic sound, very intense and defined where ideas shine in their strength. Also it appears that I have this sense of "balance" that makes even the most intricate arrangement easy to listen to. And if in need I can play to the song adding the missing details to make it a hit!. All in a deep respect of the original idea and production.
What's your typical work process?
Usually my work starts when I receive the tracks from my client (via a file transfer system) and a brief about the song to mix. I like to hear the "rough mix" and read the lyrics. Then I do a quick mix to hear what's on tape and to find some hidden pearls in the recording. When I know my direction I can put the mix together to a point that I like to call "1st pass" in memory of the old days. This is my "first impression mix" that I send to the client for a comment, prior to go in details with infinite moves and little tweeks to get the song to the right place. Usually, my clients give the green light and I finish the mix creating some alternative mixes if needed. If the client ank for a mastered track I also do a mastering session or send the mix to the mastering chosen by client. The whole process may take from several hours to some days, depending of the budget and the destination of the song.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
I have a wide range of professionals that inspire me. Starting from Quincy Jones, and Rick Rubin (that may seem far but not in my world). I have to thank my mentor Humberto Gatica for the incredible knowledge that he was able to pass me in such a brief time. And Phil Tan, Bernie Grundman, Alan Parsons. And the late Bernard Edwards (RIP) for the immense lessons on producing I had the luck to learn working with him. And the many other producers and engineers I worked with. Everyone of them has been a great inspiration.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Depending on projects, I record, mix and master albums for my clients. I have a really good sounding recording space that I offer to my clients and a light but powerful on location recording rig in case we decide to use an unconventional recording space. I collaborate on writing and arranging contributing with ideas and keeping the session flow. Most of my work is really mixing, pushing the songs of my clients to a very powerful, intense but polished sound that seems to appeal the industry and the public.