Analog or digital. TikTok hits or DIY cassette runs. Grindcore duos or chamber orchestras. I'm Em, and I mix, record, produce, and play music in & around Toronto. Rooted in DIY scenes, mixed with studio experience & plenty of schooling, I work with a collaborative, non-formulaic bent. If any of that vibes with you, let's work together! 🤘
When it comes to mixes, I love hearing the story behind the song, talking to you about ideas, creative direction, and references. Once I've done that, I'll take a day or two per song, helping you tell your story and creating something that would make both of us hit repeat if we heard it for the first time.
I started out making records in high school, recording friends' bands (and my own!) with two cheap mics and an old computer, immersed in the southern Ontario punk and hardcore scenes (back when it was all mostly house shows and gigs in dive bars). That instilled me with a love of collaboration when it comes to making records—I love learning as much as I possibly can about your vision so I can act as a path to what you have in mind.
I try to stay away from static mix templates or preset chains for different artists—no matter how polished a result we decide we want. What really gets me inspired is the idea of exploring uniquely-affected sounds that make your art stand out, whether that's a drum sound, a vocal EQ, a delay throw on an instrument, or anything in between.
As a nonbinary trans person in this industry, I also aspire to work with and raise up other marginalized voices who may be facing systemic obstacles to making music. Please get in touch if that rings true for you—I can work on a sliding scale, and there should be no barriers between us working together. ✨
Send me an email through 'Contact' button above and I'll get back to you asap.
1 ReviewsEndorse Em Damaschin
This was my first experiencing having my music professionally mixed and Em has surpassed my expectations. They took the time to hop on a Zoom call to give me an introductory walkthrough of the whole process, as well as to discuss my vision for the project. I also really appreciated how patient and reasonable they were with my questions and requests from that point forward, making it easy to establish a clear and open line of communication with each other.
Interview with Em Damaschin
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I just wrapped up a really rad four-track EP by a local indie/art-punk band, Habit—we recorded the whole thing (including all the layering and overdubs) in a total of six days, did gang vocals in the back of a café, and got it out just in time for the singer's birthday.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Anyone who isn't afraid to think outside the box and work from a mindset of being as unique as one can be, entirely on purpose. Whether it's a unique songwriting style, unique sonic signature, or any combination of those that makes a record sound like something I've never heard before, I'm inspired to pursue the same energy in my projects! If we're after names: Tchad Blake (Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, Gerard Way), Adam Hawkins (Twenty One Pilots, Machine Gun Kelly, The Regrettes), Jeff Ellis (Frank Ocean, The Neighbourhood, Kali Uchis), Andrew Sarlo (Big Thief, Bon Iver), John Congleton (St. Vincent, The Decemberists, AJJ), Dave Schiffman (PUP, The Mars Volta, Weezer), Josh Korody (Tokyo Police Club, Dilly Dally), Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Loma Prieta, Gouge Away), Steve Albini (Pixies, Nirvana, PJ Harvey)...I could go on for paragraphs more.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I'm a freelancer, which means I mostly work out of either recording studios that I've booked on behalf of the artist, or out of any number of improvised possible spaces, depending on the artist's budget. I've made records in cramped laundry rooms and practice spaces, as well as studios where you press a button and the walls move—no matter where I am, I always make sure the session wraps up with the sounds we're after! That said, I do have a small location recording rig, with a Focusrite 18i20, a UAD Apollo (mostly for plugins), a two-channel Great River mic pre (think classic Neve sound), and a Universal LA-610 mkII tube channel strip (with an LA2A comp inside). I usually arrange to hire any mic packages we need as well! I also have a small home studio setup, more for instrument overdubs and keyboard parts, as well as some mixing when I'm away from a big studio space. For drums and full bed recordings, I usually work out of any number of freelancer-friendly spaces in the GTA, although I'm partial to the Lincoln County Social Club—it's a beautiful space in Toronto's west end, with a classic plate reverb, loads of vintage guitars, basses, and amps, a super vibey live room, and plenty of other cool studio toys, all centred around a Neotek console to make me feel like Steve Albini recording Surfer Rosa.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Anyone who's excited to work with me, and vice versa! (It, uh, also definitely helps if they're interested in examining and dismantling all the hierarchies of gender, race, and class that dominate the music community as much as I do.)
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Anything and everything! I'm admittedly usually found doing modern rock/alternative/indie records, but I have a love for all things hooky and an ear for low-end that makes me your best friend behind the console for all things pop, hip-hop, and electronic. Just saying.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Don't work with anyone who isn't genuinely excited to help you make art. If it seems like a 'producer' is more interested in advancing their career on your back than making music with you, ditch them. The fact nobody on the 'other side' of the studio glass (hate that expression, btw) likes to admit is that recording technology has gotten user-friendly enough that you can do this without anyone's help anymore! Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens both recorded albums with cheap mics and audio interfaces, either miking everything up with a single SM57 in an isolated cabin or dumping songs track by track into Pro Tools through a computer headphone jack, respectively—both these artists have sold countless records, toured the world, and amassed billions of streams based on that work. Only hire someone if you feel like working with them will definitely be better than doing it yourself.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Whatever sounds best in the moment and achieves what we're after—that's all that matters, after all.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Every time I get booked for a project, I get to walk into rooms full of instruments and incredible artists—who trust me with their art—and equipment, be as creative as I can possibly be for as long as we can handle it, order takeout (definitely a must!), and once we're done, we've created a piece of art that lasts forever. This is the best job in the world and I definitely don't take it for granted.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: The idea that a producer is hired to take a song someone wrote and change it so drastically that it's somehow magically more 'accessible'/'better'!! This is probably one of the most insidious misconceptions the Music Industry™️ likes to tell young artists, and it hurts me viscerally every time I see it. You are an artist. You are not a stepping stone in advancing someone else's career. Someone treating you like throwaway 'talent', taking your art, and 'revamping it' for some distant promise of fame and fortune is really, really poisonous. When anyone can make a good recording in their bedroom on their own, the relationship between people working together on a musical project needs to be beneficial for both sides and grounded in mutual respect and a desire to grow together from the very start. Finally, a good song is a good song, regardless of sonic polishing. As long as people can connect with it on an emotional level when they hear it, whether that's with the music, the lyrics, the sonics, or all of the above, it's a good song. Period. Flashy studio gear someone spent their life savings on doesn't make music—you do. Don't let anyone tell you any different.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: There are no rules. Nothing matters except the end result and how it sounds. Be bold, fearless, and have fun.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I make records, and help people make their records! I try to stay away from referring to myself as a 'producer' because that word is really over-used and can mean so many different things. I mic up artists and bands, record instruments, and mix songs—sometimes, I play an instrument on the record (usually bass or keys) and help come up with parts as well.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Five!! I'm spoilt for choice—first, my Yamaha PSS-80 (it's a toy FM synth that I've installed a 1/4" output jack in, and it's my main songwriting tool just for sketching out cool chord progressions). Second, my laptop with Pro Tools—I don't really need more plugins than the built-in EQ, compressor, reverb, and delay. Third, any vintage dynamic mic—I have a soft spot for classic Shure SM7s from the 1970s in the green metal casing. Fourth, my favourite pair of headphones—Audio-Technicas to the very end; they may not be fancy, but I know their sound inside out and backwards. Fifth, an old TEAC mixer from the '70s—the way those line-level inputs saturate when you boost a mic signal into them is beyond cool. Can I cheat and add cables for all this stuff too? And a generator?
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Would you accept 'irreverent queer sonic guerrilla'? Someone who's just as 'at home' with my feet poking out from underneath a mixing console as I re-wire something, as I am sitting down with an artist over a cup of coffee/tea and exploring the story they're trying to tell.