Toronto’s Harrison Fine of FINE Productions doesn’t just usher you into the studio and produce you. He wants to know what makes you tick and why you create the music you do. The award-winning producer, engineer, mixer and songwriter wants to get personal.
“What I do as a producer is focus on elements of the song, the purpose, reason it exists and a lot of creative elements others might miss,” Harrison says. “When I take on a project, I get intimately connected to it because I strongly believe if you’re not connected to what you’re doing, how is that going to be picked up when a person listens to it?”
A recording artist himself — presently readying a new electronic solo project under the alias Opus Eyes— Harrison is well-connected in the songwriter and indie music community, voted Best Producer in Toronto from NOW magazine. Within that world, he takes time to pick the right artists to produce, assessing their lyrics, arrangements and instrumentation. “I do a lot of pre-production,” he says. “If you don’t have good stuff to start, you can’t get good songs in the end.”
Harrison’s interest in music began in grade 10, in his hometown of Peterborough, Ontario. He picked up guitar in 2001 and after a few years of playing in high school bands got hooked on home recording. In 2005, he attended Metalworks Institute, a school held at the world-class studio facility in the Gre
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Interview with Harrison Fine
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: Workin on a 7-song Ben Harper styled album. I'm proud of it because it was my job to come up with all the riffs for the album. If you know Ben Harper's stuff, that's quite the challenge. I like to think I infused his music with some really good stuff. Also, Halfway Again by Myke & The Mod Villains. I played all the electric guitar, synth programming, production, tracking and mixing. It turned out amazing!
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Karl Machat from Mister's Mastering House in Toronto, Canada.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital. It's 2015 and we're living in a computer era. Recall is possible with digital gear. It's more creative due to it's flexibility. This is a dumb question, lol.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will do the best I can and bring to the table everything I have learned over the years. IN the end of the day, this is your song and so you should have a great understanding of where you want the song to go, creatively. I cannot read your mind nor will I reinvent the wheel.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Being a creator.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Can we get the project done in "x" amount of time? Answer: yes, but the output quality may suffer. Getting results takes time in order to reflect on our work and discover what changes are necessary.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: A hit song doesn't just "happen." It's a collaborative step-by-step process that is equally technical and creative which has taken thousands of hours to perfect. If you don't have a good song, don't expect to get on the radio. Sonic quality takes a backseat to how good your song is. ALWAYS.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What are you really looking for me to do? There are a million definitions of "music producer" these days. The most fundamental ingredient for success is the song. Doesn't matter what I do if the song isn't good. Sounds harsh, but it's true!
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Don't force a connection. Even if I really wanted your business despite a lack of connection, the music will fall short and I'll waste both our time.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: The gear necessary to build a radio and get home.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: Since 2005. Ever since winning a local award in 2014, I have been doing this full time.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Simple, honest, emotional, cinematic, epic and genuine.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I'll get back to you.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Believe in your creative self.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Singer-Songwriter, Pop Music, electronic/synth pop genres, Alternative, Light Rock and adult contemporary. As a songwriter, I have written music for each of these genres and so why I put my focus on them as a producer.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My ability to amalgamate both the technical and creative in the world of music production.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I am only human. I can only bring to the table what I know and the styles that I carry. Having said that, I bring to the table 7yrs of Engineering experience, award-winning production skills and an extremely positive attitude.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Depends on what I'm doing. I only take on projects I'm a fan of. You cannot force creativity when you do not believe in the project.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I am proficient in all 4 daws - Pro Tools (10yrs), Cubase 7.5, Logic X and Ableton Live. Technology has advanced to such a degree that it allows us to work professionally 100% in the computer. I am a new school producer this way. However, I use Vintech, Millenia, UAD and RME pres when tracking in my studio. When mixing, I use softube, soundtoys, UAD, Izotope, Fab-Filter and more.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Anyone inventive and original. I really admire artists that can produce their own sound, are willing to take risks by being their own artist and not following the musical leader.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I work mainly with songwriters in Toronto, Canada. My clients are usually looking to advance their career to the next level. I offer stylistic, sonic and technical services to all of my clients. I am an experienced acoustic and electric guitarist, electronic artist and singer-songwriter and fully utilize these skills in my productions.