I am a music producer, songwriter, and recording/mixing engineer. Hire me to make custom instrumentals or mix your songs.

FrancisSteakknife@gmail.com

Hi, I am a music producer from NYC, NY. I used to be based out of Norfolk, VA. I have been composing, recording, and mixing music for ten years. I have been mastering music for 2 years. I also do foley sound/sound design for film.

I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Music Production from Old Dominion University. I am currently working on my Master's in Music Technology at New York University.

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Interview with Francis Steakknife

Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
Recently I oversaw the recording of a Free Jazz album by a Double Quartet, much like Ornette Coleman. The musical performance was stunning. I chose the microphones, mic techniques and placement, I operated the SSL console and I eventually mixed the project. It was an honor to record such talented and young musicians.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently producing an album with a friend and musical collaborator. I am also mixing sound a film and designing a digital reverberator in Max/MSP.
Analog or digital and why?
Yes. Both have their place in modern audio recording.
What do you like most about your job?
I like being entrusted with capturing, preserving, and/or improving art.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
As a mixing engineer: that I can easily fix mistakes made in the recording process. In the digital era we are able to do a lot of "clean up" of poorly recorded, or poorly performed music, but there is only so much we can do. It's much better to just record it correctly then it is to "fix it in the mix."
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What was your inspiration for writing this song? Who are your favorite bands/musicians? What would you consider the "main instrument" of this recording, i.e. if you were to sing this song and could only have one accompanying instrument on stage, what would that instrument be?
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
For people who want me to produce an instrumental: spare no detail. Tell me about your inspiration for the song. For people who want me to mix and/or master their music I have a plethora of questions about the writing and recording process.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
Believe it or not, I'm not much of a gear-head. I appreciate quality equipment as much as the next guy, but I am more interested in the techniques used to produce a quality audio recording.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I knew I wanted to be involved with music since a very young age. I began playing drums and taking lessons when I was 10 and started playing in bands with my friends when I was 14. In middle and high school I played drums/percussion in concert, jazz, and pep band. I learned piano from a local jazz legend in high school. I continued to play in a Psychedelic Rock band with my friends and we began to make home recordings in my parent's attic. In college (at Old Dominion University) I majored in Music Production and minored in Music Performance. I learned Pro Tools and other DAWs. I played drums and keyboard a few local bands. I got really into synthesizers. I marched on drumline and played in percussion ensemble and pep band. I got a campus job recording classical music in the University's recital hall. I began recording independently and mixing bands and artists. I wrote and recorded my own music, too. After college I stayed in Norfolk, VA and continued to record/mix music, and play drums and keyboard in bands. I got a job teaching music at the School of Rock franchise, as well. I worked as a production assistant for the Virginia Arts Festival for a season. In the Spring of 2014 I moved to New York City to pursue a master's degree in Music Technology at New York University. I continued to freelance as a recording and mixing engineer, and I began to master audio and mix for films. I still enjoy teaching music in my free time.
How would you describe your style?
Evolving always.
Can you share one music production tip?
A lot of guys will tell you that your most important music production tool is your ears, and that is certainly true, but don't forget about your brain - maybe this is semantics, because your ears are powered by your brain, but make sure to keep your brain happy and healthy. Your next most important music production tool is your hard drive: back everything up 3 or 4 times in different locations.
What type of music do you usually work on?
I am game for all musical genres, but I generally work on experimental/electronic/alternative pop, rock, and hip-hop.
What's your strongest skill?
I don't know if this really counts as a skill, but I am always willing to try something new with music production. I love implementing "crazy" or "wild" ideas within the musical process and seeing if they work.
What do you bring to a song?
Originality, creativity, years of experience, passion and joy for music
What's your typical work process?
It depends greatly on the project. I am flexible and not dogmatic, I seek the best result and attempt to get there the easiest way possible.
Tell us about your studio setup.
Instruments: Keyboards - MicroKorg XL, Minibrute synth, Korg N1 synthesizer, Drums - Gretsch Catalina drumset, Pacific Platinum series drumset, RBH 14 inch snare drum, Star Classic 12 inch snare drum, KZ Kustom dyno-beat hi-hats, paiste hi-hats, istanbul 22 inch ride, paiste 20 inch ride, kazsha 18 inch crash. Virtual instruments - Pro Tools, Logic, Reaper stock VSTs, Izotope Iris 2 sample synth. Interfaces: Presonus Firestudio (for recording drums and other live instruments), Scarlett 2i2 (for recording vox or individual instruments) Mics: AKG C 414, Rhodes NT1A (stereo pair), Studio Projects C4 (stereo pair), SM57 (x3), SM58 (x2), Shure Beta 52, various other dynamic mics. Computer: Macbook Pro 13 inch DAWs: Pro Tools 10, Logic Pro 9, Reaper, Max/MSP (for my own various unique effects) Speakers: Mackie 8s (I have access to Genelecs, Lapinski, and JBL speakers, as well). I always check my mixes on various headphones - typically semi-open and closed back headphones - I like to check my mixes on car speakers, iPhone (good for mono-compadibility) and macbook speakers, too. As a "rule of thumb" I try to check my mixes on at least three different types of speakers/headphones before sending it back to a client. Outboard gear: I generally mix "in the box," but I have a lexicon compressor and access to lexicon reverb, LA2 compressors, and API compressors. I also can make field recordings on a Zoom H4n.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
My friends. Songwriters/bands: Sufjan Stevens, Fiona Apple, David Bowie, Kevin Barnes (of Montreal), Lady Gaga, Flaming Lips, Pink Floyd. Producers: Danger Mouse, Jack White, Brian Eno, RZA.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Compose/Produce original instrumentals and backing tracks. Record, Mix, Master.