Hi! My name is Jamie Hill. I produce and mix and master records for independent and alternative and bedroom artists. What I'm specifically into is making records that take you on a journey and connect on a deep emotional level ... and I'm interested in a lot of different manifestations of what that connection can look like.
My journey has been unusual. I'm a musician first and foremost, and cut my teeth in bands in my teens and 20s ... then I spent 7 years touring around the world, doing sound ... and now I've been producing and mixing and mastering records full-time for the last 8 years. So I come to this work with all of these perspectives. The common thread, for me, is that music communicates emotion to people, and that's what I'm most interested in. Finding the soul in a piece of music.
Specifically, I'm interested in making art. And when I say ‘art,’ I mean as opposed to ‘entertainment.’
To put it another way, I am uninterested in making music with commerce in mind, or with the goal of chasing after someone else’s style or sound. I’m interested in discovering the next iteration of *your* sound. This is not to say that I haven’t made records that have seen some commercial success; I have. But it wasn’t what we were aiming at.
This is all to say, I don’t tend to make ordinary-sounding records. If you want a record that sounds like another record you know, or a record that could be classified as safe or conservative or derivative or predictable in its approach, I’m probably not your person. If on the other hand you would like to push some boundaries, and stretch yourself as an artist, and make a piece of art that’s bold and adventurous and great – then I’m very much your person.
Would love to hear from you. Click the contact button above to get in touch.
Interview with Jamie/ Dept of Energy Mgmt
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I mixed and mastered a no-budget punk record for a punk band from Portland recently. They recorded it into GarageBand in the guitar player's bedroom. They wanted it to compete sonically with Rancid's "... And Out Come the Wolves," and because I loved the songs and the people, I put in the time, and it does, and it was a very gratifying transformation to be a part of. ❤️
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm in pre-production on a couple of records, working through the demo process. I'm mixing and mastering a couple of records. And I'm working with my wife on her next record. This answer will be true no matter when you might be reading this.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital, but running best-in-class analog-emulation software. Best of both worlds, and budget-friendly, because who has a budget these days.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: We're going to make a piece of art that you're going to be proud to listen to in 20 years.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I get to help people communicate emotion to other people. That's a big deal.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: I'm curious what you're looking to communicate, and what your goals are for your new work.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: I'm not a provider, I'm an artist. I would humbly suggest that if you're looking for a "provider" to help you make art, something's going wrong. Words matter. That said, if you're looking to hire a producer/ mixer/ mastering engineer, I would suggest listening to a bunch of your work and seeing whether it speaks to you. If you don't connect emotionally with what they're doing, they're not the right person for you.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: My computer, my UAD system, my Focal monitors, and my headphones. Someone else can have my 5th thing.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I was trained to a competition-winning level on classical piano from age 5-16. Then I was in bands for a while, because I thought I wanted to be a rock star. When I developed a more nuanced understanding of my relationship with music, I started to produce records, while cobbling together the first beginnings of what is now the studio that I work out of. My first full-time gig doing music for a living was doing sound in clubs in San Francisco. Bands started taking me on tour, and then I toured around the world for the next 7 years. I've been producing and mixing records full-time for the last 8 years. At a certain point my ears and gear got good enough that my experiences with sending my mixes to mastering engineers started to be disappointing, so then I learned how to master records, and I've been doing that for 5 years now.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Song-first and textured.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I'd like to work with Low Life. They're communicating something that speaks directly to someone I used to be, and to whom I still feel a highly empathetic connection.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Listen to other people's work frequently while you're working on your music. Periodic reality checks will make very apparent what is and isn't working.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I work on independent, alternative, and bedroom music – mostly independent, sometimes on indie labels, never on major labels.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Stubbornness and attention to detail.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I bring a lot of ideas to the recording and mixing process. I've been doing this for a long time, and so I work quickly and fluidly, and I try a lot of ideas out. If something isn't working, I don't get attached to it; I'll have an idea for a different approach in a few seconds. My idea is that I like to keep the energy moving and keep things fresh and keep an open mind and let the song dictate what it needs, and then hopefully complement it with some additional creativity from my end.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: When I'm producing a record, I start with artist-made demo recordings and work with the artist first to get the song nailed down. I'm a big refiner and editor; I am interested in a song communicating what it's there to communicate with the minimum possible amount of wasted space. When all the songs are dialed in, in terms of structure and lyrics and melodic presentation, then we can start recording. When I'm mixing a record, I tend to do more clerical-type stuff in the afternoons – editing, tuning, that sort of thing – and more of the creative work at night. When I'm mastering a record, I tend to take a really long time with the material. It's important to me that, like a doctor, first I do no harm. I've learned that it's so easy to start EQing or compressing based on first impressions, only to realize later that you've taken away something essential that the recording was doing. So I tend to spend a lot more time listening than most mastering engineers with whom I've worked. I'll generally master a record over a two-day period, so that I can sleep on it and take it in the car and listen to it on our stereo and do all the stuff you do to live with a record for a little bit and make sure its world is well-defined and that it's happy there.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have a best-in-class Pro Tools rig with a completely unreasonable amount of plugins. Brainworx and Soundtoys and FabFilter and UAD go on every mix I do; everything else is in a constant state of flux, based on my interests at the moment and what project I have in front of me.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I love Dave Fridmann and Peter Katis's mixes. I love BJ Burton's work, the new Low record in particular. I'm obsessed with Murray Lightburn and The Dears. The latest IDLES record got me super excited. Kate Tempest's "Let Them Eat Chaos" helped me immeasurably a couple of years ago. I listen constantly to a lot of different types of stuff. I approach music from the perspective of being a lifelong fan first and foremost; everything else flows from that.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I most often take projects from initial songwriting demos through final masters; sometimes I’m just putting a mix on something someone else has produced; sometimes I’m mastering someone else’s work, and adding my perspective there; and then some stuff I do falls somewhere in the middle.