I'm a creative, friendly and enthusiastic music producer, musical director and educator.
I love producing new music and working with singer-songwriters who need their songs recorded and arranged with care, integrity and honesty.
Working with vocalists is a speciality of mine having spent many years helping hundreds of singers develop their confidence, technique and approach to performance.
I arrange music in the traditional way, manuscript first and enjoy writing for, mixed voice, strings and brass sections in particular.
I take a genuine interest in the musicians I work with and do things with a lot of heart, I believe this to be the main secret to getting great results!
I'd love to hear about your project. Click the 'Contact' button above to get in touch.
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Interview with James Hawkins Music
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: The Rockabellas first album - Bring It Back! I project managed their crowd-sourcing campaign and raised over £10k using various marketing strategies. I then co-wrote, and fully produced the 10 track album over the course of 3 months. We hired the best session players, recorded in places like Abbey Road Studios 1 and 2, I arranged the strings and brass parts, recorded them and organised/over saw the mixing and mastering. The album went to market earlier this year.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: An EP for a singer songwriter in Leeds, a series of children's DVD's, a vocal arrangement for a choir, production of a gospel song for a gospel group in London.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: George Shilling of Bank Cottage Studio
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both - tone colour and practicality/efficiency of editing/recall and creativity.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: To do my best.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The variety, the people and the achievement.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: How long will we need to record our song(s)? Generally, this all depends on how well prepared/rehearsed and able you are to play accurately in as fewer takes as possible...
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I'm not sure...
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What do you want to achieve? How can I help you achieve your aims? Can you show me examples of what you have created and are most proud of? What 3 tracks would help me understand your musical intentions? How much are you willing to invest in your project? How do you have your tea/coffee?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Ask anything no matter how "silly" or small you think it might be. Be passionate about your music and what you want to achieve. Make sure your budget is going to be suitable for the task in hand - it costs to make great recordings plus we all need to pay the bills! Negotiate - don't be scared to negotiate!
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Headphones, Piano, Manuscript paper, Nuemann Microphone, multitrack recorder....
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been developing my skills and honing for over 15 years, I'm still learning something every week.....I'll never know enough! No career path other than saying YES to lots of jobs before I knew HOW to accomplish them! I also ask for time/pay for time with named producers and engineers in order to learn from them.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Versatile, precise, quirky and creative, thoughtful, ambitious, sensitive, respectful.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I don't have an answer at this moment in time...good question though!
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Less is more!
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Music with vocals.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Working with artists and helping them realise their musical intentions. I'm not a bad pianist and arranger either...
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Attention to detail, curiosity, quality time, care and commitment to maintaining the emotion and musical integrity of the song. I look for the identity of the artist in their songs and do my best to "up light" the vocalist with suitable musical arrangements and production.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Get to know the client as a person and learn what their musical intentions/influencers and general project ambitions/aims. Do some listening to tracks chosen by the client, discuss the production and get excited about all things musical. Jam and learn the clients songs from the piano, listen to their demos, start forming some ideas. Plan the dates, set the budget, hire the right folks, and begin the job! i tend to start with making guide tracks with vocal and one harmonic instrument, and then begin "dressing" the arrangement. After arranging and recording I'll move into the final mixing phase before the final detailing phase...send the music off for mastering and we are generally done!
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: It's a production suite with vocal booth/small ensemble room, Pro tools 10 native, Logic Pro x, UA610s, 710s, SSL channel strips, Neve Summing, SSL Nucleus, Genelec 1031s, 8030s, Avatones, Nuemann Mics, sE Ribbons, Shure mics, TC Finaliser. Air conditioned control room....Lovely creative "chocolate box" ambience.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Simon Rhodes, George Shilling, Ralph Salmins, Geoff Gascoigne, George Martin, Bob Chilcott, Karl Jenkins, Jason Rebello, Sting, Mary J Blige, Dave Wekl, Steve Gadd, Frank Sinatra...Toto...etc
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Production - I manage the projects from start to finish.