If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
I can’t answer that, but here are my current favorite pieces of gear:
Dave Hill Designs Europa-1 preamp
Neumann TLM 49 Microphone
Focusrite ISA 220
Fabfilter Plug-In Mixing Bundle
Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt
Analog or digital and why?
I have found that factoring in many analog elements during tracking adds a lot to a recording. During the mix however, the power and flexibility of today’s software is utterly incomparable. A hybrid approach is ideal, but if I had to choose, I would choose digital.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Having been an independent artist myself, I have had more misses than hits when hiring a mixing engineer. Be sure to listen to as many mixes from your prospective mix engineer as possible. Don’t go by their name and good reputation alone. Ask a lot of questions. Lastly, ask for a partial mix of one of your songs for a reduced fee to get a feel for the mixing engineer's workflow and - more importantly - the results.
How would you describe your style?
I like to keep the vocals, drums, and main melodic elements very clear and upfront, like a Top 40 pop album or something mixed by Bob Clearmountain. On the other hand, I like a certain amount of movement and chaos too, like a garage rock record or something mixed by Dave Fridmann.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
Probably Bjork, as I think I would learn a whole lot from her very original and distinctive approach to making records.
Can you share one music production tip?
I think parallel compression is an infinitely useful tool when doing a mix, and that goes for virtually any instrument be it voice or drums. With a large selection of compressors, I can control the subtle dynamics and tone contours of the elements of a mix without flattening out all the punch and impact.
What type of music do you usually work on?
I have a lot of experience with indie rock bands, but also indie electronic music and indie hip hop.
What's your strongest skill?
While I definitely think very holistically about the music I am working on, I am very methodical about the details. This might come from my past career as a chemist writing and testing formulas: I have a scientific approach to the technical aspects of mixing but an intuitive approach to the musical aspects.
What do you bring to a song?
I have always been particularly good capturing the passion of a song with my mixes, and making it sound like the performance is happening for the first time. I try to impart a sense of movement that is always engaging the listener. Lastly, I try to make a song sound larger than life.
What's your typical work process?
I will get the tracks from the session, import them into logic, and begin editing. If there are vocals, I start with those: comping, editing, and tuning as necessary. Then I set up my aux sends and get the rhythm section grooving. Then I start applying EQ, compression, and other techniques to make a static dry mix that sounds good. Lastly, I use reverb, delays, and FX to add depth, atmosphere, and excitement. Once I have a mix I am happy with, I submit the mix to the client for review. Based on his/her feedback, I make whatever adjustments are necessary to get the track where the client wants it to be.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I used a hybrid of in-the-box and out-of-the-box tools, like most professionals today. I have host of plug-ins from some the big brands like Waves, PSP, and FabFilter, but also plenty of lesser-known gems that can work wonders like Valhalla, Cytomic, and SoundRadix. I use Logic for mixing on a MacBook Pro and I use Apogee AD/DA. I also have a handful of outboard pieces, including the exquisite Dave Hill Designs Europa-1 preamp, the GAP Comp-54 Neve-style compressor that makes almost everything pop in a mix, and the Sansamp Classic for achieving a huge range of tones when plug-ins don’t cut it. I typically mix through Yamaha HS 80 monitors.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
My mixing heroes are: Bob Clearmountain, Tchad Blake, Mark Saunders, Jimmy Douglas, and Dave Fridmann
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
I am usually the mixing engineer for music projects like bands and hip hop artists, meaning I get the individual files recorded by the artists and mix them here in my studio. If the artists are local I can also provide some recording services like recording vocals, guitars, synths, drum machine, etc. Lastly, I am able to make nice, loud, competitive masters of their recordings as well using a suite of cutting edge plug-ins.