What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I did a bit of audio work when I was in college. Then I got a "real" job teaching, which was a bit unfulfilling. That's when I decided to move to the UK to do a master's degree in sonic art. After that, I basically went full time in music production. I've been full time at this since around 2010, but I was doing it part time from 2005 to 2010.
What's your typical work process?
Typical work process is kind of hard to plot as each job is different. If I'm helping an artist write, I usually start by mapping out the key sections of the song and asking whether or not we'd listen to the song all the way through if it were on the radio. We start editing/writing from there. When it's time to track, I start with scratch vox and guitar or piano followed by the drums and bass. Then we can rework the vox and harmonic instruments. When it comes to mix down, I work with subgroups and I mix in passes. The groups are Vox, Drums, Bass, Harmonic Instruments, and (when necessary) special istruments or solos.
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
I finished a project in July for a group called CJ and The Birds. I'm especially proud of the song "Sweden" on their new EP. I produced the project for them, and we had a great time in the studio.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on gain staging and time aligning a project for a client in California. Once that's done, it's on to the mix stage!
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
I'm fairly new to the community. So, unfortunately I don't know a ton of people here yet. :(
Analog or digital and why?
Combination. I love the warmth of analog but the convenience of digital.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
I promise to help you make the best possible version of your music that I can.
What do you like most about your job?
I love hearing good songs. I love helping people craft their songs. I love recording those songs and making them even more interesting... It's all about good songs!
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
How much will this cost? It's a hard question to answer, which is when I usually launch into a ton of questions about the project. I'm glad that clients ask this because it opens up the conversation about what can and can't be done on certain budgets. If you have $1000 to do an EP, then you can't expect the sound of a $10000 budget. That doesn't mean that we can't do something great. It just means that we have to be smart about how we spend our time/money.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
I have a fair number of friends that seem to think that I'm "just an engineer". That's because they haven't worked with me. I don't like just pushing buttons for clients. I love to get deeply involved in making music!
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
I tend to ask a lot of questions because I want to be able to get jobs done efficiently. So, if I'm mixing, I ask about how many channels are in the project per song. It helps me to think about the time needed. I also usually ask for musical references so that I have an idea of what you're looking for. I've said it before, I don't like to just stamp my personality on a clients music. I want the music to reflect what the client wants (with maybe a twist of Morales in there ;)).
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Think about what you want from the experience. I've had clients that only knew what they didn't want, and that just made things difficult. I'm happy to throw ideas at a project, but if you don't have a strong vision, we can end up wasting a lot of time/money. I'm not really interested in that. I'd rather help you bring your vision to life rather than help you find your vision.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
Mac, UA Apollo, SM58, my Fender Mustang, and my Univox amp. I could still write great music and get all kinds of stuff done. The analog modeled UAD plugins are great and kind of make keeping the hardware around less important. As for the mustang and amp, I couldn't live life without a guitar, and that guitar and amp combination is one of my favorites!
How would you describe your style?
My own music is guitar driven indie pop, and I try to bring a little bit of that to the music that I work on. I definitely pay attention to guitars and pop sensibility.
Can you share one music production tip?
Pay attention to gain staging and mic'ing properly! Listen to various mic position and make sure that you're tracking with an RMS of -18 dbfs. It'll make mixing so much easier!
What type of music do you usually work on?
I find myself working a lot with folk and jazz stuff. That said, I've recently had a run of some hip hop stuff that I've loved! My personal music is more guitar driven indie pop.
What's your strongest skill?
I think that my strongest skill is my ear for structure and form. I help artists edit their songs into a form that is commercially viable while remaining honest to who the artist is.
What do you bring to a song?
I bring an objective ear to the song. I never try to force my will on an artist, but I always try to help him/her get the strongest version of the song possible. I want the artist to leave happy and feel that s/he has something better than what we started with.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I'm running a Mac Pro (not the trash can) with a UA Apollo. I heavily use the unison Neve 1073 with an 1176. I also have an octopre. I'm setup to record up to 16 channels at a time. I mix into a set of Auraclones that I made as well as Adam SA3's with a sub. I usually try to keep my mixes under 32 channels with FX, and I use a couple Euphonix Artist Mixes because I love faders (despite living in the digital age!?).
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
I love Manny Marroquin's mixes. The diversity of artists and consistent punch of his mixes is incredible. As for artists, I'm currently loving a band called Gungor. I also love Haim and Wilco. I know they don't necessarily sit next to each other stylistically, but the heart wants what the heart wants.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A lot of my work consists of editing audio that I've been sent and mixing it down. I also have artists into my studio to help them craft their songs into tighter versions followed by tracking the material.