What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working with music day in and day out. I get a ton of repeat business from my mixing clients, so am usually mixing new singles or EPs as they are produced since today's business model involves releasing music frequently. When not mixing for other artists, I'm composing and writing songs for some of the production music libraries and music publishers I work with for sync licensing. Never a dull moment as I get to genre hop and keep things interesting.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
I'd need a powerful computer, MIDI Keyboard, my Sennheiser HD 800 headphones, and the complete UAD bundle and I'd be able to do what I need to do.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I've been mixing exclusively for 7 years now. Half of my education from completing the Production and Engineering program at Berklee College of Music, while the rest comes from real-life experience and just doing it. There's no substitute for experimentation. Musically I come from a diverse background of being a classically trained percussionist, participating in competitive drumline, choirs, pop-punk bands, playing for musicals, and getting involved in anything and everything I could. All this makes me a well-rounded musician and better able to connect with clients and their vision.
How would you describe your style?
High impact and versatile. Different styles of music need different approaches, and the one approach that can apply to all music is to realize the artist's vision. The artist and song itself is what determines how the mix turns out, but one thing for certain is that it must make an emotional connection with listeners, so I do everything in my power to bring each song to its fullest potential.
What's your typical work process?
1. Find out everything I can about the artist and their vision. Knowing their influences, listening to rough mixes and reference tracks, understanding their fan base and release plans. After understanding the goal, I can tailor the approach to their music.
2. Organize and clean-up. I like to take care of the technical, non-creative but necessary tasks first. This may include tuning, comping, editing out noise/silence, fades, breaths, aligning vocals etc... It also gives me a chance to know the session inside and out and how all the parts might come together. Then of course organizing the session itself so that I'm later able to more easily accomplish the creative aspects of mixing without the session getting in the way.
3. Mix! This is the fun part. No rules here, but this is where I do anything and everything (or nothing!) to the tracks to get it feeling like a record. I'm a big fan of automation, so many parameters get automated to keep things moving along section-to-section.
4. In-house mastering. Even if we'll be using an outside mastering engineer on the project, I typically master the song myself in a separate session on a different day, so we can hear how the track will sound once loudness processing is applied. From here, I may go back and tweak some things myself to get it sounding like I want.
5. Delivery and tweaks. Now I send the track to the client and allow them to sit on it or check it out on systems they are familiar with. I ask that they provide a simple bulleted list of any specific changes they want to made to the track. I typically make the changes within less than a day and re-deliver the files. Once everything is approved, I'll render full HQ and alternate files and we're done!
Tell us about your studio setup.
I believe an excellent monitoring chain and competent engineer are all that's needed to get a great mix. I monitor through Forssell converters, Pelonis 4288 mains and Sennheiser HD800 headphones in an acoustically treated room. I've got plenty of amazing sounding plug-ins and analog emulations, and more importantly, know how to use them to get the desired results.
I'm completely in-the-box for processing, using UAD, Waves, Slate Digital, Brainworx etc... Perfect and quick recall for revisions and excellent tools for processing.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
I'm called in when the song works, the production works, but for some reason, the final production just isn't sounding like a finished record. My expertise in mixing Pop, Rock, and Hip-Hop brings that final set of skills to a release as I craft and shape the raw audio into a polished song that achieves the sound in the artist's head and reaches fans.
Analog or digital and why?
I work completely in-the-box due to the convenience factor and cost-effectiveness. Plug-ins provide excellent work flow and processing and allow for instant recall of sessions. I certainly use my share of analog emulation plug-ins though.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
Whether you're a major artist or home-recording I'll treat your track as if it is meant to be the next big thing and give it the attention and creativity it needs to sound its best. We'll work through revisions as needed to tweak the mix until you're happy and proud to release the song.
What do you like most about your job?
The ability to work from a home studio, set my own schedule, enjoy my dog's company, and most of all, get to work on awesome music from around the world!
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
The most common question is usually, "how much to mix a song?" This is a reality for most artists of course, as they want the best sounding mix for a price they can afford. The best answer I can provide is not only my fee, but making sure they know the value of a strong mix and view it as an investment in their career. Mixes impact everything from your music videos, streaming, press, and serve as a calling card for gig booking. It is an extremely important part of their career.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
That we can completely transform a terrible performance or recording into a hit. Everything comes down to the performance and song. I can certainly work some miracles to get things sounding much much better, but the material needs to be strong.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
It can be helpful to know any commercial reference tracks, intended release plans, how it was recorded, lyrics and intended message, and preferences in regards to loudness, effects, how much creativity they'll allow the mixer etc...
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
It doesn't come down to the lowest budget, gear, or even credits. Overwhelming choice can sometimes work against you. Choose an engineer that has similar taste and good examples, fits within your budget, is reliable and friendly and build a working relationship. Over time, you'll have a 'personal' mixer who understands your style and preferences and it makes the process pleasant and smooth.
Can you share one music production tip?
Gain staging is hugely valuable! Setting proper levels from recording, preamps, to hitting plug-ins at a nice level will make a big difference in the end result.
What type of music do you usually work on?
Most often I work in the Pop, Pop-Rock, and Hip-Hop genres, though am certainly comfortable working in many styles.
What do you bring to a song?
Not only do I bring excellent sonics to the song, I bring my musical intuition. Being able to feel the song and translate the artist's vision to the listen through sound is an important skill of any mixer.