Steve Kirstein

Producer/Engineer

Steve Kirstein on SoundBetter

Looking to work with talented artists and bands with a vision

Writing
Pre-Production
Production
Studio Recording
Mobile Recording
Editing
Mixing

Tell me about your project and how I can help, through the 'Contact' button above.

Interview with Steve Kirstein

  1. Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?

  2. A: I recently recorded a single for Brother Elsey with Th Trews’ guitarist John-Angus MacDonald called “Fast Train” that I am excited about. I have been working on some new songs with them too with The Glorious Sons’ guitarist Jay Emmons.

  3. Q: What are you working on at the moment?

  4. A: Projects with Brother Elsey, Jonny Porter, Charlie Mauve

  5. Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?

  6. A: Ron Nevison - he has provided great results to a client of mine

  7. Q: Analog or digital and why?

  8. A: Both. Both have amazing attributes to bring ti the table. Some things are better in the analog domain and some are better in digital. It is exciting where plugin quality has gone. And the convenience and workflow of the modern DAW is liberating if used with the right kind of approach. Strictly going to tape with good talent is likely hard to beat, though.

  9. Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?

  10. A: That I will be honest, hard-working and always give my best

  11. Q: What do you like most about your job?

  12. A: Meeting interesting people, working on music for a living!

  13. Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?

  14. A: What is your fee per song? My answer is: it depends on the scope of things.

  15. Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?

  16. A: That we can turn a something that is not good into something that is. It all comes from the artist - that is the starting point.

  17. Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?

  18. A: Can the drummer play to a click? ;)

  19. Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

  20. A: Meet in person or on phone to get a good feel to see if personalities and goals are a match

  21. Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?

  22. A: Telecaster Old Fender amp with spring reverb and vibrato (it is actually a misnomer - the effect is tremolo) Sm57 Tape machine with preamps Monitoring capabilities - either cans or speakers

  23. Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?

  24. A: Have been interested in music from a young age, taking piano lessons early on and starting guitar after that. I was listening to classic icons like Bob Dylan, Beatles and Grateful Dead, at a young age and then alternative music the 90s like Radiohead and Pavement, 2000s indie music like Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Arcade Fire and Wolf Parade, 2010s music like Tame Impala and War On Drugs. I got into the audio world in high school. I took an online course on production and my interest led me to pursue it further at Metalworks Institute in the Audio Production & Engineering program. From there, I interned at a studio in Knysna, South Africa before returning to Canada to start working out of a studio near Toronto. I have been there for nine years as a freelancer acting as the house engineer. I do lots of mobile recording as well. I am accustomed to working in some leas than ideal recording environments including churches and homes. Some of my best recordings have come out of these spaces.

  25. Q: How would you describe your style?

  26. A: rock n roll, folk, psychedelica, southern/country/americana, surf

  27. Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?

  28. A: Anyone with powerful songs and ideas with an aesthetic that suits my taste. Bands/artists such as Grizzly Bear, Ariel Pink, Deerhunter, Radiohead, Animal Collective, King Krule, LCD Soundsystem, Vampire Weekend, M83, Pond, Spoon, Twin Peaks, Wolf Parade

  29. Q: Can you share one music production tip?

  30. A: As an artist, keep the writing phase of production simple. During the writing process, instead of wasting time setting up mics, gear and pro tools sessions, when inspiration hits just press record on your cellphone’s voice recorder app and capture the song idea at its core first. Once you have your ideas down, you can consider moving toward a more sophisticated recording situation, but even then, I would keep things simple as it is too easy to get lost in the myriad options of software and gear. Stay focused on the song itself and limit yourself with gear and it may make it easier to ideas fully realized and avoiding hitting frustrating roadblocks. There will be a time and place for tweaking and getting technical- just get the song first.

  31. Q: What type of music do you usually work on?

  32. A: It is a wide range in general but I focus on rock (indie, alternative, roots, country, folk) and pop.

  33. Q: What's your strongest skill?

  34. A: My strongest skill is likely my open-mindedness and adaptive nature. Though I have my own musical sensibilities and stylistic approach, I am able to allow the voice and style of the artist to shine through. I work hard to put them in the best light through effective communication and appropriate production techniques.

  35. Q: What do you bring to a song?

  36. A: I bring my musical ear. I can determine keys, melodies, harmonies, chords, tempos with ease, which can be helpful to artists. I bring my musical taste, feel and instrumental skills to a song where needed. Sometimes, I operate in a hands-off, supportive role. Other times I am actively involved in writing the lyrics, melody, instrumental parts (often playing or programming drums, guitar, bass, keys myself). I bring my honesty, but with a sensitive approach. I will point out mistakes if they are not obvious to others and will offer the easiest and most effective solution. It’s all about momentum and keeping the session moving with good energy.

  37. Q: What's your typical work process?

  38. A: Depending on the artist, typically I would start with conversing about the project while trying to get a feel for who the artist is if I don’t already know them. If we are producing a song, I would then listen to either a demo or live performance and start working on ideas after taking the song in. Then we would likely work together on pre-production elements possibly including melody, lyrics, harmony, rhythmic feel, instrumental arrangement, structural arrangement, determining the right key and tempo, and recording a demo guide track. Once we are happy with the overall feel and direction, we may start laying down core elements of the production such as drums and bass. From there, we likely would build the song through overdubs. As we go, myself or an assistant would edit and comp the takes to ensure we are building on a solid foundation towards a rhythmically tight, in-tune and captivating production. Once everything is recorded and edited, I would either mix myself or prepare files for another mixer. The mix is then sent to a mastering house and onto distribution!

  39. Q: Tell us about your studio setup.

  40. A: The commercial studio features a nice live room with two iso rooms, an acoustically designed control room, kitchen, lobby, bathroom and lounge. We record mainly onto a digital platform (Pro Tools HD). There is a U48 tube microphone, Neve 1073 and API 312 preamps (BAE), vintage instruments, Adam monitors with subwoofer.

  41. Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?

  42. A: Bob Dylan Lee Scratch Perry

  43. Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.

  44. A: I do a wide range of types of work as the house engineer at a commercial studio near Toronto where I have been for over nine years. Most commonly, I work on music projects with artists/bands.

  45. Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?

  46. A: I recently recorded a single for Brother Elsey with Th Trews’ guitarist John-Angus MacDonald called “Fast Train” that I am excited about. I have been working on some new songs with them too with The Glorious Sons’ guitarist Jay Emmons.

  47. Q: What are you working on at the moment?

  48. A: Projects with Brother Elsey, Jonny Porter, Charlie Mauve

  49. Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?

  50. A: Ron Nevison - he has provided great results to a client of mine

  51. Q: Analog or digital and why?

  52. A: Both. Both have amazing attributes to bring ti the table. Some things are better in the analog domain and some are better in digital. It is exciting where plugin quality has gone. And the convenience and workflow of the modern DAW is liberating if used with the right kind of approach. Strictly going to tape with good talent is likely hard to beat, though.

  53. Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?

  54. A: That I will be honest, hard-working and always give my best

  55. Q: What do you like most about your job?

  56. A: Meeting interesting people, working on music for a living!

  57. Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?

  58. A: What is your fee per song? My answer is: it depends on the scope of things.

  59. Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?

  60. A: That we can turn a something that is not good into something that is. It all comes from the artist - that is the starting point.

  61. Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?

  62. A: Can the drummer play to a click? ;)

  63. Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

  64. A: Meet in person or on phone to get a good feel to see if personalities and goals are a match

  65. Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?

  66. A: Telecaster Old Fender amp with spring reverb and vibrato (it is actually a misnomer - the effect is tremolo) Sm57 Tape machine with preamps Monitoring capabilities - either cans or speakers

  67. Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?

  68. A: Have been interested in music from a young age, taking piano lessons early on and starting guitar after that. I was listening to classic icons like Bob Dylan, Beatles and Grateful Dead, at a young age and then alternative music the 90s like Radiohead and Pavement, 2000s indie music like Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Arcade Fire and Wolf Parade, 2010s music like Tame Impala and War On Drugs. I got into the audio world in high school. I took an online course on production and my interest led me to pursue it further at Metalworks Institute in the Audio Production & Engineering program. From there, I interned at a studio in Knysna, South Africa before returning to Canada to start working out of a studio near Toronto. I have been there for nine years as a freelancer acting as the house engineer. I do lots of mobile recording as well. I am accustomed to working in some leas than ideal recording environments including churches and homes. Some of my best recordings have come out of these spaces.

  69. Q: How would you describe your style?

  70. A: rock n roll, folk, psychedelica, southern/country/americana, surf

  71. Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?

  72. A: Anyone with powerful songs and ideas with an aesthetic that suits my taste. Bands/artists such as Grizzly Bear, Ariel Pink, Deerhunter, Radiohead, Animal Collective, King Krule, LCD Soundsystem, Vampire Weekend, M83, Pond, Spoon, Twin Peaks, Wolf Parade

  73. Q: Can you share one music production tip?

  74. A: As an artist, keep the writing phase of production simple. During the writing process, instead of wasting time setting up mics, gear and pro tools sessions, when inspiration hits just press record on your cellphone’s voice recorder app and capture the song idea at its core first. Once you have your ideas down, you can consider moving toward a more sophisticated recording situation, but even then, I would keep things simple as it is too easy to get lost in the myriad options of software and gear. Stay focused on the song itself and limit yourself with gear and it may make it easier to ideas fully realized and avoiding hitting frustrating roadblocks. There will be a time and place for tweaking and getting technical- just get the song first.

  75. Q: What type of music do you usually work on?

  76. A: It is a wide range in general but I focus on rock (indie, alternative, roots, country, folk) and pop.

  77. Q: What's your strongest skill?

  78. A: My strongest skill is likely my open-mindedness and adaptive nature. Though I have my own musical sensibilities and stylistic approach, I am able to allow the voice and style of the artist to shine through. I work hard to put them in the best light through effective communication and appropriate production techniques.

  79. Q: What do you bring to a song?

  80. A: I bring my musical ear. I can determine keys, melodies, harmonies, chords, tempos with ease, which can be helpful to artists. I bring my musical taste, feel and instrumental skills to a song where needed. Sometimes, I operate in a hands-off, supportive role. Other times I am actively involved in writing the lyrics, melody, instrumental parts (often playing or programming drums, guitar, bass, keys myself). I bring my honesty, but with a sensitive approach. I will point out mistakes if they are not obvious to others and will offer the easiest and most effective solution. It’s all about momentum and keeping the session moving with good energy.

  81. Q: What's your typical work process?

  82. A: Depending on the artist, typically I would start with conversing about the project while trying to get a feel for who the artist is if I don’t already know them. If we are producing a song, I would then listen to either a demo or live performance and start working on ideas after taking the song in. Then we would likely work together on pre-production elements possibly including melody, lyrics, harmony, rhythmic feel, instrumental arrangement, structural arrangement, determining the right key and tempo, and recording a demo guide track. Once we are happy with the overall feel and direction, we may start laying down core elements of the production such as drums and bass. From there, we likely would build the song through overdubs. As we go, myself or an assistant would edit and comp the takes to ensure we are building on a solid foundation towards a rhythmically tight, in-tune and captivating production. Once everything is recorded and edited, I would either mix myself or prepare files for another mixer. The mix is then sent to a mastering house and onto distribution!

  83. Q: Tell us about your studio setup.

  84. A: The commercial studio features a nice live room with two iso rooms, an acoustically designed control room, kitchen, lobby, bathroom and lounge. We record mainly onto a digital platform (Pro Tools HD). There is a U48 tube microphone, Neve 1073 and API 312 preamps (BAE), vintage instruments, Adam monitors with subwoofer.

  85. Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?

  86. A: Bob Dylan Lee Scratch Perry

  87. Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.

  88. A: I do a wide range of types of work as the house engineer at a commercial studio near Toronto where I have been for over nine years. Most commonly, I work on music projects with artists/bands.

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GenresSounds Like
  • Kurt Vile
  • The War On Drugs
  • The Clash
Gear Highlights
  • Pro Tools 2018
  • Apollo
  • UA 2-610
  • DBX160
  • AKG (C414
  • C451)
  • Sennheiser (MD-409
  • MD-441
  • MD-421)
  • TEAC A3340S
  • 1963 J45
  • 1965 Fender Tremolux
  • 1965 Ampeg Fliptop
  • 1965 Ludwig kit
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