Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
There must be, but I'm just getting settled on the site, when I look around some more I'd be happy to list them here.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
To work as hard as I can to deliver the best result I poossibly can.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A raft, flint and steel, bow and arrow, a very shiny knife & a tarp. If I could bring a harmonica as well that'd be great. If you're asking about audio gear ( obviously ), there's so much to choose from; it'd have to be decent monitors, a nice recording chain, something to record and mix on, something for programming music and a nice instrument.
What are you working on at the moment?
I've been busy working on Missy Elliott's tour. After the Super Bowl show with Katy Perry her tour season really picked up this year, more than usual. I've also been busy with sessions at Downtown Music Studios and Germano Studios as well my production room. I've also been teaching acoustics which has been a great change of pace as it's pretty heady, involves some math and takes me out of my studio cave dweller life style, if only for a few days at a time.
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
It's so hard to choose from as I gotten to work on very many amazingly special records. Here's something fairly recent that didn't nearly get the recognition it deserved. I loved the Theophilus London allbum I worked on that came out at the end of last year (2014). It really got no promotion from Warner Bros. and it's a shame as there was some great music on there that I worked my fingers to the bone on in order to get it to the light of day. We managed to get a Kanye West feature on it, some work from Leon Ware ( Marvin Gaye producer and writer ) and a wealth of other cameo appearances. I did everything I possibly could on that album; pitch and performance correction, arrangements, mixing, mastering, created performances that didn't actually get recorded through some creative editing, you name it. It was a very forward thinking album with some amazing old school references. If you get a chance check it out, it's called Vibes. I poured my heart and soul into the making of that album, it took up more than a year of my life. So take a listen!
Analog or digital and why?
Whatever works. Analog s fun. It makes you really feel like you're accomplishing something as it takes so many machines and so much physical work to get done with what you can easily do with a few keystrokes on a DAW. It's modern times. I love analog, but I love digital just as much. Let's figure out which is going to work best for your project. If you'd like to go 48trk Analog and mix on a giant desk with tons of outboard, I'd love to do that with you, it's where I come from. The reality is that rarely if ever happens anymore. I'd be happy to meet you at my production room, which is a digital room with a nice selection of analog gear and we can take it from there.
What do you like most about your job?
Making great music. I truly enjoy record making and seeing how people react to the end result. When someone loves the way a song sounds it makes me very happy.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
How much do you charge? My answer is usually "What's your budget". I feel every project is different and different clients have different expectations. I try and work with clients within their budget framework and always give the project the best effort I possibly can.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
That it's just about getting sounds and levels. To me it's about the emotional impact the song has on the listener. I work hard to take the listener on a trip, on a virtual ride through a new reality.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What are you happy with with your current mix. What do you want to be different? What direction do you hear the final mix sounding like?
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Communication is key. I don't mind the barrage of phone calls, emails, text messages, etc. that come with this type of work. Without an open line of communication there's no way to be on the same page, so don't be shy or think any comment isn't necessary. I'm open to comments, I have thick skin, I can take criticism. I also stand my ground when I think I'm right. However, at the end of the day music is about collaboration so I aim to make sure we're all proud of the end result.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I started as an intern at 17 years old in a local studio. As soon as I got my drivers license I got an internship, I was still in high school. After I graduated high school I went to Berklee College of Music for 3 years and continued interning and assisting. I almost didn't go back after the second year as I already had the job I wanted in New York. I ended up going back to Boston to try and finish up that year and when I got out decided I wanted to work at The Hit Factory. I took a job as a general assistant at Hit Factory and soon after became an assistant. Less than 2 years later I was engineering there and shortly after was mixing number one singles. My tenure at Hit Factory was unmatched. I had my own private studio there when I left to become a freelancer. Since then I've been freelancing, maintaining my production room and working out of a few choice studios here in New York. I've been doing this professionally about 20 years now.
How would you describe your style?
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
I'd like to work with Bruno Mars. I love his songwriting style and his production chops. I know his crew is pretty tight knit so it would be difficult to get an in there, but I'm hoping one day I get the opportunity. If we're talking living or dead then I'd say Bob Marley. I think those Marley albums are just magical, they are so well produced. If you listen to his peers the albums just don't stand anywhere close to to way a Marley record sounds. He was more than musicianship, more than songwriting he was about record production.
Can you share one music production tip?
Edit. I tell people that the day we started recording to tape the recording industry became the editing industry. I feel a lot of musicians feel that recordings made in the 70s and before were more live, let me tell you LOTS of editing has been done well before the advent of DAWs. Editing is what makes the difference between a live recording and record production, it's an integral part of the process. Of course there's times where a performance is recorded and and is just fine on it's own; the best producers and engineers know when to leave well enough alone. However, most of the time it's all about the editing.
What type of music do you usually work on?
I usually tell people I work on Pop music, but I fell it's inclusive of the many genres I work in. I've worked on quite a lot of R&B through the years, but I'm just as comfortable working in Hip Hop, Rap, Rock, EDM, Metal, Jazz, Broadway, etc.
What's your strongest skill?
My musical taste and ability. My technical chops. My desire to learn techniques while being able to rely on a wealth of experience.
What do you bring to a song?
A perspective. I like to take a direction and go there. When I'm listening to a new project I get an idea in my head of where it needs to go and I do my best to take it there.
What's your typical work process?
I'll ask to hear a rough mix of the song and ask what the client likes and doesn't like about it. I'll reference that rough mix and the notes I take while I'm working on the mix to make sure I don't get too far away from the original intent. Once I feel I'm at a pretty good place with the mix, I like to send it out for comments, usually the mix isn't completely done at this point as I'm looking to make sure I"m in the ballpark. Once we're in the ballpark, I get to making the final reference and send it out for notes. From there any revisions are made.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I've been in the box for over 15 years. My first commercially released huge hit that was mixed in the box was in 1999, it was R.E.M.'s "The Great Beyond". I love console mixing and prefer SSL, Neve or API desks and when I can I'll create a hybrid mix both in the box and on the console, but, for flexibility and workflow I'm usually printing everything back to the computer for updates later. I have a production room in NYC that has some of my favorite outboard pieces, and some floating gear that comes in and out as well. But for me the most important pieces of gear are an acoustically accurate control room, some great monitoring I'm familiar with and a very high powered computer.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
I've always loved Trevor Horn. He's a truly innovative producer going back to the 80s and I really respect what he's done to advance the recording industry as well as music.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A mix can't be great if the source isn't great, so start there. Many times I get asked to mix a song and I find it's not in condition to be mixed yet. Vocals need tuning, musical parts need timing correction or editing, or the arrangement needs to be tighter. This is the same type of work I usually do while tracking, making the best out of the tracks that have been recorded. I find it difficult to even concentrate on the mix until this is done. As I'm tightening things up, I'll be working on the basic sounds - making each instrument or vocal sound great and in context with the overall mix. Once there's a groove happening, I work on the vibe. I try and be creative with sounds, take calculated risks where I feel I can, and as much as I can rely on a wealth of experience of getting "hit record sounds", I try and keep it creative and flowing - not sticking to any particular rulebook.