Mixing Engineer at Holt Studios. Session Drummer, Guitarist, Bassist.
I have been running Holt Studios for a few years now and am a proffessional mixing engineer and am a qualified session musician.
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Interview with Joe Jackson
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: A singer-songwriter named Tom Wardle. You should definitely check him out. Proud of his latest EP.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: A blues rock band from Birmingham, UK
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I have not checked to see if there is anyone I know.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both. I'm a big fan of 'hybrid' mixing. A lot of the time I use plugins in the box. But will often add inserts for some of my outboard gear. Used to use a 48 channel analog desk but replaced it with a more space saving 32 channel digital as the 48 was getting unreliable.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I won't stop working on your project until it sounds how you want it to sound. I will always input on what is commercial and what suits the song but until the client is proud of the work we both have done it does not leave the studio. I want people to be happy when they walk out the door with a piece of art in their hands.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Taking the basic recorded stems and doing all I can to turn them into a fully produced single/record.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: "How long did it take you to figure out how that desk works?" That's pretty common. I have a 32 channel digital desk that I do larger mixing sessions on and clients are always baffled by all the flashing lights and graphs for EQs. It's just second nature to me.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: This one is more directed at non musicians. Often they see my job to be is to record each instrument and that's it then you can put it straight onto a cd and onto iTunes. It's not like that. You have hours of talking to the band before hand, tracking, mixing, making sure everything is what the artist wants. Then it goes off for mastering more often than not. Also a lot of money has to be pumped into this. Musicians and producers alike do not get paid enough in this industry.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Do you know what you want it to sound like? The first time I listen to a song that's given to me I know how I'd like it to sound and I will work to make it sound like what's in my head. If you know what you want you can be in the drivers seat about what goes on and where. E.g you might want chorus on a guitar track.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Always think about what music you want recording/mixing. Speak to people asking what styles they work best with. More often than not someone who produces mainly blues and rock songs may not have the right technique for hip hop or dance music. Always best to check to make sure you're going to get the best for your money.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: 1. MacBook Pro as much RAM as possible with pro tools and waves plugins. 2. Fender strat and Orange TH30 or Vox AC30 3. Focusrite 18i20 (amazing 8 channel interface that's great for tracking smaller bands or solo artists) 4. 'Led Zeppelin II' album. Not really a piece of gear but an essential in my books. 5. M-audio M3-6 monitors. Might not be the most expensive and widely recognised but I've always trusted them. Crystal clear plenty of bottom end if you need it.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been gigging for maybe 6-7 years and doing live sound for those gigs. Studio work has been around 3 years.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Fairly typical. A few little things here and there that others probably wouldn't do but it works for me and clients are always pleased with what I do.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Would like to work with Steve Jordan. Absolutely brilliant drummer and producer.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Adding reverb to drum overheads,I've found, is always a great way to add depth and to fatten your drums. But only on overheads and occasionally lightly on snare.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Mixing, drumming and guitar playing.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Huge drums and stereo guitars !!!!
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Listening to artists songs and writing down structures chord progressions etc. Tracking the band. Mixing to my highest standard then asking them back in for their opinions in any changes they'd want to make.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I use Pro Tools most of the time with waves plugins (along with others) Relaxed space so artists don't feel pressured like the environment is clinical. They're here to have a good time and produce a single or album.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Chris Lord Alge is a personal favourite. I love his drum sounds.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I most commonly record artists and mix their songs. I also master but people often prefer to have that done elsewhere.