Have your music mixed and mastered using Solar Powered Electricity in an off-grid, remote Mojave Desert studio by a seasoned professional.
Pat Kearns is an American record producer and engineer. His credits include Guitar Romantic by The Exploding Hearts, By The Time Your Rocket Gets to Mars by Jerry Joseph, Changes by The Reverberations and A Thousand Guitars by Terry & Louie. In 2017, Kearns moved to the Mojave Desert in California, working out of his Solar Powered Cabin. In the first quarter of 2020, Kearns will be opening a tracking facility called Goat Mountain, which will also be solar powered. All electricity is generated on site using solar panels.
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Interview with Pat Kearns
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I mix and master rock, pop and folk music. I also engineer recording sessions.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Tom Dowd and George Martin have been inspirations since I discovered my parents' vinyl collection. Larry Crane and Jim Scott have provided me with guidance, encouragement and opportunities.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I'm currently working out of a Solar Powered Cabin in a remote location in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree, California. Although I work on a DAW most of the time, I use a lot of outboard gear including classic compressors by UREI, Chandler, Amek/Neve and Empirical Labs. I also have a large collection of analog delays including Echoplex and Space Echo. The cabin is too small for tracking full bands, but we are moving into a larger, solar powered facility to be open in February, 2020.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I like to hear a reference mix or rehearsal recording of a song before I begin mixing or tracking. I try to identify the unique elements of the performance and make sure that they are framed by the rest of the elements in a complimentary way. I don't mind doing revisions, small or large.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: As both a songwriter and an engineer, I identify the strongest elements for both the song and performer. Through tracking, editing and mixing, I bring out my client's vision. I see myself as a conduit for the performer to most fully realize their music.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I have good ears. I'm quick to identify issues in the recording like ground or amp buzz, and I'm good at solving problems. I'm equally comfortable mixing heavy bottom end dance rock as I am mixing quiet, acoustic folk music with harmonies.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I mostly work on rock music - garage rock and power pop are two common genres that come across my mixing desk. But I have been doing a lot of acoustic music lately and it may be my new passion.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Listen to the song, the whole song, all the way through. Too often, engineers are off to the races, dialing away before they even understand what they're really mixing. I do my best to see the whole forest and not just the trees.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Bob Dylan because I love great songs. Pretty much everyone who writes songs is fishing downstream from Bob.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I'm both relaxed and a hard worker. I enjoy being fully committed to a project, letting it consume my mind and time for days at a time. But I'm also efficient and I'm able to turn around smaller jobs quickly.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I got into this by accident, but I've been doing it for over 25 years now. I've been passionate about music since my early teens and found myself hanging out with radio station employees and local musicians. Both gave me opportunities to record. I was fortunate to develop a reputation for recording Rock and Roll that has kept me busy for most of my adult life.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: This question is so funny to me. I'm not on an island, but we're definitely in a remote are of the desert. I love my Burl AD/DA convertors, UREI 1176, Chandler LTD2, ADAM monitors and Echoplex tape echo. And that is the gear we have out here at The Solar Powered Cabin.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Hire somebody that you can talk to. Recording professionals are trying to realize your vision. But we need to understand you in order to make it happen. Also, hire someone who doesn't fear doing revisions. No matter how much we are on the same page, we'll can get closer with a second pass.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: How do you want to sound? I love hearing how you envision your audience perceiving you. For example, if you want the audience to dance and have a good time, we should make sure there's plenty of drums and bass in there to get the party going.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: Sometimes, people expect me to either read their mind, or to have their mix sounding perfect the first time I bring the tracks up. If you give me a chance to understand you and your music, we'll make it sound like it does inside your head, I promise.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: How much will it cost? Well, that depends on how long it takes me to understand and realize what has been inside your head for awhile. I'm a quick worker, but there's some things you can do to save time and money. Delivering sessions that are organized and ready to mix will save you a ton of money. Reference mixes are a huge help as well. They show me a sketch of how you hear the song. I don't have to wonder if it's a guitar or piano heavy song if I hear a reference mix first.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love working with musicians and artists. I love being creative.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will always be 100% committed to making your vision become a reality.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I like both and I work in both. I don't have a preference. I like analog for it's warmth and it's ability to be abused - I love sending things hot to tape! But I also love digital for it's consistency, accuracy and it's plasticity in the editing room.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Honestly, I haven't looked around much. My friend Lee Scott, who is also an engineer, referred me to SoundBetter. I liked the jobs that you were posting and the platform that you were using so clients could find a recording professional that best suits their needs.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm working on an anti-folk artist from NYC's 1980's style dance record. Yes, it's pretty weird. I'm also mastering an album for Astro Lizard Records. And I'm in the final stages of construction of a larger, off grid, solar powered recording studio near our Solar Powered Cabin.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I recently mixed and mastered the debut album for Terry & Louie. I have worked with Terry and Louie for nearly 20 years. The first project we did together was The Exploding Hearts' Guitar Romantic. That band ended when three of the four touring members passed away in a car accident. I am so proud of Terry (lead guitar for The Exploding Hearts) and Louie (Louie wrote songs with and for The Exploding Hearts). They wrote and recorded an excellent album. I was fortunate to get to mix and master it.