Don Kennedy (conceptDIGITAL)
I am an experienced recording engineer with many years worth of album, soundtrack, and audio book recordings. I now specialize in mixing and mastering, with some production, especially in folk/rock/alternative/contemporary christian/jazz genres. I've been working with many singer/songwriters recently.
My mixes lean towards clean, precise sounds with lots of width and depth. I love and try to emulate engineer/producers like Trevor Horn and Roger Nichols, and I deeply respect the work of artists like Steely Dan, Seal, John Mayer, Pat Metheny, the Civil Wars, Keith Urban, Alison Krauss, and Nickel Creek. I'm occasionally active in the Kompoz online community, and do free mixes there from time to time.
Click the 'Contact' above to get in touch. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Interview with Don Kennedy (conceptDIGITAL)
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I'm proud of all my work in the last couple of years. I'm especially proud of "The Making of MissAlaneous" by Alana Damron, recorded at Inside Out Studio in Farmington AR by producer and recording engineer Jacob Paul and available on Spotify, CD Baby, iTunes, etc. Jacob arranged, produced, and performed most of the music to Alana's songwriting and vocals.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm working on a project with singer/songwriter Karissa Hobbs and Jacob Paul at Inside Out Studio. We also have a Christian project underway with Kimberly Faith.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Not yet.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital. Having worked in the low end of the analog world, the lack of noise and the degree of control and repeatability of digital often makes small studio work technically comparable with work done by large studios.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: My promise is to make it right or it is free (within reasonable constraints).
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I get a lot of satisfaction when my clients and I are happy with the results of our work together.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: How much do you charge? - answer - it varies. What do you want to do with your project, and how carefully do you want it to be produced?
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I always know what I'm doing. Mixing, to me, often includes experimentation grounded in experience.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What do you want your finished product to sound like? Give me three or four examples. Do you want the vocals forward or back in the mix? Do you want me to pitch correct the vocals? What parts should be in front, and which should be more in the background?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Make as many decisions as you can about your music before you submit it to me, and the cleaner the tracks are, the less time required for the mix.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: U-47, Neve pre/EQ, high end laptop with ProTools and plugs, good I/O, and a great set of monitors
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I started out in recording as a volunteer recording engineer for a tiny church studio. I recorded many projects on 8 track reel to reel. I eventually transitioned to in-the-box digital mixing and never looked back. I've been recording and mixing for 30+ years.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: My style is casual but detailed. I like even loud and intense parts to have clarity and definition. I don't like to overcompress music I work on. I love dimensionality in music. I love good reverbs.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I'd love to work with Pat Metheny. To me, he is the consummate professional, and I love his entire body of music, with groups and solo.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: There are some incredible free plugins out there. One of my favorites is TDR Kotelnikov, a free bus compressor by Tokyo Dawn Records. I love the feel that it adds when used properly on a final mix.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I usually work on pop/rock, pop/gospel, and alternative rock, but I love jazz and work on it as much as I am able.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I have decent (but not great) ears. I'm pretty good at being to identify frequency ranges to EQ by ear.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Mixcoach chief Kevin Ward says, you mix each element like you want each player to be able to say about their part in a song, "that is me!" proudly to their mama. I try to make each part contribute its best to the whole without being over accentuated. I try to make each song, whether simple or complex, a well integrated whole.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: After I structure and name my tracks, I start gain staging them. I will start working in groups to pull together a rough balance, sometimes in mono, and set up my aux buses. I then put on my standard 2 bus plugins, and start tweaking the mix to focus the elements and fine tune the panning, EQ, and balance. I then add any automation needed to finalize the mix. I go back to my 2 bus elements, usually including harmonic enhancement, light bus compression, and make my final settings in Ozone. If it is a multi-song project, I'll make mastering adjustments to make sure the songs match up in level and EQ.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 interface on a quad core I7 workstation running ProTools 11, with Waves, Eventide, Izotope, and other plugins. I monitor on Mackie HR824s and occasionally Equator Audio D8s.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I've been a life long Pat Metheny fan. Even so, my personal inspiration comes from very diverse sources. I count Seal, Motown, Jaco Pastorius, Michael Hedges, Jeff Beck, Alison Krauss, Lyle Mays, 70's rock, 80's New Age, electronic music pioneers like Larry Fast, and Aaron Copeland among my strongest influences.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I mostly mix edited tracks, but I am capable of working with rough tracks for an extra charge. I can also put some polish on mixed tracks via my mastering services. I can also consult on production and content, and help with home studio design and equipment selection.