Analog or digital and why?
Both. Each has their place - analog processing can provide beautiful tone shaping and rich character, while digital processing often provides clean, cold precision. Each have their place in my process.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I've been mixing and mastering semi-professionally for four years. By day I work for Sharam, ex-Deep Dish member and Grammy winner, as his personal assistant, engineer, and record label manager.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
I do a lot of mastering, and frequent mixdowns as well. Less often but still noticeable are dialogue mixes for clients like NPR. I also have significant experience tuning vocals - having relative pitch helps a lot with this.
How would you describe your style?
I apply classic techniques in modern ways to achieve highly musical mixes.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
I want to master a track with George Massenburg. The guy is a legend and I love his philosophy about audio. I would learn a ton from him.
Can you share one music production tip?
Don't boost your highs! I see producers high shelving their hats and other high frequency material often, sometimes as much as +6 dB's. It doesn't need to be that loud. Keep your high end as low as possible while still retaining the air and groove of your composition. It'll make the mastering process smoother and be less harsh on your listener's ears on high fidelity and club sound systems.
What type of music do you usually work on?
Most of my clients compose house, techno, hip hop, or R&B. However I've worked on everything from indie rock to classical.
What's your strongest skill?
The way I apply my relative hearing. Everything I do is based around how I listen to and analyze frequencies and pitches. The way I adjust EQ and even compression settings, the mix balance, bringing things out or leaving them in the background - it's all a product of pitch and overtone relationships.
What do you bring to a song?
My ears and my technical abilities. Years of studying jazz harmony gave me high developed relative pitch, and I quickly and efficiently kill problem frequencies. I hear everything in pitch relationships and apply this to the way I work with overtones. It's a technical process, but it achieves very musical results. I learn every tool I use in and out and don't rely on presets at all. I know exactly how to get what I want out of my tools.
What's your typical work process?
First I like to determine a direction for the work. I listen intently to each part and see what needs focus. I then isolate the core elements of the composition and give them life and depth, make them work together harmoniously. Then I'll move on to the auxiliary sounds and take a wider look, moving along and adjusting things as necessary. I try to get as much done with simple volume adjustments and slight EQ and compression as possible. I have a stripped down approach to mixing, but still possess a deep knowledge of sound processing applications. Finally, I go through the song and make sure there is something at the forefront of the mix at all time, to keep the listener's attention fixed. This can change as the composition progresses, but I think it is a very important detail that often goes overlooked when trying to achieve perfect balance.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I work out of two studios, my home setup and a setup at work that I share.
The work setup is built around a UAD Apollo Quad thunderbolt and a Drawmer MC2.1 monitoring system. We monitor with Neumann KH-310s, a matched pair of Yamaha NS-10M Studios plus a Genelec sub, and Avantone Mixcubes. The room is beautifully treated and we have lots of outboard gear to play with, including an Avalon VT-737SP that I love. We also have every UAD plugin currently available. This is where I do the bulk of my mixing and mastering work.
The home setup is more geared for sound-design. It's built around an SPL Crimson, with Event 2030's as the A set and Event PS6 coupled with a Presonus T10 sub as the B set. It is home to quite a few analog synths (including a recently acquired Moog Mother 32), MIDI equipment, and even some modular gear. This is where I compose and do my sound design, to later be polished at the work studio.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
I'm inspired the most by artists like Aphex Twin, Autechre, Squarepusher, and their contemporaries. Complex sounds require complex mix solutions, and these guys are the kings. I also admire their work because it pushes the limits of what machines can do. I love getting deep into gear, reading manuals and learning what makes them tick.