What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A lot of people skip mastering or do it themselves. There is more to it and throwing a Waves L2 on the 2 buss and squeezing any and all dynamics out of a song. Loud is bad! It may sound good at first but on the 3rd or 4th listen your ears will be irate. Mastering is as much a creative process as it is technical. It is more than loudness, and a computer algorithm like LANDR can't cut it!
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
No matter who you hire, tell them what you are looking for up front as far as sound goes. Send them links to a few songs that you want to sound like. What sounds great to one engineer may be fine, but at the same time not at all what you were expecting or desiring. Set expectations.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
1) My vintage DBX 118 dual compressor modded out by Revive Audio. It's got a new PSU, Burr Brown op amps, all new electrolytics, and does things to a drum buss or bass guitar that brings a tear to my eye.
2) My Sonarworks-calibrated AKG K701 reference headphones
3) My Roland Space Echo
4) My vintage DBX 120 sunharmonic synth
5) A keyboard to noodle on - probably a Moog or a Voyetra!
Analog or digital and why?
Both. I run a hybrid studio because I believe they each have their strengths and weaknesses. Digital allows me to deliver super crisp, pristine high end that I just can't get with analog. At the same time, analog tracking, compression, and EQ have magical attributes all their own that just can't quite sound the same with plugins. I am a big fan of Slate Digital and Softube for digital tools and have hardware from Focusrite, UREI, DBX, FMR, Revive Audio, Roland, Pioneer, etc. etc.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
Ease of business and speed coupled with a great sound!
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
I always ask if there is a track that the client has in mind, or a certain 'sound' they are after. What I find most appealing and satisfying to my ears may not at all be what a client has in mind, so I like to level set that expectation right away!
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I've been working with music in some way my whole life, but first delved into production and mixing when I was 15. That was well over a decade ago. I have been producing, remixing, and doing mix down work professionally since the mid-2000s, usually under my alias Phasen.
Can you share one music production tip?
Everyone wants a big kick. I really like to take two or more kicks and layer them together, but here's an extra tip: After I layer my two kicks (I usually HPF one and LPF the other, so that I have the bottom end of one kick and the higher end of another) I delay one of them compared to the other by 0.1ms and then increase/decrease this value. Play both kicks simultaneously while tweaking the delay on one of the kicks. At some point, they will line up in phase and sound very, very big together!
Tell us about your studio setup.
I've spent an embarrassing amount of money on my studio. I'm very proud of my new DAW computer - I just built a new PC with an 8 core AMD processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a nice sound card. It can run all of my digital VSTs simultaneously with no problems - it really is a beast!
Lately I'm also a big fan of the Slate Digital line of products. I've been using the Virtual Console and Tape Machines on almost every project lately.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Hannes Bieger and Robert Babicz are two mix and mastering engineers I admire a great deal!
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Most commonly I work on mixdowns for newer electronic musicians. All the time I hear songs that have great musical ideas and potential, but they fall short because of the production. I get really disappointed sometimes when hearing music and thinking to myself 'this would be so much more impactful if only....'.
While my work can get very surgical and precise to your needs, most of what I do actually winds up being cleaning up common mistakes, such as creating room in the low end with HPFs, sidechaining, etc., removing resonances and spacing out the highs, placing percussive elements in the key of the track, and so on.