Tell us about your studio setup.
Here is my ever growing pile of equipment. I do rent/borrow equipment from my engineer friends frequently. So if there’s something you can’t live without, I can make arrangements to get my hands on it.
Logic Pro X
Pro Tools 11
Apogee Symphony AD/DA Converter 16×16
Plenty of plugins by Waves, SoundToys, Valhalla DSP, Fab Filter and more.
Yamaha HS8 (2)
BAE 1073 (2)
CAPI VP26 (2)
CAPI VP28 (2)
Alan Smart C1
Empirical Labs EL8-X (2)
Retro Instruments 176
Universal Audio 1176LN
Western Dynamo 1909 (2)
Audio-Technica AT4051 (2)
Coles 4038 (2)
RCA 74-B Junior Velocity
Sennheiser MD421 (2)
Shure Beta 52A
Shure SM57 (2)
various lofi/quirky mics…
Purple Audio Sweet Ten
Radial J48 DI
What's your typical work process?
The band and I sit down and talk about the songs and get to know each other. I typically like to listen to a cell phone recording or even watch a performance so I can get an idea of what the band sounds like. Find out what their favorite records are, get a general sense of where they're coming from.
I am flexible with my tracking methods. If the band can perform better with everyone playing together, let's track live. We can always overdub or add if something needs to be changed. If the song's core starts off with a singer and an acoustic guitar, let's do that first, then add the drums. For me, it's all about putting the musicians in the headspace where they are most comfortable which allows them to be the most creative.
I typically groom and edit the songs before I begin mixing. As far as the mix process, I prefer the sound of analog compression and EQ so most of the mix runs through analog outboard gear. I can work completely inside the computer and get a great result, but my mixes come out much more powerful when I can run through my whole system. A typical mix takes about a day to a day and half to finish before I send it to band for revisions.
I feel like this step gets skipped quite frequently, and it's a very important part of the project. When I produce a record I like to sit down with the song and chart it out like an orchestral arrangement. When instruments flow in and out of the song. When it needs to be big and wide, when it needs to be narrow. Making a great recording can be like putting a puzzle together, and if we can get a clear image of the song before we even start tracking it makes the remainder of the process go very quickly.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Musicians: Jesse Lacey, Nels Cline, Dallas Green, Jenny Lewis
Producers: Dave Cobb, Chris Walla, Ryan Adams
Engineers: Ryan Freeland, Eric Valentine, Rob Schnapf, Brad Wood
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Recording and mixing. I love working in studios, but a lot of people love the idea of being able to set up in an old church, barn, or even their house and make a record. So I've built my whole mobile studio around that idea. Pick a spot where you think you can be creative and let's make some music! I do a lot of mixing for people who have made records at home. My clients are much happier when they've labored for a long time recording their own record, and have a great final mix and master.
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
I didn't have one specific project, but I just completed a self inflicted boot camp I refer to as "30 Mixes in 30 Days". I had to mix a song a day for a month and it really helped me learn to focus to get great sounds quickly. It also allowed me to mix a wide range of styles and forced me to learn new ways to get sounds for different styles.
What are you working on at the moment?
Sea Floor Cinema - Math Rock
Evan Bartels - Americana
Analog or digital and why?
Great analog gear going into a great digital system. Lower noise floor. No headache editing. Recallable.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
I want you to be happy. I never want someone to walk away angry or feeling like they didn't get what they wanted. I've been there and I wouldn't wish it on anyone else.
What do you like most about your job?
Getting a text/email from a client saying that they're thrilled with the work we've done together.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
Most of the questions I get are usually about my tracking or mixing process. I usually tell them I'm flexible with tracking and then give them a little look into my mixing process (see previous answer).
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
Amazing songs will grab someone's attention more than any equipment, clothing, marketing, or advertising will ever do.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What are your favorite records? What were you feeling when you wrote this song? What do you want people to feel when they listen to this song? Where do you want to be with your music? Do you know how to get there?
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Watch out for attitudes and egos. A lot of people treat music like a "hustle" or are a little too cocky. It's great to be confident at what you do, but it's uncomfortable to work with someone who talks down to you.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
1. A Fender Jazzmaster my wife got me as a wedding gift
2. Thesaurus for songwriting
3. Neve preamp
5. Fender Princeton (Blackface)
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I have been recording and mixing for over 6 years now. I am currently a mixing assistant at The Panda Studios in Fremont for Sam Pura. I came up recording and mixing anyone who would let me and spending every penny I made on instruments and microphones. I go to a number of recording and mixing workshops every year. I believe you can always get better at what you do.
How would you describe your style?
I love the vintage aesthetic, but I love modern sounds. So I aim for best of both worlds.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
Brand New or Wilco. Both of those bands have incredible songwriters, but also push the boundaries of sonic experimentation. I would love to work on a project where those two things collide.
Can you share one music production tip?
If I want more energy out of a guitar/bassist I will have them stand up and move around, as opposed to sit down. I'll even get them pumped up or let them rock out in the control room. You can't fake energy, you have to make it.
What type of music do you usually work on?
Punk, emo, indie, alt rock, americana, singer-songwriter, blues, roots rock, old country, and more.
What's your strongest skill?
I'm passionate about what I do. The first thing and last thoughts in my head when I wake up and go to sleep are music. I'm learning new skills everyday to get better at what I do. I want to push the people I work with to be better at what they do, and I want them to push me to do the same.
What do you bring to a song?
I have two mottos:
"Commit or quit". And, "We don't fix things, we do them right."
If there's delay on a guitar part, let's put a delay pedal on it. If there needs to be compression on the bass, let's compress the bass. I like to track in a way that makes the song sound like a finished product even before mixing. Especially when tracking takes. It sounds much better when a musician knocks his/her take out as opposed to cutting and pasting over a mediocre take.