Tell us about your studio setup.
I run a Pro Tools rig with Apogee Symphony converters and Genelec monitors. I have a lot of gear, but my favorite pieces are my Undertone Audio preamps, Fender Jazzmaster, Retro 176 compressor, and a vintage Roland Space Echo.
What's your typical work process?
I always like to have a conversation with artist before booking a project. Find out what their favorite records are and get a general sense of where they're coming from. Before any tracking begins, I like to schedule in at least a day of pre production to focus on tweaks to arrangements and get a sense of the song as a whole. Pre production is also a great time to discuss things like: Where does the song need to be big and wide? Where does it need to be small and narrow? Etc.
My tracking methods vary from project to project. If the goal is a more modern production, I like to make a scratch and focus on performance and tones with each musician individually. If the music is more groove oriented, I prefer to track the rhythm section together for a more natural feel. 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.
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. Revisions occur until everyone is 100% satisfied with the result.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Musicians: Death Cab For Cutie, City and Colour, Jenny Lewis, John Mayer, Brand New, Wilco, Against Me!, Motion City Soundtrack, Queens of the Stone Age, Ray Lamontagne, Maroon 5, Rilo Kiley, The Shins, Silversun Pickups, The Strokes, Switchfoot, Tegan and Sara, Underoath, American Football
Producers/Mixers: Chris Walla, Dave Cobb, Ryan Adams, Eric Valentine, Jacquire King, Rob Schnapf, Rich Costey, Brad Wood, Tom Lord-Alge, Michael Brauer, Butch Vig, Aaron Sprinkle, Joe Chiccarelli, Richard Swift, John Agnello
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Production, tracking, and mixing.
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
I'm especially proud of the Evan Bartels and the Ryan Gordon records. Those records were a labor of love that came from the band and myself trying to bouncing the best ideas we had off of each other. Great people making great music.
What are you working on at the moment?
Enso Anima - Post Hardcore
Ryan Gordon - Pop, Singer-Songwriter
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's the biggest misconception about what you do?
An amazing song will grab someone's attention and last longer than any instrument, piece of gear, 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?
Find a producer/mixer you like the sound of. Don't necessarily go to the guy/gal that everyone else goes to. Make sure they match the aesthetic of your music. If you don't want drum samples, don't go to the person that sample replaces everything, and vice versa of course. 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?
Fender Jazzmaster my wife got me as a wedding gift, thesaurus for songwriting, UTA preamp, SM57, 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 producing and mixing full time as well as an assistant to Sam Pura at The Panda Studios. 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, pop-rock, 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 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 or keyboard, 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 sounds like a finished product even before getting to the mix stage.