As a Nashville-trained engineer and producer, I specialize in creating authentic, acoustic recordings. As a classical pianist and composer myself, I can approach projects with both an artist's and an engineer's ear.
Having the ear of a classical musician allows me to pick up on musical nuances and subtleties beyond the typical technicalities involved with being an engineer. As an award-winning composer, I have extensive knowledge of a variety of instruments and know how good music is supposed to sound—and with my years of engineering experience, I know how to achieve that sound in a recording. As a producer, I love to combine my musical and technical expertise to bring all aspects of an artist’s vision to life.
In 2017, I earned a BS in Audio Engineering Technology and a BM in Music Composition with Highest Honors from Belmont University in Nashville, TN—one of the world's leading audio engineering programs. I have been working and learning in studios since I was thirteen years old. At seventeen, the GRAMMY Foundation selected me to study audio engineering at the renowned GRAMMY Camp institute in Los Angeles and New York. Since 2019, I have been Lead Audio Engineer for Chicago-based classical recording company, Atlas Arts Media. I recently relocated back to my home state and now also have my own studio, River Rock Records, on a farm outside of Charlottesville.
For more about me, please visit my website, https://shelbylock.com
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Interview with River Rock Records
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: At the moment, I mostly work on classical recordings for my job as Lead Engineer with Atlas Arts Media. I also do a lot of solo piano recordings in my studio for my own composing projects, but I'm looking to take on engineering and/or producing clients in a variety of genres.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: For some reason, I've noticed people call my job "editing." Yes, there's editing involved when I stitch together pieces of different takes into one seamless performance, but being an audio engineer involves so much more than that. Mixing takes a whole other level of creativity to decide how to balance the different instruments in a mix and what effects and techniques to use to do so. And in classical and acoustic genres, it takes a great deal of skill to turn a raw studio recording into something that captures the authenticity of a live performance. Mixing is both an art and a science. Editing is only one tiny part of it.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I approach every project both from an engineer's and an artist's perspective. Being a solo piano artist myself, I know what it's like to pour your heart and soul into your music and how important it is to feel like the recording reflects your vision. I always try to understand what my artist is trying to say musically, and then I use my technical know-how to make sure it comes across.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Be sure you work with someone who understands your music and what you're about.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I'm known to be able to make seemingly impossible edits when piecing together a recording out of differnt takes. I prefer not to edit unless absolutely necessary, but when the client asks for it, I always try.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm currently mixing a double-album for a classical opera singer. I'm also in the middle of my own solo piano album which I'm composing, performing, and engineering.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I like having the skills and know-how to bring an artist's vision for their project to life. I enjoy the collaboration involved in the recording and engineering process.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What is your goal for this project? Have you recorded in a studio before? What artists do you like the sound of and why?
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Don't try to "fix it in the mix." Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. It's always more authentic if you nail a performance in the studio and get the sound right from the beginning.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: My studio is located on a farm near Free Union, VA. It's in a former garage with two-foot thick walls which has surprisingly good acoustics even without the room treatment. The highlight is the view of a river with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background. Gear-wise, I mix on a pair of Yamaha HS7s, and I'm an unapologetic Logic X user. I know Pro Tools of course, but Logic is what I started on and what I prefer for my own projects. Also, I'm the only studio in the area with a full-size grand piano.