My goal is to empower independent artists by providing cutting-edge and personalized mastering services at an accesible rate. I have worked as an assistant engineer for Grammy-Award winning artists Keith Richards and Steve Jordan from The Rolling Stones, Norah Jones and other notable acts like: Kevin Abstract, slowthai, Santigold, and Ski Mask.
Music is my life. Besides working as a mastering engineer, I also work as a musician and producer which greatly informs the musicality with which I approach mastering. I feel my masters go above and beyond average, since the primary focus is always the music and how it will emotionally impact the listener; this ties with the guarantee that the master will playback at the optimum level of any speaker.
I have experience working as an assistant recording and mixing engineer for artists such as: Keith Richards, Steve Jordan, Norah Jones, Kevin Abstract, slowthai, $not, and Ski Mask. I also had the opportunity to learn from Grammy-Award winning engineers such as Kevin Killen (David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, U2) and Alan Silverman (Norah Jones, Chaka Khan, Dolly Parton). Working up close with such high-caliber artists and engineers has greatly informed my work ethic, sense of aesthetic, and the wide range of sounds I feel comfortable working in.
On a more technical side, I work with a hybrid approach. This allows me to use the color and soul of analog if it is required while retaining all the range and precision of digital audio. Each master is custom-tailored for the song, I never repeat the same settings or work with any sort of preset.
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Interview with Julián Picado
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: Extremely proud to have mastered Scotch Mist's "crybaby" album. They are one of the most talented group of individuals I know and having them trust me as an engineer means a lot.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm currently working on my first release as a solo artist!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both, they each have their advantages and when working together they are even stronger.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: That they will love how their record sounds after I get to master it!
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The excitement of finishing the recording process.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: What is mastering? Something that makes your recording louder and more pleasant to listen to. Like an art curator who selects the frame to a painting.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That the sound of a recording can fix a song.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: If they have any sonic references, who's their intended audience and what's the intended medium of distribution (vinyl, streaming, etc.)
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Good songs, make good sounding recordings.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: A laptop, a pair of atc speakers, a uad interface, a stratocaster and an sm57 or sm7b
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I have been making music for more than 10 years. I'm originally from Costa Rica but I moved to Boston to study guitar performance at Berklee College of Music. I then moved to New York where I started working in various recording studios and with many other artists since I realized most of my friends where making tons of incredible music but no one was supporting them and making sure it sounded the best it could. I feel extremely fortunate to have worked with legendary artists and future legends in the making.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I would describe my style as encompassing and maleable. I try to be a foil to what is presented to me and that way I can reveal the best elements of that recording.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I would love to work with Nile Rodgers because it's rare to find such huge chart-topping producers who's primary instrument is guitar.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Good songs, make good sounding recordings.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I work on all types of music at all times. I'm comfortable doing experimental work to commercial releases.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My strongest skill is being able to put the music first, listen and give the recording what the song needs, not what I think it needs.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I bring a very-open mind and space for the song to grow into its best version.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: My typical work process will be listening to the song a couple of times after having a brief conversation with my clients. Once I know what sound the client is after and I have assessed what's going on with the song I will work diligently to preserve my initial instinct and bring out the best in the recording. After that I will perform a QC process to ensure the master is ready for distribution.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: My studio setup is fairly simple to maintain a direct signal path that is as lossless as possible. The heart of my rig is an Apollo X8 which has an incredible dynamic range and low noise ratio with extremely stable converters. My monitoring consists of a pair of ATC's and if analog color is necessary for the master I have a two bus that consists of a Terry Audio CEQ6 and an API2500
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: A wide variety of artists like The Beatles, Solange, MacDemarco, Kendrick Lamar, Rosalía, Bill Frisell, mixing engineers like Manny Marroquin, Andy Wallace, Kevin Killen and producers like Nile Rodgers and Daniel Lanois.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I specialize in mastering