Berklee educated mix engineer, producer, and arranger (CWP). Worked on many student projects in all different genres, mainly pop, jazz, country, punk, and rock. My rates are very reasonable and I'm always willing to work with people on a budget, so send me a line and let's work together!
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Interview with Zakriya Bashir-Hill
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I've always worked primarily with digital audio, as my usage of analog gear has been somewhat limited thus far. That said, I'm hoping to be able to get a patch bay and a couple of analog compressors to sit alongside my PreSonus Eureka in the near future.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will always treat your music as if it were my own. Giving up any part of the creative process on your music is scary so I do my absolute best to help you realize your vision and keep you updated every step of the way.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Getting to listen to so much music! I think music is an essential part of life and I'm so incredibly thankful to be able to help other people realize their musical goals on a daily basis.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I think that the biggest misconception about producers is that we just sit in front of the computer and hack out songs in a couple of minutes which can end up on the Top 40. Even though pop music is often harmonically simple, it's very texturally complex. I see it as no different than how a classical composer would take a simple motif and develop it to create a more interesting and complex piece.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: That's a really tricky question! Although I'm primarily a Pro Tools user, I'm assuming that there wouldn't be too many other folks to make live recordings with, so I'd have to go with my laptop, a UA Apollo Twin X, an SM7B, a pair of HS8s and my trusty Mayones Prestige 5 Classic!
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: If I could produce or arrange a track for anyone, I'd really love to work with Hayley Williams. With every album she puts out, be it with Paramore or solo, she always brings something totally new and unexpected to the table.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: One of my goals when a track passes through my hands is to have it sound more lively and full once it leaves them. That means different things depending on whether my role is as a producer, an arranger, a mix engineer, or a bassist. I think that on a fundamental level, the emotional meaning of a song should grow more and more with each person it goes through.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: At the moment, I've just begun working as a mix engineer and producer on the debut album of an artist by the name of Andrew Daetz. You can check out one of the tracks, "If I Only" in the sound samples here on my profile.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I first got my start as an arranger doing orchestration and arranging work for musical theater, the intricacy of which has become very engrained into my style. Production and mixing were things I both started as a necessity but eventually started developing more and more professionally, especially during my time at Berklee. All in all, I'd say I've been doing this kind of work for around 6 years with no intention of stopping anytime soon!
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I'd say my personal style is heavily in the pop realm, but with a little added spice from my extensive training in the jazz, classical, and Latin (Brazilian and Afro-Cuban) disciplines.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I'd reckon that my strongest skill is my eye for details. I love listening to something I've heard a thousand times and still being able to pick up on little details that I hadn't noticed before, so I always try to create tracks that will do that for my listeners as well.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: For the most part, I do a combination of arranging, production, and mixing. As an arranger and a producer, I'll most often work with a demo or lead sheet and build up a full production or arrangement from there. I have always seen production and arranging as two different disciplines that accomplish very similar things. I also do remote mixing for people, often but not always on tracks I've produced. In addition, I sometimes find myself recording bass for people.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: As a producer, I think the best tip I can give anyone, whether starting out or not is to layer things. Layering drums and layering synths is one of the best ways to create your own sounds and make something people may not have heard before, even if your starting places have a fairly well known sonic signature.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I tend to work on all styles of music, especially as an arranger but most of my work as of late has been in and around the genre of pop.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: It depends on what work I'm doing. With pretty much every part I work on, I start by listening to the song and figuring out everything that's going on, whether it be lyrical, melodic, etc. As a producer or an arranger, I'll then decide what instrument/sound source I want to carry the beat there (it isn't always drums!) and expand out my arrangement from there. If I'm mixing, my second step is always to listen to every single stem and try to figure out its exact purpose and how I can work to make sure it fits into the mix in a pleasing way.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: As I have a purely digital workflow, my studio setup is based on the combination of my S3 and my UAD system. I've found that most of the UAD plugins I use in particular have a very close sound to their original analog counterparts; enough that most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference. In contrast with that, I also use many plugins that lean more on the clean sounding digital side of the aisle like the fabfilter and iZotope plugins. I find that this combination makes it possible for me to achieve most sounds I'm after without too much fuss.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: In the production world, one of the people who I've always looked up to is Max Martin. As cliché as that may be, he always manages to write and produce songs that are stuck in my head for days. As of late, I've also been digging a lot of Ian Kirkpatrick's stuff.