Can you share one music production tip?
Don't be afraid to put a mic where it sounds like it should go, even if people look at you funny. It's not about how the mic placement looks, it's all about what the instrument sounds like on the track.
What type of music do you usually work on?
The majority of my mixing has been classic rock, big band jazz, small classical ensembles (wind and brass quintets), and military concert bands.
What's your strongest skill?
12 years of full-time live audio work have helped me to quickly analyze sounds and make adjustments, meaning your product will get done and back to you more quickly.
What do you bring to a song?
I started in music with 12 years of piano lessons at age 5, added trumpet in 3rd grade, and bass in junior high before finally discovering the engineering world in 1998. I was accepted into Berklee as a bass player, and have done recording sessions from both sides of the glass, so I understand the musical aspects of the song, not just the technical requirements.
What's your typical work process?
When someone sends me tracks to mix, I like to ask them to also send the mix they were listening to at the tracking session. Before I pull the tracks up in my DAW, I'll listen through their existing mix to get an idea of what they think they want and get a basic overview of the song. Then I'll pull the tracks in, and solo each one for just a few bars to get a sense of what type of mics/placement were used and what treatments were necessary before starting to place things into the final mix.
For mastering my process is similar, except of course it's a final mix that I'm getting instead of tracks. Although time consuming I like to listen top to bottom for the entire project, taking notes on a pad as I go. Then I go back and address the issues I've noticed on each track, adjusting levels and track timings to achieve a smooth flow for the product.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I do the bulk of my monitoring on Tannoy System 1000's driven by a Carver amplifier. For nearfield/small speaker tests I do a pass after mixing on my Genelec 1029a's to make sure nothing is too honky in the mid-range. I'm running a custom built PC with an older, but incredibly clean Aardvark audio interface. They were known for their incredibly stable digital clocks before they disappeared literally overnight.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
I am always drawn to the way that Bob Ludwig masters a product, and strive to achieve that quality in my own work. Another mastering engineer that seems to defy the laws of acoustics is Ted Jensen. Quite a few of the albums Lord-Alge, Hugh Padgham, Roy Halee, and Fred Catero have mixed are in my regular rotation as well.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
The bulk of my full-time job is live sound. When I do get to record at work, I'm typically responsible for the entire project from start to finish. Jobs that I do on the side are most often mixing, with occasional mastering projects.