What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Have a clear vision for your project before you hire someone. Then take the time to find an audio professional that will understand that artistic vision and provide the right value for your budget.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
While this question may imply a simple response with your top 5 favorite pieces of gear, the proper engineering answer should take into account the practicality of such a contingency. Therefore my choices are - a Shure sm57 (with all that sand, your mic has to be tough), a laptop with DAW, a Focusrite Scarlett interface, a guitar, and a fusion power reactor.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
My career path was as an instrument maker, guitars specifically. I now own a business that has been very successful manufacturing custom guitar pickups. It takes skills in production, customer service, and critical listening to be successful. Audio was always an interest of mine, and when I recorded my first album at 24, I wanted more. I have been freelancing on the side ever since, sometimes for friends for free, and sometimes for paying clients.
Analog or digital and why?
Both. Why has this become a war? They are both unique. The fact that we have our choice of both is a real luxury. Analog is very interesting because it "moves" more. Tape machines will always exhibit slight pitch and time fluctuations (though the best machines produce very little). The tape itself seems to cause odd-order harmonic distortion. Again, it might not be a lot, but it's enough to make a difference. Add a console and some other analog processing and the nonlinearities start to add up to a more colored sound.
I find it interesting that many people argue that tape is more accurate. I don't think this is true at all. With a good clock, a digital system may as well have no distortion compared to tape. There is certainly no wow and flutter to deal with. Most of today's converters will give you exactly what you put through them. Mixes have more room for instrumentation this way. Sometimes that's good, sometimes it's not. However, I believe digital is a good place to start.
The workflow is very different between analog and digital. A session on tape is going to force you to play your absolute best because tape time is expensive and edits are difficult(some are impossible compared to digital). Digital provides more freedom and less pressure to commit at any given moment.
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
The song in the preview section of my profile was a finalist for a new travel website advertisement. I was given the production company's instructions/inspiration and took off with a composition that I arranged and played myself. I was very proud of making it to the final selection group especially because it was my first submission to a music publishing contest.
What are you working on at the moment?
A cover of Ween's "Mister, Would You Please Help My Pony?"
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
Not at this time, as I am a new member of SoundBetter.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
To do my best to make their artistic vision a reality.
What do you like most about your job?
Working with inspiring music!
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
I think the general public thinks of mixing engineers as "fixers" and "polishers". Truly, the mix should be about balance. That's really it. Balancing of the time, frequency, stereo, and amplitude domains. If a poor recording is handed to us, we will always do our best. However, recording the material in a way that is conducive to the artist's goals and visions is the most important step.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What expectations do you have of me and my work?
What are your goals for this project in the marketplace?
What is a favorite recording that you would like to hear reflected in your project's final result?
What is your deadline?
How much freedom would you like me to exercise in terms of mixing myself versus specific direction you would like to give me?
How would you describe your style?
I would describe myself as somewhat of a chameleon. I like to try new things almost every time I mix. I love all types of music from country to hip hop, and mixing different styles gives me a chance to have fun and keep some variety. I usually am conservative with my mixing, but if asked to venture out, I will do it with pleasure.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
I would love to work with Wilco, as I enjoy their analog sounding efforts in the music industry. Their creative songwriting and inventive performances inspire me.
Can you share one music production tip?
The artist's vision is the most important thing to honor.
What type of music do you usually work on?
I usually work on jazz, punk, and rock (and its sub-genres). I tend to enjoy music that is recorded more organically with live instruments and with the band playing as a whole, if possible.
What's your strongest skill?
My strongest skill is that I am multifaceted. Over many years, I have received training as a woodwind player, marching and jazz percussionist, and guitarist. I also play some piano and trumpet. My thirst and obsession for all things technical led to a perfect marriage between equipment and music. Audio engineering is the culmination of these two interests. I also have experience in manufacturing instruments, as well as some electronic assembly and repair skills.
What do you bring to a song?
I bring a set of ears that have been fervently *listening* to music since I was a small child. I was probably 8 years old when I got my own Elvis and Beatles tape cassettes. The experience of listening to so much music and being a trained musician gives me the skills necessary to touch a song in the right ways.
I think it is also important to note what someone does NOT bring to a song. I mean that sometimes it is best not to leave an imprint - to be able to be as transparent as possible to the artist's intentions.
What's your typical work process?
It depends on the job, but for mixing, I like to talk with the client, or email a few times back and forth, to find the goal and inspiration of the song or project. I like to help the artist achieve their vision of the finished product. I am happy to take the wheel in the mixing world if they want some direction from time to time.
From there, I will set up the session, clean it up, organize it, and check sounds. Once that is done, it's off to the races.
Tell us about your studio setup.
My studio setup is modest but effective. I have a large live room with wooden floors and drywall that I can use when I want some ambience - or my mixing room for a dry sound. It is quaint, but it does the job.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
I am inspired by any musician or professional/enthusiast who is passionate about their craft. I can tell when someone puts their heart into their art, and I appreciate it wholly. I love independent artists who aren't afraid to break away from the mainstream. I am very much inspired by many engineers such as Steve Albini, Al Schmitt, Jim Anderson, Eddie Kramer.... the list goes on.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
I typically do mixing of songs remotely for clients. I sometimes travel to record a client or band, and I sometimes have clients over to record at my residence/studio. I will often add supporting parts including electric and acoustic guitars, electric bass, accessory percussion, and backing vocals.