Hi! I'm Tom and I work as a freelance sound engineer. I have worked with local bands and artists in the Cheshire/Merseyside area in the North West of England, UK. The genres that I have predominantly worked with include singer-songwriters, contemporary-christian (country/gospel), indie rock and progressive/alternative rock.
I am a recording and mixing sound engineer, with Degree and A-Level training in the field of Music Technology. I have previous experience of working as an engineer at Elusive Recording Studio in St Helens, Merseyside, England UK.
I am an advocate of the recently introduced loudness-normalisation movements that are attempting to end the music industries loudness wars for good! I believe that a good song has a real dynamic range that you can both hear and feel, and this is how I like to mix my music. I will use the old 'hyper-compression' techniques if the music that I am mixing requires it (such as dance/club music) but I do feel that most music benefits from having a wide range of dynamics.
I am willing to work on music within any genre, but feel the most comfortable working with music from genres such as pop and rock. I have previously been the engineer and producer of the full scale album "Forever We Will Sing" which was created by my local church to help raise money for the charity Blythswood Care. I have also worked with classical ensembles, having produced and mixed the album "Prize Brass", performed by the Skelmersdale Prize Band.
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Interview with Tom Williams
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I am proud of my first ever project with the Skelmersdale Prize Band. While I was young and inexperienced at the time, considering the absolutely rubbish equipment that was available to me, I was able to get a respectable sound for that album release, the first release with my name listed on it as a producer.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I am currently working on two releases, one with a band called REYA from St Helens, and a follow-up EP from the Grace Church Music Group with whom I produced the "Forever We Will Sing" album.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I am an in-the-box, digital guy for the pure fact that digital is more affordable than analog. However, I am a big believer that a hybrid analog-digital setup is the best way to go.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: My promise is that I won't take any project on half-heartedly. I will work my hardest to make every song that I record and/or mix sound their absolute best.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love the fact that from week-to-week I can be working on completely different genres of music. I also love the buzz of hearing a great new song develop into the finished product during the whole process of making music, from recording to mixing.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Were there any major issues when recording the tracks? Is all of the material there? Has there been any previous editing or mixing of the track?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Provide as much reference information as possible. What would you like the mix to sound like? Do you have any influences that you are attempting to emulate? Send a list of around 5 reference tracks so I can get a good idea of what sound and tone you are looking for.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: 1. A generator that runs off water so I alway have a power source! 2. My Macbook (with my software, plugins and charger... I know that's cheating a little!) 3. A set of headphones (I use Sony MDR-7506's) 4. A Neumann u87 microphone, which just seems to work on everything! 5. An Apollo Twin interface, so I can use all of my equipment in a working chain.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I have been trying to go down the career path of a recording engineer since I started at College, where I was first properly introduced to the world of recording and Music Technology. I started off just doing the training material for the courses that I have taken, but have since started reaching out into the industry to get some proper experience. My time at Elusive Recordings was pretty much priceless, as I was given a great opportunity to network with new people and hone my recording and mixing skills that I was taught during my studies.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: As mentioned above, I am a huge Muse fan. I just love the sound of all of their tracks and albums, and love the vocal range that Matt Bellamy has. I'd absolutely love to work with them one day.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: A few years ago, I was always really struggling to get any sort of weight when I was trying to mix kick drums. It took me a while, but after a bit of research I found a great tip. Send the output of the kick channel to the side-chain input of a "Gate" plugin on an auxiliary channel, and the put a "Signal Generator" plugin on the channel just before the "Gate". Tune the "Signal Generator" to a sine wave anywhere between 40 and 70Hz (attempt to tune this Sine Wave to the frequency of the track's root note of the key, e.g. G1=49Hz). Now, anytime the kick exceeds the threshold of the Gate plugin, a tuned Sine Wave will play at the same time to support and add weight to the Kick Drum.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I like the believe that my strongest skill is getting the most of a musician at the tracking stage of any project.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: My typical mixing process would be to start on the drums and bass first to achieve a solid foundation to a track. I then like to work on the guitars (electric and/or acoustic), and then any other instruments (such as keys, strings, brass etc.) afterwards. I then really like to focus on getting the right vocal tone. I will finally then make sure that the overall sound of the track is as polished as it can be.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I currently have a bit of a floating studio, whereby I use a set of M-Audio AV30 speakers and my Lexicon FW810s to do my initial mixing. I am a Pro Tools user on a Macbook Pro and like to work in the box using plugins. I own Slate Digital's "Everything" bundle, which provides some of the best analogue emulation plugins in the business. I still have good connections at Elusive Recording Studios in St Helens, and I like to finalise any mixes that I a make in their professional studios.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I am a huge fan of Muse, and I am a really big fan of their album "The Resistance" which just sounds huge - I try to emulate the sound that mix engineer Mark Stent produced for tracks of a similar genres. I am also a fan of Graham Cochrane over at therecordingrevolution.com! He makes some awesome videos about recording in a small studio.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: The two most common pieces of work I do are mixing tracks that have been recorded elsewhere, and also to be the main recording engineer on projects.