Working on a dream
Creative. Artistic. Precise. Happy. Words most commonly used to describe Alberto. His love of music inspires him and it’s that passion for the music industry that gives him the drive to create music and do it well. Those that have worked with him can agree that his work philosophy is a rare find and his cheerful demeanor a pleasure to work with.
Alberto’s experience stretches throughout Europe and the United States with a long history of working along side top producers, engineers and musicians.
He believes in the classic recording and mixing concept of ‘everyone in the same room’ that allows for an open communication of ideas between artist and engineer.
This collective flow during the creative process is a winning element in achieving a solid output.
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Interview with Alberto Gaffuri
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I like to be involved as much as possible in a new project starting from the recording aspect to the mixing process. I think I can be a much better mixer while I know how and why things are recorded a certain way. I like to hear or even work on the pre-productions of the songs to make sure that all the aspects that characterize the songs like: harmony, melody, key, rhythm, tempo and the overall sound are complementary together. I think it's always a good idea having someone with an outside prospective. The second step is to catch the best performance and create a unique sound to vest (identify) the project. I would work around this two aspect and pull out the soul that identify the characteristics of then songs and made it powerful with the sound tools. The last step is the mixing process. It's an extention in creativity on what you already printed with the recording. If I am hired only for the mixing process I will follow the same rules, for example: sometime come to me songs that are not ready to mix yet, the production need to be more tight, some tracks need to be fix on the tempo or vocals need to be tuned. I would start to work on this aspects to make the song more enjoyable and keep the excitement of the song very high.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I was introduced to a folk/rock band through a mutual friend and had the opportunity to meet them and watch them perform live. I was very impressed by what I heard, they were very talented. The band spoke about a new song they just completed writing and that they would start recording it in the drummer's bedroom. Naturally I offered my assistance. It was a no budget gig but it didn't matter as I really felt strongly for their music. We spent a couple days tracking in the bedroom with some of cheapest gear that you can find. I completed the mixing back in my studio. The band was very happy about the final product so we decide to proceed with the mastering process. The mastering engineer we booked started working on the project and there were two tracks that he was comparing and trying to match the overall sound. One track was the one we recorded together and the other track was one the band had spent all their money recording in a fancy studio in LA. The two songs had definite differences and the band questioned why the 'bedroom song' sounded so different compared to the 'fancy studio song'. The engineer answered that it was quiet simple- the recording engineer did a great job. It was a huge compliment and goes to show that you don't need all the fancy gear or a high caliber studio, you just need to have the passion and knowledge.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I had an opportunity to get into the industry when I was quite young and started with recording and mixing sessions at a studio in Italy. This is where I got my start and initiated my long journey through passion, sacrifices and satisfaction. A couple years later The Chief Engineer brought me on to his brand new production/recording studio. Working next to this producer allowed me to grow my skills of the product side- what production really means, how to build a song, how to make it work for an artist. These are key elements that turn a good song into a great song. My next venture was with another studio in 2008. This studio was unique in that it was full of both vintage and modern equipment, which allowed me to experiment quite a bit. I improved on the technical aspects of the recording technique and mixing process. I then jumped continents and came to the United States where I worked at Sonic Ranch in El Paso. This Living/Recording environment stretched over many acres and held 4 recording studios. People lived there and they lived music. This experience was crucial to understanding the relationships between producers, artists and engineers. Currently I am based in LA and I am working with a well known producer. With him, I see a lot of successful artists and it's incredible to be able to work on their music but I also do a lot of side work that involves music on the verge of breaking through.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I work along side a very successful producer at a private studio. There are several rooms sets for different recording and mixing projects. The studio is fully stocked with the latest equipment in the industry and give me an opportunity to deal and learn what the new stuff can make my workflow one step forward. Also, I have with a Pro-Tools system with a universal audio interface that I can transport for live sessions or offsite recording. My Pro-Tools rig is load with modern and retro virtual instruments to be open on the creation process; mic pre, compressor end eq to characterize the sound that we looking for and specific type of efx from which we can be inspired during the mixing process.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: I find that often times the musicians that I work with have a clear idea of how they want their album to sound like but have no idea how to get there. They'll ask- how do we do it? An important part of what I do and the role I play is to guide them through the best process while working with their budget. Another question that I get asked a lot is how we can record the album with the feeling of a tight and powerful band sound? And how we can achieve that with a small budget? I recommend the musician(s) utilize the place in which they are most comfortable playing and go for a live recording. People often don't know the importance of creating music in the atmosphere in which they are most at home.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Emotion. Every project that I take on, I get a precise idea of where it needs to go and work hard to take it there.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I sit down in front of the speakers and really listen to the song. This enables me to get a feeling for the music which inspires me to dive into the mixing process. I then build a fast balance between all the instruments and vocals to recreate the feeling and the creativity comes out and I do as the song tells me. I find ways to improve the production and make it more unique. When I am happy with the direction, I print a rough mix and send the idea to my clients. The lines of communications are open and from this point, I work closely with the artist to bounce back ideas to make the complete track a perfect collaboration between Artist and Engineer.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: My most invested project currently is working with a young singer/songwriter who recently left his band to pursue a solo project. His degree of talent is among the greats. I had previously worked with his band and he contracted me to be a part of his new venture as he felt a level of comfort with my work that allowed him to 'make things happen'. We're working out the emotional, musical and characteristic aspects that he wants to imprint on his own music in this new chapter of his career.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: A record player and three of my favorite records: Bruce Springsteen: Born to run; Billy Joel: Piano man; Counting Crows: August and everything after.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: I ask my clients to give me a list of albums that inspired them in the creation of their record to understand where they feel the importance of the project lies.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will take care of your project as if it were my own.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Be wary of the ones who talk about money before they listen. Find a person that is driven by the passion for the music. It's not about how much a mix cost, it's about how we achieve this goal together.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The ability to work with undiscovered artists and working closely together on fulfilling a dream. I take pride in the ability to guide them to creating something to be proud of. I continue to get excited for every new project as it exposes me to many different talents and presents new challenges for me to conquer on my path through the world of music.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Without question, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. What is produced when these guys get into a room is pure passion, the definition of music.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: During the creation process of your song, always keep the melody up. She is going to tell you what to do and how to do it. You will never be wrong.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Patience. It takes a great deal of it to record or mix a great album.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: The thing that inspires me more than an individual is music itself. I'm inspired by the sound of a record. I consistently listen to albums (both old and new) and when I hear something that peaks my interest, I dive deep into the production side to decipher what elements of the sound differentiates the music. My production is a collection of the style of sound that inspires me and my hands on work with the various artists I've collaborated with.