I approach every project with the intention of making it the best it can be regardless of genre, technical limitations or budget. As a producer and musician, I try and simply listen to what will serve the song and then do that in a way that helps raise the song up to the next level. I love to make a good song not just great but outstanding.
I am a highly versatile and experienced multi-instrumentalist, producer, songwriter and arranger in many styes. I've performed/ recorded with many international musicians including: Thurston Moore, Lydia Lunch, Gregory Allen Isakov and many others. I'm well-versed and highly proficient in many aspects of the creative process, including engineering and transcription. My 28+ years of experience have provided me the opportunity to work within a wide range of the music, art and film industries. Real-world practical knowledge underlines the core of my musical background, while in depth study and research continue to fuel my development. In addition to my solo releases, I recently produced and played on the Junior Burke EP America's a Lonely Town and the album Spot Of Time. Other work includes compositions for the University of Colorado, American College Dance Festival, The Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University. My music has been featured in numerous films including the award winning adventure film, Reel Rock 9: Valley Uprising and at Jovovich-Hawk's 2006 NYC Fashion Week presentation. This includes studio & live work with myriad musicians, poets and performers. Including: Toni Oswald, Junior Burke, Greyhounds, John Trudell & KWEST, Knackeboul, Janice Lowe, Steven Taylor, Donna Sioux Farar, Pete Newsom, Clay Rose, Christopher Paul Stelling, Clark Coolidge, and many others.
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Interview with Max Davies
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: Recently, I was able to collaborate as a songwriter with my childhood friend and his mother on a song she had written with the late Rick Danko of The Band. There was an amazing feeling of not only inter-generational creativity but also a strange sense of completion working on something that somebody who had passed had worked on and not completed. This culminated in us being able to perform the song together to a large crowd at Swallow Hill in Denver, a longstanding folk/ music venue in Denver. It was a successful night and underlined the importance of live music and community.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: A collaborative project with my wife and our friends in England. It is poetry and music.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both/ And. Analog is great for drums and bass for the tape saturation. But digital is so much easier to edit in and cheaper to track with. I have done many recordings that are hybrid.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: Honesty, respect, great playing and hard work.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The freedom to create and collaborate is our birthright. I like being able to surrender to those things and get lost in the creative process.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Usually the most common question is: "what do you think about this song?", I usually try to answer them honestly, if it seems like a well-crafted song I say so. If it doesn't, I try to find its strengths and use those as key points to help smooth out what isn't working.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That it isn't a "real job" or that because I like to make music that I should necessarily do it for free.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What are your goals? What is your budget? What can I do to help you?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Know what it is you want, but be open to change. Practice and prepare. Pre-production makes all the difference in the world. Do your homework and work hard. What you give largely influences what you get. Don't expect miracles but be excited if and when they happen. Try to avoid fixing things in the mix, get it right at the source whenever possible. Be organized and leave your ego at the door.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: An acoustic guitar, a pen and paper, a tambourine and a piano. (There's no electricity right?)
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I was always interested in music, I began writing songs on a piano as a kid just for fun. I loved improvising on my alto sax around 9 or 10 and would listen to 50's-60's music for days on end on the radio. Then I got a guitar at 12 and was pretty much obsessed to a greater or lesser degree ever since. At 15 I got a cassette 4-track and never looked back, I got deeply into recording and production and still spend hours just learning new things to try and incorporate into my workflow. I have been blessed with the good fortune to meet and work with some of my musical heroes and do a lot of cool projects with poets and writers as well. I consider myself very fortunate in this business but I also have worked on it for over 28 years. It is a calling.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I tend towards a more old school aesthetic. I like to try and keep things honest if possible. While I'm not against a bit of auto-tuning or putting things on a grid, I like things to have a human feeling. I aim to have musicians play and sing at the same time if possible. Of course sometimes that is not what a song calls for, so if it works, it works. It really comes down to serving the song.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Van Morrison, because I'd like to help him recapture the magic of his old albums once again.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Start with a good solid song. Strong chords, melody and lyrics and you've done a lot of the heavy lifting. From there it's all about performance and quality recording. You can make a good song sound great, but it's hard to make a bad song sound good.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: In a limited sense: Rock. But considering Rock is such a broad term nowadays, I would say I am eclectic and open to all genres.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My ability to listen to what a song needs and then adding or taking away the things that aren't serving the song. I'm not particularly interested in putting my stamp on a piece of music per se, but because I've spent most of my life playing, studying and recording music I have a definite vibe and that is the product of years of hard work and commitment. This level of focus and diligence has served my ability to listen.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: A sense of energized enthusiasm and critical objectivity. I bring the ability to explore the deeper potential of a song in a way that is genuine and dedicated. On an instrumental and vocal level I am quite adept at playing a vafriety of styles and can learn songs quickly by ear or from notation or lead sheets.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: It really depends on the genre of music and the artist. Ideally I like to start with a good working demo or chart and develop from there. Typically that usually looks like chords, melody, words, parts, arrangement, but that can change order if necessary. Whatever yields the most creative result.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have a home studio which I usually work out of for overdubs and mixing. It includes an assortment of instruments, hardware and software. I currently use Logic X primarily, but have experience with Protools, Ableton, Digital Performer, Reason and Audacity. I also have access to larger studio spaces/ equipment for big drum sounds, ambient miking techniques, etc.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: There are too many to name them all. But a small list would include: Frank Zappa, Robert Fripp, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Miles Davis, Sly Stone, Andy Summers, PJ Harvey, Keith Richards, Daniel Lanois, Bob Dylan, Jenny Lewis, John Coltrane, Brian Eno, The Smiths, Public Enemy, Rihanna, Willie Nelson, The Cramps, Scott Walker, Hank Williams, Leonard Cohen...
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Production, Songwriting/ Lyrcist, Guitar, Vocals, Bass, Keyboards, Percussion, Drums, Arranging, Transcription, Engineering, Mixing