What are you working on at the moment?
Mixing a kick-ass rock trio from Boston that are excellent. And I happened to have done the tracking as well by request from the Producer, so the mixes are a blast and these guys have awesome energy in their music & mixes.
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
John Sekkit is another mixer that has the experience, the wisdom, and the ears.
Analog or digital and why?
Both- they each bring their strengths.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
You will participate in everything and your desire is my goal- and your music will sound like you've never heard or imagined it.
What do you like most about your job?
Taking a song that is good or great and making it so that you can't stop listening to it.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
Since I work in a hybrid studio can I still do a recall of the mix? The answer is yes- everything is recallable.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
That mixing is just putting the tracks together and it's easy.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What is it you're trying to do.
Sometimes I'm not the right guy for a project and I will tell you that upfront. I won't fake it.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Really consider who the person is, their experience, and listen to their work. There are so many "engineers' these days- but many of them do not have much training or experience. Learning to mix takes many years of experience, listening, experimenting, and hard work.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
My laptop with plugs, my U47, the Fairchild, the GML EQ and my rack of Neves.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I started as an assistant at No Evil studios in Washington, DC; after moving to NYC I worked at Scorcerer Sound on Mercer street and recorded in many studios including Skyline, Right Track, Hit Factory and opened my own studio Dessau Recording. I've been doing this over 25 years and worked with artists ranging from Richard Lloyd, Dave Sardy, Mark Ribot, Matthew Sweet and many others- you can Google me to see more. But I've recorded & mixed literally hundreds if not thousands of bands & artists.
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
Every time I can take recorded tracks and mix it to a place where you feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up- I'm proud. I still think Wendell Ray's songs are fantastic. Along with his Producer, we were able to take his disparately recorded tracks and add some key overdubs and mix it into killer stuff that you want to keep listening to.
How would you describe your style?
That's hard one- I think the best way to say it is it sounds natural but is very solid sounding.
Can you share one music production tip?
Mixing is about creating a space- a place the listener can go. it can be alone or with others- but it has to be a special place.
What type of music do you usually work on?
I work on literally everything- but Pop, Rock and R&B/Soul are probably the most frequent. I did a lot of punk rock years ago;
What's your strongest skill?
First- Listening to the artist; next is finding the emotional core of the song- whether it's punk rock or free jazz or a ballad; and last is my ears and ability to bring space, emotion, energy, and excitement to a mix. 25 years of doing this as both an engineer, mixer, and musician I've learned a lot- especially patience. I don't believe in timelines either- a mix is the final stage; it has to be awesome- but you can't kill it with a million revisions. Sometimes you're better off pulling the faders down & starting over.
What do you bring to a song?
Most importantly emotion- but I always believe that a mix should sound like a 'record'- and to me that means it sounds great on anything you listen to it on- whether in a car, a home stereo, or a laptop or headphones- and it sounds awesome at any volume- especially loud.
What's your typical work process?
I prefer the session be prepped & arranged by the artist or tracking engineer so it represents their organized approach to the song or songs. I prefer having an extensive discussion with the artist to understand their artistic goals & understand what they want to hear & experience. Many times reference tracks help too. I then listen thru to identify where the heart of the song originates. From there I mix based on what supports that core.
Tell us about your studio setup.
Having owned studios for almost 30 years, I own quite a bit of vintage analog gear but I work hybrid as digital opens things up to many opportunities we never had. I am especially drawn to plugins like Decapitator & Sound Toys that are not emulations since I own many of the hardware originals. The old analog delays still create sounds by accident that are musically unique. My studio is very well equipped- but more importantly, it is accurate and everything sounds exactly the way you hear it both in the studio & outside of it.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
I love how mixing creates an emotional connection and find many mixers inspiring. I gravitate to Flood's work and Alan Moulder- but many others from Jeff Lynn's work to Tom Lord-Alge to Bob Clearmountain & Michael Brauer- but as much as I appreciate these styles I always look for an original twist using filters or delays or other means to create a unique soundscape.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
I'm mostly asked to mix with occasional tracking & overdubs. I have been mixing for over 20 years and work with artists in Jazz, Rock, R&B, Soul and pretty much any other genre. I also work with many sound artists such as Kristin Oppenheim who has work in London's Greengrassi Gallery & Frieze.