Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
I worked on an original song I wrote with my mom called "Elizabeth's Song" where I composed, tracked, mixed, and mastered the whole thing. You could probably call the style "indie-folk". I tend to use a lot of vst's but on that project I recorded everything myself, guitars(electric and acoustic), upright piano, drums, bass, percussion, all except for the accordian I used a virtual instrument for. I really liked the way the instrumentation turned out and I learned a lot about mixing and tracking in that process. I also had 2 female vocalists come in that I know well, a mother and daughter, so their voices blended really well. I enjoy hearing them sing so I'm glad I have at least one project with their vocals shining on it.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm planning to hopefully remix some of my older material that I mixed when I started learning more. I want to bring it's quality up to where I am now. I also have some plans to finish tracking and then mix 2 songs I wrote and performed with a friend.
Analog or digital and why?
Both. I use mainly digital but I like the analog sound. I believe both are very useful, it just depends on the song. Sometimes I want a very clean signal so I go with digital, but other times I want some more color and flavor so I'll go with analog or analog emulators.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
I will do my best to reach the goals you want to reach and turn out the product you like and want.
What do you like most about your job?
I enjoy being a part of making great music and being creative for my Savior.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What is the goal for this project?
How do you want this to sound?
What are your deadlines?
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
Upright piano, Martin dreadnought acoustic guitar, USB condensor mic, studio computer, headphones
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I've been playing music since I was 5 or 6 years old. I remember recording on cassette tapes when I was younger. I've been mixing for about 5 years now in DAWs. Every Christmas and Easter season since 2011 I have worked with drama directors at my church, tweaking each mix until they were satisfied and happy with the way the product sounded. They come to me whenever they need a song re-recorded or edited or if they need mood music, transition music, original soundtracks, accompaniment tracks - anything really!
Christmas of 2015 all the music used in our church's Christmas production was produced by me. That was for an 1 and a half hour play. The music(composing, covering, re-recording, tracking, mixing, and mastering) was completed in a bout a month and a half.
How would you describe your style?
Diverse. I grew up listening to a parody band called AplologetiX and they parody everyone from Eminem to Elvis. I practiced playing various instruments by playing along with their CD's. I enjoy diversity and fusions of different styles.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
I would like to work with Hillsong United at the moment. They strive for creativity and freshness musically as well as lyrically. A lot of others these days fall short in the area of excellence in lyrical content, but Hillsong United really excels in that area. The artist I'd like to work with may change in a few weeks though, haha. ;) I'm always listening to a lot of different people.
Can you share one music production tip?
Try not to leave a mix at just "ok". If there's a way you would rather a certain instrument or vocal to sound, spend some time figuring out how to achieve that, even if you don't have the greatest gear. I've been gifted with making some great music on limited budget gear. You can do it. Just keep working at it.
What type of music do you usually work on?
Anything from Hip Hop to Israeli. I've had the pleasure of working on many diverse musical genres. Maybe you could say indie is what I've worked on the most. But that entails a LOT! lol
What's your strongest skill?
Honestly, singing and playing for my Creator. I find Great Joy in playing for Him. That's where my passion is: Him. I would also say that mixing has become a stronger skill set in the last few years. I've started practicing it just as much as I play music.
What do you bring to a song?
I desire to bring passion to each song. I strive to bring excellence in quality, but to really do that I believe the heart of the song must be right for it to really reach astounding quality and excellence.
What's your typical work process?
For Mixing: I pull up the tracks on my DAW and start listening to the song for the first time. I keep the song on a loop and focus on getting the levels right for about 15-20 mins or so to get a good static mix. I might start panning there as well, but my panning decisions are usually made all throughout the mixing process not at any one time. I then starting dropping in Eqs, compressors, reverb, delay, etc. to start shaping and carving the sound of each track so that it all fits like a glove. I pull in reference tracks to get the sound quality the same as high $ studios and listen to the song on different systems so that the mix will translate just about anywhere. I also test most mixes in mono to make sure there aren't any problems there.
For mastering: My process for mastering is really pretty simple. I pull up a mix that excites me and inspires me and ask myself the question, "What is it about this mix that makes it sound so good to my ears? Why do I like the way this one sounds so much?" Once I answer these questions I start doing a lot of Eqing. I do this a good bit in mixing but it's VERY important in mastering as well. EQ is a BIG part of mastering for me. Mixes sound SO dull if you don't brighten them up and focus the low end. I then start working on compression and limiting. My taste is to actually not have the limiter limit anything. I use it as a meter most of the time and get the level right up to the point where it's not limiting, but if I turned it up even 1db it would start limiting. I can get the levels louder if a client wants, my taste for my own music that I record is just to give it a lot of room to breathe. The goal for the compression is to "glue" the individual tracks together into one mold. I want things to flow together nicely and not sound so seperated and overdubbed. I may use compression on individual tracks for a specific effect but the goal of compression on the mix buss is to glue everything together until it sounds like one whole piece of art and not a bunch of puzzle pieces yet to be put together. I also might add a tiny bit of reverb on the master bus. That sometimes helps "glue" things together as well. The goal of mastering for me is to get the mix sounding like a fantastic whole artwork, not a smeared disfigured painting.
For composing: Most of the time I like to just sit and play whatever comes and out. If I like what's coming out I'll grab a recording device and quickly capture the idea so I can work on it and improve it later. Often I have more melody completed than I do words so I may write down the lyrics I do have and work on the rest later, tweaking the melody a bit, and finally arranging the order of the song into sections. Then I'll experiment with what instruments I'd like to use. Here I usually strive for something new and different. Even in a simple rock mix it's nice to throw a little twist in there with an unexpected instrument or effect.
For Recording/Tracking/Performing: Before doing this I'll try to have some practice time but it doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes I need to capture what's going on in an earlier session so I don't lose the emotion and sound. In tracking the most important thing to me is passion. Do I really mean what I'm singing and playing? Is it in my heart and soul? Do I even care about what I'm singing/playing? Capturing the right emotions in tracking is most important even above getting the notes right. Some mistakes or ad libs I've used in the final cut because the emotion was right and it added more to the song than what was pre-planned.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I have a very humble setup as I operate in a home studio, but quality is reached with my equiptment. Here's the list: Rauland 1282 dynamic cardioid mic, Shure 588SDX mic, 2 Behringer C-4 condensors, Behringer Xenyx 1202FX mixer, Behringer UCA200 interface(will be upgrading to something most likely from Presonus soon), ASUS powered Windows 7 PC(Six-core Processor, 3.50 GHZ, 8.00 GB of RAM), DAW: Mixcraft Pro Studio 7, a vast array of vst synths(Messiah, Glass Viper, T-Force Alpha Plus, Journey, Memorymoon, and lots more) and plugins that I know well and can get great sounds with, Jackson electric, B.C. Rich electric, Nylon acoustic, Martin dreadnought acoustic, Vox AC15VR, BOSS ME-70 multi-effects pedal, Digitech DF-7 pedal, Currier upright piano, and some other smaller gear.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Creativity excites me! Music that is REALLY creative, inventive, and beautiful excites me. One group that inspires me is Bethel Music. This song from them is fantastic! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxkNj5hcy5E)
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Composing, mixing, mastering, recording, dubbing, and performing