Singer/Songwriter, Engineer, Producer, Multi-Instrumentalist. I've worked with Sheena Easton, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, The O'Jays, Grover Washington Jr., Levert, Oleata Adams, and many more.
Mixing/Mastering Engineer, Producer, Multi-Instrumentalist, Vocalist.
Send me an email through 'Contact' button above and I'll get back to you asap.
1 ReviewsEndorse Poke
Its been extremely mind blowing working with Poke.
He mixing skills are perfect to say the least. He "very" knowledgeable about the entire Mixing and Mastering process.
After hearing the results of the first mix, I knew he was the right person for the job.!
He was and is very helpful as well as kind.
Interview with Poke
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I co-wrote a film score for my brother's independent film, which hasn't been released yet. I'm proud of it because I was able to delve deeply into orchestral composition and recording. The film AND the score evokes every emotion one can experience in 93 minutes, and I'm proud to have been a part of having my brother realize his dream of completing the 30-year endeavor. I can't release any specifics because he's shopping the film for backers at the moment, but he expects a release in 2021.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I just finished working on a solo project for a great friend of mine, Michael Brown. He's a jazz guitarist, and one of the most unique guitarists I've ever heard. It's not how he plays, but what he plays. The CD is called, "In Your Light", and was released on January 11th, 2021. I'm currently working with a Haitian artist named Novens Jean-Baptiste. I'll be co-producing, mixing and mastering his next project featuring his son, and I'm excited about this project.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I'm new to SoundBetter, so I'm not sure if anyone I know is on the site, but my friends, Mike Tarsia, Gene Leone, and Peter Humphries are some of the best in the business, if they're on here.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I cut my teeth on analog gear, but I have to say, the digital domain is flawless nowadays. It has come so far, maybe even too far, which is why many people are seeking to have their projects done on analog gear, because digital might be too clean. But they've created plugins to recreate the old desks such as the SSLs, Neves, and APIs to name a few. They've even sampled the intrinsic noise from the analog decks precisely. I've seen and heard the best of both worlds, but I'd have to say, for portability and ease of use, it's digital all day.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: My promise to them is that they'll get my all. My experience, my passion, my drive, and they'll get what they came for, no holds barred. I'm not a "one and done" guy. I want them to be satisfied, and I want them to come back, so I'll strive for that. My name means nothing. My work, however, speaks volumes.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: You're kidding, right? (laughter) Hands down, the music. All kinds of diverse styles, and the opportunity to hear undiscovered talent, of which there is an abundance. Also the intimacy aspect. I'm hearing stuff that comes with attitude, or heart; I'm listening to an artist with a message and it's a peek into their soul that not many people have the opportunity to see or hear. I love everything about my job. It's not a job to me. A "job" implies that you're working. I'm feeling. I'm communicating in intangibles; things that can't be held; something that can evoke emotion, and that, to me, is incredible.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: The most common question is, "How much does it cost?" My answer is always, "Only your first-born child." (laughter). Seriously though, I'll ask them what they can afford, and we go from there. Money isn't the most important thing to me. What IS important is making people happy, and feeling proud of the work I've done. "Day is done" type of feeling, when you're proud of what you've accomplished that day. Another common question is, "How long will it take?" I'm not a mixing mill. I give my clients personalized attention to every little detail. I'm good with deadlines, but I prefer not to work under them. Time restrictions stifle creativity and excellence. Your project deserves the proper amount of time and attention, and it all depends on the project. My turnaround times are excellent, in part because I'm usually so excited about the outcome, that I can't wait for a client to hear the finished product!
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I don't think there are too many misconceptions about what we in this field do. If there are, then they're probably true, and then they're not misconceptions, are they? (laughter) Maybe one misconception is that you should have to spend a ton of money, or have ridiculously expensive gear to get a great product. Simply not true. I used to make a 4-track sound like a 16-track, an 8-track sound like a 24-track, and a one-inch and 16-track sound like a 48-track. I don't believe in, "You get what you pay for" because I've put the same amount of passion in low-budget projects as I have in large-budget projects. My motto is, "Send me what you have", and I'll make it sound the best it can, regardless of budget.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: I mainly want to know what their vision is. Sometimes it's difficult to speak in terms creative, and to convey objectively something so subjective. So, I want to know what about the project or song, or album, makes them "feel"; what hits them hardest, or what moves them. What emotions are we exploring or have experienced in the creation of this project? Most of the time, I get, "I want a professional sounding recording...". Well, that's intrinsic. You're absolutely going to get that. But that's not what I want to know. What emotion do you want your listener to discover or experience? That's what I want to know.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Believe that your material has the right to be the best it can be. Look for providers who have your heart and your best interests in mind. Expect the best, because you deserve that. Don't be fooled by mastering mills who don't cater to the minute details of your work and just pump out tracks by the masses. Mixing and mastering involves just as much feel and creativity as the writing process, and just as much technical prowess. Don't be afraid to say no to something you're not proud of when you get it back. Shoot for the stars, and expect to get the entire galaxy in return.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: A generator, a Korg Chrome, a Korg D32-XD, a guitar, and a mic.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I was musical all of my life. My brother, a phenomenal guitarist and musical mind, was in a band growing up and my father let them rehearse in our living room. I was hooked at the age of three. At five, Santa brought me a toy drum set and I learned to play, until my brother put the pedal through the kick drum head (laughter). At ten, I was recruited into the Philadelphia Boys Choir, and I traveled the world with them. That was my first introduction to classical music and harmony. At the age of fifteen, I bought an acoustic guitar and started writing songs. I applied to Sigma Sound Studios in Philly to become an assistant engineer, and got the job. I should've gotten fired, because I kept interjecting harmonies in the control room, but the producers loved what I was adding, so they kept me around. One day I was setting up for a mix session, and I was playing one of my songs in the control room and the producer walked in. He said, "Is that you singing? Did you write that? I'm going to sign you to MCA London." Well, that never happened, but I learned how to engineer from some of the best in the business.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: What style? (laughter) I don't have any style. To quote the late, great Bruce Lee, "Take the form of water, my friend. Water forms to any shape...Be like water." I'd like to think that I can conform to any style or shape.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Honestly? There are 50 years-worth of artists I would've loved to work with, but right now at this moment? Jacob Collier. People don't realize what a genius this kid is. He literally makes me cry. He transcends the moniker "prodigy". Not only that, but to me he seems to be the purest human being on the face of this planet. He writes about "delecting" the simplest, purest things in life, many of which, we in our tumultuous lives glance over. He is an unbelievably special and gifted person, and is without a doubt the embodiment of music in its purest forms. Google him. You won't regret it.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Yes. Just because you have unlimited tracks, doesn't mean you have to use them all. Tasteful parts speak more volume and create more interesting spaces in the music. Think outside the box. Try some things that don't necessarily follow the melody, or start and end on the root note of the chord. Spice it up; play differently. Go beyond your comfort zone; you'll be amazed at what you come up with.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I work on everything (laughing), mostly pop, pop-rock, and I especially enjoy R&B. I've worked on everything from country to film scoring, folk to heavy metal. There's so much talent in the singer-songwriter genre as well. I enjoy stuff that has a lot of dynamic range such as orchestral pieces.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My strongest skill is my ability to give the client what they're looking for. I like to think outside the box a lot; a fresh iteration or point of view. But most times, the client can offer their own unique perspective and I'm able to deliver on that. It's best when there's a "meeting of the minds" in terms of vision for the project, and every track is born in the client's mind and heart, cloaked in their talent and interpretation. I always welcome the opportunity to experience that, and if I can somehow enhance the vision, then that creates an amazing symbiotic relationship. These songs are their "babies". I'm very respectful of that. I'm just trying to be the best damned baby-sitter they've ever had.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: My PASSION. My ears. My listening and problem-solving ability. My production ability. My engineering ability.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: It depends on the project. If it's a client's project, their vision for the project comes first. I want to know their vision and how committed they are to that vision. Once I know that and receive the session, I LISTEN. And listen. And listen again. And again. I live with the tracks before I ever push one fader or turn one pot. The tracks have to be a part of me, just as they are to my clients. I've been blessed with a great set of ears, and I trust them implicitly. The truth is in the raw performance, and I always want to be true to the artist's conveyance of the emotion they present. Once I've absorbed this information, aural or otherwise, I go to work. Once the session is up in Logic, I solo each track individually and take notes. What I'm noting is how the track was recorded, where the average level sits, whether or not it needs EQ, what the dynamic range is, is it integral to the entire track or is it a solo piece, and what it might need in terms of processing. Are the tracks free of noise? Is this track part of a group to be merged at a later point? The note-taking can be quite extensive, but in the end its crucial because a great mix is all about the details. I was taught to master as I mix, because these are the elements which are difficult if not impossible to fix in the mastering stage, so everything has to be just right. My next step is a "general listen". All faders are at "0" level, and I'm listening for balance, phase consistency, panning opportunities, but most of all, I'm listening for space. Overcrowding of signal, and competition for tonal range are killers of any track, especially when considering instruments which share the majority of the same frequency range. AGAIN, I take notes. I'm also listening on several different monitoring systems in stereo AND mono to ensure what needs to be addressed, is addressed. I do this throughout every stage of the mix. At this point, I haven't introduced any effects for anything. Once I'm positive all issues have been addressed, I'm soloing tracks in groups, such as all drum tracks, then all percussion tracks, all rhythm guitars, etc. I'm matching EQs for the basic track (drums, bass, etc.) and adjusting as the track calls for it. As more tracks are added into the mix, I'm riding faders as a rough mix until everything is seated and spaced appropriately. Once I feel the balance of the entire track, I can begin to think about tweaking EQ on individual tracks for a fine-tuning. Once that's complete, I can entertain individual track effects. A last check on a spectrum analyzer for slight corrections, A-B ing the track against the original demo and/or a reference track is an absolute MUST, then it's rendering time according to the specs of the project. Then it's "live with the track" time again. If I'm satisfied with how it sounds, I'll send it off to the client for any revisions they may want.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I've owned several studio setups over the years, but these days, I'm a Logic Pro X fan. It's my go-to rig since it packs all the power I need for any project, and can be remote when necessary. I'm continually rotating plugins. I'm a plugin junkie, so I've amassed quite a collection from all makers.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I have quite an eclectic range of music and musicians which and whom inspire me, so listing them would take me forever, but musicians who care about their craft and are innovative and talented, usually either bring tears to my eyes or give me goosebumps, or both simultaneously! David Foster has to be my top producer/writer.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Aside from engineering, producing, mixing, and mastering my own projects, I mix and master my clients' projects for streaming, pressing, distribution, and/or broadcast. I love music, and I love what I do, especially when my clients get exactly what they want, and are happy and exited; that's worth more to me than any monetary payment I could ever receive.