Got the music inside of you? I produce, mix, and master those songs. If you’re looking for polished, professional recordings that connect with listeners who want to feel the music and be moved by it, I can help.
The world is full of music, but who has the time to listen to all of it? Whether you’re an artist seeking polished, professional recordings - or a songwriter needing help crafting that perfect song that will be the soundtrack to someone’s life - I can help.
I am an independent music producer, mixing and mastering engineer with over 10 years experience. If you’re tired of sub-par recordings, or don’t have time to learn recording engineering yourself, I’m here to help bring your songs to life. Not just louder, but clearer, richer, and more vibrant.
I’m also a professional project manager and marketer by trade, so I can ensure your songs are presented in the best light possible.
Send me a quick message to start your production today!
Contact me through the green button above and let's get to work.
5 ReviewsEndorse Steve Swanson
Steve is awesome! He's got an easy going personality that makes the entire process seamless. His mixing, mastering, and instrumentation talent is world class. I've written several songs but can't play to save my life and he's fully fleshed them out into reality. On top of that, he knows how to take my vocals to the next level. I'm always extremely critical of myself and he knows exactly when to do a re-take and when to tell me that the take was great and I don't need to redo it anymore. Highly, highly recommend!
Steve is an easy going guy to work with which makes the process a great experience.
I was working on new songs, had the lyrics, chord progression, melody down on guitar. Steve was able to take my vision and add the detail and color - great piano, lead guitar, drums, etc. to really fulfill what I was after; it was a collaboration with both of us developing a final form. Other producers I've worked with ended up being just a one way development and thankfully Steve is not that kind of producer. In addition, Steve helped educate me as a singer, educating me on technique. Great experience!
I joined a band in which Steve played keys and sang (very talented guy) ..at one point they had recorded some songs with the singer prior to me, later we wanted to re-record with my lead vocal and didn’t really have to chops to do so...didn’t know where to start...so, Steve jumps in and completely reworks the tracks...recording, and adding my vocals seamlessly into the mix. Extraordinary quality and precision-fantastic work....not only that...he SANG the harmonies...spot on! Steve is not just a technical guru...he’s an artist as well. Perfect Combo!!
For the past 23 years, after graduating from Harvard, I’ve taught young people the art of imagination, eloquence, and giving. Eight of my students have given TED talks, and they found charities with global impact and multinational businesses that lift up the world by putting people over profit.
When I need someone to help my students work on their voices, record their work in a professional manner, or compose music for their artistic projects, I send them to Steve because his kindness, his philosophy of giving, and his expertise are unparalleled.
I HIGHLY recommend Steve Swanson. A couple of years ago, my band recorded more than a dozen stem tracks at a very highly esteemed Hollywood recording studio. We received an initial mix. However over time the band felt we could get more clarity out of the material. We hired Steve to do a completely new mix with the instrument and voice tracks. What a difference! Now we can hear the depth & clarity of what we actually recorded that day. FYI, Steve is also an accomplished musician/vocalist and songwriter so he understands the heart and groove that any recording artist can well appreciate.
Interview with Steve Swanson
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I put my heart and soul into every piece of music I work on. I will work tirelessly to give each song the best possible treatment in order to make it sound as good as it can. I will never settle, and I will always push to make the artists I work with sound as good as they can. I pride myself on the relationships I build with both sides of the creative process, and have built my reputation on a foundation of trust and respect. I love what I do, and it shows in my work.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: This is so important. Huge. Most people would just assume that I would ask something like, "What kind of music do you want to make?" or "What's your style?" But that's not it. What I really want to know is: "What's your vision?" I want to know if they can properly articulate the vision they have for their music. That is so important to creating a quality recording and mix of a song. By this, I mean that I'd like to know what you're trying to convey with your music. Are you trying to make music that is loud and in your face? Are you trying to make music that is subtle and nuanced? Are you trying to make party music? Sad music? Happy music? Do you want your music to take the listener on an adventure? Are you trying to tell a story with your music? Are you trying to capture a certain feeling? Do you see what I mean? A person like me can help you achieve your goals, but they can't do it for you. I need to know what your goals are before I can help you achieve them.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: I'd advise any artist looking for a collaborator of any kind - be that a producer, mixer, co-songwriter, or studio musician - to find, first and foremost, someone talented. That much is obvious. The next most important thing, though, is to find someone with whom you jive well personality-wise. Music is a very collaborative art form, and it's more than just the music itself. It's the people who make it, and the relationship between those people. You're going to be spending a lot of time with this person, so whether you find them fun to work with or not is key. It's one thing to make good music with someone you can't stand. It's an entirely different thing to find that magical combination of awesome music and great friendship. Look for talent AND personality in a potential collaborator. Secondly, I'd advise them to find someone who believes in them. I know that sounds weird, but it's true. When you find a talented professional, and they believe in your abilities, it can do wonders for the quality of your music and your confidence as an artist. I'd love for someone to believe in me as a musician, and I know many others would, too. So when you find someone with the talent and skill to back it up, tell them. Let them know they're good. Push them to be great. They'll do the same for you.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I think a lot of people - even musicians - don't really understand the role of a music producer. They think it's all about flashy-ness, or vanity, or thinking you're "all that" because you can make a beat and have people listen to it. But really, a music producer should be essential to the creative process. A producer should be able to take the vision of an artist and help bring that vision to life. It's a collaboration between artists and producers, and the people behind the mixing board, and it should always be creative, never hurtful. People might think that the music producer's or mixing engineer's job is to simply make everything sound good. That might be a part of it, but there's so much more that goes into it than just pressing the "good" button on the board! The role of the music producer or mixing engineer isn't to make things sound good, it's to make things sound right. We don't mix to change the artistic expression of the artist, but rather to help bring out what is already there. Sure, we need to change certain frequencies here and there, and add effects to help accentuate the overall sound, but our job is to make everything sound as good as possible while still maintaining the artistic integrity of the original performance.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I'd like to work with a new, upcoming artist. Not a celebrity or someone well-known, but someone who has true potential and has yet to breakthrough. I’d like to see the passion in their music, their unwavering belief in it, and in themselves. Sometimes, it's in the roughness - there may be flaws in their music that an expert eye can see and fix, but what sets them apart is the fact that they don't want it fixed. That's the type of artist I'd like to find. Not someone who wants to be famous, but someone who NEEDS to express themselves through their music. Someone with a message that's burning inside of them. I want to help that person, because they deserve the recognition they desire. I'd like to work with an artist with a singular vision, and who knows that this industry isn't about being perfect or making money or receiving critical acclaim. It's not about being famous, or having your own perfume. For them, it truly is, and always will be about the music.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Clients ask producers a lot about their equipment, mixing techniques, and what kind of studio they work in. The first two questions I can answer without much issue. Equipment-wise, I have enough to get the job done right. As for mixing, I tend to use a bottom-up approach, and I use a fair amount of automation. If a potential client is really interested in how I mix, I'm happy to explain the process. When it comes to the studio, this seems to matter less and less as time goes on. You can rent out a fantastic large studio for you and your band, if that's what you need and it works for you. But you can also produce great full-band recordings by tracking instruments in your living room, or even use completely virtual instruments in a computer, with no studio space at all. This is the future, and a lot of the old guard hates it, but I think that this technique has a place in the music world. It's not just about making music easier for people. It's about making it more accessible.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: It's my job to craft the final sound for each track. The majority of my work is in creating the final product; the polished, ready-to-listen-to songs that we all enjoy. In addition to mixing already recorded instrument tracks, I also enjoy recording new ones to augment the artist's vision. I'm a musician, and I commonly perform music for an audience. However, in recent years, I've branched out, taking my love of music into the recording studio. I record new tracks for artists as well as mixing and mastering tracks that have already been recorded. The most common instrument that I record is the piano, as that's my favorite instrument to play. I've recorded many songs using only the piano, as well as mixing many other instrument tracks - such as guitar, bass, and drums - to create a full, rich sound.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: My style is a marriage of modern music production with the heart and soul that only a real musician can provide. I have a knack for taking an artist’s ideas and making them reality with the perfect instrumentation and execution, and take pride in my ability to play nicely in different genres. I have a keen ear for what will sound best in an arrangement. My style is a combination of instrumental versatility, composition expertise, and artistic originality. I'm classically trained, but was raised on rock n' roll. Because of this, I can play many different instruments, and gravitate towards a democratic style that blends formalities with experimentation. I pride myself on my musical versatility; I can go from playing a piano sonata to a death metal ballad, and make it sound good - no, great! Compositionally, I pride myself on my originality; I am always striving to be new and creative with my music. I am a bit old fashioned in that I believe artists should be able to compromise between formalities and experimentation; art is best when it doesn't insist on being shocking for the sake of being shocking. I believe that music is a form of communication, and it's important to be understood. Through understanding, you can pull on the heartstrings, rouse the mind, and otherwise affect people in a profound way. This is what I strive to do with my music - connect with people.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: While I enjoy being a producer and mixer, I'm also a fully competent musician myself. If the artist is lacking in some aspect, I can play bass, rhythm guitar, or even drums if need be. I'm also very good at writing lyrics. If an artist is having difficulty writing lyrics, I'm more than willing to help them out. I think it's best if their words are their own, but I'm able to assist them. Once we're deep into the process of making a song the best it can be, I try to make sure that the artist's vision is brought to life. This is a job that I take very seriously. The mixing and mastering process is very technical, and if done incorrectly the nuances of the song can be lost. My greatest strength is being able to read people and understand what they're trying to accomplish with a song, and I think it is this process that makes me the best candidate to work with musicians on their albums. I don't just hear music, I feel it. And if you feel it, I will help you to make other people feel it too.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I am meticulous when it comes to my work. For every song that I mix, I follow a tried-and-true process. I always start with drums and bass, building up from the low end, then address the vocals, and finally work in the most important instruments followed by the supporting ones. I'm extremely comfortable using tried-and-true mix templates, and I know that this method works best for my clients. I don't deviate from this process, because each song is mixed well with it. However iff a client asks me to try something different with the mix, I'm happy to oblige and go the extra mile for them. My Pro Tools mixing templates are a highly organized system that allows me to quickly and efficiently mix any song that is given to me. I like to keep a template for common mixing situations - such as Rock, Urban, Acoustic and so on. This allows me to quickly get a song into peak condition before I send it back to the client. With this, and a set of industry standard plugins, I am able to work with any artist to reach the sonic quality that they're looking for.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love the creative aspect of music. Whether I'm mixing a song, or playing an instrument and creating something new, I get a thrill from taking something from the ether and turning it into reality. It's alchemy in a way; some might even say magic. I use the tools I have - my mind, my hands, the equipment - to create something from nothing. I believe that the power of music can make people feel a certain way, or portray an idea, or tell a story. It's something that everyone can understand, no matter their background or place in life. To turn something that only exists in someone else's mind into something they can see and touch...there's no feeling quite like it. It's hard to explain. I feel like most people have this sensation at some point or another in their lives, but I get to do it for a career. I love seeing the look of satisfaction on an artist's face when they hear their song, mixed and perfected, for the first time. The best feeling is when someone appreciates your work and tells you they love it.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: My biggest musical influences are The Beatles, who propelled song writing and recording forward with their introspective lyrics and innovative techniques. They helped to mold the way that I approach my own music, and the way I think about creativity. I am also a huge fan of Jeff Lynne and Electric Light Orchestra. From them, I learned that the creation of meaningful music is more important than the tools used to create it. This lesson is one that has stuck with me my entire life, and influenced everything I create.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I have been playing music since I was 10, teaching myself to play the piano and guitar. I also picked up the bass and drums later on. During my high school and college years, I learned how to record my songs, engineering, mixing and all. After getting my music degree and teaching in public school for a few years, I decided to go into IT instead but still teach voice, piano, and composition privately. As I became more interested in digital music production, I taught myself audio engineering using DAWs like Pro Tools and now, I've worked on multiple recording projects as a producer, songwriter, and mixing engineer in varying degrees over 10+ years. I'm also an experienced podcast host and producer, and enjoy doing voiceover work now and then.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I personally prefer to work digitally because it’s much easier to correct mistakes or embellish parts of the song that the artist wants to highlight. Digital sound is crisp and clean, and can be manipulated easily, allowing for unlimited options at the press of a button. If we record part of a song and think it could be better, I can just go in and change it. I don’t have to re-record anything, which saves time and allows the artist, producer, and mixer to be more creative with how the final product could sound. This has allowed me to focus on the creative vision rather than being a slave to the technical limitations of equipment. When I was a teenager, I recorded and mixed the songs I wrote using conventional stereo tape decks and a mixing board. While this worked, it was extremely time-consuming and much more limiting. If I wanted to make a part of a song sound a little better, or different, I had to rerecord that part and hope I got it right. That wasn’t always easy. Although it did teach me the value of beginning a recording with a clear vision of the end product so the final result wouldn't require as much fixing later. The major revolution in music occurred when music recording went from analog to digital. The old format required a physical recording medium, commonly tape. The classic methods are revered for a reason, but also have their own limitations and issues with the way they capture and render sound. The switch to digital recording made it easier for anyone to produce music, and had the effect of opening up the industry to everyone. It is possible to get good sound with little to no experience, and in the hands of an experienced professional, the sky is the limit.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: The music isn't the most important part of music production, but it's definitely the most fun! It's easy to get lost in the sounds, the notes, the rhythms, and everything there is to love about music. That can cause people to overlook the most important part: the song. That's right, the song itself! It's easy to get wrapped up in the sound of an 808 bass or a simple synth melody, but it's important to remember that those things are only there to support the song. When you're producing a song, sometimes the most important thing is to take a step back and make sure that the music serves the song above all else.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I've always been proud of my debut album. I recorded it over a summer, in my bedroom when I was a teenager. I wrote the songs myself and figured out how to play every instrument - mostly using a keyboard to synthesize all the parts - and recorded them in my own style. I had no idea how multitrack recording worked, so I had to invent a crude method of shuffling cassette tapes back and forth between two tape decks, as I layered each new instrument over the others. Oh, the tape hiss! I cringe to remember the tape hiss!
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I'm very in-tune with people's emotions, and I'm able to find a melody or a beat that fits those emotions perfectly. When I was younger, I used to have a hard time dealing with this talent. I didn't want to have such a strong ability to understand other's emotions, but when applied to music it's like a super-power! I'm able to take a mess of emotions, and mold them into something people can connect with. Even if the initial emotion is sad, I'm able to take that feeling and shape it into a song that people can enjoy.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I usually work on projects that sound like they're performed by a real band, even if some or all of it is created digitally. I typically don't produce or mix synth pop, EDM, and the like. I enjoy working with people who take time and effort into crafting their sound. It's easy to get wrapped up in the sounds you can create with synthesizers, drum machines, and samplers, but at the end of the day I enjoy creating something that sounds real and has deep feeling in it. The other things are fun to play around with, but at the end of the day I want to see the band onstage playing the music we've created in the studio.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I record and mix everything in my home studio. I use the industry-standard recording software, Pro Tools, as well as the popular music creation program, Cubase. I have a wonderful Yamaha Motif XF8 that is a joy to play, and it's extremely versatile in recording. I have dozens upon dozens of virtual instruments I can use in tracking new instruments and sounds. It's the perfect environment for mixing and recording, and I am extremely comfortable in the studio.