Want the real thing on your drum tracks? Are you a group or songwriter who can't find a drummer in time to meet your project deadline? Interested in improving your guitar or bass tracks? Need better sounds on your vocal or keyboard tracks or maybe a vintage keyboard sound? You're in the right place. Designed and delivered to fit your songs.
Full service studio built for remote collaboration (video conferencing/audio conferencing) Can provide multi track drums or 2 track stereo mix. I can provide full service re-amping of guitar and bass tracks as well using a huge array of guitar modeling hardware and effects. Keyboards needing a different sound or sonic improvements are done using the Kontakt/Native Instrument platform with a large variety of virtual instruments and samples.
I also offer and provide full band mixes and mastering services using tools by Neve, SSL, Universal Audio, Summit Audio, Tube Tech as well as digital versions of the equipment used at Abbey Road and Ocean Way Studios.
I'd love to hear about your project. Click the 'Contact' button above to get in touch.
- Kevin Pittman- Victrola Mouth Drummer and Co-Producer
- Nat King Kong- Kong of the Jangle Drummer and Producer
- Jimmy Catlett- The Big Beat Drummer and Producer
- Jimmy Catlett- Waiting to Fall Off the Earth. Drummer and Producer
- Wit Lincolns- Sundog. Drummer and Producer
- Craig MacNaughton- Shaken Not Stirred
ReviewsEndorse Kim Haynie
Interview with Kim Haynie
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: My first preference is to work with analog source and do the editing and final stages in digital. There are conveniences in digital (automation) that you do not get on an analog desk (unless you are working in a very high-end studio). My facility is not equipped for editing tape. That said, if you have access to an analog desk, the ability to route through analog channel strips/outboard gear offers a more pleasing sonic experience. I will say that the digital plug-ins being offered now are pretty faithful to the original in most cases....
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Have a good demo that lays out the idea. Settle on a tempo for the song. A scratch vocal really helps. Comparisons to other songs can be helpful, sometimes the artist will want to see what I produce without a lot of guidance (this is fun too, if you have the time for a few iterations). For revamping or restoration, be able to explain what's missing from the original and what is the vision for the improvement. For a mixing or mastering project, best to have consolidated stems with track edits already in place. Ensure levels are within range that allow for mix and mastering headroom. Best to minimize compression at the tracking stage so that there is room for the track to go when working in finalizing the songs.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been doing music since I was 16 years old. I was raised in a small town in Virginia where there weren't resources for lessons (pre-YouTube here) and not a lot of bands or clubs to play in. You had to make your own thing happen. So me and my high school buddies did. Learned to play drums by ear and kept playing in bands. Started recording when we could afford tape machines and the old 4 track stuff. Had my first real recording sessions in college and just kept doing it and learning along the way. I used to keep a journal of what I didn't like about songs I'd recorded on so I could use the lessons down the road. Moved with a band out to Los Angeles to compete for a contract. Was fortunate enough to work with really talented people in good studios (A&M, Conway, the old Eldorado on Hollywood Boulevard) to help understand the fundamentals of recording. After moving back to Virginia, produced 3 albums for independent artists and just released the 4th, 'Victrola Mouth from Kevin Pittman.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Core of the system is Pro Tools with Universal Audio Apollo as the DAW. I use Mackie 828 reference monitors along with Aurotones for mid-range reference. For beats and samples, I used Reason and Logic for song ideas to get to a part or idea quickly. Drum parts can go a few ways. For clients under deadline that need drum replacement quickly, I utilize a huge library of samples and loops, acoustic mostly. If clients want a live performance, I use a Roland TD50KV electronic kit as well as a Pearl acoustic Masters Reference maple shell kit. If a client wants to swap out guitar parts, I offer a dozen electric guitars and tons of effects with re-amping (hardware and software) to really dial in tones. If a client has an idea for a vintage keyboard sound or just want better sounding pianos, I use Kontakt and Native Instruments as the backbone but also leverage my acoustic piano. If clients need to recut vocals then I have a great vocal booth and some really great tube mics. Vocal comps are no problem but I do not use Autotune. If we need to sing it again then we sing it again....... Mixing projects are done in the box and utilize a huge library of plug-ins from UA, Plug-in Alliance, Soft Toys and others. Mastering is done in Wavelab and completed projects can be directly shipped directly to manufacturer from my studio if required. If clients are looking for someone else to mix and/or master, I have partners who can easily accommodate.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Most of my work is split between recording artist recording projects and creating or restoring drum tracks for songwriters or bands currently without a drummer. I am also doing track augmentation/restoration for guitars, bass and keyboards.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I think the most recent release, Victrola Mouth by Kevin Pittman. It was a two year effort and done remotely due to Covid, the engineering credit was almost as important as the credit for playing drums. It was very satisfying since Kevin and I grew up together, still working on music as we have for many years. I am hoping he decides to do a follow up. Along with that, the first two Jimmy Catlett albums were my first in the role of producer/co-producer. I think we got a great translation of the artist on the final product, great songs are always helpful.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: For drum tracks, I can immediately come up with something as soon as you hear the guiding tracks. Sometimes it takes a few cycles to come up with something that is memorable for the client. For mixing and mastering, stacking plug-ins to get the perfect sound. You can't turn everything up. Sometimes you make reductions in levels and use subtractive EQ to get the desired balance. Let the music do the talking'. For re-tracking or restoration, the idea that anything can be fixed. If the basics are poorly recorded at source, it can be an uphill battle. For vocal work, I don't like to use autotune and sometimes you just need to have clients re-track it. Vocal comps shouldn't take days or weeks to do....
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: How did you come up with the idea? What is the song about? What audience are you trying to reach? What is the overall song structure? What is your vision for the drums/guitars/keyboards (subtle, meaty, indie, aggressive?) Do you have any references on songs or tracks that you want me to listen to to help with recording or track composition? Most importantly, when do you want final product (no one forgets to ask this one!)
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Mostly straight down the middle rock but injecting some interesting turnarounds and fills that work within the framework of the song. Sonically I like drums that are tight and dry but no overpowering. I like things kind of dry in the construction phase, ambience can be created later. For revamping or restoration work, I partner with the artist to understand their vision and usually request some ballpark comparisons to help dial in things. Sometimes clients are looking for rare vintage keys and in other cases they just want their acoustic pianos to sound different. I focus on making sure the construction is solid and then work to create the vibe whether it's adding air or other effects to match the vision. Each project is different.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: As it relates to drums, understanding what the song is calling for and developing parts that are built to focus on the song, not the drums. You are looking for that heartbeat but it doesn't require overly elaborate parts. I tend to focus more on what Charlie Watts and Stan Lynch would do by keeping parts simple and giving them room to breathe.The drums need to drive the track but too many notes can be a problem. The point is: the song is the boss so I will work with other drummers and bands to show them how to slice things out, sort of addition by subtraction.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: This is always a tough one to list because I draw on so many influences. Music production influences come from Flood, Jimmy Iovine, Matt Wallace, Daniel Lanois and many others. For musicians I tend to gravitate towards bands rather than solo artists. Tom Petty and the Heatbreakers, the Stones, Black Keys and Death Cab for Cutie. For newer artists, I really like The War on Drugs. Anyone that still gets people around microphones and captures the live energy of music
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: A solo jazz guitar album. It is being done low-fi with mono tracks and classic Bill Putnam-era tools to create that 60's Wes Montgomery sound.I have another client that is interested in doing an electric blues thing that could also be very fun. I also have an independent artist who likes the indie thing, sort of like Wilco, Guided by Voices and Sparklehorse. I like a variety of projects to keep things fresh. I am talking to Jimmy Catlett about doing a new album in 2023 as well.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: What kinds of drums are you going to use? Will you play them or program them? (Up to the client, each is priced differently) Will I get to hear a draft somewhere in the middle to make sure it's on track? (Absolutely, as soon as there is enough of an idea to share I will send a draft for review and feedback. Adjustments made and go from there) Two track mix or multi-track? ( I can do either)How will I get the final product and in what format? (In .WAV format and resolution from 44.1 to 96 and delivered via Dropbox or We Transfer)
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Going to cheat a little and assume a Computer with DAW capability doesn't count! My five are UA 1176, Neve Pre-Amp, SSL 4000 Channel Strip, Vocal mic (Neumann U87), Coles Ribbon mic (pair)
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I would love to work with Mike Campbell; he has an ability to come up with memorable parts that work with the overall song. Dream gig would be to sit down and play drums on a Neil Finn tune, very underrated songwriter.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: You will get my best. I listen to the client and don't try to steer clients to my natural biases. This is how I learn and grow. I don't accept new work if I am currently working on three projects at once. Not fair to anyone. I like to work quick but in some cases, the artist needs options before making final decisions so I am patient as well. If the request isn't something I can do well, I will tell the client that they may be better off with a different producer/engineer.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Hearing the client vision for what they are trying to do and understanding that so I can do the work and then ultimately see the positive vibe when the product has been delivered. Feeling that I did all I could and the client got good value for the fees charged.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Not at the moment
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: For drums, the fact that I am a drummer means I will develop parts in mind that a drummer can play live. If you can't play it live, probably shouldn't deliver it that way; the client may want to showcase the songs live without having to hire a virtuoso to pull it off. That said, I am doing more and more work that is hybrid using acoustic tracks mingled with beats and loops. Similar to restoring or improving guitar and keyboard tracks, I've logged a lot of studio hours and learned a lot from not focusing just on drums but on all the instruments. You have to understand what works for the whole project, not just your primary instrument. Some of it is learning by trial and error.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Mostly rock. I do not do a lot in the urban hip space currently but have recently done a few projects using loops and other electronica under the primary drums for texture. If you are looking for help using acoustic drums, guitars and keyboards and it's Americana, Rock, Country, R&B, Soul, then I can probably help you
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Focus on a few things to guide the final product rather than 20 things. Keep the arrangement simple and focus on clarity for each instrument. I know that sounds cliche but if you don't get those things right during the tracking phase, they are are tough to rescue in the mix stage.....
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I'll receive an idea from a client, maybe there is a piano or guitar part and then a scratch vocal to go with it to get the basic song idea. Some clients want drum parts from that and from there it's an email or phone call, maybe a zoom video conference to gain clarity on what the end product looks like. Once agreed, I'll start working and manage to the agreed schedule. For larger recording projects, a project plan is generated and signed off before starting. Single tracks take anywhere from 5-7 days, albums vary based on what I'm asked to do.