Let my mixing be the Magic you sprinkle onto a good song. Let's transform it into a Great one.
Hi. I’m Clay Pruitt, an L.A.-based Production Engineer, with nearly 25 years of recording experience to my credit. I am also an expert-level Guitarist, Songwriter, and a sought-after Vocalist within the L.A. music scene.
That fact gives me a great empathy for you: The Musician. I can be your Whisperer, providing solid studio skills, a set of very good ears-for Tone, Rhythm and Arrangement-and I can collaborate with you to bring your musical vision into a wonderful, fully fleshed out song, worthy of airplay anywhere.
If session work is what you are looking for-or are looking both for someone to add to your mix, while bringing it all together into a final cohesive whole, I can happily provide those services too. Here is a price list for some of those extra services-all on a per song basis:
Guitar (Electric and Acoustic): $125
Send me a note through the contact button above.
5 ReviewsEndorse Clay Pruitt
I enlisted Clay's help for some voiceover work on an animation project I was working on. He is friendly, collaborative, talented and knowledgeable—a consummate professional. Highly recommended!
CLAY knows the WAY to make you sound and groove better! Working with you is a pleasure. Knowing you is an honor! KEEP IT UP!!!
I've worked with Clay as a vocalist, musician, and a recording engineer. Clay's masterful technical skills parallels his commanding musicianship! He is very adept at capturing the musical needs of an artist and what they want to convey, and then translating it into something satisfying and wonderful. I highly recommend him!
Clay’s technical talents combined with his easy going nature and great ear made my recording experience a true pleasure. I highly recommend his sevices!
Clay Pruitt is a passionate heart centered artist who is a leader and co-creator of composition and love. Clay is a blessing to the projects he’s involved with and offers personal and professional investment. 💖🙏💖
Interview with Clay Pruitt
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Well, I have always regarded Music as being one of the most important aspects of Human Life. Really. I mean, imagine this: at the snap of a finger, ALL THE MUSIC in the world DISAPPEARS. Imagine how that would be. If you think there wouldn't be an immediate uproar to BRING BACK THE MUSIC IMMEDIATELY, well I think you'd be pretty mistaken. So, really, ANY music maker holds a supremely important role in Life-one that I feel is actually not nearly as lauded-or as appropriately rewarded-relative to it's place in life. I have always loved putting songs together and experiencing how one part automatically affects another part, and how all the parts depend on the other parts in order to make the cohesive whole. That's why I find Mixing so thrilling.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: How long will it take and do I charge for revisions. As far as the length of time needed for your average 3 1/2-4 minute long song, I generally take 1-2 days to crank out a mix that I'm happy with. If I'm busy then you can generally add another day to that. My philosophy on revisions is: I want to be just as happy with my work as you want to be, so I'm generally welcoming about revisions. Most revisions tend not to be of the "major re-working" variety, and are to be expected. If a major re-working is called for, as long as it was not created by some major change of direction, or a miscommunication or lack of inner clarity on the part of the client then even those not are considered a big deal. If a client should unilaterally decide on a major change in direction, then the ensuing revisions/remixes might spur the need for a reasonable renegotiation of our terms, but almost anything can be worked out. I'm pretty easy.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: Almost 25 years. I started as an aspiring Singer/Songwriter with a lot more vision and ambition than technical skills. Fronting enough bands that I found I had no ability to steer (because of my lack of understanding of Theory and Technique) I finally made the commitment to myself that I would do whatever it took to make sure I could "speak the language" to any musician I worked with, to make sure I would be able to control my vision. So I bought a keyboard and then a guitar, fell head over heels in love with Guitar and The Blues, and spent the next 5 years in the woodshed learning about 10 years worth of it. Educated myself on Music, Rock 'n Roll by reading great bios on all my heroes. Became an able band leader/Singer/Writer/Soloist of my own band, a sought-out music teacher, and through it all, recording, recording, recording. It's been a wonderful ride.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: An Acoustic Guitar, a lot of pencils and paper (for writing), a Djembe, a battery-operated laptop and . . . A LOT of batteries :)
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Classic-sounding. Natural. Without obvious artifice. Big, but without ostentation.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Get the sound right on the way in. Record it as good as you possibly can. Through good Preamps, occasionally with a small bit of compression. All these things will make the mix almost just fall into place. MUCH easier!
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I work on a lot of Singer/Songwriter songs, I've done Inspirational and Spiritual, and Americana. Basically anything that seeks out a natural, life-like sound.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That anyone can do it. That all you need is to go out buy the first DAW you come across, get a Scarlett and Viola: you know how to mix. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mixing takes more than just knowing how to move a group of faders up and down. Way, way more. Taste. Experience. Technical knowledge. The list goes on and on.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What do you hear? How do you hear it? If necessary I ask clients to vocalize their sounds when possible (I vocalize instruments, moves, and musical moments all the time-it's very helpful). What sort of timeframe do we have? How was it recorded. What are you really happy with in the recording? What are you not happy with.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Just know that the song is where it's at. No amount of production can cure a song that's not particularly remarkable. But, as long as you've got a truly good song, trust me: a good mix can completely uplevel that song into something no one can forget. So look for someone who knows they are a compliment to you, not a wizard who can turn lead into gold.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Well, here comes a Worm Can opening :) I'm going to start by saying that it's never just as simple saying that one is unequivocally better than the other. Both are completely viable choices. Having said that, I will also state that I am a happy convert to the thrilling usefulness of Analog Summing. There IS a difference. Sometimes it's differences lie in the margins, in amounts that might sometimes lay to question the worth of it all. A mixes response to Analog Summing quite often depends on the material, and how it was recorded and who is mixing it (and whether or not that Mixer knows how to maximize the magic that Analog Summing can impart). Done right, I find that Analog Summing can bring out spatial details that increase a sense of 3D, and for a Mixer like myself, who finds natural, life-like sounding soundscapes thrilling, this alone makes Analog my go-to choice. Also: mixing with Analog components is just a lot more fun! Nothing beats the twist of an actual knob to get a "feel" for the task. There: let the flame war begin :)
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise to bring all my experience and skill to bear to bring out the best mix I can for them. I promise to treat their songs with the same attention to detail, the same feeling of specialness that I use with my own. I promise impeccable reliability, ethical dealings and personable communications and advice.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: If we're talking about within a Music Production standpoint, I think I'd have to say, as I just mentioned, my abilities as an Arranger. I've never been the type of artist who watched a song sort of "create itself" in front of my eyes. Again: I always had a very definite idea of the song structure in my head-fully fleshed out, orchestrated and ready to be birthed. So that gives me a really good anchor for the artist I'm working with to assist in their direction. It can be easy to get bogged down during the creation of a song without a clear vision of where the song is going, how it begins, where it ends, where is the Chorus (IS there a chorus), etc. One person involved in that production whom possesses a strong vision of that song can be a God send, and can help the writers cut through a lot of the cobwebs and cul-de-sacs of Trial and Error.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I bring a really good grasp of the "overall vison" of a song. As a songwriter, most of my songs tend to sort of "appear" to me in a pretty complete, almost finished way. This is what I mean by that. I have a very good sense of the arrangement of a song, essentially from the first listen. I can hear instrumentation, fader moves, background vocals, dynamics, things like that naturally, and at this point I know how to get the sounds I'm hearing in my head very quickly in a mix. It's a wonderful consequence of having mixed for over two decades: when I first started out, it often felt like this sound I was hearing was like a winged horse that I could labor for weeks trying to capture, and yet never seem to be able to lasso. Happily, I'm way beyond that now: whatever soundscapes I'm trying to create in the moment I know how to get, and I'm grateful that experience has taught me how to do this.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: The Black Crowes are are (or maybe I should say "were"? Who knows with them) a truly great band. They are a really great live act to see, and I have always loved how adventurous their writing is. They come up with progressions that are unexpected, and ones that "shouldn't be able to work in a Rock 'n Roll context, and yet they make them work anyhow. I would say the same about Bowie. It's always a thrill to listen to something like "Watch That Man" and to think to myself "how on earth could you have known that those chord changes would actually ROCK together?!" It's always inspiring to me to see songwriters and musicians make risky choices like that, and to be there when they pay off. As far as Production goes, one of my favorite producers is Steve Albini. I LOVE how much he respects "The Room". Some of his recordings are wonderfully ambient. I thought that Don Was and Chris Lord-Alge did a wonderful job on Black Crowes' "Lions". It's a very textured sound that really captures the vital energy of a great band-it's sound is big, boisterous while at the same time being just polished enough. This is not easy to do, but they did it well.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Once I recieve stems I usually set them up into channels in my DAW, each having an instance of UAD Studer A800 for some automatic Glue and analoge vibe, that always seems to work well. Once the mixing starts, I personally always start with the second-most important instrument there is: The Drums! It's where everything begins and ends-it's literally Time itself! :) OK, now that I've gotten my love of Drums out of the way, seriously though: the Drums is where it's at. So much can be determined by the drums, beyond simple time-keeping. The drums can denote huge amounts of information about the space the song is existing in; it dictates so much about the mood of a song section-and of the song as a whole-that I find that once the drums are good, the rest of the song just tends to come together sort of easy. If there needs to be any "space enhancement" through the use of, say, the UAD Ocean Way plug in-over the drums or even over other instruments throughout the mix-then those decisions are made now, and will repeated with other instruments throughout the mixing process- Once that's done I set the rest of the tonal instruments into "the room" so I can have something to mix the vocals to. The vocals are the most important instrument there is, and it has to be surrounded, supported and complimented by everything else, so initially the voice is set quite high. And this is because I have learned that, once everything else is mixed in, that relatively high volume has evolved into a volume that is "just right', next to everything else. Guitars and/or any other tonal instruments come next. I usually look for what I call moments of "Commentary" (musical moments wherein an instrument is playing an interesting line or figure-oftentimes accenting something that has just been sung) and I find a way, through mixing, to set those moments apart and make them special. They are present in a good song more often than not, and it's my job to find them and make them really pop, in a way that supports the song as a whole. That's a really fun part of mixing. Any vocal or instrumental overdubs that might be needed tend to happen here, once the entire "soundscape" has taken a definite shape-mostly because I know that my feelings I had about the song when I first started the mix can be wonderfully different once I've reached the point of "rough/near done mix". The vocals-with the surrounding music now appearing more prominently in the mix-might suggest something to the vocalist that wasn't readily apparent in the beginning of the process. The keyboards might suggest a slight change to a lick here, a riff there, once heard against the guitars and bass in this section or that, and so forth and so on. These sort of discoveries can take place in this moment, after I've gotten the "rough mix" up and running. I love stereo summing various stems through my pairs of preamps after mixing as I definitely find that it adds a width, separation and presence to a mix after the fact. Final sweetening of the mix with various UAD Plug ins such as Precision Maximizer, Precision Buss Compressor and Multi-band Compressor. Usually the mix is capped off by running it through a single instance of UAD Ampex ATR-102 Tape emulator on the Main Output buss.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have a really good and effective collection of Preamps at this point. I have Neve-based boxes for when I want something to sound really '70s-like, with a lot of harmonic warmth (the GAP Pres), and when I want to be a bit brasher, and more clean yet in-your-face I have API-based boxes (the Warm Audio Pres). But though they're not really known for being a "charactered" Pre, my favorite tends to be the Focusrite box I have (ISA Two). It can be difficult to describe how it sounds. It's not what I would call a "brash" preamp so much as a really polished one. It sort of effortlessly sets up the signals that you feed through it with a sense of "up front-ness", and an entire mix with a real cohesion and a really pro-level "polish". That's the best way I can describe it.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Mostly recording and mixing, all done on the same songs. My clients have tended to come to me with a song that needs recording, and then naturally, I will mix it afterwards.