Fortunate enough to been at the helm of a few albums you've maybe gotten sick of listening to.
I'm a producer and audio engineer who grew up making punk and indie records in Los Angeles, CA (cliché), who now works out of my studio in a converted, 100-year-young cathedral in Boston, MA (less cliché). I value helping artists realize their vision and create great-sounding records in a setting and manner that is relaxed and fun.
You can learn more about my personal studio at beartonestudio.com
I'd love to hear about your project. Click the 'Contact' button above to get in touch.
- Local Natives
- Big Thief
- Bad Rabbits
- Strand Of Oaks
- New Found Glory
- John Shakespear
- Atlas Lab
- White Cassette
- Salem Wolves
- The Wolff Sisters
- Noble Dust
- Moss Ives
- Strangers by Accident
- Dove and the Wolf
- Goody Grace
- Salt the Earth
- Hope & Things
- Breakdance Vietnam
- Savoir Faire
- Juniper Youth
- The Starting Line
- Wyn Doran
- The Dead Milkmen
- Sufjan Stevens
- Hop Along
- Little Tybee
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Interview with Devon Dawson
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both! Because they're different and each has pros and cons.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: There is always – truly, always – a moment in a session where an artist is overwhelmed by the idea that a dream or vision is being realized. They get emotional, and are transported to a higher plane. I love that. It's the best feeling on the planet to know you helped someone take something deep within their core and brought it to the surface.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Many people don't totally understand the role of a producer––especially in a world where producers, engineers, and mixers are all the same person. I try to explain to them that at every step of the process my job is to help get the best out of the song.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: Producers are not type A people who need to be running the show vocally. Well, unless we need to be. There are times where I barely speak because, in that moment, I feel the best thing I can do is let something good keep happening. Other times, I will try to help steer the ship if I think it's running off-course.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Typically, I ask questions that seem highly cinematic and abstract to the craft, but help me understand the context of what we're trying to achieve. What scene in a movie would this song play in? What's the backstory of the song? How do you feel when you hear it? Sometimes, the artist hasn't thought of the song this way, and answering these questions helps them clarify their vision as well.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Be transparent. It's hard to reach the same goals if we're not honest and open about what the target looks like.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: I think you can record an entire album with a decent large diaphragm condenser mic, so I'd take my Telefunken u47. A versatile compressor like an 1176 would be great. I'd need a good set of monitors, too. And lastly, the obvious answer would be a laptop with a DAW. That's only four pieces of gear, so let's choose a tent as the last piece of gear. :)
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been producing professionally for almost two decades... which is shocking. I grew up in Los Angeles and always knew I wanted to produce music––when everyone was obsessed with being rockstars as kids, I'd look at the back of albums and think the mixing boards and microphones seemed fun. I loved playing guitar, and was lucky enough to secure session gigs playing on records when I was in high school. Eventually, that translated into engineering gigs, which evolved into producing gigs, and the rest is history.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Adaptable. I'm generally laid back and don't take myself too seriously. Having said that, sometimes it's crucial to provide tough love. I always want the artists to know that I am ultimately working for them, though that sometimes means pushing them to places that make them uncomfortable.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I've been super fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with several artists that I admire, but the list of who I'd love to work with also grows. I've yet to do anything with Angel Olsen and I think she's a genius and would love that. Also groups that are truly pushing boundaries that would challenge me, like The Bad Plus.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Listen. Listen to other genres. Other songs. Other ideas. What every instrument but your own is doing. To critiques. To intuition. Just listen more.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Indie-rock, Americana, folk.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Collaboration and knowing the right Mexican food to order for every vibe.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Outside perspective. I work for the song, which means I will intentionally try to be an outsider who will offer up ideas and suggestions to get the best out of you and to make songs reach the potential every artist sees in them.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: This varies from project to project. The consistent things I try to provide regardless of what I am working on is professionalism (I'm on top, reasonably priced, and will consistently communicate because that shit matters) and comfort (artists should always feel safe to be vulnerable, take risks, and feel like their hopes for the songs are driving their decision-making).
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I'm fortunate enough to have a beautiful studio that I've built in the rectory of an 1890s church. It has a wonderful live room that leverages the vaulted ceilings and odd dimensions to create a unique vibe, and record with a balance of high-end vintage/new and digital/outboard gear––a true hybrid setup. Without going into too many details, it's a professional studio that can comfortably accommodate digital or analog needs. To learn more about my studio, feel free to check out https://beartonestudio.com
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I continue to be amazed by The Beatles and production team around them at that time (George Martin, Geoff Emerick, etc.). There are other contemporary mixers and producers that I really enjoy. Tom Elmhurst is a wonderful mixer, and I'm not sure I've ever heard a Jon Congleton record that doesn't sound spectacular yet sonically unique. I appreciate how Peter Katis and Greg Giorgio make these dark, bass-heavy records that still sound hi-fi. Nigel Godrich earns his namesake.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: My work varies not only from artist-to-artist, but song-to-song––which is great. Producing is sometimes as detailed as helping unlock a song's potential by arrangements, re-organizing things, playing multiple instruments. Other times, the best thing I can do is shut up and get the hell out of the way so a great song can be captured and brought to life. So I produce, arrange, play, write, critique, edit, mix, and master––all in the interest of making the song better.