What's your 'promise' to your clients?
I promise that they will sound better when they leave than when they arrive...and if nothing else, you'll get to hear some good stories.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I've been doing this a long time.
I started out as drummer, most notably with The Diodes, and it was with them that I discovered the possibilities of the studio, having recorded with them in London's fabled Morgan Studios.
I also recorded with Ian Guenther & George Semkiw at Amber Studios in Toronto, and they really taught me how to LISTEN.
After that I started to produce my own stuff.
What type of music do you usually work on?
I've worked with all sorts, but generally I work in some sort of EDM style, making sure that they sound like "proper" songs rather than just sampled jabbering with beats.
I also produce a lot of local hip hop artists, none of whom you would have heard of, who are usually looking to sound like either Rick Ross, Drake or The Weeknd. I'm not sure how close I get to any of them, but I do my best!
What do you bring to a song?
Arranging is my real strong suit. Often people will come to me with songs that are half-formed or poorly arranged. I can very quickly sort that out for them, cut out the dead wood etc., and then we can get on with making the record sound great.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
Since there wouldn't be any electricity on the island, I'd take an acoustic guitar and a ukulele.
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
I'm proud of all of them, but I was pretty pleased with "Everybody Loves You When You're Dead". We had a lot of guest vocalists on the chorus and initially it was a bit like Band Aid where I was worried about the politics, but I got some good advice from (I think) Craig Leon to just put it together the way I thought it sounded best, and of course he was right.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm currently writing some new Lola Dutronic songs.
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
Not that I'm aware of...
Analog or digital and why?
Analog is great, but the downside outweighs the upside...at least it does for me.
What do you like most about your job?
Every day is different.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
Will you work for free?
The answer is no!
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
That I can work miracles with Autotune!
It's a great tool, but it really helps if you sing reasonably in tune to start with.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
1. What can you do?
2. What do you like?
3. What/who do you want to sound like? (It's a good starting point)
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Be clear about what you want, so that that there's no misunderstandings.
How would you describe your style?
Proper songs with electro elements and beats.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
In recent years she's been trying to sound like anyone other than herself, and I'd like to rectify that situation.
Can you share one music production tip?
Get to the point!
What's your strongest skill?
I've got a really good ear for hooks and arrangements, I also like to think I know a hit when I hear one, which comes in handy when you're trying to decide which songs to work on. For instance, I saw The 1975 on SNL at the beginning of the year, and while a lot of people don't like them in general and their lead singer in particular, I heard "The Sound", and I said to my wife "That's a Number One record!" About a month later their album went to #1 on both sides of the Atlantic! So there you go...
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Danger Mouse & Phil Spector
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
I generally record things from scratch, playing most, if not all of the instruments and making all the beats.
I spend a lot of time comping and tuning up the vocals. For me that's the element that can make or break a track, so you can't cut corners.