I'm a Pro Tools Certified Instructor, studio engineer and guitarist with 15+ years of experience. I love working with many genres, but focus on pop and acoustic-based music. With an ear towards realism and mojo, I like to stay true to your sound without being afraid to get creative and push creative boundaries.
I have a very diverse musical background but focus primarily on mixing music in my professional home studio.
I charge $50/hour, you send me tracks, I send you a mix you'll love. If you don't love it, the first round of revisions is free! After that, the same rate applies to all tweaks. Most songs are complete within 3-6 hours total.
I can master your tracks as well, but I always advise a mastering engineer be brought in if budget allows.
In the box -or- full analog mixes possible. I can transfer your digital multitracks to tape for an analog mix. Hybrid setups available too!
Mastering services are available on request.
My background includes rock, pop, blues, and folk music. Both on-stage, in the studio, and on the road. From session work to sideman, from either side of the glass, from guitar building and repair to installing sound systems and mixing broadcast audio.
I have toured with and mixed for artists like Sarah Jarosz, Jeff Daniels (yes, THAT Jeff Daniels), Emilia Amper, Howard Glazer, Daniel Harrison and the $2 Highway, and many more.
Tell me about your project and how I can help, through the 'Contact' button above.
Interview with Joe Giese - Disco Sheriff
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I recorded and mixed a blues record last year called "Ain't Gonna Worry About Tomorrow" by Detroit blues legends Howard Glazer and Harmonica Shah. It was their first record together in quite a few years and we tracked everything live in one or two takes. Most of the songs were improvised on the spot and the record has been getting airplay and rave reviews all over the world. It was released on Canadian label Electro-Fi records.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: At the moment, I'm in pre-production for two albums that will begin as soon as it's safe to have clients back in my studio. Both folk/country.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I'm new here, can't wait to make some connections!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both. Digital is practical and sounds perfect. Analog is fun and sounds delicious.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: My promise to to treat their creations with the same love and affection I'd treat my own or my child's. I want them to be happy and to feel respected as artists and as humans.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love listening to new music. Being able to actually create new music is just one notch up from that!
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: I often get asked the analog vs digital question which I'll answer below. Other than that, I often get asked about budget, how long will the project take, and if I can master the album too. As for budget, I charge $50/hour flat rate. However, as a musician myself, I can understand that this might seem expense to some people starting out. I advise them to just wait and save up, I can work quickly and deliver great results. Plus I'm not a stickler for hours on the clock, and often round down with the number of hours I bill for. I never bill for chatting or getting coffee. As for timeline, that's just a matter of managing expectations. Sometimes I'm very available and can turn around a finished 10 song record in a week, other times it takes much longer. Talk to me, I'm happy to figure something out that works for both of us. As for mastering, I can certainly master a project I also mix, but I always suggest hiring a different engineer. I find mastering to be a great gig, and I've done plenty, but the benefit of having a second pair of ears on the mixes is so incredibly valuable, it's almost always worth it. Serve the song.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That I sit down and click buttons all day. I think most of my time is spent listening with my eyes closed.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: This could be a very long list. I like to talk with clients a lot. I think it's important to get to know each other before working together. I like to know about the recording process, who gets final say on creative decisions, what's the project timeline, have they ever had someone else mix their material, is anyone in the band an engineer themselves, what was the inspiration for the songs, who are their favorite bands/artists, are they planning to use a mastering engineer, delivery formats, and favorite records growing up are the first few that come to mind.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Take time to listen to a few sound samples, but most importantly, reach out and talk to the engineer. Communication is key, and it's great to get to know the people handling your work.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: My Hedd Audio monitors, a computer with Pro Tools, a control surface, an 1176, and an SM58.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I started recording music on cassettes with my best friend Jon as 11 year old boys. We stayed in bands together well into our 20s and made many records while touring at the same time. I got into live sound at age 18 and have been the technical manager at a folk venue called The Ark in Ann Arbor MI since 2014. I tour the world as a FOH engineer or backline tech, and spend the rest of the time in my studio. My father is an physicist and acoustician by trade so I received a technical education from a very early age. I have a background in loudspeaker design, as well as instrument and electronics repair. I build guitars and studio furniture as a hobby.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: My style is lumberjack meets anglophile. Next question.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Paul McCartney, Mark Knopfler and David Gilmour. Paul is obvious. Mark is one of my favorite songwriters and guitarists of all time, I love the sound of his Dire Straits records but his solo material has been inspirational for years. Gilmour is quite similar. His songwriting is second-to-non, and his voice is just incredible. All three seem like wonderful people to get creative with, or to simply share a meal.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Work quickly and make sure your gear can do what you need while staying out of the way so as not to stifle creativity. Know your gear intimately so you can forget about it.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I like to focus on Americana and pop, but I like being diverse too. I enjoy the challenge of something new.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My strongest skill is communication. I pride myself in being able to interpret what an artist wants. Our world is filled with loose terminology like "punchy" and "gritty" and those words mean different things to different people. I like to get under the hood with clients and really make sure I can deliver exactly the sounds that they hear in their head. Second to that, I like to work quickly. I find it keeps the energy going and inspiration flowing.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: As a musician, I think the main thing I bring to your song is my ability to separate the technical from the artistic. I'm only here to serve the song with every decision I make. With a broad background in many styles vibes, I can add diversity to keep your song from sounding like everything else on the radio, while at the same time having an intimate knowledge of what acoustic instruments are supposed to sound like and how they play together in the real world. I'm not set in my ways and I'm always looking to try new things. Second to that, I feel one of my specialties is getting a very close, intimate vocal sound.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I love being as involved as possible. I like to communicate with the artist ahead of time to understand their expectations and preferences. Then, I like to get a song that's ready to mix, spend an hour with it getting to know the tracks, listening to the rough, and checking in with any reference material the artist has provided. After that, I typically spend two hours on the song, then walk away to regain some perspective. I usually come back the following day and finish things up. I'll fire off a mix to the client and then we talk revisions. I do the first round of revisions for free, and usually that's enough to make everyone happy if there are any tweaks at all. I do offer high fidelity audio streaming if a client wants to be "virtually present" for a mix session.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have a modest home studio with two rooms and an iso closet. The main selling point of my room is the acoustics and monitoring environment. The room has been professionally treated and offers a very flat frequency response and uniform decay time. I use Hedd Audio monitors with a sub to provide audio from 20Hz-50kHz. I use a hybrid mixing system with Pro Tools Ultimate being the core, and combinations of outboard effects and 500 series units, along with a real plate reverb, vintage console for summing and tracking, and a 1/2 tape machine. 5.1 surround mixing is available, and I hope to upgrade to an Atmos mix environment soon.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I'm a huge fan of The Beatles, they have to be number one. I love the production of many classic artists like James Taylor, Pink Floyd, and Elton John, but I'm also a big fan of modern sounds like Muse, Oasis, Jack White, Black Keys, etc. In the folk world, I love the work of Gary Paczosa and Dave Sinko. Artists like Mark Knopfler, Duke Levine, and Peter Wolf have caught my ears as inspiration for many mixes.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: More often than not, I get hired to mix a record and end up being part of the process from beginning to end. I love getting in the tracking room with artists, but I also enjoy the pre-production process. I enjoy helping artists realize the full potential of getting in the studio, helping keep their vision in-focus, keeping things on track and on budget. However, since March of 2020, I've been in lockdown and have moved to exclusively mixing projects that have already been recorded. As a session guitarist, I'm available to add parts if requested.