Iêm a session drummer and music producer, currently based out of Eskilstuna Sweden. But have been working mostly international since a couple of years back. Iêve played drums since 1998 after my mom bought me a drum kit and demanded me to take drum lessons. Which I did for about 2 years at the public music, school back home in Avesta where I grew up. Even if I stopped taking drum lessons I didnêt stop playing drums. No, I carried on and tried to learn myself as much as I possibly could on my own. Alongside with that I, like most teenagers, played in a couple of different bands. Most of them never left the rehearsal space.,,Decided to become a drummer,After years of beating from me the drum set my mom gave me had taken itês fair share of beating. So I saved all my money one summer and 2003 I bought myself a new drum set. At this point Iêd realized that drumming was more than a hobby to me. I had decided to become a drummer. In 2006 I enrolled at Bergslagens Folk High Schoolês two-year musical performan...
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Interview with Niklas J. Blixt
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Usually I either replace programmed drums or create completely custom tailored drum tracks for people who wants real drums on their songs.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I'm inspired by a lot of people. But if I have to name a few it would probably be people like Steve Jordan, John Mayer, Benny Greb, Sting, Ed Sherhan, Jost Nickel…well the list goes on.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: It's pretty simple but yet very effective and versatile and it's always changing. But for now I have my drum kit which is a Premier Artist Birch. I have a couple of different mic's that I use depending on what sound I'm going for. I don't have a lot of mic's. I rather have a few mic's that I really know and use them the best way possible. I have some "studio standard" mic's like SM57's etc. I run everything into a M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R that's connected to my MacBook Pro and I'm running ProTools on it.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: After the client have contacted me and we've discussed what the client might be looking for as far as drums. I usually start with importing the song in to ProTools and put in markers, i.e Vers 1, Chorus 1 etc. Then I listen through the song and write some sort of a cheat sheet where I chart out if there certain hits that I need to be aware of etc. It's not like everything is charted out, it's basically the structure of the song and if there's some really specific parts I write that out. When I've done that I go into the studio and rehearse the song a couple of times before I record any takes. Then I do a couple of passes of the song and save every take. I always try to nail the entire song in one pass rather than doing sections. Usually I just do no more than 3 passes. If I do more it's usually just a couple of punch ins on sections where I know I messed up. Then I listen back to the takes and pick the best parts of every take and comp it together to one ultimate take. Some times there's a lot of comping to be done, and some times very little. Like I use everything from take 1 except for verse 2 where I played that one better in the 3rd take, I.e.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I'm always able to give the song a good feel and groove.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I'm usually pretty quick when it comes to learning new songs. I can usually get the structure of the song very quick.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: It's mostly pop and rock oriented stuff. A lot of singer-songwriters and pop/rock with a bluesy feel.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: If the song doesn't feel good already when you play it on a guitar and a piano, it's not ready to start the recording. What I mean is if you don't start to imagine what instruments you want on the song only by hearing your song in it's simplest form, setting up mic's and start recording stuff ain't gonna bring it more to life.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Ooohh…Tough question. I probably have to say John Mayer or Sting. That's two of my favorite songwriters of all time.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Less is more. I'm very minimalistic in my playing, I'm always trying to play as little as possible without sounding weak, and I'm not trying to squeeze in a fancy fill wherever there's room.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: Hard to say… I've been involved in a lot of fun projects. Most projects are fun in their on way. But I think when I song I played on got some airtime on BBC Radio in UK is the project I'm most proud of this far. But I'm always trying to make music I'm proud of.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I started to play drums back in 1998 I think, played in bands etc. all my youth years. But didn't look at it as a possible career until like 2005 or something when I decided to start study music. I did that for a couple of years and started to do session on the side to help classmates with their projects. Then I decided to make it into my profession. Have been working as a session drummer almost full time professionally the last 3-4 years.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: My kick, hi-hat's, snare, my stickbag and a throne. There's a lot of drumming you can do just with that.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Look for someone who understands what you want. It's your song not theirs.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: I ask if they have any reference songs or so. If there's a deadline. And that sort of thing to try to understand the clients vision.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: Maybe that some people don't think they can work with me because they don't work in ProTools…
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Will I get the stems or will I only get a stereo file. My answer is always, "Of course you'll get the raw stems you you can mix your songs"
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: That I get to help other people with their music by doing what I love the most, playing drums.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I'll do everything I can to make you happy with the drums for your song.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I'm kind of hybrid. I like vintage mic's and compressors etc. that's more feel to it turning a real knob than doing it with a click of a mouse. But digital is more convenient. I like to have the sound as ready as it can be before it hit's the hard drive. I try to look at the computer as an improved tape recorder.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I'm kind of new here, so I don't really know anyone yet.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: At the moment, I'm in the middle of planning a few bigger projects that will take place in a couple of months. And I'm also working on tracking drums for a band that I'm a permanent member of. Hopefully we'll have our debut album out later this year.