My name is Jonathan Class and I own The Varsity Recording Co. in Anderson, IN. I produce, engineer, mix and master bands and artists from all over, and also tour as a keyboard player for Josh Garrels.
I work with artists and bands to help produce and develop their projects into fully realized records through arranging, aesthetic, producing, recording, mixing and mastering. I do remote work as a mixing and mastering engineer, as well as a keyboard player. I also own a 1400 square foot recording studio that I do most of my recording in, which is available to use whether or not I am producing a project.
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Interview with Jonathan Class
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Fitting songs into their own space. Either that, or napping.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Most of the time, I've been doing full productions for clients. This goes from producing, recording to mixing and even mastering in many circumstances. I also enjoy doing a great deal of mixing for those who have recorded either on their own or with another producer!
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I'm a huge sucker for guys like Death Cab For Cutie, Ryan Adams and The War On Drugs. But I also find a lot of inspiration in old motown records (James Brown) and 80's synth pop (David Bowie's "Dance"). And, of course, The Beatles.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: As of right now, I occupy a 1400 square foot studio space in Anderson Indiana. 3 iso booths and a large live room as well as a separate control room. I use 2 UAD Apollos with an iMac as the brain of my operation. I couple that with a late 80's Soundtracks Console, and a combo or 610's, Neve's and a few hand built preamps on my front end. I mix with mostly UAD and Steven Slate Plugins and then into a Neve 5059 summing amp, Stam SA-4000 (SSL 4000 series clone), 610 shelf eq, then into the Manley VariMu Compressor, finally into the Burl b52 bomber, back to tape.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: It depends on the project. I like have a as close a relationship as I can with clientele to get the best out of songs, performances and mixes. Overall, I'm a pretty informal guy, so no matter what I'm working on, I just like to get an honest response from the people I work with!
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: From a production or arranging viewpoint, my background is in theory. I want every piece of an arrangement to make sense, but to also just 'feel' right. When I engineer, it really reflects what kind of production I shoot for. There is no one way to record a piece of music, so it's really important that I gauge the vibe of a record before I start putting up mics. When mixing, again, I strive for the clarity of the aesthetic. Some songs need lots of breath and huge dynamics. Some need to pump and thrill. I try to best to achieve the right sound for the song, not just phone it in because it's my preference.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: It's a pretty good mix of rock, indie, singer-songwriter and pop.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Try not to settle, but don't just fiddle around with an inconsequential part because you just want to try something else. If it's right, let it be right, whether it takes 5 minutes or 5 days. Trust your gut, don't just do something different because you think you're being cool.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Friggin Ryan Adams. That dude just oozes rock and roll. His records sound so analog and all I want is to play the B3 on one of his songs. But then I really dig some of the stuff The 1975 does, and feel like I could have a lot of fun layin down keyboards for them, or just digging into some weird mix for them that ultimately gets rejected by everyone. Also Charles Bradley, The War On Drugs, Lady Gaga, M83 and Tame Impala.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Vibey, yet melodic? That's a weird question.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: Grew up playin Classical Piano, still love it to this day. Picked up guitar and drums in highschool (neither of which I am any good at now), and then Bass in college out of necessity of so many bands have guitar players and drummers and not one bass player. Studied Music Business at Anderson University and just decided after school to make records out of my house. I guess it worked, so I got a studio space with a buddy a few years ago, then got connected to Josh Garrels through friends and started touring with him as well. It's a nice balance!
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Shure 57, LA 610, Juno 106, Otari 5050 and literally any pair of half decent monitors. I'd be happy til the day I died (which on a desert island would be, like, 3 weeks).
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: If you want me to produce your record, have more completed (and hopefully good) songs ready than you actually intend to record. It's nice to pick and thus be able to create a vibe of the best songs from a collection of what you've written. And if you just want me to mix, just try to give me a clear picture of what you're shooting for on the front end!
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Who are your influences? How do want your record to sound? What do you hope to accomplish with this work? Would you like to grab a beer?
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That it is a quick process.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: When a song is fully realized, both by myself and who I'm working with.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise to be honest without being too harsh, with the sole purpose of getting your music to sound as best as it possibly can in whatever circumstances you're working with. I will put my preferences aside, while still giving valuable feedback in order to make any part of the process a success.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both. Analog sounds better almost always, but digital is SOOOOO much faster. It's easy to combine the best of both, so why the heck not?
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: My buddy Alex Dobbert is on here. He's crazy talented.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: The Wldlfe, Josh Garrels, Bobbie Morrone, John Schwallie and Keller & Cole
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: There have been many, but I really love the EP I did for The Wldlfe this year. The dudes in that band are so talented, and they're really starting to make waves. I produced, engineered, mixed and played keys on that record. I was very involved in shaping the sound on it and it came together like a dream. I also did a record for my buddy Jason Barrows a few years ago. It was my first dive into some really dreamy rock sounds. I learned a lot while making that record, and it's still some of my favorite sounding music I've been a part of to this day. I produced it with Jason, engineered it all and mixed a couple of the tracks as well as mastering the whole album.