Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
I just finish a project with an artist by the name of Paul Childers, we've been working on these 13 songs for almost 2 years. There's not one song i could play you and say, "That's what kind of record this is". Be on the look out for "Naked Poetry" by Paul Childers.
What are you working on at the moment?
I always have a handful of projects I'm working on at any given time. As well as writing and creating music myself everyday. So excited to show the world whats coming soon!!
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
Not yet. This is my first experience here. But I will definitely be on the look out.
Analog or digital and why?
Both, we still need large format consoles and expensive tube mics and gear for recording. When it comes to mixing I could care less, the technology of Plug-ins are absolutely stunning in their design, with all of the harmonic characteristics and behaviors. Plus we don't have to spend 2-3 hours recall a whole desk hoping that it will come back and be what it was the first time. Again I think less of the gear or medium than the person using it.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
My promise is that you will walk away with an experience and product that you will cherish forever.
What do you like most about your job?
Meeting and forming relationships with new people. Creating experiences and feelings that can be heard forever. The best feeling is playing a mix for a client and having them cry or laugh, instead of saying make it brighter, or warmer....
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
People ask me all the time- "Now Ace, this needs to sounds like a record, not a demo, can you do that?" The only difference between and album and a demo is this amount of time we have to spend on it. I can assure you that neither the musicians nor me do anything different for either...
Also sometimes people aren't really sure how to get there songs publish for release once the albums is finished - which I help get them connected with a PRO such as BMI, SESAC, or any other for copywriting. Also I suggest that they use a company like CDBaby for digital distribution as they provide iTunes and Spotify with your uploaded material.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
That making a good album is easy. It's freakin hard work.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
Who are your biggest influences. What time of record are you shooting for.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Please make sure that your files are labelled and organized. It's very frustrating to have to sift through 50 tracks labelled Audio track 1-50 to figure out what they all are. Also if its mixing that you are inquiring about, please be sure to send along tempos and keys for all songs, as well as the latest rough mix to help me with a starting point.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
Just a Piano and a great songwriter. I don't think that any individual microphone chains or units mean anything unless you are recording a good song with an inspired artist. Pianos are the most versatile instrument in my opinion, and songs are the most important thing in the studio. It doesn't matter how good something sounds, if it's not a good song, it does not matter to anyone how good that kick drum sounds.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I was in drumline and a drummer in rock bands in high school. It was fun, but I decided that I wanted to be a part of making records because its not just a single fleeting performance for one moment, its capturing that in a time capsule for ever. So I signed up for the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences before moving to Nashville. My drums were not something I could fit into my 2 door car, so I bought a guitar and taught myself enough to write songs. I completed my first internship at Sound Stage Studios, and then ended up landing on my feet at County Q.
How would you describe your style?
My style is who's ever I'm working with. I'm fun and easy to work with, but I am also very honest, I'm not afraid to do whatever I need to do to get the best out of the performance.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
Ryan Adams or John Mayor, every one of their albums are so different and diverse. I'd love to have a page in either of those books.
Can you share one music production tip?
Be as honest with yourself as you can. Who cares if it doesn't fit in with what other people think it should be or doesn't quite sound "Modern" or like what's on the radio. That box shrinks daily. The stuff that lasts is the stuff that makes you feel good. So ask yourself, how does this make me feel, not always just how does this sound.
What type of music do you usually work on?
Where I am at, you never know what it's gonna be. One day might be country demos where we are recording a full band live and knocking out 4-7 songs in three hours. The next day might be a chick rock band from Belmont. Then walks in a smoky jazz band requesting no headphones and an open room. Other days you might find me making pop tracks from a raw vocal that was sent over. I love all of it. I'm not scared of anything!
What's your strongest skill?
Music- Vague enough?!
What do you bring to a song?
That depends, case by case, but I just try to enhance the best parts of the artists I work with. Sometimes it's us working through arrangements, parts and transitions. Sometimes I'm helping them finish that last verse idea. Either way I try and provide a comfortable open space for them to be able to be honest and sincere with themselves and their performances during the process so that it's never about anything other than being creative in our process. Also I am a very committal kind of guy, I don't like saving decisions for later. Either we like and move on, or we don't and change it.
What's your typical work process?
If we are starting a project from scratch I like to sit with the songwriters and go over all the songs we plan on recording to ensure that they are in the best shape they can be in before we even walk into the studio. There are a lot of questions, arrangements, tempos, keys, things of that nature that we can answer before there is money and time being spent in the studio. If it's a mix thing, I like to find out what their influences are, and to be presented with the latest rough mix that everyone has been living with to get a good start.
Tell us about your studio setup.
Well, I have been lucky enough to be a staff engineer at a studio in Nashville for the last 8 years. County Q is the place. You can check out their website for specific details on gear etc, but it has 3 rooms, a 6 booth live room and 2 overdub/mix suites. Its fully equipped with instruments, mics, and all the professional gear that most places in Nashville have. We have a Trident 80b console down there, which is an incredibly musical console. Yamaha C7, vintage wurlitzter, b-3 and leslies, various analogue and digital synthesizers, outboard preamps and compressors. 3 protools rigs fully stocked with most of the Waves plug-ins as well as reason and logic. We can pretty much open and run anything you got. Also I have a protools mixing rig at the house also stocked up with Waves and many other Plug-ins with Apogee converters. I think less of the tools than the person using them.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Anything that's original. But what a loaded question. Let's see, as far as producers go, definitely Phil Ramone, Bob Ezrin, Phil Spector, Goerge Martin, among others. I was raised on classic rock (Foreigner, Boston, Kansas, Rush, Poco, TOTO, Fleetwood Mac etc) but growing up through all the pop music of the 90's has definitely inspired me as well. Lately I find myself listening to D'angelo, John Mayor, Elliot Smith, Norah Jones, Bill Evans, Ryan Adams, Maxwell, Jacob Collier, The Beatles, and whatever I happen to be working on at the time.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
These days I'm mostly doing albums, either recording, mixing or producing. Everyday my job is to figure out what my job is. Sometimes, it's as simple as just capturing and preserving the moment in its best light, other times I've got an instrument in my hands, and others there's no producer and no one to help with making decisions. The most common thing I do is what is needed in the moment. I thoroughly enjoy all parts of the record making process.