Touring/Session Drummer. Recording and Playback Engineer. Self-proclaimed HR Representative (aka "Musical Director") I love recording, let's work together!
Providing professionally recorded drum tracks for clients is my main focus. I've been working as a touring and session musician since I was 16 years old. I've toured internationally and have seen the smallest bar stages, and the largest amphitheaters. I've been given the opportunity to work with many amazing musicians and encounter some true characters as well. My passion for performing is unending, but something about being in a recording environment ignites an extra level of creativity in me. Since high school, I have participated in recording technology courses, and throughout my touring and studio experiences, have continued to educate myself on studio and live sound equipment, techniques, and applications.
Going the way of home recording, I recently completed construction of my own studio, a peaceful work environment, with nothing out of reach for me to start playing, writing, recording, or mixing. The room is full of creature comforts but still remains lively enough to deliver a big drum sound. It's a relatively large 22' by 21' with a vaulted ceiling peaking at 11'. My goal is to not only deliver a solid performance, but a well engineered product as well.
I'd love to hear about your project. Click the 'Contact' button above to get in touch.
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Interview with Harley DeWinter
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I'm especially proud of Bryan Lanning's latest EP, "Going Home". I played on "Walls" and "Downhome", both of which I was able to explore tuning ranges I wouldn't have defaulted to, and different types of sticks to exercise different responses from the drums.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I just wrapped up a cover song project with artist Gabbie Rae, and currently getting prepared to build, engineer and record my good friend Shaun from Breaking Benjamin's new drum set right here in my home studio.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love the creativity and the fluidity. While the applied skills are the same day in and day out, the people, the music, the level of complexity you have to navigate changes everyday. I love working, especially when the work remains interesting.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Clients generally ask me what my experience is in the genre of their project. Some ask what sort of gear I'm using, down to "what microphones and preamps do you run?" The answer to those questions, and many more, are in my profile, but I'm still more than happy to assure them that I will deliver something they love.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I think many session musicians in today's era of recording from home are underestimated for one reason or another. Be it competency to engineer/record. Or be it skill, and that "anyone can do it".
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Rock and country have been my primary genres of work over the years. However, I also have experience in pop, blues, metal, latin, and jazz.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: . It's a 460 sq. ft single room design with an 11' vaulted ceiling. The room is filled with racks of drums, my oversized desk and tv monitor, a coffee cart, a dangerously comfortable couch, my road cases when I'm not on tour, and of course, a fully mic'd drum kit. I run a combination of Earthworks, Telefunken, and Lewitt microphones into a Dante converter equipped with 16 transformer-less microphone preamps. The signals transfer from the drums at the back of the room to my Focusrite Red8Line mounted to the desk at the front of the room. (I don't like copper clutter) I have a selection of Drum Workshop kits, and DW, Ludwig, Rogers, and Masters Of Maple snares, as well as a large collection of Sabian cymbals.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: My good friend who recommended SoundBetter to me, John "Jolly" Wyndham. A fantastic guitarist and songwriter with a big heart as well!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Analog is beautiful and I think having that flavor during recording is what makes all the difference, but man digital is doing a very good job of keeping up. Some say don't bother getting emulations, and just wait until you can afford the real thing. I think that saying works until you talk about drums. Even 4-8 channels of proper analog equipment sets you back way more than excellent affordable recording equipment that you can then emulate the analog with in the box. I'd rather be happy with emulations and working to afford the analog equipment than miserably not spending some extra money on the plugins as well.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I want to make you happy. If you entrust me with your work, I won't deliver something that I don't fully support. And if even then, you aren't feeling it, then I will work to resolve that until we get closer to what you want to hear.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What are the influences to the track? What sort of sounds regarding drums do you have in your head? Who do you hear playing this song? Do you want me to engineer the sound, or just deliver the rawest form for you to decide?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Know what you're looking for in a musician besides their rate. Don't be afraid to ask questions, you'll likely find out why someone is worth what they charge.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Wooh this is a fun one. I would certainly take my DW 24x14 Cherry bass drum, the Ludwig 14x6.5 Black Beauty, Sabian Artisan hihats, an HHX Complex ride, and finally, if the island has power, an ARP-2600 because some of my favorite synth sounds ever have come out of that thing.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been touring and recording professionally since I was 16. There have been drum tech gigs here and there, and I absolutely love being a nerd about my equipment. Over the course of time touring, I not only continued my love for the music, but expanded my skillset into building and running playback systems, understanding digital console connectivity and workflow, and also musical directing for my artist throughout an arena and amphitheater tour. I've been recording myself since 2017, constantly trying to expand my knowledge of microphones, digital and analog processors, and recording techniques.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Musically, I like to be fluid to the work at hand. I naturally deliver lots of power to the drums, play tight with the music, and include just enough ear candy to make things interesting. But that doesn't mean I can't dial back the volume, push or pull the feel, and take a backseat to the rest of the music.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: One of my favorite artists that I would love to accompany is Dua Lipa. Her productions are fantastic and having seen her live show, I know it would be a real treat to do her songs justice in a live context.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: One trick I've been enjoying recently is using the Waves Scheps 73 plugin on every channel of my drum mix after tracking. Simple concept, but what I like to do is turn the input fader all the way down, then activate the preamp drive module on the plugin and gain stage with it. I match the level I was at before activating the plugin, but now there is so much lovely Neve style saturation to the signal. Once I bypass all the channels I've done this to, the difference is astounding. Soon I will employ this trick pre-DAW with my new Antelope Galaxy 32 converter and DSP processor. It's one of the few Dante to Thunderbolt sound cards out there, and the added layer of processing will emulate tracking through wonderful analog gear.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Listening. To the song, to the client's notes, to my playing. I'm here to deliver what's needed, and make a vision come to life, no matter how simple or complex the task is.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: On top of wanting to deliver nothing but quality playing that requires little to no editing, I strive to deliver tracks that sound pristine and sculpted enough to drop into a mix, and just work. As someone who works on the other side of the glass as well, I want to alleviate the boring work for engineers and producers, so they can focus on the fun part!
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I like to get projects turned around quickly, but not at the expense of quality. Depending on time received, I tend to setup the project session the night before recording, laying out the tempo(s), memory markers, and any extra prep the session may require. Then the following day I will take my first practice passes at the track, dialing in drum selection, tuning, and parts before laying down my 2-3 takes. I've been known to deliver a reference drum track within 24 hours, and will strive to deliver at that rate unless otherwise communicated to the client.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: In terms of drummers, I'm highly influenced by the playing, sound, techniques, and workflow of Aaron Sterling, Dan Bailey, Brendan Buckley, and Dave Elitch. In terms of mix engineers and producers, I admire the work of Peter Collins, Dann Huff, Dan Korneff, and Adam Getgood.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: My forte is performance, engineering, and recording of drums. I offer remote drum tracking from my home studio, where there are 13-15 microphones staged on the kit at any given point. I also offer my skills in professional studio environments as well.