Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
It is difficult to choose..
Circa 2102, I was asked to engineer (and as it happened, play) the drums for Saint Raymond's debut single "Fall At Your Feet". Although it was only a partial role amongst the production, the single was very successful having enjoyed regular plays on Radio 1 and mainstream TV features etc, and so was a moment of realisation for me that I was really capable of keeping up with "the pros", and gave me a real confidence boost. I think moments like that are very important in this sort of game.. ones that make you think "oh wow, maybe what I'm doing is actually pretty good!"
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I started playing music in 1996 at the age of 8, and since then, apart from a brief scare as a teen where I was considering a career in (...shudder...) sport, it's totally engulfed my life. I have been lucky to gain great experience in almost every area of music you could think of, and that, I think, is why I have ended up working in production and engineering. I feel like it's a job that lets none of my experience go to waste.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm trying to re-learn Classical Gas! I nailed it when I was 15!!
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
I won't take on your project if I don't feel I'm right for it. If I do take it on, I'm in 100%.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
This is a tricky one as during a session I am 'constantly' asked questions of all sorts.. I suppose there are some standard questions like "can you fix that?".. The fact that I've already "fixed" it before they finish asking the question, is often my answer! Don't get me wrong, I enjoy keeping things 'real', but sometimes a little cut-drag-crossfade keeps a session flowing and people happy.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
That I "must have leant all of this at university"
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Hire someone that you think you can trust, and then trust them!
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
Assuming this means gear to make music(!), I think I'd get away with a Macbook Pro, any decent micpre / ADC combo, a reliable mic (SM7?), my Antoria acoustic and those little Genelec monitors.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
The type of artist who is keen to work as hard on their record as I am. This is the main condition required to make great music!!
What do you bring to a song?
I bring as much or little to a song as I think it needs to fulfil its potential. Throughout the process I make gentle tweaks and suggestions whenever something strikes me as being 'not quite right yet'. Could be choice of harmony, lyrical issues, rhythmic things, whatever. I suppose, to get to the point, I bring 'detail'.
What's your typical work process?
I typically start by listening to demos from the band. If I've not worked with them before then I'd prefer a 'live' demo from a rehearsal so I can get a feel for how they play together. This is always enough to spark a good back & forth between myself and the band with regards to arrangements, references, budget, timeframe and any technicalities etc. That way it feels like the ball is already rolling soon as we hit day 1 in the studio.
Studio time is always spent differently for every session, but I will say that I move quickly and like to commit!
If I'm mixing a record that I've also produced / engineered, my rough working mixes have usually already dealt with any 'issues' and are working towards a sound, so I'll work on a track until I feel like it's 'almost' done before I ask the band to have a listen, by which point we are usually one or two tweaks away from the final mix.
I do not master my own mixes! I've worked with lots of great mastering engineers, and have got to the point where I have a couple of top engineers who I always recommend.
What's your strongest skill?
That I know at least a little bit, about a lot of things. I have always (especially when growing up) been interested in absolutely anything to do with music, and as I'm quite obsessive, I won't stop researching / practicing until I reach a level of understanding that I think will be useful to me. I therefore know enough about musical theory to produce a full score, or arrange a string quartet.. enough about setting up guitars to tweak a clients intonation on their guitar mid-session.. enough about most instruments to know their limitations.. enough about ProTools to quickly edit parts on the fly etc etc etc. I'm seriously fast at editing audio, when needs be.
This swiss army knife approach to music is what makes me a very useful person to have in a studio situation, and what makes me a good producer.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
I'll always ask to hear demos, and then take it from there.
How would you describe your style?
Old-school values, modern workflow.
What type of music do you usually work on?
I regularly work on quite a range of musical styles, but I suppose most commonly rock, indie, singer / songwriter stuff, punk... but then it is not un-common for me to be on a jazz, classical, country or blues session.
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
My favorite mastering engineer John Webber, and my HQ Studio 5A.
Analog or digital and why?
As much analog as you can get away with until it damages the workflow / budget! I have nothing against digital, in fact I think it's awesome.
What do you like most about your job?
No boss, very little paperwork.
Can you share one music production tip?
Preparation is the key! Spend tonight thinking about tomorrow's session, so that when you arrive you have a clear idea of how to get things started. This shows confidence and is a step to earning the band's trust. They need to feel like their producer has everything under control in order to be relaxed and free to perform.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I am happy to work anywhere, but usually operate out of Studio 5A which has a great Calrec S Series console, an amazing collection of mics and instruments, and really versatile rooms acoustically. I also have a small rig at home for getting extra hours in editing / working on vocal overdubs etc with a macbook pro, a splendid DAV preamp, FMR compressor, Genelec monitors and whatever mics I wanna nick from the studio for the night.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Too many to list in full, but a few names that have certainly had a huge impact on what I do musically.... The Beatles, George Martin, Jeff Lynne, Miles Davis, Rage Against The Machine, The Kinks....
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
I mainly worth with bands and singer / songwriters (anything from indie, jazz, punk.. I love anything if it's good!) as a producer and engineer.