The Head Room
Mixing Engineer (PSHOi)
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Interview with The Head Room
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Several different projects: hip hop, r&b, pop, live instrumentation. I stay busy!
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Yes, Jeff Jackson!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital. Convenience. But a lot of the studios I work out of have analog gear that I love to use.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: That I will be honest 111% of the time.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The range to be creative. Its a form of meditation. I love the look on my clients faces once we get done with a project. The feeling of making someones dream, thought, or idea into a reality that looks and feels just like it did in their hear, is priceless.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Customers commonly ask how long have I been doing this - 10 years (Professionally 6 years) What type of music do I work on - All genres. I like to push the boundaries. Where I'm from - Chicago, Illinois.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: The biggest misconception about what I do is that what I do doesn't affect the record as a whole and the overall feeling the consumer gets when they listen.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: I ask clients initially are they working on a project or just creating song by song basis. I like to understand the path that brought the client to me. How long have they been working on their craft? Where are they from? Most importantly I want to know WHY? Why do they want to pursue the path of creating music, doing voice overs, producing movies, etc.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: I would tell a customer looking to hire me to keep an open mind. A lot of times clients bring me a song finished (at least finished in their eyes) and I hear it and hear more! I love to implement that into my style. I want what's best for the record. That doesn't mean I know everything, but I'd like my clients to be open to ideas. If it doesn't work, we can alway press "Undo".
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: UAD Apollo Twin
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I actually started engineering as a way to support my cousin IceBerG (Malcolm Brown) and my high school friend JuSo (Julian Douglas) as they started rapping when we were younger. I was given a DAW called Cool Edit Pro which is were I began to learn the ins and outs of recording vocals. Thankful that my grandmother (Grace French) let me build a small home studio in her house which is were I really began to fall in love with the process of engineering and production. While in high school I created music with IceBerG and JuSo and discovered I actually wanted to go to college and further my thirst for the process. I graduated in 2006 and attended Columbia College for a year and then dropped out. I understood that formal education wasn’t the most advantageous route for me. After leaving Columbia I continued to study any material I could get my hands on. Being a visual learner, the main thing for me was to actually sit with people I looked up to and felt had a greater understanding in hopes to acquire a combination of technical knowledge balanced by real world application. I rented a studio space in 2009 for 4 months with Tapez (Producer), quit my job, and lived in the studio. I began to really learn about finding clients and producing a better sound and cleaner mix. Not long after I met Christopher “Classick” Inumerable who had been working on Classick Studios in his dad’s basement in Irving Park. We moved out into a house in Old Irving Park where the legacy of Classick Studios would begin to come to life. 2 years later Classick, Jeff Jackson, Elton “L10” Cheung, and myself had grew the brand so much we had to move into a loft building and create two rooms. It’s just been onwards and upwards from there.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: One with the song. I become apart of the song, especially physically as I am working. I dance, I bob my head excessively, and I move my hands like a rapper. I love to FEEL the music and exude that energy through my fingers and into my work.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Cleanliness is next to Godliness.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: To be honest my favorite genre to work in is R&B! I love harmonies, tone, the idea that with these vocals we can paint anything on the canvas, really excites me. I work all genres though: hip hop, r&b, pop, edm, etc. I love pushing the boundaries and always stepping out of my comfort zone. I will always remain open for opportunities to work outside of hip hop.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Understanding. Perspective. Initiative and detail. I produce every record I touch -- but I don't make beats. I complete a song. The feeling that we need to express for that 2-5 mins that we have the fans attention, will be conveyed to the utmost with the energy I bring to a song. I hear past what I see and I'm never afraid to act on that.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: My process depends on the project. If i'm recording, I like to get a feel of the record and the artist if it's my first time working with them. Having a conversation prior to recording warms them up as well gives me a chance to listen to their natural voice. I can get a better scope of how they will sound once they actually step into the booth. It also helps with mic placement, which is very important in recording. Similar with a band, I like to understand the direction of what is to be achieved so I can know what to look out for. My mixing process is a bit different. I work with clients often in the room while I mix, but I tend to delve much deeper when I'm alone with the mix -- trying different things, and making mistakes without worrying about the client feeling like I don't know what I'm doing. I completely edit the record first and get the organization of the session together. From color coordination, to aux sends and busses, removing dead air and unnecessary breaths, vocaligning, pitch correction, and structure, before I even begin to touch an eq or compressor. Once those things are in place I like to start with the low end of the production first and work my way to the main instruments, working in the vocals in between. Sometimes I have start with the vocals first, it just depends on the record and the day of the week.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: My setup can vary, as I like to keep my ears fresh yet comfortable enough to deliver an amazing product every time. There are a few recording studios I work out of besides my personal setup. Pro Tools is my Daw of choice; has been since 2006. Macbook, or Mac Tower, UAD Apollo, Yamaha HS8's, NS-10 monitors,
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: The most common type of work I do with my clients is mixing, mastering, and recording.