If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
I would take an acoustic guitar, my stereo and my record collection.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I started out as a guitar player, but when it came time to do a demo in one of the bands I was in, I jumped in and figured out how to hook our 4-track up to a mixer that we had in our rehearsal space. I was working in New York at temp jobs to support my music habit, until I found my way to a full-time job at a record company – Capital Jazz & Classics (Angel and Blue Note Records). Almost everybody that worked there was a great musician and I ended up doing some recording with a few of them. Working at the record company was great, but I wasn’t as involved in the creative process as I wanted to be, so I decided to get some formal training in recording at SAE Institute.
Recording school allowed me to build a really strong foundation in audio and recording, and gave me a lot of experience using many different kinds of equipment including analog tape recorders and large format Neve and SSL consoles. After I graduated from SAE, I set out to get a full-time gig is a recording engineer in New York.
For the next several years I spent all of my time in major recording studios in New York including: Shelter Island Sound, Dubway Studios, and a short stint at The Hit Factory (right before they closed up shop to make way for luxury condos).
How would you describe your style?
I take an organic approach to mixing which probably comes from the fact that I like vinyl records more than CDs, and I like mixers better than computers. I like the band to sound like a band, but I think of textures when mixing so I like to incorporate weird, experimental sounds in the mix when it's appropriate.
Can you share one music production tip?
Treating your listening environment (and recording space) with bass traps and other room treatment probably has a greater impact than any one piece of gear because it is always present and will influence every move that you make from recording through the final mix.
What type of music do you usually work on?
I'm a guitar player, so I usually gravitate to bands and artists that have guitar as part of the mix. My strength is creating an organic space with depth that draws the listener in, like they're listening to a live performance. That said, my tastes are quite broad, and I work on many different types of music, as long as I feel like I can contribute to the project. I have worked with Indie Bands, classical musicians, Broadway singers, and everything in between.
What's your strongest skill?
I thrive in a collaborative environment. When I'm working with a band or artist, my mindset is that we are on a mission towards a common goal - to do what is best for the song and make it as great as it can be.
What do you bring to a song?
Experience and perspective are my main contributions. All of the time that I've spent mixing and recording in my studio and other spaces makes me aware of what elements to bring out in a song and what technical issues might be present that need attention.
What's your typical work process?
The first thing that I do is talk to the artist or band about the project and get as much information from them as possible to inform me as to what they want the song to sound like. I will find out what they are listening to, and what they have in mind as an artistic goal. A lot of times, they'll have a really good idea like "this should sound like the first track on..." Once I have a good grasp on that, I immerse myself in their influences. Bands that I work with usually have something in common with me musically, so I'll just go to my record collection and start listening. After that, I will start putting the track together (mixing it), and early on in the process I'll get a sample of the mix to the band to show the direction and confirm that it's headed toward the right place. There are always comments, and I welcome that. Then I'll send the track in for review when I consider it "done." There is usually one more round after that, plus/minus some really minor tweaks and then we move on to the next tune.
Tell us about your studio setup.
My setup starts with the room. I've got a good amount of room treatment and some non-parallel walls that contribute to a really nice, even sounding listening space. I have Lynx Aurora converters that pass through a Dangerous 2-Bus LT mixer. I use Pro Tools, and try to keep my digital processing to a minimum with just essential plug-ins. Most of my sound comes from analog outboard EQ and Compression.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Inspiration was easy to come by having had first-hand experience working in professional studios along side great engineers and producers such as: Steve Addabbo, Kevin Killen, Joe Ferla, James Farber, Dave McNair, Ray Martin, Jason Marcucci, David Winslow, Al Houghton and Mike Crehore.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Most of my clients are looking for mixing and overdubs. They have recorded basic tracks or a complete session but don't have a treated room for mixing, or would like to have a project mixed by someone else.