Adam Fancy is a 22 year old mixing, tracking and live engineer. He has been working very hard at honing his craft and has had the privilege to intern with some great engineers and producers in his area. He prides himself in providing radio quality mixes.
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Interview with Adam Fancy
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I have been playing music since the end of my high school career. After graduation I went to pursue Civil Engineering Technology. This was something that I could tell was not for me. During this time I discovered they taught audio recording at the college I was attending. When I came home after finishing my second semester and deciding to drop my current course I went to check out a local studio. At this point I had been experimenting with programming and recording music of my own. The studio owner invited me to sit in on a session. I was immediately hooked. So I set off to do everything I could to improve my skills with recording and live audio. Once I found the mixing process however it just became my favorite part in creating music.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Pre-production is very, very important. It is my belief that you should have a song written demoed and arranged to your satisfaction before you begin to record any commercial version. The best results that have been achieved by me personally (when working in any production team) have all came about this way. Direction is very important when going through the production process. This helps you to ensure you have captured the feeling that you are trying to capture. The success of your music directly correlates with how it connects with its audience. Doing the groundwork will help you achieve this. It is fun and exciting to record music. But, it's always a great feeling to look back on your music and not want to change a thing.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I really like to focus on cleaning a piece of music up before I dive too far into the creative side of mixing. I have been striving for well-defined mixes since the beginning. That being said I always like to start my mixes by balancing and then doing my subtractive EQ and filtering. Then I like to do some expanding/gating and transient shaping where musical. Then I will compress. I focus on staging compression to provide a tight pocket of space and dynamics, without taking the life out of the tracks. Somewhere along the lines of compressing I tend to re-balance and then do some additive EQ. Around this point I will dial in all of my busses with compression and other processing if necessary. From this point on I will tweak until the mix really takes shape and becomes competitive with commercial mixes. This often includes additional subtractive EQ. However I like to only take tiny pieces of the spectrum out post-compression. Almost all of my processing in done in mono. After all of this is completed I will move on to creative elements. While working with these creative elements I also like to get a bit surgical to ensure that they do not clutter the mix. This is the point in the mix where I really try to nail the depth I was after with the compression and volume choices. After doing this I will generally bounce a rough mix and reference it for a couple days. After doing that I will come back and make tweaks before sending it to a mastering engineer.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: My promise to my clients is to do everything in my power to make a piece of music the best it can be. I am always thinking critically towards many elements of a song. This goes much deeper than the mix. That being said all of these things tie into the mix and they are important for me to consider. I like to think critically of performance, instrumentation, arrangement, timing, tone, timbre and tuning. I also like to examine a performance and make sure that the musician(s) and vocalist(s) gave the best performance that they could. If any of these things are lacking I like to address them before a mix-down. The old adage "You can't polish a turd." always stands true. I don't want to invest my time and your money into something that is not ready for it. Doing these things will allow me to get the best mix possible and subsequently it will allow you to get the best product possible. Though music sales are not very profitable at the moment, your recordings are still an integral part to your music career. They will serve as a calling card for you to communicate with booking agents, other bands and artists, managers, you name it. They are a snap shot of what you do. If I mix a song for you it is also a snap shot of what I do and I always want my best foot forward. My goal is to have your final product exceed your expectations.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My strongest skill would be my ability to hear the mix I am aiming for before touching a fader or putting anything in the signal chain. I know the sounds I want to hear.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I would describe my style using this analogy. The artist is the person that designs the window. The producer is the person who blows the glass and along with artists and arrangers they manufacture that window. I like to think that I am the person to come in and install that window. I make sure everything fits properly and I make sure that is sturdy and structurally sound. The mastering engineer is the person to come along and clean and seal the window. To elaborate on this; my style of mixing is to fit everything together as cohesively and cleanly as possible. When I get a piece of music to mix I want to make sure that I lend myself to that piece of music. I don't try to re-invent the wheel. I follow the vision that I feel has been set forward for me earlier in the production process. I make sure it all fits and I make sure it all fits properly. I'm a fan of finding ways to compliment what has been laid out musically. I pride myself in this actually. I want coloration and effects to be as musical as possible.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I started working on pop and rock music. Lately I have been working on acoustic and folk music as well. More recently I have started working on electronic music with a client and have been having a blast doing so. I am not seasoned in every genre but I believe I can apply my style of mixing to anything and I always welcome new challenges.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I bring a certain energy to a song. I love punch and impact, especially when the arrangement I am mixing caters to that. I also like clear and focused, I like all elements in a mix to be audible, unless something is made sub-conscious on-purpose. I enjoy sculpting and crafting every element to be very balanced. At the same time I do like to make certain elements prominent to create an energy within a piece of music.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I mix in a very well appointed home studio set-up. The room is well treated, The conversion is done via a Metric Halo LIO-8 interface and I monitor on Barefoot MicroMain 35's with M-Audio Studio Pro 3's serving as B monitors. I process entirely in the box to maintain maximum efficiency and to keep maintenance costs down as well.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I'm a big fan of older blues music. I really enjoy listening to classic blues recordings as well as remasters. I also listen to a lot of modern rock and pop recordings on the monitors I mix on. I usually will put a couple songs of the genre I am mixing on before I start. I am a big fan of Manny Marroquin's mixing, Micheal Brauer's mixing, David Thoener's mixing and Elliot James's work as well.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: The most common type of work I do for my clients would have to be mixing. However I am heavily involved in most cases with the recording process. On occasion I am also involved as a producer throughout the project. I find it easy to suggest certain changes to structure and arrangement as a mixer and a multi-instrumentalist.