I've been making music for over 25 years in recording studios, on stage, and online as a professional audio engineer, producer, composer, guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist and a bandleader.
I discovered my affinity for music at an early age learning keyboards and guitar through formal lessons but mostly by ear. In high school, I performed in punk and metal bands, collected guitars, synthesizers, drum machines, and as much audio gear as he could acquire. I spent nights recording and learning old songs, making demo tapes, exploring music, recording technology, theater, and art. I went on to study music and recording at San Jacinto Community College in Pasadena, Texas and in 1997 I completed a certificate program at The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Tempe, Arizona.
After internships in several Seattle area studios, I went to work in the recording industry as an audio engineer. From 1998 to 2005 I was chief engineer at Ironwood Studios in Seattle and eventually became owner/operator, working on Grammy award-winning albums, recording thousands of talented musicians on hundreds of projects. I spent years working with and learning from seasoned engineers and producers and recording hundreds of projects with major-label and independent musicians.
I continue to work with independent musicians as a freelance audio engineer in addition to performing weekly live stream shows and producing original music.
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Interview with Donn DeVore
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: original mixes psy trance, IDM, downtempo chillout, synthwave
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: playing the music, making it sound amazing, and turning it up and being happy with what we have created. i enjoy the process, the planning, the experimentation with audio devices, capturing great performances.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Fender HSS deluxe strat, Roland TR-8 drum machine, Moog One synth, Ableton Live on a Mac, Genelec 1034 speakers.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I started out performing in bars and clubs when I was 16 in 1989. I went to school for music and audio production in the 1990's. I've worked professionally as an audio engineer since 1993. I worked in the recording industry in the Pacific NW from 1998 - present. long time.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: rock, folk, electronic, jazz, orchestral
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: both. I have a hybrid approach that depends on the project and the budget. I used 24 track 2" tape machines, DA88's, ADAT's, DAT recorders for many years, I've seen the evolution of Protools and other DAWs and use them heavily.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: what kind of project are you creating? how many songs do you want to record? what is your budget and timeframe? have you done this before, are you familiar with the process?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: if a band is ready to record and album, make sure the songs are done before you come to the studio. It's better to spend more time in preproduction so you maximize your studio time. rehearse a lot and have all the parts solidified. if you are on a budget, don't write in the studio, it's too expensive. make demos and see what parts work and what doesn't. If you are looking for a composer I would point you to my soundcloud page for examples of what I've produced.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: getting along with people and communicating my ideas by demonstration. making the sound inside my head come out of the speakers.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I bring years of experience studying and working with many different genres of music and a deep knowledge of recording technology. I bring years of performing and songwriting experience from producing original music in many different styles - rock, orchestral, electronic, acoustic, jazz, blues
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Trent Reznor, Dr Patterson (the orb), David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Deadmau5, Com Truise
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: recording, editing, mixing, composing, guitarist, bass player, MIDI drum programming, synthesis and keyboards.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: JBL LSR305 monitors, Protools LE, ableton live 9, Logic Pro, Mackie 1640i mixer
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise I will do my best to help you create the best sounding project we can create based on our budget and timeframe.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Q: should we record to analog tape or Protools? A: I like to track drums, bass and guitars to tape, transfer those tracks to Protools. then record overdubs with Protools, mix from Protools to 1/2" analog tape on an analog console with analog and digital effects. this gives you the biggest sound compared to mixing in the box. For an acoustic, electronic or orchestral projects I would go all digital for the pristine clear sound quality and lower noise floor, mixdown on an analog console, sending the mix back into the DAW or to a high-resolution format.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I wear many different hats. some people think you can't be good at many different things, and that I should specialize in one area. I disagree. I think having a broad range of talents gives me more insight into how other musicians think and play.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: figure out and stick to a tempo early on. it defines the groove and how the lyric or melody is delivered.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I create a demo composing on guitar or piano, create basslines, drum parts and loops. create an arrangement, overdub acoustic and electronic instruments, edit to clean up the mess, mix, burn a CD to listen on various sound systems, refine the mix, burn mp3 to dropbox to share and get feedback from client and friends, refine mix, repeat until satisfied. send to mastering studio.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: Mix and recording engineer with Blues Traveler on a Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute album project in 2004. we created an epic version "Freebird".