What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Don't just buy studio time, or hire an engineer to do a mix. Figure out exactly what it is you want, and find someone that is interested in you and your music that has the skill set and experience to help you get it. Music is a very subjective thing. Everyone has their own sound and style. If you're a rock band, and you work with a producer that wants to make a jazz album, it's probably not going to turn out how you want it. It's not just about working with the most famous person you can afford, it's about finding someone that is really on the same page as you with your music and that really cares about it. An average engineer that really cares about your music will make a better record than amazing engineer that doesn't. Also, it's the engineer, not the gear.
What's your typical work process?
Meet with the artist, or band, and talk. I want to know your influences, what you are trying to accomplish, how you are most comfortable recording, what your strengths are, what kind of sounds you like, or what you want to try in the studio, what is your practice space like, what is the overall attitude or vibe you are going for. Some of those are questions that can't be answered by typing it in a computer, but only by spending time talking and hanging out a little. When I know these things, we will figure out a process that works best. Basically, I'm trying to figure out who you are and what you are about, and I want to capture that. Not just have you come in and conform to a standard "one size fits all" recording process. To me, recording studios that do that suck the life and creativity out of music.
Can you share one music production tip?
Be prepared as much as possible. I can either spend all my time trying to get a decent take, or spend it getting what we need then trying to push the envelope and be creative. Magic studio moments will never happen if we are too busy doing 20 takes of a part just to get something usable. Also, the studio is a place to make a record, keep the distractions to a minimum. I've seen bands come in and bring a bunch of friends over, junk food, camera equipment, alcohol, or even extra band members that don't need to be there that day that have really bad A.D.D. Those things and people can be really big distractions and cause us to waste a lot of time instead of making something great. I'm not totally rigid on this, just keep in mind the reason you are going to the studio is to make a record, not have a photo shoot, or a picnic, or a party. Get over the whole "I have to let everyone know I'm in the studio so they will think I'm cool" mentality. If that's really the only reason you are in the studio, you probably don't belong here. And having a great album is a whole lot cooler than having pictures of yourself in the studio on Facebook.
What type of music do you usually work on?
rock, pop, acoustic, electronic, r&b.
What's your strongest skill?
Engineering/ mixing. But I would say really, it's being able to see the big picture and make choices that capture and enhance that. I recorded an album with Josh Clutter called "I'll Make it on My Own". We decided to record things very dry and make it sound like he was alone in the studio. For a band called Farsighted, they had a song called "Summer Sounds" and I went to their house and recorded some background and people talking at a pool party. For Derek LeFavor, he had a song called "Good Morning" that he wrote outside early in the morning and there were these birds chirping. I went over there at 5am and recorded those birds. Handsome Midnight had a song called "Replicant" that was based on an old sci fi movie. I used certain vocal effects as well as some mixing techniques to give that song a certain vibe that made it feel more sci fi. Some of these things can seem really simple, or really complex yet subtle. But I'm always about giving the recording some kind of unique flavor that enhances the overall vibe of the music. To me, that's so much more interesting and exciting when I can do that than using the same techniques to get the same sounds on every recording.
What do you bring to a song?
I can be the objective ear that knows what works and what doesn't. Not only that, but also knows what an album needs or has too much of and the roll a song plays on an album. Not every song needs to be a radio hit. Those songs should be there, but its ok to have some songs that break those rules and express other emotions as well.
Tell us about your studio setup.
It's a project studio in my parents basement right now. Eventually I want to have my own building. I have a live room and a control room. Both room acoustically treated, the live room with diffusion and the control room with absorption. The live room is a shared space with my dad who is a music teacher. We have a Yamaha C7 grand piano as well as a Yamaha upright piano. I do have a really basic drum kit that I can tune to get a great sound for whatever we need. We also have a few guitar amps available including a fender deluxe. For tracking a live band, I will have the drums miced up and the guitars bass and keys going direct. Then using some reamping boxes, I will reamp the guitars, or use plugins depending on the sound we are going for.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
My biggest influences as an engineer are Bruce Swedien (most well known for engineering all Michael Jackson's big albums), and Eric Valentine (Third Eye Blind's self titled album, Taking Back Sunday's Louder Now album). As a musician and a producer my influences are Michael Jackson, Nine Inch nails, The Smashing Pumpkins, John Mayer, Thrice, Copeland, Zedd, Will.I.am, and Taylor Swift.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Most of the projects I've been a part of I've been the 1 person that takes care of everything. From the initial meeting and discussion of what we are trying to accomplish to the final product. Weather that means I'm helping a singer songwriter fill out the rest of the arrangement of the song, hiring other musicians for a live band, or programming drums and synths. Or working with a band that already knows what they want, has all their songs and parts figured out, and simply translating that into a record that sounds professional, but with a unique sound that fits the band's influences, personality and style.