Luke is a "Tui" nominated professional Mix Engineer and Producer based in Auckland, New Zealand. With over 10 years experience in the live sound and recording studio world he has worked with the likes of Skid Row, Nelly, Ugly Kid Joe, Zach Farro & Taylor York, George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic, The Story So Far, State Champs and many many more.
Luke is an all around audio enthusiast with experience in almost every aspect of music from flying PA systems for Katy Perry to playing guitar in punk bands in front of thousands of people, to writing and producing for up and coming pop artists. Specialising in rock, punk and metal he can co-write, produce, record, mix and master your production.
Based in New Zealand, Luke has the unique ability to seriously reduce the turn around time for a project, enabling clients in the US and Europe to send through an unfinished track before they go to sleep and wake up to it sitting in their in box edited, mixed and mastered.
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Interview with Luke Cooper
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: A few years ago I worked with a band called We The Revival. They are a group of musicians that came together to write and record a worship album with the same punk rock ethos they have when writing for their own bands. They wanted to record everything live then over dub the vocals in the studio later but forgot to practice any of the songs before we all got to the recording! Luckily Zach Farro from Paramore/ Halfnoise was playing drums and he pulled everything together in the best way. We had so many technical difficulties due to their incredibly low budget and lack of organisation but some how everything came together and turned into something better than any of us expected. My role was to source record, mix and master the whole EP and its still one of my favourite albums to listen too.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I have just finished producing and mixing an EP with a band called Animal Party. We are all extremely happy with how it turned out.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I think both have their place. I get extremely inspired every time I get my hands on a big analog console but I mix predominately in the box
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love the entire process from meeting with a artist working and out what they want to achieve, too sending the final masters off to distribution.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: I like to ask my clients what the want to achieve with their music and why they are doing it. This helps my get a better idea of how I can help them make that happen
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: To make sure that the producer or engineer you want to hire understands what you are trying to do with your music.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: I would take my lap top, Les Paul, Apogee Duet, U47 and a pair of Sennheiser HD 650s
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I started in the live sound industry where I have done everything from sweeping floors to flying the PA for Katy to mixing the support bands for Ellie Goulding and 21 Pilots. I have recorded bands on the side for about 10 years now but recently decided to work out of the studio full time.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Raw, energetic, creative and collaborative .
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I would love to work with Muse because I am a huge fan of their creativity and energy. It would be fascinating to help bring it all together.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Mix with your ears, not your eyes. Don't be afraid to break rules and try things that look "wrong" but sound interesting.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I work mainly with rock bands, punk bands and pop artists.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I think my strongest skill is to bring a level of song writing and professionalism out of artists that they didn't know they had inside them.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: When producing an artist I try to bring out as much of that artists unique ideas as possible. I try to make their songs sound like the best version of them they can be. While I do write guitar parts and vocal melodies for songs that are lacking some creativity, I am much more interested in helping the artist or band bring out an accessible version of their unique ideas. When mixing I do my best to bring out the raw energy and emphasise the star elements of any song.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: My typical process when producing an artist is to meet with them and go over any demos they have for the album, then help them refine the parts until we feel the songs are ready to record. My process when mixing is to prep all the songs then listen through the reference track of the first song ill be mixing. Ill make a few mental notes then listen through the multitracks a few times and do a general fader balance, pan and EQ/Compression. Ill then go through and sort out any effects I need to add then finalise an automation. I try to keep as much raw energy in the mix as possible while still being accessible to a wider range of people, depending on the genre.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have a really comfortable studio out at Muriwai Beach in New Zealand. At the centre of it is my 48ch Sony MXP 5000 console. It was custom made for YTV in Japan in the 1980s and found its way to New Zealand when a friend of mine bought a broadcast truck for a company I used to work for. I have two Antelope Orion's providing 64 in and 64 out for my AD/DA with Yamaha NS-10s and ADAM Audio A77x's for my monitoring. I use Logic Pro X and utilise a bunch of plugins from Slate Digital, Waves and Fab Filter
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Some of my favourite mix engineers and producers are Chris and Tom Lord-Alge, Andy Wallis, Andrew Scheps and Joel Little. But my inspiration has always come from music, bands like Biffy Clyro, Muse, Don Broco and Terror make me want to keep writing and recording music.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I specialise in developing a song with an artists in the pre production stage of a recording. I love helping the band or artist make sense of the whole process and bring to life the idea they have in their heads.