Ryan specializes in recording and mixing bands in a variety of genres including rock, folk, jazz, r&b, and pop.
Ryan Colton is a musician, singer/songwriter, recording/mix engineer, and producer living in Richmond, VA. He has been playing and writing music in some capacity since he was 11 years old. Ryan has been recording and mixing bands as well as his own music since he was 18 and hold a certification in Music Recording Technology from JSRCC. He interned at PK Studios in Richmond, VA from 1999-2000 and worked with a variety of clients. He co-owned and operated Spilling Sounds Productions, a small project studio in Richmond’s West End from 2000-2004 and recorded several local and regional bands encompassing genres such as rock, metal, punk, singer/songwriter, gospel, folk, and bluegrass. Ryan loves helping to shape the musical ideas of his clients into well-crafted songs.
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Interview with Distilled Sounds Productions
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: As much as I love analog, we live in a time where digital has come so far in that it is almost indistinguishable from analog. I've still got a 1/2" tape machine that I'll use for mixdowns by request, but honestly feel that I get better results by keeping everything in-the-box.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Macbook Pro Line 6 Helix UAD Quad-Core Satellite API 512 Mic Pre AKG C414
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been recording and mixing for 22 years. I went to school for recording technology and interned at a local recording studio in Richmond, VA. My day job is working for a specialty acoustical materials supplier, but recording and playing music has and will always be my #1 passion.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I would love to work with Dave Grohl. He's just so passionate about music in general; I think it would be cool working with someone who's that focused yet still has a sense of humor and humbleness when it comes to making music.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: When recording live instruments, mic placement is everything. Even if you're using inexpensive mics, you can get pro results by moving the mic around and listening to the instrument in order to find the sweet spot. The better something is mic'd during tracking, the easier it is to get it to fit in the mix.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: My last big project was mixing a local band called Downbeat Switch's last EP. They are a great band that mix rock, funk, and reggae together. All the band members are incredible musicians and they write really catchy songs with great hooks. I had consulted with them on their first album a few years ago which they had recorded and mixed themselves. Though the sound of that record was good, I thought that my mixing skills could take it to the next level and give them a little more of a polished sound. They were incredibly happy with the mixes I did and have thrown me a lot more business locally because of my association with them.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: My mobile recording setup consists of a Presonus Studiolive 16.4.2Ai Console. I use Apple Logic on a Macbook Pro and have a Radial 500 Series lunchbox loaded with various mic pres and compressors that I can use in tandem with the Presonus rig. My mixing setup consists of a Mac Mini running Apple Logic. I use a Steinberg UR28M for audio interface/monitoring and mix in-the-box using a variety of plugins including Softube Console 1, UAD, and Slate Digital.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I grew up in the 80s and 90s, so producer/engineers like Terry Date, Brendan O'Brien, and Rick Rubin have always been big influences on how I like songs to sound. Of course I was also way into bands like The Beatles and Pink Floyd so George Martin and Alan Parsons are also influences as well. I like big drum sounds with kick and snare that cut through, vocals pushed slightly up front, with guitar, bass, keys and other instruments panned to give the mix width and depth.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Remote Recording & Mixing of bands. I have a mobile recording setup that allows me to record in the artist's space. I then take the tracks back to my mixing studio for final mix.