Session Musician & Producer
Passionate session musician & producer who focuses on making your ideas and songs come to life on a very spontaneous and natural way. When you came up with a composition, arrangement, demo or concept it is my goal to collaborate in a way that we can connect artistically. For me It is all about expression and art!
Multi-instrumentalist with a goal on versatility, great attention to detail & high quality productions. The human factor in creating and delivering original results for your projects surely is one of my essential foundations. Music is one of the purest ways of expression, it is vital for me to understand your vision for each project so we can work to achieve the best results possible.
My session work consists in playing electric & acoustic guitar, keyboards, electric bass and drums. I may note that even though I am a versatile musician the approach for each instrument is different based on what you are willing to reach. I can record the isolated instruments on an already done arrangement or we can start a track from scratch based on a demo or concept. For instance: if you had a track that you want a guitar solo or some riff ideas or harmonies we can do it. The same applies for other instruments; using music layers as an example, I can help you get all the layers done. We will discuss detailed aspects about tone, vibe, feel and overall direction of the sounds you are seeking on your project.
If you need me as a producer my role is to make sure your ideas and songs work; always trying to extract the best you can achieve regarding potential, performance and skill. All of that always considering and focusing on your artistic integrity.
Would love to hear from you. Click the contact button above to get in touch.
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Interview with Alexis Sackl
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That the music industry changed and that the reality of musicians today isn't reliable as before to make a living with it. Well, in my conception everything changes and that doesn't mean that it changed for worse. Of course the record industry is way different now, but this is is something that made it more accessible for everybody to be part of! Technology contributed to a point that now you can have within a project studio gear to made great recordings that 20 years ago was only available on high budget recording studios. How great is that? I mean, it opened a great spectrum of possibilities for everybody who was willing to create to have a chance of getting heard, to collaborate and to be independent. You now have freedom to do all this! So this is one of the great misconceptions that I heard a lot about being a musician; that all the technology available made everybody lazy and that someone without talent can make music and nobody will care... Well, this will never change, technology doesn't create talent nor will make great songs. Dedication is still essential and I heard a lot that because of this reality of facilities it is way harder to work with music in a serious way, well I believe that if you really love what you do and if you really work hard at the end it will pay off. It is the musician, the professionalism that makes quality, not the context.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I first started playing violin at the age of 6, it was my musical foundation. I learned via the Suzuki method and it was mostly beginner level classical pieces, though at this period I had my first experiences playing with other musicians and with the rehearse context of an ensemble. The piano at the classes was very prominent as a foundation of the musical pieces and I was fascinated by it since this period. When I was 15 years old I started playing guitar influenced by Jimmy Page. After lots of dedication I learned to improvise on every key of the instrument and it was the start of my learning path for composing and arranging. The real composing and arranging knowledge came when I started to learn the piano, with 20 years old. I rediscovered the joy of my childhood days, it is really a magical instrument for me! By this time I started to understand harmony, chord voicings, circle of fifths, etc. I always listened to the greatest amount of music possible, so when I learned about the process of the great multi-instrumentalist on the likes of Stevie Wonder and Prince my world changed. I found out that with dedication I could learn the bass and drums as well! So ever since my teen years I play and record music, i've been with some bands but my personal realization came with creating and experimenting recording all the instruments by myself. Though I really love to jam with other musicians, it is also essential!
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Post-production don't save a bad arrangement. The composition must be good, the arrangement has to be solid. If you had a good song structure with all the elements interacting correctly with a good performance you'll have a smooth mixing and overall great results without intricate efforts. Sometimes less is often more, especially when you have human factor. Regardless of genre, feeling is what make everything glue nice together! So my tip is get it all sounding amazing even before recording.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Depends on the type of the project, usually I would like to approach the ideas of the song analyzing the vision of the composer, the concepts behind it. It could be a pop song with rock influences, or a R&B track with jazz influences... It is very vast, I think that thinking about labels of genre could be a limit for creativity. There are cases of singer/songwriter songs that could have electronic elements. If you take a Jean Michel Jarre album one can say that is "electronic", but for me is way beyond just a generic idea of genre. So the best way I can answer this question Is trying to approach the closest influences behind that particular ideia/composition always having versatility in mind. When you take an album like "Houses Of the Holy" by Led Zeppelin you will hear progressive rock, funk, reggae, blues & so on. My ballpark is founded on the essence of each musical element within an arrangement. Though everyone has an style, I will be better on some kind of vibes than others, the ones I did and I can say i'm really comfortable with are; adult contemporary, blues, rock, soft-rock, funk, R&B, chillwave (laid-back electronic music generally speaking), singer/songwriter, piano solo pieces (can go from neo-classical, to mellow, to jazzy) and everything in between ideas that have groove and feeling.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Probably attention to detail and the goal to create something that stands the test of time. I focus to hear the compositions & arrangements as a whole, especially when mixing. Everything has to communicate well, the balance and dynamics are essential for me. I think all of this is a process and there is always room for improvement and learning so it becomes a skill.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: For recording I use a API Lunchbox with an API 512C and a Neve 1073LB pre's connected to an Apogee Rosetta 800 AD/DA converter. This is the core of the rack gear, the essential for tracking. I also have some EQ's & Compressors on the lunchbox though I rarely use them since I rely on the great Universal Audio plugins, fueled by an UAD-2 Satellite Quad. So the compression and EQ's settings are done all on the mixing stage. I would approach these afterwards. My main electric guitar is a Gibson Les Paul Studio (2009) with some stomp-boxes connected on a Tweed 15W Fender Blues Jr. miced with a Rode NT2-A and Rode NT-6. My main bass is a Fender Deluxe Precision Bass (1998) with active pickups which I use the DI of the API 512c for recording and the tones modulated within the UAD plugins. I also had two acoustic guitars from Tagima, one with 6 and another with 12 strings, both I record using the same mic's described before. My drum rig is basically a Roland TD9-KX2 as a controller to the Superior Drummer 2.0 VST with the Custom & Vintage SDX sounds. My keyboard rig consists on a Nord Electro 4 HP which is the main instrument for electric pianos (Rhodes, Wurlitzer), acoustic pianos (Upright & Grand), Clavinet, Mellotron and a bunch of synth's from the Nord's sample library (which is really amazing). I also use a Micro Korg MK1 for extra synth options with more tweaking (I like turning buttons) and finally a Roland A300 Pro MIDI controller for VST's and DAW samples. Speaking on DAW and computers I use Logic Pro X and Reason 7.1.2 on a MacBook Pro with a 26 Thunderbolt Display. Logic is extraordinary for mixing and all the technical aspects but I really dig the flexibility of arranging & tracking on Reason, the options of rack instruments and samples are amazing as well, so I mostly arrange and track within Reason and do all the mixing and post-production on Logic. The plugins from Universal Audio I use to mix are: 1176LN, 1176SE, Teletronix LA-2A, Fairchild & SSL G-Bus compressors, Ampex ATR-102 & Studer A800 tape recorders, Pultec Passive EQ collection, Lexicon 224 & RealVerb-Pro for reverb and a UA 610-B channel strip. For monitoring I use a AKG MK II headphone for tracking and a pair of Event Opal monitors for mixing, which In my opinion are amazing. They are fueled by a SPL 2Control monitoring controller.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: When collaborating with other artists I usually will analyze the song considering context and then I do a reverse engineering of the elements. What each factor means to the composition; they are communicating well? My thought on songs are formulated within layers of sound. The rhythm section has a layer that has to communicate well with the supporting instruments and melodies, the melodies has to harmonize well with the other details & so on. So for me listening to music is beyond a superficial mean, it is a profound analysis. Actually Is a natural process since I need to understand what each part that I'm willing to add will in fact contribute something interesting and new to a song that most of the times is already very good. So I try to add parts that works and fits well within the songs, without compromising the originality of the artist; it is a contribution. Producing has a similar approach but it goes beyond, since in this cases the artist is looking for an external perspective within his ideas and sometimes the songs go to new places; arrangement, performance, and other fields are considered. When composing from scratch I usually start with the piano, I think it is more visual on the means of the chord voicings and overall idea of an arrangement.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Laid-back, melodic, mellow, groovy... It really depends on the ilk of the song, but my grounds flirt a lot with melodic motifs at the same time that I love harmony & rhythm, so it is a blend of the moods I dig. Think about the delicate Rhodes of Chick Corea on "Crystal Silence" when I refer to mellow and delicate. The groovy bass of Jamiroquai, the rhythm of Prince & Nile Rodgers, the melodic guitar soloing style of David Gilmour, the sophisticated harmonies of Steely Dan, the laid-back ballpark of Bob Marley, the soul of Stevie Wonder. I think these are good examples of the vibes and motifs of my style, but of course it is impossible to sum up, it goes from here and beyond.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: There are so many! Mostly I dream that someday I can work with the ones who inspired me as a musician, the ones that I listened to the records and always discovered a new detail within the songs & productions. Jimmy Page probably would be my ultimate dream, but when I think about the pioneering of Quincy Jones, Donald Fagen, Alan Parsons... It is really hard to say only one name.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both! Without digital it would be impracticable to record within home and project studios, it would be impossible to collaborate with other musicians remotely, etc. The digital recording technology brought endless possibilities. I like to approach the digital domain as another tool for creativity. However the analog quality of sound is irreplaceable, so in the sonic domain it is what I dig. If you blend the practicality of the digital world with the analog sonics you can get pretty neat results... This is my approach, nowadays there are incredible plugins that emulate the sonics of the analog world and this instance is my go to for my projects. You can record a high quality digital audio and then add some analog color, warmth and more realism overall. Music isn't intended to be perfect; the harmonics and little imperfections of the analog are the real deal for me.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Good communication is essential, also it is important to understand that it is about creative collaboration, this is what really matters for me. I'm open to suggestions, new ideas and always willing to learn with all the projects and opportunities. I will always work hard to achieve the creator vision within a project, sometimes we can really surprise ourselves!
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: Producing, recording, experimenting and jamming with my bandmates of my instrumental project. These jams & improvisations results on compositions. Nothing compares to be in a room with other musicians without nothing planned, just the freedom to play with your mind focused on performing well based on improvisation. These instances usually reveal phrases, lines, ideas that when you listen afterwards it really surprises you.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Beyond session work and recording for other artists I've been doing lots of composing for Film & TV, spanning different genres mostly grounded on background music, cues, jingles for publicity, etc. It is fascinating to compose within this field because you try to approach ideas & genres that you usually wouldn't try. I learn a lot with the process of thinking in a way that I normally wouldn't!
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: One of the more fascinating aspects within this field is when you surprise yourself with results you didn't expect. Collaborating with other creative minds, with talented musicians and sometimes really originals is a privilege. I love authenticity, originality! When you can record and put in context of art what is inside your mind, the feelings, your life, what it moves you as a human being it is really something that puts a smile on my face and most importantly, brings sense to my life.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: One of my biggest inspirations on the production world span to a lot of innovative minds, but the essential ground for me (the ones who really changed my concepts) are Quincy Jones, Todd Rundgren, Nile Rodgers, Phil Ramone, Prince, Giorgio Moroder & Alan Parsons. Each one of them has a special characteristic but they are all for sure legendary. As a multi-instrumentalist myself Prince is one of the most important in this approach soon after Todd Rundgren who also is a master of the studio producing legendary albums like "Something/Anything?". Stevie Wonder also played a big role when I started the path of learning more than one instrument, he is such a brilliant musician... When I found out that he did big part of the drums on the "Songs In The Key Of Life" and other important records of his career I was blown away! Actually my musical path started with Jimmy Page, he inspired me to grab a guitar for the first time. He is a great pioneer, brilliant composer/arranger and a master at the production. What he did with Eddie Kramer and the mobile studio is extraordinary! Nobody orchestrates and harmonizes guitars like him, period. Later on I discovered Steely Dan and my standard of sophistication and perfectionism raised; what Donald Fagen & Walter Becker explored on studio is insane! This band is very important on my journey because it was the entry door to the session world, this is the opportunity I had to learn about the greatest session musicians of all time like Jeff Porcaro, Larry Carlton, Steve Gadd, Bernard Purdie, Joe Sample, Chuck Rainey, Anthony Jackson, etc. On this field I always listened to lots of records, researching within the credits of this albums. This is time when I discovered that Jeff Porcaro played on dozens (really, a lot) of albums, one highlight for me is "Silk Degrees" by Boz Scaggs that has a lot of session musicians, including David Paich (who is a great inspiration for me) & David Hungate. They later formed Toto and these guys along with Steve Lukather also contributed to hundreds of records. The essential lesson from all this examples is that each one of them played on records that span a lot of different genres; they go to Soul/R&B, Jazz, Rock, Funk, Pop & so on... They are all extremely versatile and spontaneous musicians/composers, this is my foundation and ballpark. What I dig is great human feel consequent of creative collaboration.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: My session work normally consists in doing guitars, bass or keyboards for already done compositions and arrangements. Sometimes is within a context of a demo and others is almost the final track but without some elements; in some cases guitar solos, riffs or harmonies. When the track needs keyboards I usually do Rhodes Electric piano, acoustic piano or synthesizers to fill the spaces or to contribute to the overall sound in a way that the track can sound bigger and more interesting to the project. It all depends on what the client is aiming with what I can offer musically. As an example I did the bass and electric guitar for a client once who sent me a demo with all the elements and sounds from his keyboard; he requested me to do electric bass based on the lines he created, the same with the guitars and harmonies. I usually play the drums when the project requires a full production from scratch that is pretty much instrumental tracks for Film & TV. There are different approaches, when a client reach me with a song that is mostly a demo and he needs some work to it I will ask what he is aiming with the song, what are the vibe, feel and overall tone of the composition. Examples always help in this field, as well as good communication is essential when collaborating on a creative process and fine tuning all the intricate aspects of music production. There are instances when I do the composing based on examples and concepts; solo piano pieces are usually done in this direction.