What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What would you love to create? Then, unfortunately, what's your budget. The two don't often match (you can't always afford Abbey Road) but by understanding both elements I can get as close to both as possible. I know the tricks of the trade.
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
Fatoumata Diawara's first album, Fatou. I was engineer, but I did a lot of production work and music arranging. I was shown the demos by Nick the producer and fell in love with the potential there. It was an extremely satisfying project to work on.
Analog or digital and why?
Both. Because every tool should be available to you. Everything has it's place.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
When you buy mixes from me, it is ONLY me who mixes. I never farm mixing out.
What do you like most about your job?
I get to be in loads of bands each year. Being part of the record making process means you need to get involved. I love getting to know people, what they want, what they dream about and making that into sound. It's great.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
I'm not doing anything. Sometimes not doing anything is what's best - leave things to work themselves out. Sometimes I might not look like I'm doing anything or paying attention, but there's always something going on in my head. That's why, often at the end of a conversation between musicians, I've done what they've agreed on before they turn to me and tell me. It's a nice surprise for them.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Talk to them. Sometimes an interview like this or a credit list or website doesn't give you the full picture. It's all about relationships and understanding and you can't have any of that without talking.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
1) My acoustic guitar - she goes nearly everywhere with me
2) U87 - the stalwart of microphones
3) Neve 1073 mic amp
4) LA-2A compressor Limiter
5) Studer A800
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I fell in love with recording when my guitar teacher lent me his 4-track tape machine when I was 12. So at 16 I left school to study Music Technology and then gained a 1st Class Degree in recording arts from SAE London. From there I set up a studio with the super-engineer Kevin Feazey as well as working at Livingston Studios under the watchful eye of Engineer Jerry Boys and Producer Nick Gold. And the rest is history. From my studio and Livingston I build amazing relationships with amazing people.
How would you describe your style?
Creative. I like play with stuff. Follow ideas and not get stuck on things. I like working quickly, that way you keep perspective.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
I'd loved to have been a fly on the wall on a Beatles session. Other than that I really enjoy working with something and someone I've never worked with before. To be honest, if you are a nice person and passionate about what you are doing I'd like to work with you.
Can you share one music production tip?
Don't fix it later. If there is something not quite right, whether that be a mix level, a mic placement, even or lyric or chord, fix if there and then before you commit it to history.
What type of music do you usually work on?
World, Folk and Jazz. Basically stuff with musicians playing instruments in rooms. That said I make Folktronica music so electronics has it's role definitely.
What's your strongest skill?
Seeing the bigger picture. Because I've worked in nearly every role in the process, I understand what people are going though and I never let one element get in the way of creativity. Just because I don't have this mic or that space or the other instrument, doesn't mean you can't make great records.
What do you bring to a song?
My knowledge and experience as a musician, song-writer, performer, engineer, mixer and producers. I bring everything that I have. I think that's why people like working with me and why I've produced award nominated music.
What's your typical work process?
It really depends on what I'm being asked to do. I like momentum though. I like working with speed so that you feel live you're getting somewhere. It helps with creativity. But there is a fine balance between speed and rushing. I never rush. That's when silly mistakes are made.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I've got my own Pro Tools rig and some mics I love, but I like love working in different places, whether it be a pro studio, a local studio or even a bungalow. I set a studio up in a bungalow for a week once. It was great fun.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Musicians and artistes inspire me the most. I love to hear a demo or a rough recording of an idea that someone has had and hearing the potential in it. I'm still a fan of The Beatles in terms of production, but I don't ever feel like I follow a particular sound or another producer/engineer. I do what the music tells me to.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Production. Whatever I'm doing whether it be recording, mixing, playing an instrument, I've always got my producer's head on and ready to give advice when it's needed. I never impose my thoughts on other people's music, but I don't just sit there and push buttons when I can see a way I can help.