If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
I'll settle for 2. My ears :)
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I started out as assistant to a well-known producer, who mentored me for several years. I branched out for myself in 2010 and made my first record in 2011. Since then I have made over 30 records.
How would you describe your style?
Fluid and flexible whilst retaining a signature 'wall of sound' character to my productions.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
Justin Timberlake - =so I can pick the man's brain and get a deeper understanding of his impeccable arrangement and production skills.
Can you share one music production tip?
If you're having trouble getting a particular layer or instrument to be heard clearly without messing up the balance of another element - like a guitar lead vs a lead vocal - automate the start of the backing element (in this case the guitar) to be loud and clear and ride the fader gently down right after. Once an element grabs your attention, you can safely turn it down to an appropriate level and the impact will be preserved without cluttering the mix.
What type of music do you usually work on?
I grew up on rock music and have the most amount of experience with that genre, but over the last 5 years my focus has been on R&B, pop, and mastering electronic and bass music. I still love to do a great rock record though.
What's your strongest skill?
As an active touring and collaborative musician myself, I consider myself fairly strong at immersing myself into a project, understanding the direction an artist wants to achieve with his project, and essentially acting as an extra band member with the technical skills to mix a song, and also having the unbiased third-person perspective that the songwriters themselves often lack.
What do you bring to a song?
Aside from making sure the song has a solid rhythmic foundation with a powerful focal point on the lead vocal, I pay very careful attention to creating a sense of atmosphere and space in a song through careful reverb design. I also pay very careful attention to dynamic flow, and make sure that I perform automation moves section to section keeping the context of the big picture in mind. For example, the dynamic shift between a radio rock verse and chorus needs to be explosive and powerful. I achieve this with automation and a sparing but clever use of impact effects.
What's your typical work process?
When mixing a song, I like to work in the following steps:
1. Go through all the raw files, number and rename them according to my own nomenclature (5-10 mins)
2. Convert all files to the same sample rate and bit depth if required (5-15 mins)
3. Import all files into a pre-arranged Cubase project template with groups/submixes, fx channels already setup to save time
3. Route all tracks to relevant groups/submixes (5 mins)
4. Listen to a rough mix of the song to get the vibe the client is going for
5. Do a basic balance of the song with drums, bass, vocal, guitar and synth in that order (30-60 mins)
6. Design reverbs, delays and other time based effects for the various mix elements (30 mins)
7. Automation moves and establishing dynamic contrasts from section to section (30 mins)
8. Print a first pass and send to client for feedback
Tell us about your studio setup.
My studio revolves around a mostly digital, laptop workstation based setup, as being a touring musician as well I am often required to work remotely with minimal or portable gear. A list of select pieces of my gear is:
Workstation: Apple iMac and Macbook Pro (2016)
Primary Studio Monitors: Event Opal
Secondary Reference: Yamaha HS50M, KRK Rokit 5
Reference Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M70, ATH-M50, Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro
Audio Interface: Universal Audio Apollo
Microphones: Mojave MA200 Tube Condenser, Shure SM7B Dynamic
Synths: Waldorf Blofeld (hardware)
Amplification: Fractal Audio Axe-FX Ultra
Plug-Ins: All UAD-2 Plugins, Slate Digital, Sonnox, Nomad Factory, iZotope, and several more
Drum Libraries: All Toontrack drum libraries, Native Instruments, GetGood Drums
Other: several assorted analog and digital effect units from Earthquaker Devices, TC Electronic, MXR, etc.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
While my core inspirations remain classic mixers like Manny Marroquin, Randy Staub and Nick Raskulinecz, in recent years I have been heavily inspired by mixers like Adam 'Nolly' Getgood and Forrester Savell who have mastered ITB (digital) mixing and bring a very classy, modern polish to a sound based off of classic punchy rock records.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
My most common work is mixing and mastering records and singles for pop/rock/R&B artists and electronic producers. While mixing and mastering are fairly self-explanatory, as a producer my specialty lies in arranging for instruments, creating atmosphere and ambience, and programming drums for use either in pre-production or a final product.