Mix/Master Engineer, Producer, Musician (Guitar, Bass, Piano/Synth, Drums, Ukulele, Vocals), Editor
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Interview with James Curtis
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I am proud of every project I work on. Even when I look back and it sucks, it was the best I could do then. It shows forward movement, and that is the end goal - improvement.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Currently working on my EP for my band Night Heart. (shameless plug)
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Totally new here, but I'm sure there's someone out there I know.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both, because it's 2017 and technology exists. :)
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: To not suck.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Seeing someone walk away with a product they are proud of.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Do you have paypal and/or venmo? Yes, both. What does this do? What does that do? Can we fix that in post?
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: The biggest misconception is that it's easy. However, people tend to not credit most for their efforts before they were good at their talent. This goes for anything - sports, music, etc. Most people don't see the hours upon hours of not hanging out with friends, not going out, or just not having a life in general. They just see that you make it look easy, and it's really not. This also goes for tracking... I mean, its a 3 min song, it should only take like 10 mins to track everything, right? :)
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What are you wanting to get out of your project, but more importantly, what are you willing to put in?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: PPPPPP - Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance This applies in all aspects of life also.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: 2 Distressors, 1 Fatso, and an SSL Comp. Wait that's 4... and an entire recording studio... does that count as one "piece of gear"?
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I have been a musician since i was 12, so about 21 years now. I have been recording since i was around 16. Everyday I learn something new still. ::cue "The More You Know"::
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: My style would probably fall more on the modern side of production.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Eric Nally would be really fun to work with, I think. He's an amazing talent, and he conveys so many emotions through his vocals, and that's what it's all about in the end.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Gain stage!!!! Do it right, and the rest is easy!
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: If i had to narrow it it to one genre, i would say rock. That's probably about as vague as one can get.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Being versatile is the most important skill anyone can have today. You need it to survive. If its something I can't do, I know someone who can. The goal is to make the best possible product, and knowing how to get it done is what keeps everything moving.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Every project is different, but I like to push everything in the direction to servethe song. I love working with people to push them beyond their known capabilities. Its always an amazing feeling when you hear how proud people are of their performance that you helped them achieve.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Mixing - I like to listen to what the overall idea of what the song is. What kind of mood is it going for? Then I start listening to individual parts and deciding where they need to be to add to the mood and go from there. Tracking - I like to start with drums typically. Get a scratch track from everyone and let the drummer do his/her thing. Tracking is the most exciting part to me because you get to interact with the client and help them get the best performances they never new they had in some cases.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: DAW - Protools, Logic Plugins - Slate, Waves, UAD, Soundtoys, and others Hardware - Sansamp RBI, Orban 418a stereo limiters, Vintech 573 pres, CAPI VP28 Pres, Bogner (Shiva, Ecstasy) Amps, Fender American Strat and American P-Bass, PRS McCarty Most importantly, I have EARS. :)
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I would say Butch Walker is probably my most influential person. He's a master of all trades - entertaining, producing, and an amazing musician.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I do what it takes to meet the client's expectations. Sometimes that includes retracking instrument takes or BG vocals, for instance. Sometimes it includes performing all instruments for a song that was sent as an acoustic demo. And even sometimes that includes leaving things as they are to keep the feel. It's the clients vision, and my job is to help them get as close as possible to what's in their head.