Mixing/mastering engineer, multi-instrumentalist, and composer.
I am a north Florida-based musician dedicated to quality and detail. In early 2016 I received my bachelor's degree in jazz studies from the University of North Florida, and have since worked full time as a freelance musician, instructor, and audio engineer. I work with several bands in the Jacksonville area, including the Rivertown Band, The Royals, DR. SCIENCE, TriPow, South City Live, Parker Urban Band, and more. During my jazz degree, I shared the stage with Donny McCaslin, Randy Brecker, Ingrid Jensen, Danilo Perez, and others. In my home studio I can efficiently record bass, guitar, keys/synthesizer, or trumpet for any track you need - just let me know what sound you have in mind. I can also do a full mix and/or master on your tracks and will do the job quickly and responsively, keeping in touch with you at each step along the way. Contact me - I look forward to working with you!
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Interview with Jonathan Ward
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Most commonly, I work around the southeast as a multi-instrumentalist for corporate bands, churches, session artists, and more. My instruments are primarily electric bass, trumpet, keyboards, and guitar. I also work as a mixing and mastering engineer, most recently for Jacksonville, FL-based bands DR. SCIENCE and TriPow, as well as separate, miscellaneous projects - creating ambient tracks, beats, etc. Finally, I work around the Jacksonville, FL area as a private instructor, offering lessons in four instruments (as listed above), with a typical average of around 20 weekly students.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: As an instrumentalist, I'm deeply inspired by Jaco Pastorius, Miles Davis, Thundercat, Hiatus Kaiyote, Snarky Puppy, Bill Frisell, and Robert Glasper, to name a few. Musicians like them embody the quality I strive for as a performer - always rooted in tradition and music history, but simultaneously exploring and looking forward. When it comes to production, I find inspiration for beats and composition from J Dilla, Flying Lotus, Vektroid, Teebs, and their kind, while my mixing and mastering is highly influenced by Nate Wood, David Binney, and the production teams behind Snarky Puppy and Jacob Collier.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: For mixing and mastering, I work primarily in Logic Pro X, and use several plugins from Waves, which provide consistent professional quality. I use a pair of M-Audio BX5 Studio Monitors, and as my home studio is arranged mostly for work within my DAW rather than recording live bands, I stick to a modest two-input PreSonus Audiobox USB audio interface. For recording bass, guitar, and keyboards, I tend to use a 1/4-inch DI. For recording trumpet or vocals, I use a EV CO7 cobalt microphone. I play a Fender jazz bass, an LTD 6-string bass, a microKORG synthesizer, a Yamaha MX49 Keyboard (sounds taken from the Motif), a Getzen Genesis trumpet, and a Yamaha Xeno trumpet.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: If I'm given a track to mix, I typically start by making small EQ and compression tweaks to each instrument individually, and set up some buss routing for the drums to further fine-tune my compression - then I'll put the mix back together and see how everything sounds. I'll make more tweaks to blend everything just right, and add any extra plugins (FX, reverb, etc) that are needed to bring the character I am envisioning for the track's overall sound. Finally, I'll go through the track section by section and fix any volume imbalances over time with automation. After all of these steps have been completed sufficiently, I'll come back later to do the mastering process. The requirements here will vary for every track - EQ adjustments, multiband compression, stereo widening, and other changes will be applied if needed. Finally, I'll use limiting to set the level of the finished track to where it should be.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I aim to transparently bring out the spirit of a track by bringing clarity, energy, and style to a mix without affecting the character of the performance.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: As an experienced instrumentalist, performer, and composer, I approach any mix with the perspective of an artist at the forefront. I don't get caught up on technical points - they exist merely to serve the music. Whenever I adjust sounds in a recorded track, I always imagine I am performing it myself, and trying to evoke emotion. As an audio engineer, the emotion and spirit of a track always remains my top priority.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: As a performer, I play a wide range of styles, including R&B, soul, jazz, fusion, top 40, classical music, math rock, and more. I've mixed and mastered primarily instrumental bands, influenced by jazz, math rock, indie rock, fusion, etc.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Cohesion is key. Fixing something in isolation only goes so far - once it's put back into the full mix, it might not sit right anymore. It's far better to make blended sounds than to have the perfect snare stick out in an otherwise muddy mix.