I specialize in full production and beat programming, be it hip-hop, electronic, or going for organic, realistic programmed drums that nobody would ever think were programmed. I've done work for/with Jason Mraz, Talib Kweli, Killer Mike, Inspectah Deck, Killah Priest, Emancipator, Beats Antique, Champagne Drip, Sophie Barker of Zero 7, and more.
I have been pretty much obsessed with making music now for over 20 years. What started out as a passion for writing songs and playing guitar has turned into me being a full-time music producer, recording/mixing engineer, and beat-maker/remixer. Because of the wide array of music genres I love, and the various projects I have been a part of over the years, I specialize in a number of different things, mainly:
- songwriting, especially coming up with catchy melodies (The Beatles are my biggest influence ever)
- production/arrangement for singer/songwriters, indie rock, hip-hop, trip-hop, downtempo, electronic, and commercial EDM.
- mixing music (I really enjoy this and have A LOT of experience)
- vocal and instrument comping/tuning, and tightening/editing (the tedious stuff that makes a world of difference)
- remixing (I LOVE remixing!)
- I specialize in using Ableton Live and Pro Tools.
I also play guitar and keys and could add nice parts to flesh out your track if you think it needs it. I own a real Rhodes, and a Prophet 12 and Minimoog Voyager synth, which are sonically amazing to add to productions.
Tell me about your project and how I can help, through the 'Contact' button above.
Reviews (5)Endorse Gabe Lehner (9 Theory)
Gabe was a pleasure to work with. He has stellar taste, a deep knowledge of and experience with every aspect of the writing and production process, and works across genres. He heard ways to improve arrangements I've worked on for months and his feedback will undoubtably get me out of a writing rut that's held me back. Highly recommended!
Working with Gabe was an excellent experience. He remixed one of my songs and I can't even describe how good the remix is. I just love it.
Gabe is one of my favorite people to work with. He has an incredible ear and a deep understanding of songwriting and music production. To top it all off, he has an incredible feel for vibe and emotion when it comes to writing music. His great strengths take any of our collaborations to a place I wouldn't be able to on my own. 10/10 would recommend.
Gabe Lehner's clean and powerful production asthetic combined with his beautiful sense of innovation and musicality makes him a joy to work with. In addition, Gabe's friendly and professional demeanor makes him a benefit to any musical project.
Ableton Certified Trainer
I've worked with Gabe on nearly a dozen tracks. He blends his deep understanding of music theory/song structure and incredible production competence with ProTools and Ableton together for a mixture that has helped my projects reach levels I could not have expected. He has great ideas, is super down to earth and easy to work with. He is a delight to work with and will help you achieve your goals.
Interview with Gabe Lehner (9 Theory)
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I think what I can bring to a song that is most useful for people is making sure the song and recording feel like they tell a story from beginning to end with proper flow, dynamics, and arrangement so that it is not too long, or doesn't ever get boring or lose interest. I find many artists struggle with how to flesh out a good arrangement, but I have developed quite a knack for this and it comes easy to me. I also have a strong ear for detail so I will pick up on little minor things that may be out of place, or could be better or changed, that many artists may not pick up on their own. Also my strong suit is melody so I can be a great help helping someone make their melody a little better, or write a bridge the song my need that they don't have yet.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Oooh... There are so many, but I suppose my dream collaboration would be with Damon Albarn, who is probably my biggest inspiration as an eclectic artist who has done so many different kinds of projects, and each one is SO good!
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I am truly proud of everything I work on, but one thing I am particularly proud of is how my remixes for Jason Mraz turned out. I ended up doing two different remixes of his track, "Love Someone," just to show him examples of two wildly different approaches. He loved them both so much that he released both, and I am particularly happy with the whole mood and vibe of the one titled "Love Someone (9 Theory Remix)." I am especially proud of this because it was a big opportunity for me and I came through, and got to have my work released and promoted by a major artist via a major record label.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I am currently doing a number of remixes for two different clients in San Diego, mixing an EP for another artist in San Diego, and I am also producing/recording/mixing a commercial EDM project for somebody here in LA. I am also working on my own 9 Theory music.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: No, I am new to SoundBetter. Hopefully I'll be revising this answer in the near future :)
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both. I LOVE analog gear, and especially analog synths, which can get a sound I really like that is impossible for digital stuff to recreate. However, so much digital stuff sounds amazing now, and I know of famous, well-known mixing engineers with access to all of the most desirable analog outboard gear doing their mixes in the box because digital recreations as plugins can be so close to the original that it's silly to not use them, given the ease of making adjustments or recalls. There are also great digital sounding synths out there. Analog and digital are just different, but both are great, especially when used in conjunction.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise that they will be thrilled with whatever I do. If they aren't then I'm not done yet, and I'll keep working and tweaking until they are.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Making music is my obsession, so I thankfully have fun doing it, pretty much all the time no matter what I am working on. I love taking music and making it better; that's the funnest game for me. Watching a song or mix get better and better until I feel it can't be better anymore is a really cool process, I love it.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: There aren't common questions I get. Usually conversations are all about what the client wants, and I am asking them questions to make sure I can give them what they want.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I don't know really. I'm not aware of stereotypes about studio nerds or producers/beat-makers. Are people talking smack? ;)
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: I always want to know, as detailed as possible, what their vision is for their material, and what other mixes, songs, or artists/bands they want to sound like. This give me a good direction to take so I can assure they are getting what they want. Nothing is more important than taking my ego out of the equation and making sure the artist is happy with their art.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: My main advice would be to make sure you like examples of the work a potential provider has done, and then to actually connect, at least via email, but moreso on the phone, and make sure you like their vibe and enthusiasm for working on your stuff. Before I ever produce for somebody I like to meet up over coffee and talk about the project and make sure we each feel good about working with each other before we do. I think that is important.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Acoustic guitar, ukulele, kalimba, hand drum or cajon, and a violin. I am assuming with this answer that this a classic desert island situation with no electricity :)
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I have been doing this now for just over 20 years. This whole journey began in 1996 when I was in 10th grade and started learning guitar, which meant almost instantly starting a shitty band with my best friends. We were a band though for 10 years, and we became a very good, very tight band with a lot of material, recordings, and live shows under our belt. I though that my first band was going to be the extent of my musical career; that we were "going to make it." Of course we didn't, and when it ended and I didn't know what to do next until I got advice to check out a program called Ableton Live, which is a household name now, but wasn't at the time. This was a true life-changing move. Earlier, even before my band (jack the original) broke up, I had started dabbling in home recording/production and beat-making with Reason and ProTools. So when the band ended and I discovered Ableton I quickly went hard down that path, and got involved in a duo called Inspired Flight that really honed a sound and live show around Ableton. Inspired Flight was a vehicle for me to open for some of my idols, play amazing music festivals including Coachella, and meet a lot of great, inspiring piers. When that project got put on a major hiatus I became more of a solo artist (9 Theory), and also focused more on producing and mixing for other people as my own skill set in the studio developed more and more. Now I live in Los Angeles (I'm from San Diego), and besides doing work from my home studio I teach electronic music production with Ableton Live at a college in LA, and I sometimes do work out of a really incredible commercial studio as well called LoLA.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: My style is very melodic and clean sounding. I am a stickler for fidelity and sonic balance in a song, whether it is the elements happening in a song, or the technical aspects to a clean mix. Also, when it comes to beats, my style is extremely groovy with a major nod to golden-era hip-hop, rather than being aggressive, or having beats that hit super hard.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Less is more. This is a golden rule to always remember! Also playing with changing dynamics in a song is essential to having your production not feel too boring by the end or even middle of it. Keeping the level of energy in a track on the exact same note the whole time is no bueno.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I usually work on genre-blending things in the world of hip-hop, downtempo and trip-hop, electronic, house, even commercial mainstream EDM. Also, for other artists, I often produce more chill, singer/songwriter indie artists who lean indie folk, or americana even, or more indie rock too. I feel confident to work on any genre of music, but these are what I usually work on.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I would say if I had to choose one thing, my strongest skill is actually songwriting and coming up with catchy melodies. Writing good lyrics can be a long, grueling process often for me, but for some reason writing unique, hooky, interesting melodies comes as naturally as walking. I think it must have to do with how obsessed with The Beatles I was growing up, and other super melodic bands. I must also say though, that with the years and countless hours I've spent going more into a production world than artist-in-a-band world, I am also a very strong producer and beat-maker, pretty much on par with writing melodies as a strong suit.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I typically wake up, have my morning coffee, step outside for a bit of sun and stretching, and then dig into studio world. When I work I am extremely focused and I just do whatever needs to be done that day, making sure to stop and take little stretch breaks when my body starts telling me it needs it.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: My studio has its own dedicated room in my home, which is great because I am able to put attention into aesthetic detail like colors, artwork, and lighting, to make it very conducive to creativity. I use Ableton Live and Pro Tools, almost equally depending on the job, running on a nice 27" iMac, which has a lot of great software synths and plugins essential to good mixing (shout out to Fabfilter!). My studio is also equipped with a Fender Deluxe w/Les Paul electric guitar rig, a stellar Yari Alvarez acoustic that records really well with my Blueberry condenser mic, and I have a really nice Kubicki bass that gets a wide variety of bass tones, and sounds amazing DI into my Great River mic pre with a Distressor. I also have an 88-key 1978 suitcase Rhodes (game changer), and a Prophet 12, and Minimoog Voyager analog synths. Then there are lots or fun toys like different things for percussion, I have an Ebow I use often, a kalimba, melodica, vintage Echoplex analog tape delay, Copperphone mic, some pedals, and so on. Pretty much everything I need to record/produce great, professional sounding productions.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Probably my biggest inspiration is Damon Albarn, who is from one of my favorite bands, Blur, but who also now does Gorillaz, and has an enormous, eclectic catalog of other collaborations, soundtracks, and projects. I am very inspired by artists like Damon who don't only live in one sonic/genre box. I am also very inspired these days by Bonobo for his musicality as well as pristine sonic productions and mixes. Also everything Radiohead and Nigel Godrich do inspires me a lot, plus a billion other beat-makers, bands, and producers that would take way too long to try and list here :)
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: The most common type of work I do for other people is full productions in the vein of electronic music or hip-hop. A lot of this is beat-making, as well as mixing the whole track when it is done. I also do a lot of mixing work for other artists who I don't produce, just mix for.