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Interview with ....----......-----
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: 1. Q - Can I hear other examples of your work? A - Yes 2. Q - Are you flexible with your pricing? A - We can be, depending on the project, client and needs. But we like to have all details worked out up front - it makes the whole creative process go more smoothly. 3. Q - What if I need more revisions than what you include for free but don't have the budget to pay for more? A - Talk to us and we'll see what can be done. The project can either go on-hold until you work things out on your end or - if the extra revisions are small - we could just deal with it. Obviously if extra revisions are required because of something we did wrong there is no charge. If extra revisions are required because you as the client just changed your mind/needs, then something will likely have to be worked out.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: We promise to give you the best of ourselves as musicians, producers and professionals while bringing out the best in you. We promise you will be happy with the end-result and pleasantly surprised with the work we've done for you.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Ask as many questions as you need to ask. Make sure you are comfortable with the personality and approach of who you're hiring. Most importantly, listen to ALL examples provided. For example, if a provider sends a link to one song on Soundcloud or YouTube, there will likely be an entire page of other examples for you to research and check out. Don't be too hasty to make a choice about a provider from one musical example. And try to consider talent, skill, attitude and potential. Just because the provider doesn't have a specific example posted that matches your exact needs doesn't mean they can't deliver one for you. Ask the provider about a trial/test example if you think they're qualified but you need a little more specific, musical proof they can get the sound you want.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Our collective style is so varied because we work for clients who have extremely diverse needs and projects. My particular style (as head producer, programmer, keyboardist, teacher etc.) is eclectic as well. But left to my own devices, when I sit down alone at a piano I'm going to play blues or an improvised symphony-style new age piano piece. As a producer, the client certainly has input, but I will add depth, a touch of pop-accessibility, an edge and emotion to your tracks/project.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: As professionals and business people, one of our strongest skills is understanding our client's needs and knowing they are putting their trust into us to deliver their music and project on time and to their absolute satisfaction and happiness. As musicians and producers our strongest skill by far is bring out the very best in our client's music, lyrics, ideas and art.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: The whole fame and glory concept is interesting. But the biggest misconception we experience from newer or younger artists/clients is that a 3 minute song takes 3-10 minutes to record. Many clients who are not musicians have never experienced the behind-the-scenes amount of time it actually takes to finish a project. For example, we can watch a 2 hour movie in 2 hours. But it likely took years to write, fund, cast, produce, film, score, edit, pace, sync and more to get it to that 2 hours.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: I ask them about their self-vision and musical direction. I ask what their expectations are of me, Chris Novak Productions and its affiliates, and the end-result of their recording/project. I ask what their goals are with music, how long they've been studying, recording, playing, etc. I definitely ask for reference tracks and any examples what they want their project to sound like and what they think they sound like. I also ask about their deadlines and their approach to writing music.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I'm proud of the SUDS40 project I'm currently producing and recording. My all-time favorite project was an original blues band that went to Memphis to compete in the International Blues Competition. We placed well...but the highlight was accidentally ending up on stage at a jam session post-competition with Willie "Big-Eyes" Smith (http://williebigeyessmith.com/) who was a drummer for Muddy Waters and Otis Spann, the latter being my blues piano idol.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm working on a new project with young artist from Boston. We're looking at direction, licensing, branding and re-production of some of his tracks and parts. I'm also working on a 14-song, original, retro-rock project (www.sud40.com) w/a modern twist to it, a piano instrumental CD and a few co-writes with some songwriters and lyricists I've known for years.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: As of 12/1/17 this is my 1st venture on SoundBetter so at this point I don't know anyone in this forum.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: I would take the 5 pieces of gear that ran on solar power. Putting the need for electricity aside, I'd take a fully-loaded laptop, a DBX 586 tube pre, an ADK Hamburg mic (because it works well with my voice), a Yamaha MX88 keyboard (88 graded, hammer-action keys and Motif sound-library plus great features such as it works as/with your DAW) and a high-end Martin acoustic guitar.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I started playing piano at 7 years old and never turned back. I began moving through teachers pretty quickly and started writing/improvising in my early teens. I was trained on piano by Juilliard graduates when I was 17 years old, and graduated high-school from college not just because of my musical skill sets...but also because I pushed to get my way and move ahead. I've played piano for 40 years now, 32 of them professionally. I've been in professional recording studios for 29 years as a session musician, producer, executive producer and artist.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: As a piano player I'd love to tour with the Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen not only for the amazing experience and energy but because my core, piano style would fit their shows/music extremely well. In any area at all I'd have loved to be able to work with Prince and U2. Why? Intensity and extreme talent. In the modern-day studio I'd like to work with Pharrell, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Pink, Shakira, Maroon 5 (because I like variety and talent combined) and any up-and-coming artists where what I do makes the end-result better.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: We use a combination of digital and analog gear to create a modern sound with vintage feel and saturation. We love the digital world and the convenience of the editing process because of it. We also love the analog world because there are simply some things computers can't do better than the original gear/instruments.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: We as a whole like creating and experiencing the sparks of new ideas. When I write my own music it's not a job, it's a part of who and what I am. But when we're working a project/job for a client what we like most is making the client not only happy with their end-result, but seeing that look on their face when they sound better, bigger and beyond anything they ever imagined.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Learn to balance passion with objectivity. Just because you wrote or played a part doesn't mean it works for the best, end-result of the song and how that song is delivered or heard by a listener.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: We work on any type of music we are hired to write, produce and/or record. I tend to get a lot of full arrangement jobs because I'm experienced and skilled at filling in around a vocal idea. I also get tons of straight hammond and piano session work, as well as string/horn section programming and jobs re-creating cover songs exactly like the original recordings. Pop, rock, country, jazz, funk, soul, ballads, gospel...you name it, we do it. But to answer more directly we work mostly on client's original music by producing, arranging, recording and performing on it.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: We bring the best elements of the writing, vocals and artist to the front of the listener's attention. For me, as the main producer, it's been this way since childhood: I find ways to accentuate the great parts and elevate and/or surround the weaker ones with parts that bring a song to life. I also bring decades of experience - both in the studio and on live stages - to lean on and a win-win attitude that doesn't quit until the client is happy.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: The 1st and most important part of the process is understanding the client's needs and requests. Next we get inside the song and get a musical and production feel, or "vibe" for what we're going to do and what the project needs. We discuss that with the client, get approval and/or make changes, get tracks/stems from the client, set up the project file and get to tracking. For piano-only tracks, I'll usually run a few takes front-to-back, no edits/punches and see where it lands. I often get what I need from those first 1-3 takes. For full arrangements, I will definitely set up "Markers" so I know where all sections of the song start and end, and comp reference chords start-to-finish. But I like to jump right into the drums/bass parts to lock in the floor and groove as soon as possible. From there it just depends on how deep the arrangement goes...if it needs vocals...and which one of our studios is best suited to finish the project.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: We have several setups. We have a project studio where we do basic programming, arrangement, editing and pre-production work. We can also mix and master out of this project studio. We also work with http://fulltilt.productions/ and https://www.8daws.com/ and http://www.spencermcguireaudio.com/ for larger projects. We run MOTU Digital Performer, Pro Tools, Ableton, Logic and Reason and have a vast array of mic's and plugins and outboard gear at your disposal.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: This is the hardest question to answer for any musician. There are so many talented artists that inspire us in our work. Miles Davis, Prince, Billy Joel, Bruno Mars, Prince, Mozart, David Bowie, Eminem, John Coltrane and on and on. We love session guitarist www.brentmason.com and are huge fans of Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Quincy Jones, BB King, etc. We love www.brentk.com for engineering and Andy Wallace, Joe Chiccarelli, David Foster, John Hanes and the great Sylvia Massy
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: The most common work we do for our clients involve arranging, programming, performing and recording single to all music tracks for their projects. Whether we're tracking our client's original music, re-creating cover music for their auditions or taking their melody "sketches" and producing final, mastered songs, we are a music production company that works as well from the ground-up as we do from the top-down.