I specialize in taking home studio recordings to the next level. Want your demo, studio recording, or live recording to sound professionally mixed.. send it to me. I work hard to give each song the depth and clarity it deserves.
I've been making music with rock and americana bands in Nashville for over 10 years. I'm fortunate that the groups I've tracked or mixed have always had unique sounds. Some projects record songs with bandmates all in the same room and others track each instrument individually in their home studio. Regardless of how the music was recorded I'm going to make sure that the excitement and energy of your songs will sound their best.
I'm easy to communicate with and believe that working with the mix & mastering engineer should be just as fun for the artist as it was to write and record your tunes! I'm here to make you happy and get your music on to the next step of the journey.
If you have any questions or want a quote.. reach out anytime, I look forward to hearing from you.
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Interview with John Michael Ford
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I'm mostly doing mixing/mastering these days but one project I'm proud of was at a studio called the Castle, which is just south of Nashville. I got to have a creative engineering role with a friend's band that focused on the guitar sounds of the record. I brought my equipment and was able to help select the guitar, pedals, cab, mic, etc. for most of the tunes. The band recorded all together but with the drums in a separate room. I was in control of the pedalboard in realtime during the performance, adjusting the settings of the overdrive, tremolo, delay, and reverb during the songs.. sometimes to wild affect. While doing something unusually bizarre mid-take I'd often glance up into the control room to see smiling and two thumbs up from my friend producing. When ended up with several layers of guitar, not all of which made it onto the record but during mixing there were plenty of inspired options to choose from. It was fun because I was able to specilize my skills and I like creative approaches to recording and mixing that feel like practical innovation.. rather than trying to reinvent the wheel to do something unique.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both, because it's 2018 and we can.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What are your goals? Where do you want this material to be heard.. streaming, radio, cd? Of the songs you're sending over which one is your favorite? Are you relatively happy with the rough mixes or do the songs still need some work to be fully developed? What artists or bands have a sound that inspire you and this record?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Work with me and I'll give you my undivided attention in achieving the sound you're after.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: My short-list of equipment would include my iMac, UAD octo, hard drive, speakers, and roland space echo.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I've always been inspired by the production and textures of Dave Fridman (Tame Impala, MGMT, Flaming Lips). He helps the artist he works with to capture a depth and weight to their songs while maintaining a colorful, almost psychedelic midrange. The other guy I follow closely is Andrew Scheps. As a mix engineer his techniques are incredibly modern but come from a deep experience of analog equipment. His way of parallel processing and the "all in the box" approach to mixing has been educational to say the least. Both Dave and Andrew bring a creativity to their craft that is consistent in that it is always evolving and maintains an out-of-left-field method. Of course both of these guys knew the mold before deciding to break it in specific ways. Some engineers excel in the creativity of their approach but lack on the side of practicality, these two are examples of professionals that have managed to achieve both.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Inspired.. I go to bed thinking about music and I wake up with whatever song I was working on last stuck in my head.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Build from the bottom up. Nine times out of ten I'll start with the drums but some songs have a vocal track that calls out to me in a way that needs to be mixed first so that everything else fits around it cohesively.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I've been fortunate to record in some of the best studios in town and yes.. I love all the vintage gear, who doesn't? With that said I am now all in the box these days. With the latest offerings from UAD, Soundtoys, Slate, Kush Audio, etc. it's cleaner and more efficient to stay in the box without missing the outboard racks. When I get in the zone I can move pretty fast and creativity can fade when you want to test out what patching in a compressor and a side chain eq will sound like. With that said I still do plenty of reamping when a track needs an extra quality or texture.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Home studio recordings for bands that are looking to get their songs on the radio or be pitched to label.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Spoon or a band like the Strokes would be amazing to work with. Tones and textures are just as important to the finished product as the lyrics and story. Any band that can get my imagination going sonically and lyrically has me hooked.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Don't track your songs too hot! If the files I get are overcooked and clipping when it comes to me it requires a more creative approach to getting a good finished product. Other than that I tell people to take chances and go for the sound you're looking for on the way in.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: My experience has mostly been with the rock & americana genres here in Nashville. There's a style of music that bridges that gap that could be all electric or all acoustic.. but usually somewhere in between. It's not unusual here to see a song with a traditional rock lineup (guitar, bass, drums, vocal) and the next track on an album has piano and acoustic guitar.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Getting energy and immediacy of songs to translate.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Clarity. When I listen to the demo of a song I'm taking notes on what I want the finished product to sound like.