I'm an LA based engineer that has worked with many of the top artists and producers in the music industry. This includes a wide array of artists including Nick Jonas, Fifth Harmony, Lana Del Ray, Afrojack, RedOne, and many many more. I'm always looking for new and inspiring artists and music to work with.
I'm a recording and mixing engineer with a wide range of experience. Everything from pop, rock, jazz, hip-hop, and everything in between. I love fun new styles and sounds, and always try to impart a sense if size, depth, drama, and texture to everything I work on. I really love blending and using acoustic instruments in modern productions for new sounds.
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Interview with Billy Hickey
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I worked on the Banks & Steelz (Paul Banks of Interpol and RZA of WuTang Clan) record a few years back. I recorded the large bulk of it, especially a lot of the acoustic instruments and the majority of the vocals, and even played drums on one track. I didn't mix the record, but the guys that did built much of the mixes off my roughs, using the sounds and direction I set with the rough mixes I did while recording. I just really loved this record because it was the perfect example of two artists coming together making the music that they wanted to hear. They didn't worry about it playing on top 40, or even if it related to either of their past works, instead they just came together to create something they had never heard before, utilizing both of their's strengths and skills in the process.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Doesn't matter. They both have advantages and disadvantages, but ultimately, no one knows what you used at the end of the day. If using an analog piece of gear will inspire you and help you craft a cool tone, then great! If you can conjure up some unworldly awesome sound in you laptop, great! Personally I try to get the best out of analog gear while recording, making sure what is recorded sounds great going into Pro Tools. Then I'm not shy about twisting and turning it digitally if need be. I have a few pieces of analog gear that I don't have a digital equivalent of that I like for some things, but I'm mostly in the box while mixing. It gives me the most flexibility and recall-ability.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: That I will do everything in my power to make sure you love your mix.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Getting to hear and contribute to passionate people's music and art.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That a mix engineer's job is to take a recording that you hate and turn it into something that you love. You should love what you already have but recognize it's potential to get even better. The mix engineer's job is to help you realize the next level of what you have recorded.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: How do you feel about the rough mix you have so far? What artists/ songs inspired the sound that you are going for with your record.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Really take your time to think about you sound and make sure that you communicate that to the mix engineer. That doesn't mean that they can't surprise you or add some of their flavor, but if you are looking for a mix engineer to create your out of thin air, you'll be nothing but disappointed. Also, make sure all the elements are already there for the sound you want before you hand it off to mixing.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: A Pro Tools rig, my B&W speakers, my 1073, CL1B, and a 251. Thats pretty much everything you need to make a record.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been making records for a living for 15 years now. I started in Washington DC where I worked with a wide variety of music and artist. I moved to LA in 2011 and I began working at the infamous Record Plant Recording Studios. That put me in a position to work with some of the industries top musicians and producers.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Dynamic, full, edgy, inspiring, and sprinkled with ear candy.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I love working with anyone who loves the music they make. Too many artists are worried about the commercial appeal of what they are writing or recording, and they chase trends ignoring their own creative inspiration. The artists who make the music they want to make are truly exciting to work with, and these artists are typically who creates the trends that everyone else chases.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Commit to sounds and tones early on. Don't put off getting the tone and vibe that you want until the mixing process. If you can love the sounds you hear while you write and record, it will make your record that much more inspired and exciting. Then my job as a mix engineer is to take the sound you created, and make sure everyone else hears it the way you hear it in your head.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: The majority of my work is with pop and some hip-hop music, though I have a history with and love for rock and jazz music. My first love is recording and mixing live instruments, regardless the style, though I also love what you can do with synths and digital production these days as well.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I pride myself on being able to not only mix acoustic instruments, but also giving synth drums and sounds a texture to make them feel like they sit in front of the speakers.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I bring a unique old school mixing sensibility with an eye on current and future sounds. I really try to make sure every song has the right sense of drama and emotion it deserves.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I try to find the driving part of each song, or even each part of the song. I make sure that's moving you the way it should as I bring everything else around it.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I work out of multiple places, but my personal setup is a Pro Tools HD rig. A variety of plugins being augmented with some hardware processors.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I love the huge and deep sound of most music from the 90's, but also love the cool textures and tones you hear in a lot of pop music today. I love artists like Bruno Mars, Sam Smith, and Adele who combines old funk and soul sounds with modern pop production. I also love old school rappers like WuTang who created their own kind of gritty and raw sound. One of my favorite groups off all time, Rage Against the Machine, created an intensity and adrenaline filled sound that I am continuously trying slip into tracks I work on one way or another (at least where possible).
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I am a recording and mixing engineer. My clients appreciate the attention to detail, and dedication to quality and a uniqueness in the sound and style of their music.