I have been playing guitar, writing music, and recording for over 30 years. I have produced 13 albums with various bands, and 5 solo projects.
Most of the music I have written is instrumental and in the neighborhood of rock and/or jazz. I also like electronic and experimental music. I am well-versed in a variety of guitar playing styles, and have contributed to numerous projects of different types.
I like working with people who have a clear vision for their music, and like to use my skills to create a part that is best for it. I am very attuned to the details of sound, which I bring to everything I record, mix, and produce.
I also do non-musical audio work - editing, production, restoration, transfers, re-formatting, etc, again with the critical listening skills working with audio every day has developed.
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Interview with Dave Halverson
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 my recent album 'Shapelifter', but outside of my own work, one that comes to mind is 'Flowers on Gooey Sand Dunes', by Adolfo Lazo. I played a lot of guitar on it, and the songs were kind of folksy sometimes, not my usual style. But I love the results - being open to a new vocabulary and studying what the guitar can do in a new context was enlightening. I also helped mix and produce the album.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm working on the new Sea Rocket Jasmine album.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital is the only way for me, partly because of limited experience with analog recording, all 28+ years in the past. Also my workflow just requires it.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise to listen closely to your point of view, and respect it even though it might not match my idea of the best vision for the song - it's your song, so it needs to match your vision. I feel like I can guide people to that, while enlisting sonic standards to keep things in the appropriate range for the audience.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I like helping people realize their musical/sonic vision, because I know how exhilarating it has been when I have experienced it myself.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Why do the drums sound not so good and unbalanced? I say 'let's take a listen', while I am thinking the problems are probably a combination of eq, compression, and the most overlooked - transients.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I don't know, but I try to be as clear and transparent as possible, steering away from studio voodoo and mythology and hype.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: How do you want the song to impact the listener? What was your recording approach with compression? Did you really print that flanger on the drums?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Have a good arrangement you believe in, and have a vision for how the music should present and feel, and how it might need to change to get it to where you want it to be.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: I guess I would take my computer and interface, midi controller, my US Masters guitar, and that leaves room for one pedal, which might be my Brassmaster.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I guess it started about 35 years ago when I got out my parents' old reel to reel machine, not to play their Simon and Garfunkel tapes, but to plug in my guitar to play Randy Rhoads licks... it had the 'sound on sound' feature, so I could record my guitar over the album. The distortion on the guitar going direct in was very new to me, it was ferocious! I kept playing, joining bands, and listening more and more closely to music, eventually learning about audio, recording, and production.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I often like things that sound (at least) a little unusual. So I am not afraid of unusual approaches.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: I was at a Roger Nichols seminar once, I remember he described his process with panning. To paraphrase - once the main elements are mostly in place, put on the headphones and move each element around very very slowly and just listen. Keep trying this with different elements, even the main ones. He might have mentioned trying this with your eyes closed, not sure.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Usually instrumental music - jazz, rock, electronic, experimental.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I hear details really well, and have the required patience to listen over and over again until I convince myself of something, or fool myself. If I think I may have fooled myself, I check again later, and that is usually definitive.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I feel best when I have studied it a bit. Then I can bring my experience, and a good focus and a clear picture of what my role is, adding a guitar, or mixing, or whatever.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: After recording anything originating outside the box, I'm mostly in the box, except when I include something outboard. I use Cubase, and usually with my RME Fireface UCX.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Lots really - when I think of production it's a range of people with their own sounds and visions, such as Bob Clearmountain, Tom Allom, Jack Douglas, to name a few, all different of course, but it fascinates me how they get such great results in any particular work.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Usually I'm adding guitar tracks at some point, sometimes adding synth textures, then fine-tuning sounds and mixing.