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Interview with -
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I have some level of experience in every aspect of production from writing to release. As an electronic producer I have to have experience across all instrument types; I can't just be "a bass player" or something like that. This gives me a unique perspective in assisting others with their tracks because I can contribute advice, feedback, and sometimes even content to enhance and optimize their own projects.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: For mastering, I use the Izotope production suite alongside Ableton Live 10 Suite and occasionally some Waves plugins. I focus on getting a track sounding as good as possible before compression/limiting/maximization and then worry about dynamics and loudness optimization. I pay close attention to temporary and integrated LUFS, ensuring that the most intense/important parts of the songs be the loudest. There are a number of other metrics and techniques that I use to empirically review tracks in combination with what my ears hear. I then test on various devices and speaker systems to ensure there are no blaring issues that would cause a listener to be dissatisfied on a particular device. For music production, I often work on percussion and a hook first, then work on a 16 bar loop with far more musical elements than I would ever need going at once (turning them on and off as needed), then quickly put together an arrangement. All of my best songs were written within a single day. I emphasize the need to get a beginning, middle, and end to a track right off the get go. It's always easier to edit than to write - I don't know if I've ever finished a track that I set aside when I was halfway through the arrangement.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I worked as a studio engineer / producer for a Ploma Drive track. It was my first time working in a producer role for someone else's band, and it was an absolute blast. It was extremely cool to record someone else's song that they wrote entirely, but also to add a bit of my own style in the form of advice and supplementary instrumentals that weren't initially planned. I can't wait for the track to be released.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will do the absolute best that I can with the source material that I'm provided. I care about quality and your satisfaction. I'm not in this for money - I'm in it great experiences and bragging rights. I will spend time with your track, listen to it in my truck, listen to it on various other devices, and try to bring out the qualities that make it special. If the source material (i.e. mix) is really rough around the edges, I will provide specific, actionable feedback up front as to what I think could be done about it.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have a home studio with my roommate who is also a musician and producer. My personal workstation is more geared towards electronic music whereas his is geared towards rock and similar genres. I prefer Beyerdynamic DT770 Pros for recording, Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros for mixing / mastering, and Yamaha HS5 monitors for a bit of everything. I have a tight integration with my preferred DAW in my studio. I use Ableton Live 10 Suite (soon to be Live 11!), Ableton Push 2, a Focusrite 18i20, KORG minilogue xd, Behringer Model D, KORG volca drum, KORG SV-1, Elektron Model:Samples, and a few other synths in my setup.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: It depends. I'm very passionate about my analog synthesizers. Analog effects such as vacuum tube drive are irreplaceable in my eyes. My favorite aspects of using analog equipment are the noise, artifacts, and inconsistency - often times those imperfections lead to better-sounding tracks. However, the reality of the matter is that a waveform recorded digitally is little more than a line graph. It's possible to write algorithms to edit that line graph in ways that replicate or even exceed analog equipment. In the end, it's a tradeoff. It's easier to get a dynamic, organic sound with analog in many cases. Digital is typically much easier to use, easier to integrate into a workflow, cheaper, and more reliable.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I was taught to play acoustic guitar from the time I could one one (by my father) and took lessons for years in acoustic guitar and bass at a local music store. In high school I found a love for downtempo and other more esoteric electronic genres by hearing artists such as Amon Tobin, Bonobo, Flying Lotus, and others in video games and on Adult Swim. In college I had a roommate who was immersed in the EDM scene and I got exposure to that genre and also that production style. I made my first "bedroom studio" as a freshman in college with an AKAI MPK49, APC40, and EIE. A couple years ago I set aside all of my prior gear and invested in a brand new collection of equipment with a focus on modernity, efficiency, and audio quality. I've always mixed and mastered my own tracks but only over the past few years of watching masterclass videos, working closely with more experienced engineers/artists, and working on dozens of tracks in multiple genres have I felt comfortable selling my services to others.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Slow down to speed up. Spend a few dozen hours rethinking and streamlining your equipment (and software) to work for you - it will save you a lot of time and frustration in the long run. My personal mindset is that I should never be afraid to refactor my workflow... if I am, then I've done something wrong.