Hi, I'm a remote session guitarist and drummer based in the UK. Working with clients around the world I always bring a lot of creativity to any project and like to try and give clients options with recorded parts where possible. I can also record banjo, ukulele, lap steel and weissenborn.
Mike is a UK based, multi-instrumentalist session player, media composer and guitar and drum tutor. With 29 years’ experience playing guitar and 26 playing drums, Mike is a trusted ‘go-to’ session player for many producers and clients around the world. Recent sessions have included work for Warner Bros. recording artist, Deane Ogden; Hollywood composer, Ryan Taubert (Lincoln Motors ad campaign); German film & Tv composer, Dirk Ehlert (many production tracks for Premium Beat); and UK based composer, Paul Lawler (Trailer music album to be released through De Wolfe Music).
As a media composer, Mike has had many tracks published and released through numerous production music companies including Extreme Music, Imagem, 9 Lives, Immediate Music, Dos Brains, MYMA, Premium Beat, Eon Sounds and Organic Music Library. Recent placements include usage on BBC1 (The One Show), Nederland 2 (Holland), Pro Sieben (Germany), an ad campaign for Libra Internet Bank in Romania and The Outdoors Channel (Eastman’s Hunting TV).
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Interview with Mike Holt
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: Lead guitar on Deane Ogden's album 'Kwela' which was recorded primarily in South Africa but also had musicians (like myself) recording parts around the globe. It's a kind of world/pop record and a new style for me to record in at the time. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: An album with Chris Pennie (ex-drummer of Dillinger Escape Plan and Coshed & Cambria)
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Love the sound of tape but for ease and flexibility, digital is very handy.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: You will be satisfied,
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The different style son music yo get to work on and that I can be recording for clients around the globe but still be here to see my kids and pick them up from school,
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That remote session players record in their pyjamas.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Is there a deadline?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: If you have anything specific in mind or any reference tracks of what you like, or want your track to end up like, give as much info as you can.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Music gear? Acoustic guitar, decent mic, laptop running PT or Logic, a slide, recording interface. That should stop me going stir crazy.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been a session musician for 15 years and have also been writing and recording music for TV and Media for the past 3 years or so.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Eclectic. Creative
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Trent Reznor because of his tireless creativity. Also, I don't really write much in his style and I love what comes out when two or more musicians with totally different backgrounds come up with.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Go for vibe, not necessarily textbook perfection.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Acoustic, pop, rock, epic film/trailer, Americana
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Anything guitar.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Many years of experience and a genuine love of lots of different genres, making my guitar and drum parts as 'authentic' as possible.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I like to listen to the song or guide parts a few times first. I'll generally jot down a cheat sheet with form and chord structure and any specific parts required. I find this saves time and I can concentrate on being more creative with parts and quick come up with different layers if needed.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I run Pro Tools 12 with a mid-2011 iMac (20Gb of memory). I record electric guitars through a Backstar ID:260 or Bogner/Line 6 valve amp (don't let the name Line 6 put you off - it's a beaut), usually recorded with a trusty SM-57. Acoustics recorded through an Rode NT-11A condenser. Some guitar parts are recorded with FX on through the amp, but sometimes I'll record clean and add FX on in PT so there are options if a client wants less or more (or no) FX. All of this goes through a Focusrite Pro 40. MIDI drum parts are recorded live on my Roland TD-20 kit with sounds provided by numerous ad-paks on Addictive Drums 2. Clients can have the audio (or a selection of different kit sounds), just the MIDI part, or both.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I love the guitar work of Pat Metheny, Joe Pass, Steve Lukather, Larry Carlton but also anyone that can write a good hook. Production-wise, I've always loved Rick Rubin, Manny Maroquin, Eddie Kramer, Flood, Trent Reznor, too many to mention.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Most of my work is remote guitar sessions. This can include a simple one track of guitar (electric or acoustic, for example) or it could include many layers of guitar parts with harmonised lines, percussive/FX parts, etc...