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Interview with Andrew Campbell
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: This is not a reasonable comparison, they're both different tools that are great at different things. There are things software can do with precision that hardware will never be capable of doing, like smart/dynamic EQ or resonance suppression like soothe2. There's also something special about analog compression you just can't get out of plugins, if you've really used both you'd understand their strengths and weaknesses that set them apart.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise to deliver the best product possible within my ability in context of my specific role in the client's project.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love helping people, when I serve people by providing them with the services I am so very passionate about, it just fulfills me at the end of the day. I love to creatively enhance my clients music and emphasize the emotions they intended on making the listener feel when they wrote it, and using my expertise to get there.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: "Fixing it in the mix" Any mistakes/bad takes in the production process will bleed into every further step, record it right to keep the mix from being problematic and too compensated because of the poor production/recording.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: How many songs are you planning on producing? How many people are in your band/how many session musicians do you need? Do you want to record it live? What genre would you consider your music? How long have you been releasing music? Are you affiliated with a record label? Do you have any references you like the sound/texture of to get a better idea of your vision?
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I was born in Michigan, raised in Windsor Ontario in Canada, I grew up playing drums, my dad would play guitar and jam with me since I was 7. It actually started because of the game rock band on the wii. My dad noticed I was killing it on the drums when I was around 6 and bought me a drum kit. But I bought my first set of microphones in high school. That's when everything changed, I started recording the bands I was playing in and then the pandemic happened, my friend left his bass at my place, and I started playing it every day, eventually picking up my dad's old guitars and keyboards. I got into flipping gear and learning music theory behind each instrument, developing an understanding of music production and why things sound the way they do to fit in the context of the band. This is a huge advantage to my mixing ability because I know from experience how things are supposed to sound/feel in context.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I like keeping things organic and human, I don't like to quantize the performances I record unless they desperately need it. Same approach with tuning, I keep things very minimalist and true to the performance due to the nature of the genres I typically work with. If the song calls for it, I do break my own rules, but that's only if the music really needs it.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I'd love to work with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, there's so much creative mixing involved in their music and their arrangements never fail to intrigue me, leaving me listening to it repetitively to really understand the arrangement and how the production emphasizes their strengths/uniqueness. They've always got something interesting going on with their drum sounds, and no shortage of guitar pedals to shape the atmosphere/tone of the music.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: The magic is really in the production, if your song is poorly arranged or has no interesting change to intrigue the listener, it will bleed into further steps in the production process. Mixing doesn't fix poor arrangement.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Personally, I love to work on any genres I can track live with acoustic drums, guitars, bass, and vocals. There's something so human to a band that can lock in together.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Using my ears, I'm average at every instrument and nobody wants their music to be average. My ears are trained far above average and can shape sounds the way they should be to reinforce/emphasize the emotional impact to the listener.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: A unique organic visual approach to audio, the metaphor of painting a song with the right colors, depth, emotional emphasis, and sonic character.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: For tracking, I like to have everything planned and prepared before heading into the studio to maximize my client's outcome. When it comes to mixing, the client usually gives me a couple references to get inspired and shape their sound by comparing.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: My demo studio is a small space for songwriting and putting demos together to prepare for the final master full scale session that takes place at the client's analog studio of choice in Nashville, TN.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Andy Wallace is a huge inspiration of mine, a great mixing engineer who's worked on some of my favorite records like Grace by Jeff Buckley. Dave Fridmann is also one my my favorite engineer/producers, mostly for his work with the flaming lips, his drum sounds are absolutely incredible.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Tracking and Mixing!