The Song Mill is a 3 room studio facility owned by former Nashville pro, Michael Lewis. We offer tracking, mixing, mastering, arranging, session players and parts to artists and producers worldwide. Here's what one reviewer said about a recent project we worked on: "This album impresses... with a quality level exceeding that of most major labels."
Michael Lewis has 35 years experience (including 12 years as a Nashville pro) recording and producing for artists at every level from arbitrary to legendary. Now relocated in Northern Idaho, Michael has opened up The Song Mill with a talented team of engineers, producers, arrangers and session players, offering recording services to folks worldwide. We can take your rough ideas and turn them into radio ready masters! We do tons of work for folks across the US and have recorded for clients as far away as Russia. No matter where you are (geographically) and where you are in the recording process right now, odds are good that we offer something that will make your project better. Whether it's help polishing your song, recording a better instrumental or vocal part, a more polished mix or mastering. We can do full orchestration and arrangements with world class, Grammy award winning players. Great attention to detail and customer service are what we are about. We want to help you get the project you've always dreamed about!
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Interview with The Song Mill
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: The Inventioning Band projects are the ones I put the most time and effort into (that doesn't mean I wouldn't still like to go back and remix some of it!) We have a large fan base of Progressive Rock fans for that band and they are very critical so it's a great challenge to make sure the project will satisfy the critics in that genre.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Lots of projects in right now. Just finished mixing a project out of California (referred by a mastering engineer in L.A.) Getting ready to start on the 4th project for a 20 year client out of S. Carolina. Another project in Memphis, one in Houston, a songwriter in Boise and several local clients working on everything from instrumental prog to singer-songwriter, piano based stuff.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I don't know yet.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both. Their are benefits from both formats. I started out with a 1" 16 track, went to 2" 24 track, to adat, to Tascam multi-tracks, to Digital Performer and to Pro Tools. I know how to get the most out of both formats.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: To treat their project with the same integrity I would if it were my own.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: What's not to like! I'm a career musician!
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: How much do you charge? Answer: How much do you have to spend?
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That we're a local, small-town shop. I have recently received some recommendations that mention the fact that we're matching the quality they'd expect to get in L.A., Nashville or other major music hubs.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What's your goal for the project? What can we do to help you make this investment pay for itself?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Don't think that we are too far away to help with your project. We have clients spread out everywhere! There's a reason that so many of my clients are repeat customers. People are very happy with the work we are doing for them. The other thing that folks usually find out is that we can do more than they realize. So I end up with clients who come to me for guitar parts and end up having me mix an entire project because we can usually do it better than the studio they're working at.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Depends... does the island have power? If not, I need my acoustic guitar and my piano (if I can keep it dry.) You can do 5 pieces of studio gear but then you wouldn't have instruments. I think I would like a satellite phone so I could keep in touch.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I was a musical prodigy. My first instrument was the couch at the age of 3 (it made a nice keyboard.) My first gig was in church at age 11. Started out playing guitar, added bass a year later and keyboards 2 years later. I was playing clubs by 16, studied music from the 9th grade into college. I was passionate about recording and would create my own multi-track set ups using multiple cassette decks when I was a teenager. I've toured and/or played Europe, Norway, Mexico and 40 states in the US.
Q: How would you describe your style?
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Ryan Tedder because everything he works on seems to turn to gold.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: I've seen a lot of folks waste a lot of money using non-pro players and end up having to redo things later. Working with pros saves time, money and headaches. One more thing -- always ask for examples of music that are relevant to what you like and what you'd like to do. Compare those samples to the quality of major projects.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I have experience in over 70 different genres -- no two days are alike.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Years of experience and a great sense of what is considered pro and what isn't. I draw from a combination of a wealth of knowledge regarding musical history and a love for new/cutting edge approaches to music. Very willing to experiment and think outside the box.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: We usually take your rough sketch, create a pre-production sketch and send it to you for approval. Once approved, we usually send it off to one of our top session drummers in Nashville. Once it's back, we'll add parts here and sometimes we contract additional players from Nashville, Austin etc... Back here to mix and we can either master it or we have mastering engineers in L.A. For session parts, send me your wav file that starts at 0:00 in whatever software program you are using. I'll add parts and send them back to you with the same starting point. Drop it into your program and you'll be good to go.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: We have a two room studio with Pro-Tools HD systems in both rooms, running on 8 core Mac Pros. For mixing I have two output paths -- the Tascam digital board and/or the Shadow Hills Equinox 32 channel analog summing mixer. I've created away to combine the formats and the results have been stunning. We have a Yamaha 7 foot grand, a 1959 Hammond B3 (RT-3), boutique amps, high-end Taylor acoustic guitars and Michael Lewis custom electrics.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Folks who are passionate about quality have always inspired me
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Taking song ideas and turning them into complete, full band, radio-ready productions