RSR016 – Dave Hagen – Dark Horse Recording

Dave Hagen
RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

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RSR016 - Dave Hagen - Dark Horse Recording

My guest on the show today is Dave Hagen, Head Engineer at Dark Horse Recording in Franklin, TN. Dark Horse is one of the longest lived large studio complexes in the Nashville area featuring multiple studios, and complete artist accommodations amid a stunningly beautiful Tennessee countryside backdrop.

Dave works with an extremely diverse client base including OneRepublic, Relient K, Matthew West, For King and Country, Tenth Avenue North, Ashley Judd, Newsboys and many others.

And not only are his recording credits impressive but so is his beard which has been featured on CNN Money, and many band documentaries.

Dave also helped develop teaching curriculum for the Dark Horse Institute, build and design several new studios, and has taught many students the skills needed to get started in the music industry.

But most importantly, Dave is about to adopt his second child and has the enviable task of struggling to split his time between family and work that he loves.

Cool Stuff Lij & Dave Talked About...

Jiro Dreams Of Sushi “I do the same thing over and over improving bit by bit. There’s always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is.”

Listen to The Pilgrimage Sessions on NoiseTrade. “Dave was the wizard of the studio!”

The ReGeneration Documentary. In one scene the Meter's drummer Zigaboo sounds exactly like himself even through the camera mic. A testament to great musicianship!

The Jam Session:

Q: What was holding you back when you started recording?

A : I couldn’t get people in front of my microphones! And finding good instruments and good people to record is really key to getting a good sound. I did a lot of going to shows, talking to bands, offering them free recording time.

Often free means it’s worth nothing. And so there’s a good chance that if you’re offering to record for free that people will assume that you’re no good. And so they might want to go somewhere to spend money because their time is valuable. But by the same token you can’t charge what the real working professionals are charging if you’re just starting out. So there’s always this fine line I wanted to walk between not trying to undercut people who are actually doing all the work. So you have to be careful advertising for something like that, because that can really distance you from all the other professionals in your career.

“Finding good instruments and good people to record is really key to getting a good sound.” @DarkHorseRec 

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Q: What was some of the best advice that you remember receiving?

A: Early on the best advice I got about mixing was just don’t do so much. If it’s a great instrument it will sound great with almost nothing done to it. A lot of times I can just turn up the pre amp on the snare drum and it sounds pretty dang good! When I find myself trying to crank an EQ on a snare drum to make it sound good it’s just never gonna sounds good…

When you start overdoing your EQ overdoing your compression, or reverb that stuff to me just never sounded very successful. And a few people helped me find the error of my ways when I was doing that.

“Often free means it’s worth nothing…” @DarkHorseRec @DarkHorseInst

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Q: Share a recording tip, hack, or secret sauce.

A: I heard people talking about using all sorts of tricks to get that telephone sound. So I just went out and got an old telephone instead and wired it up. It’s very much like a copperphone. So Ill load it up underneath the drums and often it might get deleted, but every so often it gives me this perfect brightness on the snare that somehow doesn’t capture any cymbals. It sort of becomes my snare bottom mic and Ill blend it in with the others. It gives me that texture and grit of the snare but without the individual wires. It’s just a crunch that layers on top of the drum kit. Ill put it on the floor and wrap it in a hand towel. It gives it the “Dave Hagen flair”

“I’ve always found that It’s better for me to over deliver on what I’m promising to bands” @DarkHorseRec 

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Q: Tell us about a favorite hardware tool for the studio.

A: Geffell M71 is great for piano, acoustic, and often wins vocal shootouts. Gefel is the East German side of Neuman. They had all the same patents.

Q: What is a favorite software tool?

A: Klanghelm MJUC and VUMT . Cool Vari Mu compressor and VU meters

Q: What business advice do you have?

A: Dave’s advice for business is to talk to somebody that knows more than you do. He was not an expert so he talked to those who knew more about it

Q: If you were dropped into a strange land and could only take a simple setup to record. What would you take? How would you find people to record? And how would you make ends meet to start out?

A: “The key to being successful in the music industry is just outlasting a whole lot of other people. This is what you do instead of getting a real job. There’s a whole lot of people that want to get out here and do this. And so most of them will realize that this is also hard work and give up on it in a short amount of time. So if you are persistent about it you’ve got a really good shot at making that work.

In terms of a personal setup Lij you’ve got it! You’ve got it right here in a suitcase:

Get a job that allows you to be flexible enough to take any session whenever it comes along. And surround yourself with great music, people, and every recording session that you can get into.

Q: What is the single more important thing to do to become a Rockstar of the recording studio?

A: Just keep doing it. So many people quit after a couple of years and don’t stick it out. Even though I still feel regularly like I have failed I continue on and don’t quit. But I still strive to balance dedication to work in the studio, and family at home.

If you have any or questions about recording you would like me to answer on the show or suggestions for the show please email me:

If you dig the show and find it helpful I would be honored if you would subscribe, and leave a rating, & review in iTunes.

RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy
RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

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Credits: Thanks so much to Merissa Marx and Hunter Hansen for assisting with editing audio and show notes. You guys totally rock!






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