Category Archives for "podcast"

Fab Dupont

RSR058 – Fab Dupont – Flux Studios & PureMix.net

RSR058 – FAB DUPONT – FLUX STUDIOS & PUREMIX.NET

Fab Dupont is a multi Grammy nominated writer, producer, mixer, and teacher. He is owner of FLUX studios in New York, where he has worked with many great artists like Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, Isaac Hayes, Shakira, Santigold, Mark Ronson, Les Nubians,Toots And The Maytals, Bon Jovi, Marc Anthony, Sean Lennon, John Travolta, Babyface, Nat King Cole, Bebel Gilberto to name just a few.

Fab has taken his many years of recording and mixing experience to co-found Puremix.net, an audio tutorial website dedicated to learning what is not in the manual.

And for you Rockstars Ive got a great deal! Use the link below and the coupon code for 10% off anything at PureMix.

http://RSRockstars.com/puremix & Use coupon code: RockstarPM10

PureMix

Some of things Fab and I discussed on the show:

  • Growing up playing saxophone.
  • Living and recording in NYC.
  • The challenges of running a full production studio.
  • Creating PureMix
  • How to get your low end just right when mixing.
  • How to get the ultimate Hip Hop kick drum sound.
  • The secret to getting a killer vocal mix.

Or you can start your mix training with Lij Shaw for free at MixMasterBundle.com


P.S. (Many of the links I use are affiliate links where I earn a commission if you click through, even if you don’t buy right away. So go ahead and click through to take a look. I only promote products that I believe will help you be a Rockstar of your studio. This is a great way for me to fund all the hard work that goes into creating a podcast and blog. So I thank you sincerely in advance!)

RSR057 – Nick Devan – G.E.D. Soul Records

(Press play on the green strip above or listen on iTunes with the link below)

RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

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

RSR057 - Nick Devan - G.E.D. Soul Records

My guest today is Nick Devan, a drummer, producer, mixer, and lover of old school soul music. In 2007 he started G.E.D. Soul Records with Dave Singleton, which allows him to write, record, and play drums for the label. He also owns and operates Poor Man Studio in Madison, TN.


Nick Currently performs with Magic in Threes, who are currently recording, mixing, and releasing a song every week in 2016. He also plays with DeRobert & the Half-Truths who have just added the new singer, Du'Juan Mandell.


I was first introduced to Nick a couple of years ago when I reached out through Craigslist to hire him not for his drumming skills, but for his impeccable lawn service skills! In fact I was only introduced to his music later when he called in to quit one day, saying the yard work was too tough on his wrists which he needed for his drumming.


The following week as I was begrudgingly hauling brush around my back yard I thought the least I could do was check out Nick’s music while I worked. So I texted him to ask his band name. I then cued up Magic In Threes on Spotify and it instantly became the only thing I wanted to listen to all week. I’m talking about the kind of excitement when you hear something new and feel like you’ve finally found the music you’ve been looking for! Deep funky soul grooves that sounds completely like the real deal.

Only in Nashville right? The grass is now up to my knees and the hedges out front look like fourth of July fireworks. But man I don’t care, I just don’t care, because I am chilling to a new groove called Nick Devan the grass man.

“You can get a publicist and really hype something up, but it won’t grow legs unless it’s a good record” - Nick Devan

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How Did You Start Your Own Label?

We were doing a radio show when it started. Dave and I had a radio show at MTSU doing the GED Soul Review, just spinnin records. There’s the defunk program here in town that Doyle Davis runs, we were really inspired by him; he’s been on for years and years. It was just a funk and soul format radio show and we had a couple bands that formed out of that. Dave’s usually played bass and I’ve usually played drums. We were pressing our records ourselves and getting them distributed by someone else. Really I’ve always kinda said, “All you have to do to start a label is put the name on a record and you’ve created a label.” That really was as simple as it was when we started and we’ve learned a whole lot as we’ve gone along

After Creating a Label What Are the Next Steps?

Well we were doing it in a way where we were producing and recording pretty much everything instrumentally and just getting singers. In that instance all you need to do is get your singer and you can kind of invent your band. Later on we got the Coolant System, AJ and the Jiggawatts, and Oliver James, so we’ve had other artists who were self-contained outside of what we do. We started off just doing 45’s. We did about 6 of those before we did a full length album and now we’re on our 12th full length. When we started off doing 45s in 2007 digital was starting but it wasn’t what it is now. Now we go for every outlet we possibly can and digital is definietly a good portion of income for us.

“Every record I get out is a success” - Nick Devan

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What Was Your Business Model?

We never took out a loan. Dave and I, for the first 45’s, would both just throw in and sell them so it was just an investment for us. We did it where we paid for ourselves. Once we did do a kickstarter campaign and we got the money. It was helpful, but the three records we had out didn’t sell quite as well as we wanted, but that’s with any label. Even if you think you have a “sure thing” sometimes it doesn’t work, and vice versa. Sometimes you think you don’t have anything and it starts rollin’.

“Even if you think you have a “sure thing” sometimes it doesn’t work” - Nick Devan

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How Do You Tell If A Record Is Doing Well?

First it has to be really good. You can get a publicist and really hype something up, but it won’t grow legs unless it’s a good record. Because if it’s really good it’s easier to catch a buzz about it. You have to show it to everybody. Sometimes you don’t want to show it because you don’t want to hear what people have to say about it. But even in the mixing process I’ve found that to be so crucial, I’ll show anybody and even if they say they like it, you can visually see if they’re feeling it or not.

Jam Session 

Q- What was holding you back at the start?
A -Definitely lack of gear. At that time I was running a couple mins and really had a poor setup, but it’s really built from there.

Q- What was some of the best advice you got early on?
A - I think using what you have has gone a long way with me because you could really wait forever for the right scenario of any recording and you really just got to get it out there and do it and make the best of it. Make the best of every recording that you do, I feel like that’s how you get to where you want to be is by just starting somewhere no matter how little you know about it.

“Make the best of every recording that you do” - Nick Devan

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Q - Q- Share with us a recording tip, hack, or secret sauce.
A-
 Delay! Get a reel to reel tape machine and use it for your delay or even mixing down for that going back into ProTools, that could have a huge impact on your sound. Another one is the Auratone. Get yourself and Auratone and mix in mono and really listen to a lot of music on it.

Q -Share a favorite hardware tool for the studio
A-
 Having a couple nice instruments around! I love the Rhodes that we have here. I feel like the one thing a lot of studios don’t have now is a real piano and you can get those for free! Just look at craigslist and get a free piano and get it tuned up! I personally hate digital piano. I feel like on the digital side they can do a pretty good everything except for horns and piano. That Unidyne 57 is very useful as well if you want an old school sound that sounds great into ProTools as well.


“I think every small labels biggest problem is money” - Nick Devan

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Q -Share with us a tip for the business side of the recording studio

A - Google Docs is one of the coolest things businesses have available for any business now because you used to have to pay a lot of money for those excel and word programs and now they’re offering it free and it's all cloud based, worry free. Beyond that if you put out 15 releases and they have artists and you try to think about the royalty calculations and they differ for digital and physical and individual songs with different writers, that gets very complicated very quickly. So we started using Label Worx, we started using the Royalty Worx section of it. It’s set up so great you can get everybody on it, put the information in in a simple format and it gets rid of all that complicated stuff.

Q - If you had to start over what gear would you need?

A - I feel like especially now the analog equipment is your best investment. I would say get an 8 track Tascam machine and some sort of analog machine if you’re going that route. If you’re going ProTools get a nice converter, preamp and a mic and you’re on your way.

“They say the two things that set the time period of the song is the vocal and snare sound” - Nick Devan

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Q- If you could go back and give yourself advice for when you were starting out, what’s the single most important thing you would tell yourself about becoming a rockstar of the recording studio?

A- I wish I hadn’t focused so much on getting gear, I really liked my first setup. I’ve still got the Tascam 8 track machine and I had this Tascam board that sounded great and I could have really kept on going with that for a long time. I felt like sometimes I would really focus on moving on with the gear when I really should’ve focused on making more music with what I had. You don’t really have a perspective for that until you put music out. Stick with your gut, for sure.

Contact: 
GEDSouldRecords
Nick Devan Facebook

Big Thanks to Tyler Cuidon & Merissa Marx for this week's episode!!

RSR056 – Ben Loftis – Harrison Consoles, MixBus 32C, Designing MixBus Plugins

(Press play on the green strip above or listen on iTunes with the link below)

RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

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

RSR056 - Ben Loftis - Harrison Consoles,
MixBus 32C, Designing MixBus Plugins

My guest today is Ben Loftis the product manager for the Harrison’s workstation products. He is also an all-around developer, and partner in the company. From its Nashville, Tennessee facilities, Harrison designs, manufactures and markets large-format, professional audio mixing consoles for international film and television production, post-production, broadcasting, sound reinforcement and music recording markets.


Harrison also makes a unique digital audio workstation, The MixBus32C, following an analog paradigm that embodies form, function, and sound. Where other DAWs might use a computer paradigm, MIXBUS grows from Harrisonʼs distinguished 40-year heritage of platinum records, such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Paul Simon’s Graceland, and the blockbuster film Spider-Man to name a few. MIXBUS is the first full-featured DAW with true analog style mixing.


Ben has been at Harrison for over 15 years, which puts him right in the middle of the Harrison family with some of the employees having been with the company since the very beginning in 1975. During that time he's been part of many product launches, both large and small.


Before Harrison, Ben worked at a commercial audio company called IED, where he developed custom audio software for clients as varied as NASA, Fort Knox, and Caesar's Palace.


I am super excited to be joining you from right here at the Harrison Console Factory in Nashville TN. I can’t wait to learn more about MixBus and how it can help you make your best record ever.

“People get introduced to this industry because they like the sound of things. Sometimes you like the music, and the music is obviously important, but there are people like us that get into the sound of that music, which is a completely different thing. I mean anybody can appreciate music, but it does take a little bit of education to appreciate what good sound is.”

Ben Loftis

History of Harrison Consoles

I came in relatively late in the Harrison company. I’ve been here about 15-16 years, which is a long time to work somewhere but short in the scheme of things. Dave Harrison was collaborating with Geoff Harnett and they were building MCI consoles. Harrison was the designer for some of later MCI console models. He also had a company called Studio Supply and he would go build studios and install these MCI consoles and tape machines. He had a really cool idea for mixing consoles that would make things go faster and smoother in the studio, it was intended to be made up of the new syncable machines you’d have not just 16 but 24-32 tracks recording at a time, so he developed the Harrison 32 Series console (he actually took the idea to Geoff Harnett). Geoff decided not to manufacture that and that irritated Dave enough that he wanted to go make it himself. He kicked off his own company, took a prototype around the world and pitched the idea in the 70’s. He really did solve a lot of problems. Harrison came up with this concept called an inline console, the basic idea being instead of having a fader for the microphone which feeds into a tape machine and comes back through another mix board, he decided you could save space and do a lot of cool tricks, share a lot of electronics, and get dual use out of your console. The inline console is basically the tape machine inserted into the middle of the console path and you can either monitor the playback from the tape machine or you can monitor the microphone in the room. You’re taking the same piece of gear and with a button push using it twice.


I can tell you from some of the better documented ones that a lot of the Queen stuff, Another One Bites the Dust, Sade’s Sweetest Taboo Album, Michael Jackson stuff, Thriller and Bad, and then you’ve got AC/DC’s Back in Black. I listen to all those records and I hear a sound. They say it’s all about the recording and it is, it’s all about the musician of course that’s more important than the gear you use, and when I listen to that selection of things, I really do hear a sound to that.

“It’s important to build up a workflow so that things move along smoothly” - Ben Loftis

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MixBus 32C

We launched a product called MixBus about 5 years ago and that was a workstation that allows you to cut, copy, paste, import and export, it has all those things in it and we customized the mixer to have our channel strip. A simplified EQ and compressor and we made and introductory level audio workstation that has all the features that you could want but it also has a Harrison mixer in it. When we came out with that it was a huge success, but there were people who said well cool, but I have to have the harrison 32C sound. People knew about that 32C EQ and wanted it to be in MixBus. We also had some longtime customers who had the 32 series console and the knew exactly where you were supposed to turn those knobs to make it happen, they kept asking us to make that 32 series EQ. We held off for several years, and now we have launched MixBus 32C and it has a modeled software emulation of that original Harrison EQ. I’m not an analog guy and don’t want to give away too many secrets, but the recreation of that EQ goes beyond the range of the knobs that these people cross. You have to think, the guys that work here went through a process that arguably no one else in this whole industry has gone through. We used to make analog consoles, and then we made a product which was a digitally controlled analog console.

Unique to the MixBus32 DAW

It is a DAW unquestionably. It is a complete workstation with midi tracks and virtual instruments and editing, importing, exporting, all those things. You can look at a DAW and realize what each DAW makes the focus, what they give the most screen space to. When you open up MixBus32 each channel module has things on it other DAWs don’t have like a phase button. You have an EQ on every channel which was intended for the purpose of mixing. When you sit down to mix, most of what you’re doing is “I need a little more thwack from the beater and I need more body on the snare.” The process of mixing is working with bringing the multiple parts together so you need to see them all at the same time. With the typical DAW you have to double click and pop open the window of an EQ plugin and then if you want to see 4 channels in a row you have to open 4 windows and it quickly starts to get really inconvenient. We’ve got compressors and gain reduction also in every channel so that you can scan your eyes across the console and see what all the compressors are doing and that saves you so much effort. We also do a little trick where if you turn one of the knobs on the EQ, it turns the EQ on and then you can click the bypass with or without the EQ.

Check Out MixBus Plugins Here!! 

“This guy sat me down, pulled out a Pink Floyd record, put it on these killer speakers, and it blew my mind. That’s when I became an audio file nut” - Ben Loftis

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Jam Session 

Q- What was holding you back at the start?
A -Most of my career is programming and working on these products, I’m not a recording engineer, but I have done a lot of recording with my friends. We’ve recently gone into a studio and one of the things we found is if we want to work on something collaboratively, it can be a real pain because some guys are on macs, some on windows, this guy has these plugins, this guy doesn't have anything, etc. So one of the things I focused on when I was working on MixBus .. A lot of guys go back and forth sending recordings around. Being a computer guy, I get called on to be the IT guy and I’ve got to go over and say, “Oh they sent you this kind of file, they didn’t line it all up together..etc.” I’ll help people get through that process. I’ve really focused on making that really easy so MixBus works from Windows XP all the way up to Windows 10 and it also works from Mac 1068 all the way up to the current 1012. So pretty much no matter what computer you’ve got, it’s going to work on there.

Q- What was some of the best advice you got early on?
A - We went in to record with this band, the guy that runs the studio shared it was real important to him to have us all in there playing at the same time. I know that sounds obvious, but after I just spent 10 min talking about people collaborating a whole lot, there really is a magic with playing together. I would say my favorite piece of advice is to capture the moment. We’re probably not going to be famous rock n roll stars, so what I really don’t want to do is listen to this record in 15 years and say, “Oh man, that’s awesome. I’m the bass player and I’m singing some harmonies. But that’s not really me, they auto tuned the vocal and somebody pasted over the parts I couldn’t play very well.” We’re leaving in most of the mistakes trying to capture this part in time, I think there’s honesty and integrity in that.

“There are some 32 series consoles that have been maintained from the beginning that are still in operation” -Ben Loftis

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Q - Q- Share with us a recording tip, hack, or secret sauce.
A-
 I think I would have to say layer those guitars, man. Give it a couple of different tones, layer it on! You’ll never get exactly those same notes in a row and it gives it a nice big, fat sound that you can pan left and right. Although we try to recreate ourselves, it’s really him! (Just 8 times over)

Q -Share a favorite hardware tool for the studio
A-
 My first thought was don’t forget to bring the rug for your drummer. But we also just came out with something really cool, that is a 32CS. Continuing the trend with the 32 series consoles, we’ve relaunched the channel strip out of that console as a rack mount box. This box gives you a mic preamp, really awesome sound. It has the high and low pass filters, a 4 band EQ, and we have 2 new cool innovations in there. There’s an insert point that you can patch a piece of gear into your channel strip and it’s moveable! You can either put it before the filters or after, it gives you a lot of tone and sculpting kind of stuff. The other cool feature we have in that box is it has a little bitty monitoring section that has a stereo input on the back so that you can blend.

Q -Share a favorite software tool for the studio
A- 
Oh man, I have tons of favorite software tools. Not only are they good tools, but I use them because I’m always on Mac and Windows. Although Apple makes some great tools they have a great email program that I can’t use anywhere else. When I’m swapping from computer to computer to computer all the time we use Google stuff like crazy.

“Dave Harrison was always really pushing the limits of technology” - Ben Loftis

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Q -Share with us a tip for the business side of the recording studio

A - We use a payment processor called FastSpring, and they’ll take credit cards and have all types of coupons that make all that safe and secure so we don’t have to worry about having people’s credit card numbers here. It’s important to build up a workflow so that things move along smoothly. The other tool that we picked up fairly recently that we really love is called Help Scout, and this is a tool we use in our customer service department so that when somebody emails us, it shows up in a list that all of us can look at. When I start to answer an email, everybody else knows that I’m answering it and we won’t end up answering it together at the same time.

Contact: 
HarrisonConsoles.com

Big Thanks to Tyler Cuidon & Merissa Marx for this week's episode!!

RSR055 – Bob Bullock – Recording Crazy Horse, Chick Corea, & Steely Dan

(Press play on the green strip above or listen on iTunes with the link below)

RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

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

RSR055 - Bob Bullock - Recording Crazy Horse, Chick Corea, & Steely Dan

My guest today is Bob Bullock, whose career started as a studio engineer in Oakland CA, training under such greats as Humberto Gatica, Reggie Dozier, Barney Perkins, Roy Haley and Roger Nichols. And he became a top engineer himself, working with many great artists like The Tubes, Art Garfunkel, Seals and Crofts, Crazy Horse, Chick Corea and REO Speedwagon.


In 1981, while working at Lionshare Recording Studio for Kenny Rogers, he was approached by legendary producer Jimmy Bowen to engineer for Warner Bros. Records in Nashville and finally moved here full time in 1984.


Bob's engineering credits extend over fifty gold and platinum albums, including Shania Twain, Reba McEntire, George Strait, Tanya Tucker, Patty Loveless, George Jones, John Anderson, Hank Williams Jr., Jimmy Buffet and Steve Wariner.


Bob has spent 40 years working with major label artists like Kenny Chesney, Loretta Lynn and Keith Urban, but in sharp contrast now enjoys working almost exclusively with independent artists from all over the world including Switzerland’s Baton Rouge, Norway’s Gunslingers and Canadian acts, Tyler Whelan and Friends of Jack.


He has also expanded his musical contribution outside the studio and now lends his teaching expertise to multiple universities including Belmont University & The Art Institute in Nashville, TN, and Troy University in Montgomery, AL.


Bob is also passionate about helping artists develop their work at a time, when the traditional artist development label no longer exists. He recently joined the team of providers at PCG Nashville - The Science of Artist Development, a company dedicated to educating and mentoring artists.

“The way audio producers and engineers landed in studios is it was a master apprentice situation so studios had staff engineers and producers. There would be openings for an apprentice. I wouldn’t say intern because they were jobs, might not have been minimum wage, but it was still a real job. I guess the mentality in those days was that if they found somebody that they thought was going to work out, they made an investment in you.”

Bob Bullock

Working with Chick Corea

When Chick Corea came into Kendun Recorders to do the Mad Hatter record, people booked rooms for a couple of months it wasn’t like they just came in to book a session or tracking date and that was your day in, day out job for that period of time. Everybody lived together and sometimes we would just stay at hotels near the studio. In Chick Corea’s case it was kind of a cast of different musicians he had coming in and we would cut tracks one day, maybe do overdubs on another day, the only thing we didn’t do there was mix, they took the project over to Crystal Sound.

One of the guys I learned a lot from Bernie Hersh was his name. He was Chick’s regular engineer and so I assisted Bernie on some stuff, did some overdubs myself. Bernie worked with him even live so, Bernie really knew Chick’s style and sound and most of the time in those recordings, so much of it is still the musician, there’s no magic tricks. In fact we probably at the time had two AKG 414’s on the grand piano. Again when you work in an environment where you’re spending a few months recording, you have the opportunity to experiment with different things for different songs. So it’s not like there are any magic tricks, it’s just being able to try something different for this particular piece and then there are other things that contribute. We were working I believe a Harrison console that was in that studio, but we were also recording to Studer a800 analog tape machines, so all those things contribute.

                                                  Chick Corea - Mad Hatter

How do you See Recordings Sessions Contrasting Today Compared to Then ?

It really was about getting everything the way you wanted it on the front end you know through the 70s & 80s. I still work that way myself for projects I produce, I record them in commercial studios at least getting them the basic tracks down so the only real difference for me and recording music now is that we have to work more time efficiently and have to make decisions much quicker because of smaller budgets. I find myself having to do more pre-planning, more organized, more sure of what I’m going to do. There’s pros and cons to that, that’s a bit of a fight for me because you’re telling yourself that every decision you make has to be the right decision for the music and the artist. Aside from the time constraints, I really record exactly the same way I did 30 years ago with the exception of recording to generally ProTools.

“I only reach for the gear when I think I need it. It’s all about being creative” - Bob Bullock

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Recording Art Garfunkel

The part that I played in it was really cool because I got to engineer it, but I recorded horns for the Garfunkel project Fate for Breakfast . There would be different microphones of choice for the different horns. Most of us would have the musicians standing side by side not really worried about isolation because it was a section, I was mostly worried about the musicians all being comfortable. We recorded in a larger room, but room decisions are always just song to song and project to project. I think Bill Conte was producing and I think describing what they wanted for Art Garfunkels horn section was a more controlled room. As far as mics it’s just a matter of being familiar with what the range of different microphones are. For trombone I’d probably for example a Fet47 with a pad on it, trumpets were probably more likely Norman 87s at that time also with a pad. It was generally just like here’s a go-to starting set-up and if everybody’s jumping up and down and happy then that’s great, if any one of the creative team, including me, say gee I think the trumpets sounding a little thin let me try a different microphone, then that’s what we did.

                                               Art Garfunkel - Fate for Breakfast

“It’s always been my passion. My passion is to try to help an artist try to change it up” - Bob Bullock 

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Jam Session 

Q- What was holding you back at the start?
A -Well I just made a transition so I can’t say it was an obstacle. I started playing guitar at like 11 years old, I first wanted to be a rockstar. But when I was 15 years old walking into Sunset Sound and seeing this real, professional recording environment, my first thoughts were I wanted to learn how to engineer and produce music so I could produce my band. I still play guitar, but after that I came to the conclusion that I didn’t think I could be as good at a lot of things so I felt like I really loved the technical side of it and it was a wake up that I really need to put the time into this. So it wasn’t an obstacle so much as it was a change.

Q- What was some of the best advice you got early on?
A - I had the good fortune of working under the best of the best Reggie Dozier, Barney Perkins, Roy Haley, Roger Nichols, the list goes on and on and I got to be an assistant engineer for all those people. Mostly what I got pretty consistant was you shouldn't do this unless you really love it and it’s all about working with people, you have to be a people person. Every person I just mentioned, their biggest contribution to me was they were always creating a calm environment for artists and producers.

“The vibe of the studio really leads me to pick where I’m going to work with someone” - Bob Bullock

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Q - Q- Share with us a recording tip, hack, or secret sauce.
A- 
I learned different things from different people. Al Schmidt was very minimalist on everything and made fantastic sounding records, Roy Haley was real big on a lot of effects and reverb on his work with Simon and Garfunkel so I learned a lot of reverb tricks. From all that I realized I only reach for the gear when I think I need it. It’s all about being creative. Some of my favorite records have happened because of people that made a record that really didn’t know what they were doing and didn’t know how other people did it, they just used their own ears to come up with something that sounded good to them. In many cases those would become classic records.

“Doing what I do is the right fit for me, I wish that for everyone” - Bob Bullock

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Q -Share a favorite hardware tool for the studio
A-
 I don’t really have any. I’m so used to working in different rooms with what they have. For recording I’m flexible. If a band approaches me to record them, I’m going to take us into a studio I think captures the vibe and maybe the sound. There’s a room here in Nashville called Ronnie’s Place. I favor that tracking room a lot because it’s an old 70s wood tracking room and drums just have a different tone.

Q -Share a favorite software tool for the studio
A- 
I’m a fan of the UAD plugins and also Waves, but I also use PSP plugins quite a lot it’s much smaller company out of Poland. PSP has a couple of EQ’s and delay programs that just sound a little different to me and so I use those occasionally, it seems to break things up a little bit, a little more boutique.


“I’ve always wanted a more controlled environment and with Carl Tatz Phantom Focus System, I do” - Bob Bullock

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Q -Share with us a tip for the business side of the recording studio

A - I think you have to find a niche, that’s the main thing. What I’ve found myself doing is constantly changing, it’s an evolution. This is not an industry anyone should be in unless they feel like they can’t do anything else. The task is to find out how you’re going to make it now. You’ve got to find your niche, find a way to monetize enough so that you can keep doing it.It’ a constant change and you have to be able to embrace it.

Q- If you could go back and give yourself advice for when you were starting out, what’s the single most important thing you would tell yourself about becoming a rockstar of the recording studio?

A -  As a young person I think it’s important, if you want to work in video games or want to work in hip hop or country go to the places where they do that best. If you want to work in video games, starting a career in Nashville is probably not the right place. You’ve got to go to the places that are doing what you want to do and you have to be open minded to learn from the people who have experience.

Contact: 
BobBullock.net

Big Thanks to Tyler Cuidon & Merissa Marx for this week's episode!!

RSR054- Josh Harris – Defining His Sound as a Remixer & Studio One Expert

(Press play on the green strip above or listen on iTunes with the link below)

RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

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

RSR054- Josh Harris - Defining His Sound as a Remixer & Studio One Expert

My guest today is Josh Harris, a producer, composer, engineer, remixer and music industry educator. He is a classically trained pianist and composer who likes to fuse different musical genres into his writing and remixing. 


Josh can easily migrate from the studio to the stage and has toured with Grammy award winning artist, Seal, as his musical director and keyboardist. His credits include top name artists like Seal, Madonna, The Killers and James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem). While some of his his corporate clients include composing and mixing for NBC, ABC, MTV, VH1 and the USA Network.


With over two hundred major-label remix credits, Josh has received nominations by the International Dance Music Association (IDMA) for best remixer. And his music has been used in several TV shows, such as MTV's Damage Control, Room Raiders, and America's Next Top Model.


Josh is also a founding member of the Brooklyn-based, band and production team, Lindbergh Palace. And he currently resides in his hometown of St. louis, where he is the founder of STL Hit Squad, a collective of local artists, engineers and songwriters.


Outside of the studio he is a gifted educator serving as adjunct faculty at Ex’treme Institute by Nelly, teaching entertainment and media business. And he has multiple courses on mixing and remixing on Lynda.com as well as working closely with Presonus. In fact it was here in Nashville at summer NAMM in 2015 that I first met Josh demonstrating to a room of producers just how awesome Presonus Studio One is!

"A lot of my success as a remixer has been born out of the fact that I am a trained musician and I know how to sit down and reharmonize and pull the original chord changes"

Josh Harris

Josh's First Dabblings in Midi

It’s wild man, I tell some of the kids I teach how hard it was, how much we toiled over putting together music back then. You had a sequencer, 16 midi channels, and maybe one sound module while you were trying to lay parts down, you had 4 tracks, and you were trying to bounce. The early days of midi I thought were really exciting because you could have one keyboard controlling sounds from these rack mount pieces and it made live playing completely different than having to bring out a synth for every keyboard part. You could split your master controller into zones and one octave could handle one module so you were able to streamline the process as a keyboard player. Back then midi really had a place on stage as well as in the studio, it was a force in both areas. Now with the current DAWs, I don’t want to say midi doesn’t exist because DAWs do handle midi information, but everything's internal. Everything in the early days of midi was external with a controller and a module and another module and a board.

Similarities Working in Midi Then vs. Now

You could look at patch organization and the patch library work that you had to do back then as sort of the 1980s version of how we organize our sample libraries now. You notice with the benchmark releases of Studio One and Logic and maybe some other DAWs, there’s always an update to the browser. There always seems to be an update for searching, now we have tags and different descriptive words we can use to find the five kick drums that have a sub frequency in them out of our thousand kick drums where patch and sound organization have always been there, this is sort of the modern day version of it and it’s audio as opposed to midi.

“It’s very different to stay creative when you’re scrolling through 75 synth pad sounds”- Josh Harris

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What’s the First Step you do when
you get a New Synth?

The way I organize my time in the studio, I actually set aside afternoons sometimes purely for sound organization or sample auditioning. Let’s say I have all these libraries that I recently added and need to go through, I think there are different states of mind in the studio. It’s very different to stay creative when you’re scrolling through 75 synth pad sounds so I dedicate time throughout a couple of afternoons each month to go through sounds. Really when you think about it, making music doesn’t necessarily take a long time, but choosing the sounds and creating the sound palette can be the thing that takes the longest. So if I got a synth, I would spend part of a Saturday if not the whole Saturday scrolling through sounds and writing down patch numbers that I liked until I had them committed to memory. I would use those as a starting point. The sooner you learn your sounds and the sooner you have a handle on your sound library, the easier it is to just make music.

“The sooner you learn your sounds and the sooner you have a handle on your sound library, the easier it is to just make music” 

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How Do you Capture Your Musical Ideas?

To be honest I think I hear some of my best ideas in the car. Like a lot of people now, I sing a lot of things into the phone. In the old days I would leave myself a message on my answering machine and maybe sing a bassline. But it can be that basic where I might hear 3 or 4 notes or a hook or a chorus in my head, and I’m pretty much a pop songwriter at heart so almost everything I write melodically has that pop commercial sound. So I’ll leave myself a memo on my phone and I’ll come back to it the next day or a few days later. The way I work now, because I’ve been a one man army for so long, is I actually do my best to build the track, mix the track and sort of fuse the composing, sequencing, arranging, and production all at one time. I really like this process to be the fusion of what I’m hearing in my head comes out in the studio and I’m mixing as I go, then I’m hearing melodies on top of the track I just built, and then lyrics start to come in from that point. It becomes this very channeled process.

Remixing The Killers

I had the chance to do a remix for The Killers “Somebody Told Me”. There had been rock remixes done before and most of the remixes I had done prior to this remix were complete reproductions where I would just take the vocals and that would be the only thing from the originals that I would use. I would gut the whole things and do a ground up new track. But when I got the chance to work on this, having been in bands and being a huge rock fan, I knew better than to try to reinvent the wheel. So what I did was I used the guitar stems, bass stems, obviously the vocals, and keys, then did new drums and did a club arrangement with vocal tricks and stutters and I kept it really, really simple so that the integrity of the original was still very much alive and present in the remix and the band loved it! When that remix was done, it got a lot of attention. That one remix in 2004 caused my phone to ring for awhile. 

                                Josh Harris - Somebody Told Me Club Remix

Are There General Guidelines to Remixing?

I’ve lived in the mainstream dance world, but because I’m a song guy and a songwriter most of the remixes I do where I have access to the full vocals, I will keep the original song form, but I usually take out the bridge. I’ve done so many remixes of pop songs where the bridge sometimes just doesn’t make sense in a club arrangement or if there are key changes I would maybe not do that. But generally speaking I will keep verse 1, chorus 1, verse 2, chorus 2, and then maybe change it up from there. The other thing I like to do is I’m a big believer in instrumental hooks. Going all the way back to Motown records and you think of the guitar lick for My Girl and how that’s such a signature part of the song, I think like that where I’ll put an instrumental hook (typically something new) after the chorus and that will be a signature part of the remix.
Some guys to check out in this style: David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, Axwell, Avicii. The electronic music coming out the the Scandinavian area is really cool. There’s also a production outfit out of England called the Young Punx, there’s a guy named Phonat his stuff from 2009 is really cool, and I’ve also been a long time Daft Punk fan

“Let’s be honest, the pop music industry is all about numbers and sales and money” - Josh Harris

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Reasons to Record Vocals and Bass in Studio One

I like the track layers. Layers is the ability to basically save your takes, think of it like a playlist in Pro Tools. What’s cool about the way Layers works is you can see all of the takes you have recorded and then highlight the sections of the takes that you like and they get promoted to a composite track so you can really quickly comp a track. Melodyne Essential comes with the Studio One Professional version. Melodyne Essential is the baby version that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, that being said Melodyne is integrated so all you have to do is highlight an event (audio regions) click command + M (on a mac) and Melodyne will automatically pop open, read the file, and the blobs are there.

“Don’t be seduced by the latest OS update” - Josh Harris

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Jam Session 

Q- What was holding you back at the start?
A -Mixing hands down. I got through that barrier very slowly and painfully. When you start out in recording you know that something doesn’t sound right but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is and want your stuff to sound done like the stuff you listen to and I was so out of my depths in the early days of just putting songs together. I’ve never used a compressor, I didn’t know how to place a lead vocal, just dialing in the sonics of everything freaked me out.

Q- What was some of the best advice you got early on?
A - As producers and engineers, we are in a service business, unless you’re doing your own artist album, and your clients are going to have opinions and you may not always agree with them. One thing I had to learn the hard way when I started doing work for major labels was that it didn’t really matter what I thought past a certain point, it was going matter what the artist or client manager thought. It’s difficult sometimes to remove our own emotions from the work we do because we’re passionate about that work and we want to make things excellent, but then there comes a point where you have to realize this is a track I’m doing for an artist that’s signed to a label and this has their name on it and I have to concede on some things.

“I think signature hooks really helps as a producer, helps to define your sound” - Josh Harris

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Q - Q- Share with us a recording tip, hack, or secret sauce.
A-
 I think it’s important to mix at a moderate level. I see young and even some experienced engineers crushing their ears working at really high decibel levels. I believe if you hang out in that 60db, mid volume, where it’s loud enough and you turn it up occasionally to check to make sure nothing is ripping your head off. Mixing is such an important part of what we do. You have to keep in mind the clients and the artists and whoever is listening to the music we do, they’re really only commenting on how things sound, the sonics. With that being said it’s important to save your ears. When you’re working long hours in the studio, don’t keep your volume knob on 11, turn it down a little bit!!

Q - Do you find that you trust the vocal level nuances more when you’re mixing quiet or more when you’re mixing loud?
A-
 I have found that if I mix too low then I’m off with the vocal level. I’m probably mixing with the music the loudest when I’m automating vocals so that I’m not lulled into a false sense of placement. So that’s where I dive in and spend most of my time is automating, I admit that medium to pretty loud level and then I go really loud to make sure nothing rips my head off and then I’ll turn it down low and see how it feels. But yeah I have to get it up around 70-80db at least for vocals to know that I’m dialed in right.

“Nobody wants to hear something that sounds like a demo anymore” - Josh Harris

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Q -Share a favorite hardware tool for the studio
A-
 I love my UAD apollo. I love the fact that I can track with plugins, it’s really changed the way I work. I actually sold some outboard gear once I bought it. Again with workflow I’m able to have some amazing vocal sessions and track my synths through the apollo. I just love the whole UAD platform. For the podcast I’m using the Beta58 through the 610B through an 1176, they are the plugin versions.

Q -Share a favorite software tool for the studio
A-
 I love the UAD precision series. I’ve got almost all of them now and I use them for mastering and have them on my master fader. I don’t know what they were modeled after, but they just sound good. I’m in that mindset that unless I’m doing something deliberate, I don’t want to hear if a plugin is working. If you can make something in the digital world almost fool people to think it was mixed to tape, then you’re on point. I will throw in an Isotope plugin it’s their new vocal plugin, vocoder talk box, that’s a cool one. I like to throw vocoders up underneath the vocals for pop mixes as treatments and coatings to just give that sheen.


“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with grabbing a pre-recorded loop and floating that in on top of your own stuff” - Josh Harris

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Q -Share with us a tip for the business side of the recording studio

A - I’ve taken a look at some of my best years in the business and when I’ve had what I would call “down years,” I have to say that I got away from face to face. I think that while it could be argued that some of the conventions, whether it be NAMM or other conventions that go on throughout the year, are expensive and everyone goes, I think that the music industry was built on face to face relationships and studio work is really at it’s best when it’s face to face, so I’m going back to face to face. I’ve scheduled a lot of meetings here in STL, I’ll go out of my way to go out and get lunch or a drink with people and I’ll invest the time and money into traveling and doing the face to face, even coming down to Nashville.

Q - If you had to start over what gear would you need? How would you find people to record? And how would you make ends meet while you got started?

A- For many years I’ve been a believer in laptop recording. I would get a top of the line laptop, it’s worth investing in a laptop you know you’re going to get 3-5 years out of, jump on board with a DAW that you feel works with the way your brain works, get a decent set of monitors, treat your room well so that you can do some basic mixing, get an audio interface maybe like a UAD apollo duo (the little desktop), and then invest into one $400-$500 microphone so that you can do vocals or voice over work because once you can record the voice in your own room, whether it’s yours or you bring in a singer, then you’re able to start to work with other people.

“I think that the music industry was built on face to face relationships” - Josh Harris

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Q- If you could go back and give yourself advice for when you were starting out, what’s the single most important thing you would tell yourself about becoming a rockstar of the recording studio?

A -  I think patience. I was very impatient in my 20s when I lived in Nashville and it worked against me in a lot of ways. Patience with my own skill set development, and patience with how a career unfolds, the natural trajectory of a career. If I could have that conversation I would just say, “Relax man, it’s going to be fine.”

Contact: 
JoshHarrisMusic.com

Big Thanks to Tyler Cuidon & Merissa Marx for this week's episode!!

RSR053 – Matt Boudreau – Working Class Audio Podcast

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RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

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

RSR053 - Matt Boudreau - Working Class Audio

My guest today is Matt Boudreau, a producer, recording, mixing, and mastering engineer from San Francisco. Matt is also the host of a fantastic podcast that you should be listening to called, Working Class Audio where he interviews many top studio professionals.


His 34 year career path started out in New Mexico before moving to San Francisco in the 80s as a drummer in the bands The Sextants and Seven Day Diary, where he was first introduced to making records with great producer/engineers like Larry Hirsch, Joe Chicarelli and Gil Norton sparking his interest in recording.


In 1994 Matt began his journey to the "other side of the glass" when it came time to trade in his drum sticks for faders. And since then he has worked with a great number of artists in the studio including: Steve Earl, Brett Dennen, Matchbox 20, Shawn Colvin, the BoDeans, The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, Tori Amos, Florence + The Machine, World Party, Thomas Dolby, The Jayhawks, Ziggy Marley, The Samples, Joan Osborne, Civil Wars, Sarah Bareilles, and George Thorogood to name just some of the credits. Wow!


And on his podcast Working Class Audio you can find all sorts of great episodes with stellar guests like: Dave Fridmann, Niko Bolas, Al Schmitt, Brian McTear, Jim Scott, Larry Crane, F Reid Shippen, Eric Valentine, Kim Rosen, Warren Huart, Joe Barresi, Michael Beinhorn, Sylvia Massey, and Vance Powell. And those are just some of the past guests.


Though we’ve only just met, I am psyched to have my “brother from another podcast” on the show today.

Working Class Audio

Working Class Audio

“Sometimes as a player you graduate to these plateaus. You don’t consciously try to do it, but one day you can do something that you couldn’t previously do. And you have this realization, you think oh okay I've been playing all these years and something feels different.”

Matt Boudreau

The Sextants

The major band that I was in that meant a lot of me was The Sextants. It was a band that was formed out of the ashes of punk band out of Southern New Mexico called Manson Family Christmas. When MFC broke up The Sextants formed, we all moved to San Francisco. We were like Mamas and the Papas meets X with a heavy pop influence and that’s where I met Larry Hirsch. The reason I left the band ultimately is because we had a manager who was a weird guy. Terry Ellis was the president of the label that we were on which was Imago Records. He called us out to Connecticut where he sat us down to lunch and said basically you either need to fire your manager otherwise we are going to drop you because this guy is just not good for you. My bandmates didn’t see it that way and I was in disagreement with my roommates on that so ultimately we were dropped. In spite of everything I’ve learned over the years I still am on the same page as Terry Ellis for that one. Even though we broke up, we still continue to make music with each other to this day.

"Life if short. Take advantage of the time you’ve got, get in the studio, get stuff done, enjoy yourself.” -@Matt_Boudreau

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How do you Capture a Great Performance in the Studio?

I think when you’re mentally present and you’re not distracted by the outside forces of money or personal strife or relationship strife. When you have control over the outside things that are very important, I think it allows you to relax in the studio and pay close attention to what’s in front of you rather than being like, oh god as soon as I get done with this session I have to go and make a credit card payment so they don’t ding my credit report. It’s small weird details like that I think that can play people and they don’t really think about it too much because it’s just a part of their day to day life. Something on the outside, some external force that is creeping into your mind as you're doing the session, I think it manifests itself through you and can affect the people in your session because you behave in a particular way. When you remove those things or have those things in check, you can be relaxed, you can be yourself, and you can get out of your own way and let things happen naturally. When that happens, I think that people get the best of you ,and you help bring out the best in others and it just becomes a reciprocal thing where everybody kind of builds up a teamwork kind of fashion that allows us to make great records

Are there Typical Routines that Allow you to get in the Mindset?

On a day to day level long ago I learned to keep a calendar. I’m kind of a late bloomer and for some of these things I think details like that. Details like that didn’t creep up into my life until I realized I had to get my shit together, so keeping a calendar and knowing what’s going on in your life, keeping your finances in order so you don’t stress about that and those are the bigger picture things. On the small detail level before a session I always think through and have conversations with the artists and say okay what is it that you’re trying to achieve? I will go through the instrumentation on paper and layout a potential mic setup just so I am mentally in the space where I get all the technical done beforehand, then when I get into the studio I have a game plan so that we can just play.

“When I pursue things because I truly enjoy them, the money always comes later” -@Matt_Boudreau

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What makes a Great Mix?

The great mix is in the ear of the beholder I think because let's face it you play a mix that you think is great that you did for any other engineer, of course they are going to say, “Oh yeah, that’s cool.” Of course they aren’t going to say, “Yeah, I would have done it differently.” So if you take that element out of it and quit trying to mix for other engineers and you just mix for emotion and for what the artists wants, I think that that’s a good start. Too many times, as many of us have done, I’ve focused on the wrong things. You think oh I’m going to do this because all the other engineers are going to like this, well that’s the wrong position to be mixing from.

Jam Session 

Q- What was holding you back at the start?
A -Access to equipment and then that changed because I started to work for a Pro Audio Sales company and I was able to borrow equipment over the weekends.

Q - What does recording look like to you today?
A -For me after going through various experiences over the years, my primary thing that I do now is mix and master out of a room in my house that if you saw it, you’d love it because of it’s oddball shape and sloping ceiling. But when I do track, I’m a freelancer. I will asses out the budget for my client and their aesthetic and what’s important to them and I’ll present them with a range of options

“You gotta keep your cool and see it from their perspective, you cannot make it about you” -@Matt_Boudreau

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Q- What was some of the best advice you got early on?
A - There’s technical advice and there’s career advice. I used to work out of this guy’s studio, and old friend Buddy Salmen in San Francisco. I used to bring bands there and record. I remember in my early days there Buddy stand by me and would making these hand gestures telling me about how I should make my mix super deep and super wide.

Q - Q- Share with us a recording tip, hack, or secret sauce.
A- 
I think for me concentrate on your monitoring set-up. I think that is key. I think that wherever you’re mixing, make sure your monitoring environment is dialed in. These guys I came across, the Sonar Works people, they make a room analyzing plugin combo that allows you to take a room and find out what the strengths and weakness are from an EQ perspective and it creates an inverse EQ curve that’s applied to the back end of your mix to take those anomalies out of your mix that you might be adding to your mix based on a funky room

The great mix is in the ear of the beholder I think” -@Matt_Boudreau

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Q -Share a favorite hardware tool for the studio
A-
 I’m not a giant audio file person, but I do own a pono player. I was one of the early kickstarter people, I got a Willie Nelson signature pono player. I love bringing that in and make it so that depending on the type of music that we’re doing and the type of band I’m working with, I like it when they show up and I’ve set the mood with some music. Most of the time with rock records and americana records, you can’t go wrong with some old Stones, ya know? People come in and you’ve got that playing and you’ve got things set up and the lights are done the right way and you’ve got the room laid out, people walk in and go, “All right! Let’s go!” They get excited.

Q -Share a favorite software tool for the studio
A- 
One thing I really rely on in a session is Google Docs, the spreadsheet section. I’ll set up the session in a spreadsheet as far as instruments and what it's miced with, the outboard gear, all of those details and then I pull it up on my phone. So the google spreadsheet along with my phone at a session, especially when it’s just me doing all the setup becomes an indispensable tool.

“I now mix in Studio One from PreSonus which is to me one of the great rising DAW’s” - @Matt_Boudreau

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Q -Share with us a tip for the business side of the recording studio

A - I’m going to do the shameless thing and plug my own podcast. On my podcast that is a major thing that we talk about. On my show I’ve got a recommendations page and I like to point people to things like tools & books that I find helpful to build the bigger picture because recording is more than just some mics and DAW, all the gear, that’s one part of it. Those are the tools that we use but there’s a lot of other tools I think that help with the mind and the mindset, the outlook. I like to focus on the big picture of all of this stuff together and I think it all influences each different thing in the chain or the spoke on the wheel, whatever different analogy you want to use.

“Get your feet wet. Starting screwing stuff up and making mistakes because that’s how you learn” - @Matt_Boudreau

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Q- If you could go back and give yourself advice for when you were starting out, what’s the single most important thing you would tell yourself about becoming a rockstar of the recording studio?

A -  You know I didn’t come up through the stereotypical studio chain, I didn’t intern, I always tell people I helicoptered in from the top, but I think the things that took me many years to learn might have been condensed if I had to focus on being an intern or being an assistant and learning from a mentor. I think having a mentor of some type is really crucial. If we had time machines and i could go back, I would meet up with myself and say, “Look, you need a mentor and you need to be a gracious student.” I think that as a result of being a self taught engineer it’s just taken me longer than it has the average person.

Contact: 
WorkingClassAudio.com
MattBoudreau.com
Facebook
Twitter - @Matt_Boudreau

Big Thanks to Tyler Cuidon & Merissa Marx for this week's episode!!

RSR052 – David Kalmusky – Recording Journey and Addiction Sound Studios

(Press play on the green strip above or listen on iTunes with the link below)

RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

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

RSR052 - David Kalmusky - Recording Journey and Addiction Sound Studios

My guest today is David Kalmusky, a Producer / Guitarist / Engineer / and Mixer. In 2012 David helped design and build Addiction Sound Studios in Nashville TN, along with Engineer / Studio Designer Chris Huston (whose credits include Led Zeppelin and The Who) and studio owner Jonathan Cain of Journey, Bad English, and The Babys. At Addiction Sound David and Jonathan host their shared tracking room, and individual production and mix rooms.


David is deeply involved in the local audio community, hosting Recording Academy, NAAM, and local manufacturer events. And has regularly appeared on top 10 Billboard charts, spanning several genres, including credits on 2 Billboard #1’s. David is also an expert with Pro Tools having worked with the Avid platform since its beginning. So we will dig into some great questions about that too.


His multi platinum, Grammy nominated work, includes Journey, Justin Bieber, Emerson Drive, The Fray, Shawn Mendes, Vince Gill, and John Oates, to name just a few of the hundreds of artists with which David has recorded and toured.


I have known David for years and owe a great deal of my own professional network to the connections that David has helped me create.

“It’s not about work ethic. If you aren’t compelled to do this, if this doesn't keep you up at night and wake you up in the morning because you’re excited and curious to hear something just in and of itself, not for the payoff, not for making hit records, for the results itself of what is obsessing you then find something else to do”

David Kalmusky

Biggest Failure?

You know in this business I think most of my personal failure is the fact that we’re all kind of freelance, we do work for a lot of different camps, teams, artists, diverse groups of people, and diverse groups of pay. When I started getting into some gigs that were more money than I ever made before, I’d spend it all. I found throughout the years to be in some really difficult predicaments. So I guess my failures were self management. I’d have to go out on the road, I’d have to leave the studio because I had to make some money and pay off debt. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re spending all your money, you’re going to find yourself always chasing the money. This is a really up and down industry. You’re a business person, you’re setting yourself up, you’re investing in yourself. Don’t think because you’ve made a certain amount that that is always the bar as to which you will be paid. You don’t need to do pro bono projects, you need to be involved in things because they’re amazing and there’s a pedigree of talent that you haven’t been invited to take part in and sometimes you’re not always invited to take partake in the monetization of that. We’re always interning on some level.

“I don’t believe about fitting in and conforming to any kind of standard” - David Kalmusky

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Co-Producing with John Oates

I got to do something cool which was co-produce with John Oates, from Hall and Oates, Christmas single with the Time Jumpers. So I got to record a Western swing with an 80s pop singer doing something really cool. It was in the month of July, 100 degrees out, and we had every room full, triple fiddles in here, Vince Gill and Paul Franklin, just every room filled.

I’m working constantly with very young people who haven’t necessarily gotten their break yet. In this town I’ve gotten to work with a young Lennon and Maisy and a very young Hunter Hayes long before he was signed, so I continue to have several people in my life like that as well. That’s the stuff I’m most excited about, the stuff that no one has heard yet and I hope that people do get to hear it. I love getting into a room with an artist who’s just found themselves and getting to make that debut record and get through that process. I think I’m valuable as a mentor and as a producer and an engineer. I don’t always get to do the record either, but anything goes, Nashville is not competitive that way. I don’t mope around going, “Well I developed material with that artist and when they got signed the label put them with another producer,” that’s life. You just stay in the game, keep your head down, and make a lot music.

“The best resource in the music industry is community” - David Kalmusky 

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Working with Jonathan Cain - Recording Journey

The John Cain story is a tremendously long one, but I’ll try to condense it into the fact that I was actually working with his daughter. We were recording vocals together and she had worked with a lot of different people and we just hit it off. He loved the vocal sound we were getting so he decided to come into the studio and check it out. Immediately we had a Bearsville connection, he recorded his first solo record in Bearsville and I explained my father’s history. We were both gearheads and talked about the mic selection for his daughter and why I chose the one I did etc, and he was like, “Man do you want to record the vocals for the Journey Eclipse record?” Kevin Shirley had gotten very, very busy and had basically asked them to record some vocals on their own, so it was just the perfect timing and the perfect Nashville environment and of course I said yes! Eventually became friends with Neal Schon and Arnel Pineda and they came to Nashville and we recorded the vocals in my little studio. The whole time I was looking for a place, John was selling his home in California so we became great friends and would talk about well maybe we should build a studio together. John is not just a rich rockstar that just spends money and has everybody do stuff for him, we would sit around and audition pre-amps together and listen to gear. He’s one of us man, he really is. He is enamoured by engineering and acoustics and the room and we built an echo chamber together. We really became such tremendous friends through making that Journey record together. I ended up taking over recording overdubs, mixing the record, and supervising the mastering of it all with Kevin Shirley’s blessing. Fast forward years later the band flew me to Tokyo and I produced Journey live at Budokan, I did four solo Neal Schon records, three or four solo projects with Jonathan. It sounds like it happened overnight, but it didn’t.

                                            Journey - Eclipse Album

Addiction Sound Studio

I found a property in Berry Hill and called John up and said, “I found a little cottage maybe we could split it.” He said no, I sold my house and studio in California, if we’re doing to do it, let's build our dream studio. We wanted an echo chamber but knew there was no room in the blueprints of this building. One day I was out back and saw the Bobcat tractor start to dig up to pour concrete and they were digging pretty deep, so I sent John a text saying “underground echochamber, speak now or forever hold your peace,” and sure enough the phone rings and he’s like, “Let’s do it!!” So we rebuilt a replica of Abbey Roads Studios echochamber. It’s totally sealed off, it has a manhole, a sewer grate lid. Eventually we want to get a submarine hatch for it.

Jam Session 

Q- What was holding you back at the start?
A -I am a stubborn, persistent little bastard and there is nothing that has held me back. My advice is don’t wait for opportunity, there is no opportunity, just do everything that you want to do.

“Use your ears, not your gear” - David Kalmusky

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Q- What was some of the best advice you got early on?
A - The best advice I received is probably what we touched on a little bit.. don’t use all your gear or all your plugins. The other best advice I got was from my dad and that was to stop and listen. Use your ears, not your gear.

Q - Q- Share with us a recording tip, hack, or secret sauce.
A- 
Have fun and play with some weird, cool, cheap devices. Explore some weird, realtime analog things. You can get a little handheld recorder, bounce a track to it, then put it back into ProTools and line it up as close as you can with all the analog drift that doesn’t allow it to line up and use it as a double, it’s cool! Play with plugins, make your own presets. Don’t use stock reverbs, use them as a starting place and create your own sound. The coolest trick you could ever do is be unique.

“There’s a real psychology to making music with clients” - David Kalmusky

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Q -Share a favorite hardware tool for the studio
A- 
My favorite cheap piece of gear I’ve used on every vocal I’ve put out for the past decade the $100 Orban 526A D-esser. It’s my favorite D-esser, it’s very natural and has one knob. You can generally rely on the commonality of choices and wisdom from studios. You see a lot of 1176’s and LA2A’s and they have their place for a reason.

Q -Share a favorite software tool for the studio
A- 
When it comes to plugins, it’s such an exciting time for audio to have the capability of doing things with look-ahead compression that is impossible to do in the analog world without actually really elaborately delaying tracks for side chain pre-emphasis. Nevertheless some tools that are in the box that are amazing for me is dynamic spectrum mapper, it’s like having a 40,000 multi-band dynamic EQ. For matching vocals and taking the bite out of a vocal, it will take it out of those moments but leave it completely untouched otherwise. The Fab Filter ProQ EQ is one of the greatest surgical and musical EQ’s like all in one thing. I put it across my two mix, it’s always on my two bus and I love it.

“There are no opportunities, you make your opportunities” - David Kalmusky 

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Q -Share with us a tip for the business side of the recording studio

A - Running a studio is actually running a personal career, it’s still a people business. People don’t come here to work with my gear. It’s about community, it’s about you. Be great at what you do, but join into the community. Don't hide in your studio or in your bedroom. Get out into the community and share your knowledge. Explore and see how others are doing things.

“We are in the atmosphere business where it’s all about the vibe” - David Kalmusky

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Q - What is the single most important thing a listener can do to become a rockstar of the recording studio?

A -  Learn what everybody else is doing, understand it, and then don’t fit in. You’re impossible to replace if you’re unique. It’s not about the place anymore, it’s about you. At the beginning learn what everyone else is doing because that’s the commonality of excellence, then start making interesting decisions to make you you. Just use your ears and react in the moment.

Contact: 
David Kalmusky Facebook
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Addiction Sound Studio
Addiction Studios Facebook

Big Thanks to Tyler Cuidon & Merissa Marx for this week's episode!!

Larry Crane

RSR051 – Larry Crane – Tape Op Magazine and Jackpot! Recording Studio

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RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

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

RSR051 - Larry Crane - Tape Op Magazine and Jackpot! Recording Studio

My guest today is Larry Crane, editor and founder of Tape Op Magazine (started in 1996). He is also owner of Portland’s Jackpot! Recording Studio (since 1997).


Larry is a freelance producer/engineer who’s worked nationwide, and is also the archivist for the Estate of Elliott Smith. His career has taken him down many paths working as a record label owner, radio station music director, DJ, record distributor in sales, freelance music journalist, book editor, and bass player playing in bands since 1984, including Elephant Factory, Vomit Launch and the Sunbirds.


He's spoken on and moderated panels about recording for TapeOpCon, SXSW, NXNW, NARAS, AES, and CMJ. And has worked with many artists including Sleater-Kinney, The Decemberists, Jenny Lewis, M. Ward, Go-Betweens, Elliott Smith, Stephen Malkmus, Quasi, David J, She & Him, Richmond Fontaine, and more.


I remember back in 1996 when my mentor Brad Jones (also a guest on the podcast in episode 34) came back from making a record out on the west coast and handed me a small xeroxed folded “zine” that he said some kid was making out of his bedroom in Portland.


It was full of interviews from the alternative side of recording, and shared the perspective of the record producer underdog. It was aptly named “TapeOp” which was traditionally the first role of a new engineer in the big old school studios. But in 1996 a Tape Op represented those of us with a four track making our own records on cassette tapes and home studios. It was the coolest thing I had seen in recording culture back then, and has never let me down in 20 years.

Larry Crane

As a music fan you go, why are some records better than others? 99% of the time it has nothing to do with sounding better, it has something that cuts across and feeds emotion to you and there are a million different ways to do that. As a fan you analyze all those different ways, an an artist you pick some things and focus on that, and as a record producer you try to know more than your clients know and have a huge well to draw from.

TapeOp Started as a "Zine"

I think people have a hard time understanding if they were raised where the internet was always around why you would xerox, staple, and mail something to people. But for people to connect back then about esoteric topics like recording at home or small recording studio stuff, that was the way you had to do it otherwise you just had no voice. When the magazine started I was doing the magazine layouts on cardboard. Using glue sticks, paper, printing things out and gluing them in place. 

How Did You Record Miss Misery by Elliott Smith?

The best thing was to get out of the way. He was this personal who had very strong musical arrangements kind of finished in his head, you just had to facilitate and get really straightforward sounds. I miced the kick, snare, overheads, done. We didn’t have very many mics for that record. I think the overhead mics are audio technica 37R’s, the kick drum an RE20, the snare was a 57. It was simple! 16 track 2in, a Mackie Console, and a Langevin c3a for the vocal. There’s a piano and we used Pro37s (small diaphragm condenser). Those are great mics $130 a piece. They don’t have a shrill top end so they record well. The thing that was amazing is when you track stuff like that and push the faders up it sounded great because the arrangements were so concise.

Lynda.com - Online Courses

This has been really cool. For years I’ve done workshops at my studio and I had happened to be in a meeting with David Franz who runs the lynda.com part of that. It was a meeting for TapeOp and I said I’d love to do something like that because I was thinking of doing some of my little bits as videos. The great thing about doing Lynda is that it’s for a school so when people watch them you get royalties. I can do concise comprehensive courses have them them up there! For the initial start they sent a 4 person crew up with a producer and a couple cameras and it was just awesome they take and edit it and finish all the stuff for it. The platform Linda is great. It’s $25 a month and you can watch every video that’s on there.

TapeOp

I know you’ve interviewed some of the greatest producers and engineers that exist. Do you have any favorite guests?

Some of them have been lifetime goals like even just to meet Brian Eno was amazing. Along the way even hanging out with Robyn Hitchcock backstage or people like that was such a treat. It’s nice to meet people on a professional level and sit down and talk about them and their music.

What are things you learned from Brian Eno?

I always have been into his work for years, I love the intellectual creativity of it. He looks at everything like a way to learn and a way to explore and see something fresh and new. I think that’s a very important thing to keep in mind that music is art and it doesn’t have to be constructed in any certain way and it doesn’t have to follow any rules. Sitting and talking with him, we ended up talking about a lot of different stuff, it was enlightening.
One of the things we was talking about at the end of the interview was the song The Streets Have No Name by U2 and it kept morphing to the point where by the end all the original parts were gone and were replaced by something else and it was no longer working in some sort of way. He wanted to go and erase the whole song. In some ways I wondered what would have happened if he did, but it was also probably an instigation to get the band to wrap it up.

What are things you learned from Robyn Hitchcock?

The nice part about talking to him was about how much he didn’t know or care about the recording process. He would just try to be in situations that feel comfortable to him where I would have his often dreamed of trains album has a certain vibe to it where he went in and recorded late at night with candles and he’s like nope.. just went in and knocked the songs down. It was fun to talk to him about that and different scenarios of things that had gone right or wrong. It's fun to talk to artists about that and get out of this engineer producer hell hole

“At the end of the day, I’m just a music fan” - Larry Crane

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Jam Session 

Q- What was holding you back at the start?
A -I think knowledge. I needed to learn what a mic pre was and how you set those things. That was the hard part. Today is very different, but I still think if you start with a very good book or something that goes through the fundamentals is good. The most important thing is to get some gear and start messing around with that.

Q- What was some of the best advice you got early on?
A - Probably to do TapeOp and go interview all these people making good records. The magazine started because I had been writing for a couple of different magazines and a local weekly and everything went defunct right about the same time. I wanted to keep doing interviews and things like that and I thought if I was going to do a music magazine they all have the same format. So I thought about doing a small zene and threw that idea at friends and they all liked it.

“To me the one thing you can do if you love an art form is to put something back in” - Larry Crane

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Q - Q- Share with us a recording tip, hack, or secret sauce.
A-
I’d say just cutting things. Arranging, cutting things out, cutting frequencies out, just don’t put as much into the final mix as you think it needs.

Q -Share a favorite hardware tool for the studio
A-
The Tama Rhythm watch is a metronome that you can tap along and figure out a bpm of something. The great thing about it is even if you’re working in ProTools, using your own metronome you can start and stop and do stuff in the middle of a song. I love having the independent metronome.

Q -Share a favorite software tool for the studio
A-
Isotope RX5. I think it’s pretty amazing and once you get comfortable using it you can match room ambiences and things like that. You can reduce reverb on a track, all kinds of stuff.

“There’s a desire for musicians to fill up space” - Larry Crane

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Q -Share with us a tip for the business side of the recording studio

A - Quickbooks online is my favorite way of keeping track of our books and doing our billing and stuff because we can send someone an email of their invoice as a button to just click to go to their bank transfer or pay with a credit card. So for our deposits or billing after a session we just send the email and it notifies me if it’s paid or if it’s overdue.

Q - What is the single most important thing a listener can do to become a rockstar of the recording studio?

A I think listen to a lot of other music. I think listening and analyzing other people's records that you admire and noting what makes them good and what you don’t like about them and just formulating a taste that guides you. Listen and listen and break down the instrumentation, what makes this song feel special, just listening critically all the time knowing how things were created. If you really like a record, learn more about it and you’ll gain something from it.

“Don’t kill it with precision” - Larry Crane 

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Contact: 
TapeOp.com
JackpotRecording.com
Larry-Crane.com
Lynda.com

Big Thanks to Alex Skelton & Merissa Marx for this week's episode!!

RSR050 – Carl Tatz – Designer of the Phantom Focus System ™

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RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

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

RSR050 - Carl Tatz - Designer of the Phantom Focus System™

My guest today is Carl Tatz, principal of the recording studio design firm Carl Tatz Design LLC. Carl has been designing award-winning studios for over a decade, driven by his acclaimed and ever-evolving Phantom Focus™ System monitor tuning protocol. (PFS for short). The Phantom Focus System is a complete monitor design protocol that optimizes the listening experience to include the speakers, the room, and the engineer into a finely tuned focal point that allows the sounds to float transparently around the speakers.


Carl’s designs extend from the modest, but breath-taking, high performance home screening room on one end of the spectrum, to the full blown home theatre palace on the other end. His designs always deliver stunningly accurate monitor systems whether for home mix studios or complete studio designs for larger studios. His promise is to always “wow” his clients regardless of the size of their project.

Some of the services Carl offers are Acoustic Design, Home Screening Rooms, Recording Studios Monitor Systems, Discrete 5.1 Listening Rooms, Room Analysis, Tuning Sound Isolation, and now ergonomic furniture design for the studio with the CTD eChair

Carl Tatz Design has been recognized professionally by the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA), Audio Engineering Society (AES), National Academy Of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS), and Carl was the Former Vice-President Nashville Association Of Professional Recording Services (NAPRS).

I have heard Carl’s Phantom Focus Designed control rooms and they are something that has to be experienced to truly believed. Listening to a Carl’s PFS monitors = mind blown!

My experience was like listening to the music radiate from a wall of granite 20 feet tall. Heavy, solid, sculpted and gigantic!

“If I didn’t have the PhantomFocus I would not be designing studios” - Carl Tatz

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PhantomFocus System™

Up until now the PhantomFocus System is a protocol. The hardware includes a pair of subwoofers, the PhantomFocus stands made by SoundAnchors, and a digital processor (most of the time I use an Ashley engine). That’s all involved; the rest is just elbow grease! It’s a two-today process for my assistant and I. The first day is setting the speakers up, we laser them in with a four-laser system to get the angle correct and position them correctly in the room. There’s a lot of pre-work that’s done prior to us showing up. If it’s a studio we haven’t designed we need to know what’s going on in that room. I need dimensions and all sorts of details so when we so up there’s not going to be any surprises.

The first day is what I call the rhythm section. We set up the monitors in the correct position relative to the modes in the room. I call it the rhythm section because if you don’t have that you’re just polishing a turd, you can’t EQ it. That’s one of my things about these self tuning boxes out now. I recommend them, they are better than nothing, but some of them will account for the speakers not being set up correctly. The physical setup of the speaker is so critical. So once that’s done, the next day I come in with speakers, subwoofers, and the approcessor and play with crossovers, slopes, and EQ and get it to lock into the PhantomFocus pocket. Once it’s there, it’s like BOOM.

Are there simple tricks to do to with a speaker to begin to get an understanding of what the possibilities are if they were to do a PhantomFocus System?

This is something I teach in my lectures! I would direct people to go to my website, go to the library and click on Acoustic Tools. There are two things there: a software program that calculates the room modes and there’s a chart called the Null-Positioning Ensemble. Those two things are extremely valuable; it’s what we use in the PhantomFocus System. One is the active software and the other one is an example that shows you where the listener and the speaker should be. The Null-Positioning ensemble is very easy to understand chart of how you should set up your monitors. It’s important that people understand that it’s not just a general idea of what you should do when you set up your speakers; it’s an exact idea.

Favorite Tips & Secrets

If you have a pair of monitors on a stand in back of a console even on a meter bridge at ear level, your monitors are going to roll of drastically at approximately 125 hz, then it will come up somewhere where the actual low end of the speaker is like 40-50hz so you’ll have this huge grand canyon of missing information. Don’t think it’s not happening with your speakers. It happens all the time. The reason why people have such a hard time with their low end is because they don’t have that information there. So you get your kick and bass to sound how you want, and with that grand canyon of missing information there you push up the bass and get your speakers to really kick. Then you take it out to the car and you have WAY too much low end. Everybody goes through that. The tweeters need to be ear height, roughly 48 inches sitting in a chair. It makes a huge difference.

“Monitors typically sound better sideways then they do upright” - Carl Tatz

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What is Imaging?

When you’re sitting in the sweet spot, it’s so intense that the speakers seem to go away. I’ve had people tell me not only does the vocal seem like it’s floating right there like there’s a center speaker, I can easily tell where it is whether it’s an upfront vocal or behind; you can really find the pocket. The other thing that happens is all your sources sound drastically different, they never sound like the speakers they sound like the recording. You can hear a difference from one bass to the other bass. Its that revealing.

What are Room Modes?

It’s based on the round trip speed of sound and it only applies to low frequencies. So it’s the time it takes to go from the back wall to the front wall and back again. It’s hard to explain, but in the modes you’re going to have dips and peaks. The dips, otherwise known as nulls, are deadly. You don’t want your speakers or your ears to be in the null. Check out the mode calculator.

Carl Tatz Auralex

It’s a good example of what we do. Check out the DreamRoom and that’s pretty close to what you can do by yourself. It’s painted walls with columns and panels. You can buy the kit and put it up yourself. It’s a rigid fiberglass product; the columns are reflective on one side, absorbent on the other. When you set them up on the wall that way it creates what we call the acoustic lens. It’s great! It gives you reflection, diffusion, and absorption on the sidewalls.

eChair

The designer is a former racecar driver. When he retired, he had broken every bone in his body and decided he was going to design the greatest task chair ever, and he did! The chair works and leans with you, it puts you in a position where you can work all day and not be fatigued. It’s not the kind of chair you want to sit down and relax in. But when you’re working in front of a console, it makes you sit upright. Your posture will benefit. It’s so good it actually comes with the PhantomFocus System now.

New PhantomFocus Monitors

I have my own speakers! It has been and still is an evolution. The PhantomFocus can work with anyone’s speakers, but it was a no brainer for me to come out with my own speaker. In order for me to do it, it had to be better than anything else out there and it is. The subwoofer is a pistonic low frequency emitter. It’s built into a quarter inch aircraft aluminum case. It has a direct drive unit that controls the bass and increases the energy. I think these things weigh 85lbs a piece. The speakers themselves have a very expensive scandinavian scan speak tweeter and morell drivers. It’s loosely based on the Dynaudio M1 speaker, which had always been my favorite.

“You don’t tune a room you tune the monitors” - Carl Tatz

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Jam Session 

Q- What was holding you back at the start?
A -Paying bills. I was working in a restaurant and knew what I wanted to do but wasn’t sure how to do it. I had this guest house, took out an $8,000 loan, followed my dream and started my first studio.

Q- What was some of the best advice you got early on?
A - You’re worth what you charge. Once you have some skills and are pretty good at it, what you charge people will perceive that's what you’re worth.

“When you’re sitting in the sweet spot you’re just enveloped in the music” - Carl Tatz

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Q- When someone is trying to adopt this quality and wants to charge what it’s worth, what’s the process?
A -When I started off I did stuff for free. I was thrilled just to have the opportunity to try what I wanted to try, but once you’ve had some success then you set your price. The way I look at it when people ask me how much is the PhantomFocus or what a mixroom is going to cost, if they think it’s high then they are not my client. Simple as that. You want people who get you. I’ve been really lucky to have great clients.

Q - Share a favorite hardware tool for the studio
A- 
PhantomFocus System

Q -Share a favorite software tool for the studio
A-
 I think again the room mode calculator and the null positioning ensemble.

“Set your tweeters at ear height” - Carl Tatz

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Q -Favorite Book?
A-
 Master Handbook of Acoustics by Alston Everest. For more advanced would be Sound Reproduction by Floyd Tool who’s one of my mentors and associates now. He basically invented small room acoustics.

Q -Share with us a tip for the business side of the recording studio

A Linkedin. I’m told I’m in the 1% of linkedin. I suppose it depends on what you’re doing, but if you want to create a mailing list that’s a great way to do it.

“You don’t tune a room you tune the monitors” - Carl Tatz

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Q - What is the single most important thing a listener can do to become a rockstar of the recording studio?

A Choose records you admire and try to emulate them. Above all just do it. Record anything to work on your chops.

Contact: 
Carltatzdesign.com
shop.carltatzdesign.com

Big Thanks to Merissa Marx for this week's episode!!

RSR049 – Steve Walsh – Producing In Prague

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RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

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

RSR049 - Steve Walsh - Producing in Prague

My guest today is Steve Walsh, an award winning songwriter, engineer, and executive producer of BANG Europe. Steve has been writing and recording for over three decades and has scored music for countless commercials, film, and TV receiving awards from Lions, Clios, AICP, D&AD and even a Czech, Anděl award.


A Berklee College of Music graduate, Steve was born in Boston and has lived in NYC, Nashville and now, Prague, Czechoslovakia with his family, where Steve says he is reminded daily that speaking Czech is infinitely more difficult than making a living as a musician.


He continues to play guitar, record, and tour with his own band. And his latest album, "Daily Specials", was released on the acclaimed Czech label, Animal Music.

When back in NYC he regularly performs with The Brooklyn Boogaloo Blowout along with Grammy-nominated bassist/ composer, Viktor Krauss.


Steve’s song and production credits include creating the #1 song in Denmark, a "Top 10" in the UK, and a "Top 20” in the US. And more recently his song, “Stars In My Eyes” was released on legendary singer, Judy Collins’ 2015 all-star duet release, Strangers Again.


Production/ writing / engineering credits include, Erasure, One Republic, Fil Eisler, O`Shea, Anna K featuring REEF and Spotify’s SxSW concert series.

I think the biggest lesson I learned in Nashville is...

Music is Made Best by Committee

Always get someone who’s going to do that particular part better than you and collaborate with those people.

Steve Walsh

Working in TV and Film 

I got a job through a friend of mine composing and helping him at a music company in New York. Learning how to work in the commercial and television music world really gets your ProTools and studio chops together so fast because the workflow is very different from a recording studio in the sense that everything just moves so quickly. Sometimes you’re working on stuff you’re passionately involved in and sometimes maybe less passionately involved in, but sometimes that’s the ideal place to get your skills together because you can really focus on learning the tools. 

Why is Music Better by Committee?

When I was in NYC it was so often that we’d have teams of rhythm sections much like the way we would have in Nashville except it was less common to be playing together in a studio in New York then it is in Nashville even to this day. So often you’d be working with a songwriter or artist and making contributions to their music, and then you’d get to the recording studio and it would be an overdub situation, one at a time. The truth is still to this day in Nashville there are more groups of human beings playing the same song at the same time than anywhere else on planet earth. You can waste so much time when you’re doing everything by yourself or your micromanaging other people then if you just get everyone together and start playing.

What Do You Think about Mixing or Producing by Committee?

I think mixing is a little different. Once you get to the mixing stage, if you’re together in the room and there’s a common vision for what you’re trying to do and people are relatively self aware of what the actual goal is, maybe there are better odds of it being a good experience.

I think the real trick we’re all faced with is how do you make something sound like a record? The truth is this starts at the beginning of the production process, you need to figure out what the scope of the project is going to be and how to best get there in order to make it sound and have the experience feel you want it to feel. The truth is mixing starts at the very first meeting between a producer and the artist and slowly focusing the whole process. It’s trying to make it feel just on the edge of being a little out of reach, but not pushing too far where someone starts to become stressed

Making Records in Prague

It’s interesting making records here. There is an incredible group of musicians here. Now Prague is famous for film recording with orchestras, there’s lots of great studios for that. Classically before world war II, the Prague film industry was very big and sometimes you hear people refer to Prague as a small Paris and before the war it very well was! There were so many famous painters, poets, critical thinkers, and musicians, probably the most famous Czech composer is Dvorjak. There was a thriving film business in the 30s and 40s which lead to really, really great orchestras and recording music for film which was reinvigorated in the 90s and because it was less expensive to record an orchestra than maybe in LA or London a lot of projects started to come to the Czech Republic. Now the Czech Republic and Slovakia are divided and people are very proud of this fact. But basically there’s three or four great studios here and there’s three or four great orchestras that can make up various sized studio groups and on a daily basis there are all sorts of international film orchestral projects going on here.

The music scene has become a little more homogenized unfortunately, but the thing that is really interesting to me is the passion people have with their bands. To have a band, especially if you’re singing in Czech or Slovak, there are some large bands that make careers, but it’s definitely not like if you were a European based band playing all over Europe. The thing that's most fascinating to me is when I first came here, I had a buddy who introduced me to his buddies and these guys love everything British and american classic rock n roll. They revered it so much and it was so difficult for them to get access to it before the revolution, that people here build the most incredible instruments or do the most incredible repair work and they know everything vintage Fender and Gibson instruments and amps. So for instance, my vintage tube amps that I brought over here from the states are playing as well if not better then when I had them in the states because the guys that worked on them revered them so much! They’ve never even seen some of these things, but they’d pull out their schematic that they’ve got on the black market in the 80s and they know everything about it and say, “I can’t believe I’m seeing one of these!” Back in the day they were so hopped up about finding pallets of photocopiers to smash to take out the chips to build tubescreamer because they’be never seen one, but heard it through a random Stevie Ray Vaughan album or whatever.

“Bluegrass is very, very popular [in Prague]” - Steve Walsh

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Stereo Bus Mix Tips

Before I even go to bus I try to have groups before the mix bus to simplify it. So maybe having all my drums to a pair, sending all my music to a bus, and sending all my vocals to a bus. That way I can control them independently from one another, especially with compressors the vocals won’t affect the whole track. Right now I’m at a point where I’m playing around with different things, but generally I’ll have an EQ and a compressor. Now that the delay compensation has gotten so good in ProTools, I’m also able to print stems that as closely as possible recombine the actual mix because the archiving of projects is becoming essential. What I suggest to people, especially composers. If you don’t do this it’s a wasted opportunity. When you finish anything, print the stems. I print each instrument with effects plus the mix and I create a new session which I import these things back in: markers, tempo, any pertinent information. I also always keep any midi tracks because you can always go back in and edit the midi. Anyone can go in and create a new version because you spent that extra time at the end to archive the track and as artists our work is our only asset we have.

“Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want” - Steve Walsh

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Jam Session 

Q- What was holding you back at the start?
A -I was lucky to get into this when computers were taking off. As soon as I saw the Digi001 I got excited because I really wanted to get into recording, but things like mixing boards and doing sessions on adats, or recording in a studio on a tape machine really freaked me out! Even today people ask me to engineer something and I get butterflies. I get so nervous with these things because I like how easy it is to use ProTools.

“Don’t overcommit” - Steve Walsh

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Q- What was some of the best advice you got early on?
A -I was really lucky to study with an amazing jazz improvisation teacher in New England, Charlie Banacos. Charlie used to say, “It can either take ten minutes or ten years.” And I think what he meant by that is it’s up to you. If you want to learn about something do the work and get involved, don’t wait.

Q- Share with us a recording tip, hack, or secret sauce.
A -Preparation is everything. Know something about who you’re going to be working with. Ask your friends, use google, do whatever you have to do. Know what you’re getting yourself into, know what you’re going to need, have some anticipation of what you're going to do when you try to record. Create an environment where the person you’re working with feels inspired. Make your studio work for you, but also make it work for the people who come there.

“The truth is mixing starts at the very first meeting between a producer and the artist” - Steve Walsh

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Q - Share a favorite hardware tool for the studio
A-
 Moving to another country changes a lot of stuff. I always love having old guitars. I have a great old 68 Paisley Telecaster. The biggest game changer in the last 6 months..in all our control rooms we having standing desks. So basically I got those isoacoustic stands they are making, and then I saw these in a guitar center in Alabama. Just being able to stand and be moving has been great for me.

Q -Share a favorite software tool for the studio
A-
 Learn the tools you have. The best software tools are less is more and knowing what you’re using and getting the most out of it.


“Reaching down to turn a knob or plug something in is different than mousing around" - Steve Walsh

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Q -Share with us a tip for the business side of the recording studio

A - I hate e-mail. I was able to keep my head above water for so long, but I’m dealing with so many people and so many countries. So things I use all the time is BaseCamp, which is a project management software tool. It’s incredible because you can deal with your clients, you can deal with teams, you can put all your files in it, you can link to google docs. It’s been very good to us.

Q -If you had to start over what gear would you need? How would you find people to record? And how would you make ends meet while you got started?

A - As you said, I am the test case! I thought about this question from two angles. But aside from either angle the first thing you have to do is become part of the scene and you have to add some value to the existing scene. So let's look at it from two ways.. If you can afford a simple set up, cool. But the other way to do it is to get yourself in the door, in any door, and the key here is you need to make yourself irreplaceable at whatever it is. Look at studios wherever you are moving to and start working for them for free. Just start showing up trying to help. In Prague there’s a lot of blues and jazz. The first thing I did is started going out and hanging at people’s gigs, supporting the local music, and slowly getting to know people and finding ways you can help them. Within 6 months to a year, you’re going to start to find a place for yourself. As far as making money, it’s always better if it’s on another stream.

“As artists our work is our only asset we have” - Steve Walsh

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Q - What is the single most important thing a listener can do to become a rockstar of the recording studio?

A -You just have to do it. Don’t stop! Just keep that beginner's mind and dedicate yourself to mastery. Watch, learn, ask questions, don’t be a jerk, and keep doing it and doing it and something eventually is bound to happen. 

Contact: 
Facebook.com/stevewalshmusic
Twitter - @SteveWalshMusic

Big Thanks to Merissa Marx for this week's episode!!

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