Recording is an art form based on science. It can't be done paint-by-numbers or by formula. Sure you have to have a good grounding in the technical things, but you absolutely must be in touch with the soul of the music. Music is about conveying emotion. A great recording is one that moves people. To me, a successful project is one which accomplishes three things. It maintains artistic integrity, it fulfills the artist's vision, and people responded to it emotionally. I am not here to put my imprint on your music. I'm here to assist you to realize your vision on record; to help you make the record you want to make.
My approach is three fold: make everyone comfortable when recording and capture the best possible sounds with the best equipment. Comfort trumps any technical considerations. Performance is king and musicians need to be comfortable in order to perform at their peak of creativity. They also have to have confidence and trust in the recordist, they need to know that their performance will be captured with integrity.
Comfort. Yes, I know how to get mic pres going and how to plug everything in- but that's not nearly enough. The mood you set in the studio and how you make people feel is much more important. There is simply no reason to make a great recording of a mediocre performance. But it is hard to perform at your best in the studio. You have to be relaxed but you also have to reach within you and deliver something special. If you have a singer who is feeling uptight and/or there is a stifling mood in the studio, that singer is not going to sing very well. But if that same singer is feeling comfortable and knows that the engineer is working with her or him, you're going to get a better performance. You're going to get a more sincere performance.
Many people seem to feel comfortable working with me. I have an important ability: I am able to listen to an artist; understand what they are going through, and what they are trying to get across. I am very aware of that connection and how to help them navigate the dynamics involved. (I guess having a PhD in psychology helps.) I try to bring a level of honesty to my work that an artist can appreciate; candid without being hurtful.
Some engineers take any project offered, they don't care. You come in, pay for your time, and that's it. I have the luxury of not having to accept every project presented to me. I only take on the ones I have a feeling for. Ultimately I want to be involved with music that means something to me and that allows me to help the artist make the kind of record that they want to make. The interaction between me and the musicians that come here to record is very important. It's about getting in touch with their world, being able to communicate with that world and actually caring about the projects I record. Each artist is different, each project is different; it comes down to the dynamics of how people communicate. Not only do I do the techie thing, but I really want to get into what the artist is feeling within the song. I pride myself on putting the artist at ease and blending in, kind of becoming a temporary member of the band. Most of all, I want the artist to shine through- I'm here to capture the magic you are creating. My studio really is a place to aid the creative process.
Competence: These days, any kid with a computer and basic gear can make a recording. But just having a computer, some recording software and a few microphones does not mean you can get great sounds or even usable results. If anything, the affordability of equipment has underscored the necessity for expertise in its use. A lot of people go out and buy some stuff and then find they don't have the expertise that's needed. It looks easier than it is.
Making records is different from making "recordings" or "demos". It requires finding the sweet spot in the music. An experienced engineer can apply all the minute details worked out in past sessions and, without thinking about the process, help create something new and exciting. He or she knows that there is a difference between recording an acoustic guitar for a folk song and for an alt-country song, or between a solo break in a pop song and a solo classical guitar piece. Getting a good sound goes beyond just plugging things in; it's about having the experience and ability to listen to the sound of an instrument and knowing when and where to move the mic, its about knowing whether a take is a good take or not, it's about being able to really hear the balance of a mix and knowing what needs to be done to make it shine, be it an EQ change or an effect or whatever; being able to determine if a vocal take could be done "one more time with feeling". From the engineering side, that's where the magic is in making records.
I have been recording for thirty five years, both in the studio and remotely. Everything from punk-folk to classical guitar. I know how to work quickly without getting in the way- and I understand why that is important. I know my equipment well and I know how to get the best out of it. Check out the sample recordings below.
Gear. You may have noticed that, up to this point, I have said very little about equipment. That's because gear is a distant third; after a great song, and a great performance. Still, it doesn't hurt to have some great mics. And I do have great toys, some of the best stuff ever made, a mix of new and classic vintage: from the ultra modern Yamaha 02R96 digital mixing console (56 channels, fully automated) and Digidesign Pro Tools HD recording to our beautifully maintained 1966 Neumann M269c microphone, 1960 Neumann KM54 (moded by Klaus Hine), 1963 Martin D-18, 1976 Fender USA Precision Bass, and our 1967 Gretsch drum kit. All carefully selected by me to serve the specialist role I have carved out for myself and my studio. You'll find the same gear on the equipment lists of many high priced studios. An extensive list of my gear can be found on the equipment section of this site.
I am always open to having a frank discussion with perspective clients about the kind of record they want to make and how I might be able to help them achieve that vision. Please feel free to drop me an email or give me a call.
|Jen Spool||The Cup||singer/songwriter|
|Palm Wine Boys||Colors and Lovers||palm wine music|
|Tracy Miller||Can't Let Go||Americana/Rock|
|Violet Steed||Mean Green Machine||Rock|
|Peter Schmitz||Glory Train||singer/songwriter||Sourdough Slim||Cowpuncher Blues||cowboy blues|
|David Maloney||One Day More||singer/songwriter|
|Nearly Beloved||Sub. Homesick Blues||Rock|
|The Jonah Kit||Something's Turned in You||Punk Folk|
|Caren Armstrong||Leaving Lincoln County||singer/songwriter|
|Lorin Rowan Trio||Russian River Lullaby||instrumental|
|Ilene Adar||Flying Pigs||singer/songwriter|
|Frank Jaffe||Bodega Dunes||classical guitar|
|Tracy Miller||Lives In Hopes||singer/songwriter|
|Gary Wade McCrea||Chocolate Brown||acoustic blues|
|Lorin Rowan Trio||Eleanor Rigby||instrumental|
|David Maloney||Main Street Blues||"50's" Rock & Roll|
|Eliyahu & Qadim||V'Ahavta||world|
|Sourdough Slim||Lady Be Good||cowjazz|
|Lorin Rowan Trio||Uncertainty||folk/pop|
|Palm Wine Boys||He Said||palm wine music|