Audeze interviews engineer and producer Darren Jones

Darren Jones is a Multi Platinum & MPG award winning engineer, Silver award & Mercury prize winning Mixer, and Producer. His credits include Stormzy’s album Heavy Is The Head (inc Vossi Bop & Own It), tracks on Frank Turner's No 1 album FTHC and the lead single from Skepta’s album Konichiwa.

Darren started his recording career in Liverpool where he worked his way up to head engineer at Elevator Studios. There, he engineered for The Wombats, The Coral, Clinic, Echo & The Bunnymen, Bill Ryder-Jones, David Arnold, Ian McCulloch, The Fall, The Maccabees, The Lightning Seeds, The Last Shadow Puppets, John Leckie, Markus Dravs, Ian Broudie, Stephen Street, Mike Crossey, James Ford and Ross Orton.

He moved to London in 2014 and his recent clients include Stormzy, Frank Turner, Emeli Sande, Celeste, Gabriels, L Devine, Skiifall, Tom Walker, Jack Savoretti, Harry Styles, Kendrick Lamar, Ed O'Brien and Rex Orange County.

As a producer, Darren has contributed to tracks on Emeli Sande’s recent album, along with numerous Indie records of which BIRD's lead single was Lauren Laverne's 'Headphone Moment' on BBC 6 Music.

 

"The LCD-Xs have become one of my essential tools. They’re incredibly detailed and the low end precision makes it easier to get the bottom end working..." - Darren Jones
Here's our chat with Darren:

Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?

I'd say Stormzy's album 'Heavy Is The Head'. The single 'Vossi Bop' has gone double platinum.  'Own It' was the first first number 1 single of this decade and has now gone platinum. The album went to number 1 whilst 'Own It' was still top of the single charts and has since gone Gold.

What's the best place for those new to your work to become familiar with what you do?

Check out my Miloco page and social media for links and info on projects I've worked on.

How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on?

My roles vary between recording engineer, mixer and producer.

How did you get started in music?

I've made music and played instruments since a child due to my musical family. After university I took a course in music production. It was here I started making demos for local bands, one of them got signed and my studio career took off from there.

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

One that comes to mind has to be overthinking a mix, trying to turn something into something it isn’t. Mixing with the worry of what other engineers/peers may think rather than being true to the song.

If I were to go back and mix it again I would make myself accept the song for what it is and run with it.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

I use a lot of reference tracks, especially when working around new and different environments so Metric AB is getting a lot of use at the minute. I love Output Arcade, it's great for finding inspiration and trying out new ideas for extra parts/sounds/vibes on tracks I'm producing or mixing. I use saturation/distortion on most projects at some point; I love the Culture Vulture and Decapitator for this. I've been using the Eventide H910 a lot recently, love using it instead of reverb on some things.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire to get where you are in their own careers?

Keep knocking on doors, say yes to things even if you feel you may not be quite ready (you'll figure it out!). Find interesting ways to meet people (meeting in person is much better than email), be humble.

How long have you been working with headphones, and what inspired you to start including them in your workflow?

I’ve been working with headphones for the past 7 years but have listened to music on them for as long as I can remember. Having a great set of headphones that I know and trust is essential for continuity of sound and confidence in the decisions I make when traveling around around different spaces from untreated hotel rooms to huge pro studios.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work?

The LCD-Xs have become one of my essential tools. They’re incredibly detailed and the low end precision makes it easier to get the bottom end working more than with any other set of headphones I’ve owned. When I take things back into one of my favourite mix rooms, The Red Room, and check on their Augspurger Duo-15s (with the 18” subs), things play back as expected and I can pick up without having to waste time fine tuning the work I’ve already done.

Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?

I’ve mixed some tracks for Frank Turner’s recent album ‘FTHC’ and used them on projects for artists including Celeste, Gabriels and Emeli Sande.