October 07, 2023
There are so many great moments working on records with (to name a few) Stevie Nicks, Need To Breathe, Tom Petty, Fiona Apple, Ice Cube, Dave Matthews etc... So many great talents & personalities. Watching these artists perform & work their magic is very inspiring which in turn brings your own game up. Getting calls from top musicians & artists to work with them is the biggest compliment of them all. Then there’s the bonus of traveling to great cities like Tokyo, NY, London & Nashville for work, just awesome.
My main role these days is mixing. I record when called but I’m mixing more because more are recording the music themselves. When I am recording I’m asked to give advice or produce more because of my experience... but yeah mixing is what I do most & love doing.
I started in the early 80’s when punk, new wave & rock ruled the airwaves. I grew up with rock, blues, country western & good old pop songs playing thru the house when I was a kid. When In college I would skip class to watch bands play near the lunch room. Once I moved to LA, I found recording studios & got a job as a runner which quickly turned into engineering & mixing records. I’ve always liked a lot of styles of music. My core likes goes back to great songs which still rings true today. It all starts with the song.
When I first saw music being recorded in a studio & realizing I could play a role in that. I’ve always had interests in manipulating sounds & recording. So it was a perfect fit when I saw what the engineers were doing. In the early days I would sit & watch & ask questions when I was allowed, then learned by trial & error. One great moment was while I was mixing a song at the Sound Factory Studios & received a phone call from Stevie Nicks' assistant asking what do they need to do to get me to come record Stevie’s vocals. That was an amazing moment.
Learning to get sounds & mix songs, & making all the parts work together is a long process to be good at it. And now we have new obstacles like mixing at home verses a studio control room made for sound. Also working in unfamiliar studios & learning how to get the best sounds can be challenging. It can be frustrating when you hear something in your head then trying to make it a reality. After being through it so many times I now have a pretty good handle on it. I could say I have a bigger toolbox.
Yeah I love classic gear like 1176’s, LA2A’s, Fairchilds, API, Neve, SSL eq’s etc... Always looking for the odd gear to alter the sound & help create what I’m looking for. I used to be into pedals, odd mics & gear for a long time & experimenting with sounds. It was fun hunting down rare cheap gear. I still do that some but now I’m more in the box than before. There are some amazing tools in recording DAWs.
Hmm, well I’ve always got things to say... Learn to listen to the song & learn what needs to make the song better. Then learn the gear & all, but it always comes down to the song. Do the song justice. One very important part that has been lost is: collaborate with people.
Few can do it all alone. Collaboration is the best & most rewarding part.
Headphones have been important when tracking a band or individual parts like vocals, guitars etc... If the musician can have a great mix/vibe in their headphones it helps them perform better. Since mixing at home or on the road, headphones have become crucial for me. It’s another great place to hear what’s going on sonically in a mix I’m working on. Pinpointing a sound or checking the reverb balance, the right headphones can help tremendously.
I can’t say enough about how lucky I am to be doing what I do. I was in the biz at a great time. I saw it become what it is now– the good & the bad. Going from analog to digital, from big studios to home/project studios. All are great when used for what they’re best at. I would still encourage anyone wanting to get into music & recording if that is your passion.
I’ve been needing good headphone for some time now & not sure why I took so long to get them. The LCD-Xs have helped so much with my low end & effects. Like I mentioned in some of the questions here, I can hear reverb trails better & general effects I’m adding to a mix. Having to mix in places where the sonics are not the best, the Audeze have come to the rescue. I’ve struggled for some time getting the mixes right. Now I’m getting the mix where it needs to be much faster with LCD-Xs. The detail is awesome & they help me close off the world around me.
Recently I’ve been mixing a lot of independent artists & bands. A few commercials & a movie short. The bulk of what I’m doing is mixing. I love it!