Tell us about a project
you worked on
that you are especially proud of
What was your role?
Once upon a time,
I went to a Tori Amos concert.
The support act
was a chap
with an acoustic guitar,
who's songs and performance
so totally captivated me.
His name is Yoav.
I remember walking out after the show,
thinking and saying to myself,
'I really have to work with this guy',
but not knowing
how I could ever make that possible.
Ironically, the next day, my phone rang.
It was the head of Yoav's record label
suggesting we work together.
All I can say is,
things work in mysterious ways.
We ended up working together
for several months,
the results of which
are the album Blood Vine.
I am very proud of it,
because Yoav turned out
to be as obsessive an individual as myself.
I think of it as a magical album.
I recorded and mixed.
Yoav and I produced.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm actually indulging
my love of composition
at the moment.
Whenever I get the chance,
I pick up my guitar,
or go to my keyboard,
It's great being able
to slowly build on ideas over time.
Total recall, is so taken for granted
Analog or digital and why?
Both. If budget allows,
analog dynamics and EQ
going into the DAW,
and then digital from there,
and possibly back out to analog
for the mix bus / master stage,
once again, budget allowing.
In all honesty,
digital has come along
leaps and bounds over the years.
The complexity of the productions
we are able to dream up now,
just could not have been achieved
that easily, if at all,
in days gone by.
I am quite happy
doing a production fully digitally,
and have every confidence
that it can compete.
How would you describe your style?
Putting genres aside for the moment,
I would say that my style
is detailed and textured.
I can spend a huge amount of time
on the tiniest of details.
As an example of this detail ...
when it comes to editing vocals,
if it's required,
then I will end up comping
the perfect take together
from the tiniest snippets,
of many many different takes.
I know I am obsessive
about the best possible vocal performance.
What do you bring to a song?
should be an evolving journey
for the listener.
From the first to the last bar,
it should hold their attention.
I feel that I am able
to interpret each artist's vision
for their songs,
and then convey this at an emotional level,
the most engaging mix / production
that I possibly can.
What do you like most about your job?
I like the variety.
Each day is quite different from the last.
I also like the freedom
that self employment affords.
This of course, can be quite scary at times,
but I feel that it's ultimately worth it.
If you were on a desert island
and could take just 5 pieces of gear,
what would they be?
My wife, my cat, my dog,
my acoustic guitar and
my solar powered smartphone ;-)
Tell us about your studio setup.
I have a recording and production /
which is fairly portable.
This is generally setup
in my personal studio space,
or I take it out on the road,
to unique recording locations,
I love being able to get the studio
closer to nature.
I spent the whole of my 20's
in a window-less studio,
so working with fresh air and a view
is quite important to me now.
Luckily modern technology
allows us more opportunities
to get out and about.
I have Quested monitoring
which I have been relying on for 20+ years.
It will be a lifelong relationship.
I would actually say
that I have taken a minimalist approach
to my studio setup.
Less is definitely more.
Especially when it comes to software.
These days, a person could drown
in their software options.
I am pretty ruthless about the software
that I choose to use.
I hire larger studio spaces,
It always depends upon the requirements
and budget of the project / client.
What was your career path?
How long have you been doing this?
I first entered studios in 1987.
I was fresh out of school,
and had just started
my tertiary education in electronics.
I had also just started knocking about
in dodgy alternative bands,
I did some studio installations
and maintenance work,
eventually landing an assisting job
in a 48 track, tape based, multi room recording studio.
This studio actually housed
the exact Harrison 4032 console
that was used to track
Paul Simon's - Graceland album.
So this is the console
I was lucky enough
to learn the ropes on.
I of course started
as cable roller and tea boy,
but quickly became
the studio programmer
armed with an Atari ST
and banks of Synths.
From here I progressed
slowly working my way up the ranks.
Days were filled
recording jingles for TV commercials,
nights and weekends
were filled with album work.
It was definitely a baptism,
by sheer work load.
would you like to work with
I have always dreamed
of working with PJ Harvey.
I love her ability to tell a story
through her songs.
She also comes across as the most genuine
and down to earth person.
I reckon I would thoroughly enjoy
the opportunity to work with her
and her collaborators.
Describe the most common type of work
you do for your clients.
What I tend to do the most,
is full album production.
This is where I see the realisation
of an artist's album,
from song selection,
through to the early
song arrangement decisions,
and then through
recording, mixing and mastering.
I like to be completely hands on at all stages.
The other aspect of audio,
that I am very busy in,
I always bring
my production sensibilities
into each mix that I do.
I love the unique challenges,
that each and every song presents.
As I mentioned elsewhere,
mixing is my happy place.
What's your typical work process?
My typical process,
is more of a non-process.
I like to start
each and every production,
mix or composition
with a blank slate.
I do not use session templates
in any of my DAW software.
Perhaps I'm crazy,
because I could be saving some time.
I find the benefit of this approach,
is that it keeps everything fresh.
I end up going with my gut,
rather than an approach
that worked countless times before.
What's your strongest skill?
It's not really a skill,
more of a personality trait,
but I would have to say
that being incredibly patient with people,
and the whole process of making records,
is probably my strongest skill.
What type of music do you usually work on?
My career has seen me working
on practically every style imaginable.
My speciality however,
is to work predominantly with
the alternative and electronic genres.
I have always been drawn
to the merging worlds,
of organic / real instruments,
and synthetic sounds and atmospherics.
I guess this is why, as a youngster,
I loved Martin Hannett's work
with Joy Division.
In fact, I still love it.
Can you share one music production tip?
I'll share two ...
a) Listen / work at low volumes.
It really helps you to gauge
whether your track is working or not.
If you are getting excited by what you are hearing at low volumes,
then you are on to something.
b) Mono is your friend.
Listen in mono while mixing in stereo.
and can get you results faster.
Keep flipping back to stereo
every now and then
to check your progress.
What other musicians or
music production professionals
The music producer Flood,
and his partner in crime Alan Moulder
have always been an inspiration to me .
In fact I was a fan of their productions
long before I was aware
of their involvement
in the records I was loving.
I guess I was drawn to their sound world.
Other notable heroes
would be Martin Hannett,
Butch Vig and Andy Wallace.