Jon Wright, music producer: working with artists
Following the releases of Liv Austen’s ‘A Moment Of Your Time’, Alexis Gerred’s debut album and Nielsen Reaveley’s ‘Cheer Up’ EP, I’m finding I’m currently doing about as much production work as guitar recording. All have had good receptions and led to approaches from other artists to work with them on their material. Working as a music producer required a very different skill set to recording online guitar sessions, and has also led to some studio hardware upgrades including improved monitoring (in all cases I’m also mixing), broadening the range of microphones I have available to suit a range of voices and sounds, and investing in some outboard hardware ‘character pieces’ to offer creative options way beyond a mic-interface-computer recording.
I also remixed and created radio edits for a vinyl release of two of the tracks from Liv’s album: and I get a mention in Entertainment Focus:
I mention the different skill set as a music producer and one of the big things is working with artist to not only understand their creative vision, but to understand to some degree the person. Getting a really clear picture of what it is that an artist is really looking for, the sound, the approach, where their music might fit into today’s music landscape is something we do together. But something I do alone is try to gain some sort of understanding of the individual, the human being, and how they function. For example a singer might come in with complete confidence and lots of experience, and my job might really just be to hit record. But someone else might really be looking for a lot of input from a music producer and this is where I’m able to make mistakes. If I accept the role of ‘decision maker’ – choosing what approach they should take vocally, how many harmonies to layer up, what kind of vocal sound and effects, where the vocal sits in the mix – there is chance that down the line, sometime, the artist might think ‘that’s not what I wanted’ or even ‘that doesn’t feel like me’. I have no problem guiding an artist as much much as they need, but that’s the important bit: how much do they really need it? Sometimes feel under pressure to do what other think, or even that because I am their ‘record producer’ that I know best. Absolutely there are areas I can offer my experience and opinion on – and sometime people need pushing or cajoling into giving their best performance. But everyone is different and when I talk about evaluating the individual it’s really about taking care not to overlook what the shy singer might have to have, what the punky songwriter might really be looking for from the mix, and that the amazing singer might also have beautiful harmony ideas – but that they hesitate to offer them.
In the end it’s about getting a record that the artist is excited, and one that represents where they are right now. My preferences come into it at every turn, and that’s part of it, but I can also learn from following paths which might seem to me to be leading nowhere. The analogy of a path is appropriate; every recording, even just one song, is a journey that we are on together, and if we arrive at a point where we are both excited with what we have, well that seems to me to be an ideal starting place for other people – music fans – to also get excited.
For more information about working with Jon on your music email firstname.lastname@example.org