In addition to recording guitar tracks, I’m increasingly working as a producer. To be clear, this is as a traditional record producer rather than a beat-maker! I work with artists to bring their ideas, which are already well and truly alive, into reality, which requires a combination of technical skills and really connecting with the artist personally. I try to understand what they need, which sometimes is what they’re asking for directly, and sometimes something they’re not quite sure of – both are welcome!
The role of producer, for me, is typically a combination of some, if not all of the following:
Vocal recording – this can include, where helpful, encouragement and exploration of how to approach the vocal, which is usually the most important element in a song. I’m a somewhat idiosyncratic singer but after several years of lessons and a couple of years in a chamber choir I have a good understanding of the voice and how it can be used, and how vocal arrangements can be put together. Timing, phrasing, dynamics – the real detail that makes a vocal stand out – are the kinds of things I pay a lot of attention to. I very much want you to do what is most YOU though, and would hope that I’m more of an ally in getting a great vocal than any kind of judge. I can also tweak things like tuning too, and with my nice vocal mics and wonderful big, clean DAV mic preamp, we can start with a lovely, clean vocal recording (and then do whatever we like to it).
Drum programming – I use the latest, high quality drum sampling software, which include multilayered samples for extremely realistic acoustic drums sounds, plus a vast number of electronic percussion loops and samples which can be manipulated in all kinds of ways, for most genres. I usually use a combination of manual programming and great midi loops from real drummers, which generally I’ll edit for increased realism and to better fit the arrangement. It’s time consuming but well worth it for the results. For real drums, read on…
Guitar tracks – of course! My strongest suit as a musician is as a guitarist and when I’m producing a song I’m able to that much further with the arrangements. Rocky electric guitars, super clean pop and funk parts, delicate, intimate or rootsy acoustic guitar tracks, mainstream country/pop/rock – whatever the track needs or whatever you’re looking for, I can provide.
Bass guitar tracks – as mentioned elsewhere I also provide bass guitar tracks. I have my own style and am not about to replace a top funk player, but my basslines are melodic and tasteful, with a strong focus on feel, and tone, whether that’s pushing things along or sitting back.
Keyboard and synth parts – I’m a horrible keyboard player, truly useless. But I’ve become a decent programmer of tasteful, appropriate keyboard, synth and string lines and when a track needs that something extra to make the chorus really take off, I’ve got you. By using pitch to midi and a range of plugins and other processes we can make all kinds of atmospheres and effects. I really think it’s these kinds of touches, along with a really nice vocal, that can lift a track towards being something special.
Outside help – I know a bunch of wonderful musicians and engineers, so if you want something that we can’t do in-house – maybe a certain type of drumming, band recording or piano part – I can help sort that out whether it’s another online session or a day’s drum tracking with a great drummer, on a great kit, in a great room.
Songwriting and arrangement – fear not, I’m not about to push my ideas onto you and add guitar solos to everything! If you have a section that’s not quite working, or you want to chop the song down in size for radio, or it simply needs a tweak or a tempo change, I can help identify those kinds of things and suggest solutions. I am a songwriter too and my input is always available to you. I respect that the creative process can be extremely personal, but I also know that it’s possible to lose our way at times, especially when working alone as many songwriters and artists do. I’m always available to bounce ideas off and explore how songs can be improved.
Mixing and mastering – I’ve had tracks that I’ve mixed playlisted on radio, mastered by top mastering houses in New York, and of course released internationally. I hesitate to call myself a mastering engineer, as it is of course very specialised, but I can get you pretty close to a commercial master. However when it comes to mixing I’ve worked in studios all my life, and I’ve picked up a lot. Examples of the tracks I’ve mixed elsewhere on the site and upon request, and hopefully they speak for themselves. If I’m producing music for you the chances are that I’ll be mixing it as we go somewhat, and a lot of the production elements will actually be contributing to the mix itself, particularly things like vocal processing and guitar arrangements, and how the whole track sits together. If you want to take the tracks elsewhere to mix, I’m of course happy to prepare and provide them. However if you like the sound we’re making, I’m happy to mix. For mastering as I say depends on intended use. If you’d like to spend the money and have it done elsewhere go for it! Otherwise I have a range of tools and good quality studio monitoring to do the kind of job where 99% of people won’t notice the difference. It’s entirely your call, but we’ll get it sounding great.
Creative and emotional support – ok, this needs explaining. Your business is your business – there’s no need at all for you to tell me anything personal about either you or you music. But recording music can be a powerful emotional process at times, and your feelings, if you want to bring them, are welcome here. I find this can come up quite a bit – particularly with recording vocals which can be a demanding process. Singing meaningful lyrics, managing the anxieties and insecurities that many of us have, in what is quite an exposed situation – it’s not always easy. I want always to co-create, with you, an environment in which you can get the best from yourself. If you just want to crack on with it, no problem! But if you’d like a bit of support, I see that as a really important part of my role too.
Our work together can be done both remotely and in my studio in leafy SE London. Obviously vocal tracking will require you coming here, or a session in a studio local to you. In general I prefer to work alone on things like drum programming and guitar/bass/synth tracking, and this is also the most cost effective to you as I can work at my convenience and around other projects and gigs etc. If you want to book time in to come over and work with me I do charge a little more.
Whether you’re looking for guitar tracks and a few tweaks, or want to record an EP or album from scratch, I’ll be happy to hear from you to discuss what I can do to help.