I started recording at the age of 14. Back then my best friend was the Fostex X12 4-track cassette recorder, but before long I began working in Protools, Logic, Digital Performer, and Sonar. I was even so lucky as to have been essentially gifted a copy of Waves Platinum in junior year of high-school, so some of those earlier recordings have really held up over time!
In the decade plus since I started out as an engineer and producer, I’ve worked on projects ranging from navel-gazing acoustic guitar music to polka-metal (that may sound like an exaggeration, but I can assure you it is not). I’ve recorded crammed into closet-like bedrooms and in humongous and lavishly outfitted live rooms, and every session has been another opportunity to put my expertise to good use and learn a lot more about the art of creating an emotionally resonant and beautiful sounding recording.
Producing a record can mean so many different things in the era of the bedroom record. When Jason P. Woodbury and I worked together on his song, “Defending Her Honor”, we drew on the vast overlap in our personal record collections to create a warm and intimate vibe. He had just written the song a few days before and was still feeling it out, so I worked with him to find the perfect key to utilize both his chest and falsetto voice effortlessly. After that, I just made sure to stay out of his way, adding just a touch of tambourine and the reverse guitar solo at the end. The whole thing couldn’t have taken more than a 4 hours, but I’m still in love with that recording close to 5 years later.
Working with Keith Cooper was a similar experience, but a little more hands on. Keith and I worked in 2-4 hour sessions over the course of a few months to produce his debut album, Utopia’s Expatriate. Keith would come to my studio, play whichever song we were working on that day for me just once, then I’d say, “Okay, we’re going to play the song like this. Let’s go!”. Everything was done off the cuff and with a great deal of trust in our instincts. The album sounds raw and fresh and fun, a great success for Keith’s first foray as a solo-artist. The final mixes were mastered by NYC’s Joe Lambert.
Both of those projects were extremely collaborative, allowing the artist and I to discover the character of the material together. When I worked with the Brooklyn band Honey Wild, the process was very different. Their lead singer and main songwriter, Joe, had very specific ideas about how their record should sound, and my job was to bring his vision to fruition. Over the course of one session at the Linen Factory studio in Greenpoint and 5 or 6 more at my home studio, we carved their tracks into the sound sculptures that Joe had dreamt of. It was a joy to watch his vision come into focus, a process that not only relied on my in-depth knowledge of digital audio production, but also required a great deal of learning and growing on my behalf. The final mixes were mastered by Paul Salt of Salt Mastering.
I’m always on the hunt for the next band whose material rings my bell, inspires me to go the extra mile, and teaches me something new about making records.