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Author Topic: Your approach to producing....  (Read 10030 times)

Thomas Lester

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Your approach to producing....
« on: January 05, 2005, 11:53:39 am »

Sorry for the crosspost.  I posted this in the Indie forum to get the "raw" side of things...  but I'd like to here the voice of those of you that do a little more of the larger budget or polished/pop thing as well.

Hi all -

This board is R/E/P (Recording, engineering, and PRODUCTION), yet we rarely talk about production (i.e. producing music). We spend way more time talking about gear are arguing that tube "A" sound better than tube "B". So how about it??? Let's talk about the creating music in this thread.

I'm new to producing... and while I've engineered for some greats (i.e. Tony Visconti, Bryce Goggin, Don Flemming, Mike Shipley, etc...), I have a lot to learn. I'm curious as to how the producers in this forum approach producing music.

For example... you have a band that has some good songs, but you need to help them find their "sound" and work out their songs.

Or... you have a singer and you've found the right songs for him/her, but they are bare bone demos... what's your approach to getting the material ready for recording, into the recording process, and out to be pressed?

Thanks....

-Tom

Extreme Mixing

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Re: Your approach to producing....
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2005, 12:32:27 pm »

The situations that you have mentioned above seem to call for a musician.  Producing is more about a creative vision for the music than the ability to document it by recording.  Can you help the band with the arrangements?  Or constructively critique the lyrics?  Do you play an instrument or make loops that can make the project better?

In the old days, producers were the guys who made phone calls and ran the business side of the show.  They knew who to call and which rooms to book.  More and more, producers are the real artists.  They play all the parts and write the songs.  They hire the musicians and own their own studio.  Engineers are for tracking live performances and for mixing.  Weeks can go by with no engineer in the house.  In fact, after a producer has owned his own set up for a few years, they know how to make all of the lights blink pretty well.

Steve

Lee Flier

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Re: Your approach to producing....
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2005, 12:45:37 pm »

I think the guy to ask about this is Steve Albini.  Twisted Evil Smile

Thomas Lester

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Re: Your approach to producing....
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2005, 09:36:16 pm »

Lee Flier wrote on Wed, 05 January 2005 12:45

I think the guy to ask about this is Steve Albini.  Twisted Evil Smile


Laughing

brianbrick

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Re: Your approach to producing....
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2005, 12:03:55 am »

Producing starts with listening to the organic thing that makes the band/artist awesome.  Grabbin' a little piece of the magic and sticking it on "Tape" is the goal.  Then Hopefully everyone is happy.  A couple of points to watch out for.  Have the band play live together full throttle before figuring out the best way to "snag' it, better yet have mics up and go for itimmediately .  Almost 10 out of 10 times you will be thinking you recorded a classic.

Good luck.
Brian
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PP

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Re: Your approach to producing....
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2005, 11:04:11 am »

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Extreme Mixing

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Re: Your approach to producing....
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2005, 11:58:02 am »

Peter,

That Prawn recipe looks great!  You may need to consult the "Curve" on that one.  I'd be happy to serve on the panel to select the winner.

Steve

ted nightshade

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Re: Your approach to producing....
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2005, 12:17:06 pm »

Great stuff, Peter! You give an idea of what it is we can provide- an opportunity to soar away from the crushing restraints of everyday life. A respite from logistics, numbers, and paperwork and all that. The sense of infinite possibility. When I find that on a record, I play it again and again and again.

brianbrick wrote on Wed, 05 January 2005 21:03

Producing starts with listening to the organic thing that makes the band/artist awesome.  Grabbin' a little piece of the magic and sticking it on "Tape" is the goal.


This is totally on the money. The magic what we need to get recorded.
Quote:


Then everybody is happy


Except the artist or musician who is upset because they revealed more of themselves, more of their dreams and their failures and weaknesses, than they are comfortable with people hearing. In other words, they fucked up. As we know sometimes the fuckups are the best part- a note sung uniquely off pitch in a way that is really microtonal, and tells the story better than a note that's in our usual tempered scale. One of ringo's wonderfully human drum fills. Things like that.

It's taken me years of listening to myself fuck up over and over again to be able to really enthuse and believe in a wonderful fuckup that's really a crack in the veneer where soul shows through. One hint- if things could never come together quite that way ever again, you may have something there.

This is what intimate really is- seeing the things you're only seeing because you're close to an unguarded person, or a person whose guard has slipped temporarily. Things we usually are embarassed about and try to hide. And if the person trusts you with these revelations, that's a special kind of intimacy.

My own approach to production is extremely limited and extremely effective with a very few folks that I have a unique artistic and personal resonance with. Before I ask them to bleed, I bleed for them. I perform for them, or with them, opening myself wide bleeding up like I want them to feel free to do.

There's something about a session where every person present is living the music. This is why I have repeatedly broken the "rule" that a person will put in better performances if they are not doing the recording, just the performing. Having someone there who is not deeply and personally involved in the realtime flow of the music is a total liability.

The engineer of old, riding the fader during tracking and breathing with the singer, is deeply involved in the realtime flow. The engineer of today, standing back and waiting to press stop while making sure everything's getting recorded and no overs, is not involved in the realtime flow. Not necessarily- I'm open to exceptions, and encourage everyone to become one! It sucks to be living the music while people are disconnected from it in the control room. To look up during a take and see the engineers chatting while you are performing, sucks.

I worked with an engineer who would sit in front of the band on the tracking room floor, completely swept up in the music. We would know we had a good take when we looked up after the performance and he was crying! He cried a lot. He also performed bit percussion parts on some takes, live with the rest of the performance. I was producing the engineer's musical performance! This guy knew drum tuning too, and was up there pushing his knee into the calfskin bass drum heads. Some of those were incredible unrepeatable performances. Nothing professional about it!


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Ted Nightshade aka Cowan

There's a sex industry too.
Or maybe you prefer home cookin'?

PP

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Re: Your approach to producing....
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2005, 01:31:07 pm »

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Gary Flanigan

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Re: Your approach to producing....
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2005, 02:38:15 pm »

I seem to recall Mr. Albini saying somewhere that he expects the bands he records to pretty much have their thing together when they come to the studio, and not expect him to remake their performance.  

He may only have been speaking of someone's guitar sound, indicating that player's should have their equipment and sound together when they arrive.

In any event, my understanding of his approach is that he tries to document the sound of the bands he is recording.  Daniel Lanois he is not.

This is only my impresssion.  Obviously I do not speak for him, and he is quite capable of doing that himself.
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Thomas Lester

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Re: Your approach to producing....
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2005, 03:27:08 pm »

Thanks Ted...  that was a great post.  You are dead on about "living the music".  I've been in those session where everyone was "in it".  It seems magical.  And the end result comes out magical as well.

wwittman

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Re: Your approach to producing....
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2005, 09:04:22 pm »

Albini says he thinks producers are useless if not harmful and he "wishes" they'd just go away.

Needless to say , this is not my point of view, but a cool indie pose, nonetheless.

A good producer does what the band/artiste needs.
If the band needs something you can't offer, you locate and hire the person that fills that gap.

So I might engineer, I might not. I might co-write, or not. I might sing or play on the record, I might arrange, or not.

At the very least, I am going to be the one who keeps the big picture in mind and who says "that's the one" or "I think you can get that better".

Ultimately it's about getting into the artiste's head and helping to facilitate the artiste's vision.
And having been on both sides of the glass, I think it's an enourmous help to have someone you trust in your corner.
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William Wittman
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(Cyndi Lauper, Joan Osborne, The Fixx, The Outfield, Hooters...)

electrical

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Re: Your approach to producing....
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2005, 09:44:25 pm »

Gary Flanigan wrote on Thu, 06 January 2005 14:38

I seem to recall Mr. Albini saying somewhere that he expects the bands he records to pretty much have their thing together when they come to the studio, and not expect him to remake their performance.


While it is a good idea for a band to have its shit together, I have been to too many rodeos to "expect" it. What the band can expect is to be allowed pretty free reign regarding what they want to do in the studio. If they want to play a song in pieces and edit it together, then that's what we do.

Quote:

In any event, my understanding of his approach is that he tries to document the sound of the bands he is recording.

I have never used the term "document," but other people do when talking about the records I work on. Perhaps they cannot understand the great expanse of territory between a passive presser-of-the-record-button and a typical producer.

I have been asked to make productions of any conceivable level of complexity, and I do it gladly. I am asked to do it by the band, rather than someone outside the band imposing these choices on the band, and that is all the difference in the world.

Quote:

Daniel Lanois he is not.

I bet we are both glad that isn't true. Him for bank balance, me for peace of mind.

Quote:

Obviously I do not speak for him, and he is quite capable of doing that himself.

Hey! You're right.
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best,

steve albini
Electrical Audio
sa at electrical dot com
www.electrical.com

electrical

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Re: Your approach to producing....
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2005, 09:52:36 pm »

wwittman wrote on Fri, 07 January 2005 21:04

...a cool indie pose...

What you call a pose is the demarcation between respecting the sovereignty of a band as an artistic and social unit and usurping authority over them. You may think this is a benign dictatorship, even a benevolent one, but I object to the power structure and all it implies, regardless of the producer's intentions.

Pose, my dick.

best,

steve albini
Electrical Audio
sa at electrical dot com
www.electrical.com
(not Cyndi Lauper, not Joan Osborne, not The Fixx, not The Outfield, not Hooters...)
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best,

steve albini
Electrical Audio
sa at electrical dot com
www.electrical.com

Curve Dominant

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Re: Your approach to producing....
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2005, 02:58:49 am »

Quote:

posted by
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