Thursday, September 29, 2016

All Star Album Production

AES 2016: All Star Album Production

Moderator:
Terri Winston, Women's Audio Mission - San Francisco, CA, USA
Panelists:
Marcella Araica, Recording & Mix engineer (Britney Spears, Madonna, Pink) - Miami, FL, USA; Los Angeles, CA, USA
Laura Escudé, Alluxe/Electronic Creatives - Los Angeles, CA, USA
Piper Payne, Coast Mastering - San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Laura Sisk, Recording Engineer - Los Angeles, CA, USA

Laura Escudé: (Alluxe)  (Kanye West, Jay-Z, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Herbie Hancock) Produces beats, music programming.
Laura Sisk: (Taylor Swift, Shakira) Recording Engineer and vocal producer.
Marcella Araica (Grammy-winning recording and mixing engineer for Beyoncé, Pink) Owner of Dream Asylum studio.
Piper Payne: Mastering Engineer (Beautiful Machines, Madame Ghandi, Psychic Twin, Sioux City Kid, Fritz Montana) in Berklee, CA.


Q: What environment do you work in?
Laura S: Everything is in the box because we move around so much. One project lasts only for a week. At a commercial studio you are limited by the number of inputs. So it’s important to have everything ready to go. Being able to record ANYTHING at the very moment someone has an idea is important. So the studio she set up for Jack Atinoff was important to have the extra gear ready to go.
Laura E: Lot of hotel rooms and rehearsal spaces. She sets up her rig wherever she is - she doesn’t have a dedicated space. She has had to pare down the amount of gear she takes - as she traveled to Europe she found it was difficult to get through the airport. A lot of times it will be a hotel room with KRK speakers. She uses Ableton Live for everything; she has a lot of controllers: Push, Ohm, Wii, which can all translate to a live show. MOTU interfaces, a switcher, UA Apollos.
Q: What are your favorite tools, gear and workflows?
A: Marcella: SSL 9000J is her go-to piece of gear (she has two actually). C01B compressor is a must for vocals; sometimes guitar and bass. Neve 33 609 stereo compressor. She calls herself a young dinosaur because she has an old school mentality about using analog: but she likes Waves and UAD plug ins. UAD 660, LA3A (there’s so many) Waves H-EQ and signature line.
Piper: Long Live Analog! Everything she has is outboard analog real time. RX, Renovator, her DAW is Sequoia; Radar and ultra nyquist convertors. Tape machine for when client demands or when a master comes in on tape. Vinyl production. Transfer: maselec mTC1. Gota brand new Manley Slam; GL EQ and the new SPL Iron. Speakers FIkaskel Utopia (a really resolute tweeter) VTL 450 fast tube amplifiers to help counteract brightness.
Laura S: U47 with 1073 CL1B is her favorite vocal chain. Switch up compressor for background vocals. The more you layer stuff it sounds phasey. She wants to minimize “the choir effect” Blackface 776. Melodyne (loves time stretching) and AutoTune. Contraband pedal by walrus pedal: has an extreme limiter the limiter shuts down fast and opens up giving a tremolo effect.
Laura E: Uses Autotune/Melodyne. Sometimes used as an effect. Wants a plug-in for Live and agrees about the time stretching. If it sounds too perfect she plays around with making stuff sound a little out of tune.

Q: How did you get established?
A: Marcella: before social media she worked very hard and built her reputation. She never said no; she made sacrifices by missing holidays with family. She owned up to her mistakes. Over time she started taking on new clients.
Piper: You have to take the opportunities when they are given to you. Go to AES and network. Be prepared to work your butt off. (Follow up Q: How do you know which opportunities?) Get a mentor!
Laura S: John Hill was my mentor; didn’t go freelance until she had a lot of clients.
Piper: Your mentor will listen to your mixes that no one else will. You also need to be feerless in getting feedback.


Terri: A rare opportunity: a client needed someone to interview Mary J Blige and Hillary Clinton and contacted WAM.


Laura S: She got a call to do a record in Logic. And she took it on although she never worked in Logic before. So she spent a week getting Logic under her belt.
Laura E: She was a violin player and then she fell in love with electronic music. Someone asked her to teach a Pro Tools class, so she taught herself Pro Tools. She also did tech support at M-Audio
Marcella: She is about energy  - she needs cool people in the room with her.
Piper: Was told she was too social to be a mastering engineer!


Q (from the audience): Do artists have a preference of tools?
A: Laura S: Some artists have a DAW they prefer.
Marcella: Some artists have a specific vocal chain, some have no idea what the engineer is doing. Most artists prefer a specific mic they prefer.


Q (from the audience): Production / mixing / mastering: how do you know when you’re done?
A: Deadlines.
It’s hard to have an end point.
Piper: It’s like over-biasing: when you go over and then go back … you know you’re done when you have even frequencies and no over compression.


Q (from the audience): How do you make your own (signature) sound?
Marcella: Avoid presets
Piper: There are so many people who “put their sound on the artist”.
Laura Sisk: Tries to be invisible. But tuning is not binary (some people say it’s either IN tune or OUT of tune.) But sometimes making tuning choices can make something seem uplifted (slightly sharp) or sad (slightly flat) - it can make the vocal track more compelling.


Q (from the audience): Multiband vs multistage compression. Choose multistage compression. Choose dynamic eq not a multiband compressor.


IN CONCLUSION:

This is a fantastic panel and if you want to know more you should join the AES to have access to conference recordings and more!

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