G:Hi Phil. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and the work you do?
P:Hey George! Yes sure. I’m a producer / writer. I work mainly with publishing companies on music for TV / Film. I also work with artists and bands on the commercial music scene.
G:When it comes to recording, how much time do you spend experimenting in the studio? Do you have set methods that you tend to reuse?
P:I do love to experiment when it comes to new sounds and I think it’s really important to add something that sets it apart from other records. I spend a while on this! I do use recording techniques that are always a good starting point that you can then change for each song. I find myself experimenting with reamping for example- just sending stuff out to an amp with some pedals gets things away from being TOO clean and kind of grittys stuff up. I do this on anything from Vocals to Synths really.
G:Are there any particular producers or artists that are a big influence on the way you produce music? What is it about their style that you find appealing?
P:Yes definitely, I think listening to other peoples work is a great way to get inspired when starting a mix for example. I’m a big fan of Cenzo Townshend’s work, his mixes are great and always shape the songs he’s working on, they just work… and he’s not afraid to try something different.
G:When you are producing do you try to put your own stamp on the production style?
P:I think there’s a time and a place for that, sometimes the song just needs to be a certain way and by trying to add a ‘stamp’ it could ruin the emotion or feel of the track. However I think a subtle stamp does come with every production that people work on as it’s the gear they’re using in a certain way or mix techniques that they like to do in a certain way.
G:What are some albums or productions that you consider to have a great sound? Do you use those as reference tracks?
P:I love The 1975’s album, the songs are great, Mike Crossey did a great job with producing those. I like to reference that sonically if I’m working on something in a similar genre. Also I really like some stuff that’s more electronic like Broods, ‘Bridges’ sounds great. But yes, referencing is important to me, just to know that I’m on track and not headed in a totally wrong way for the genre.
G:Many producers I’ve spoken to say they suffer from an obsession with hindsight. When they discover a new technique they always wish that they had known it in the past when making previous productions. If you could go back and give a piece of advice to your younger self about mixing or recording what would it be?
P:It would probably be ‘don’t try to make everything really loud’, or ‘think about mono’. I think they are main things that people overlook at the start.
G:It’s clear you’ve produced many different styles of music. Do you have a favourite genre you like to work with?
P:Not really, I like all styles… I think that I enjoy working on something if the song is good, that always comes first.
G:I noticed you have also done a lot of work for T.V. and adverts. How is that different to producing music with artists?
P:I think with music for TV its always governed by what is happening in the video… so you could have the music really sparse but as long as it works with the video then I don’t think it matters. I feel like there’s SO much more freedom as you don’t have ‘artist image’ to think about either.
G:Do you consider yourself a ‘gearhead’? If you had to choose one piece of outboard equipment that you’ve used to be your favourite, what would it be and why? Can you give us an example of how you might use it?
P:I think I have enough gear for what I need it for so I’d say no, but it’s SO easy to convince yourself that you need to buy something else when you really don’t. Out of the gear I have I’d have to say the Avalon 737 – it’s a channel strip, so its got a compressor section, EQ and Pre. Its very versatile, I have used it in the past on everything from vocals, kicks, snares, guitars…
G:Do you have any thoughts on the future of the recording industry? What things do you think we can expect to change?
P:I think the digital world will just keep growing and growing! There’s already new emulation software by the likes of Slate Digital and UAD that are just mind bogglingly good that are making the use of outboard gear redundant really. I think there will always be a place for analogue gear but it’ll slowly get pushed aside. In terms of the commercial music side… I hope companies like Spotify can sort out payments with artists and hopefully get people paying for music again!
G:Thanks for taking the time Phil!
P:Thanks for having me George.