Generations of Producers
Yesterday I took notes at an AES Panel titled Producing Across Generations: New Generations, New Solutions – Making Records for Next to Nothing in the 21st Century. This isn’t a transcript, just a collection of things that I found inspiring. Enjoy.
Moderated by Nick Sansano
Seated Left to Right, older to younger: Frank Filipetti / Bob Power / Craig Street / Hank Shocklee / Carter Matshullut / Jesse Lauter / Kaleb Rollins (K-Quick)
Carter Matshullut: Small labels can serve as taste-makers.
Bob Power: Limited resources often help make a record interesting.
Frank Filipetti: “You have to be scalable to survive.” “You have to temper budget with what got you into this business: the love of music.”
Hank Shocklee: I spent $12k on Fight the Power. “I never had any budget.” We would work 3am – 9am to get cheap rates. Chung King was used to record My Uzi Weighs a Ton. Your records are basically a flyer, a promo item to sell shows. “Whatever you don’t have is what fuels your creativity.” I sampled because I couldn’t afford a drummer. Technology is vital.
Frank Filipetti: Limitations force decisions… Sgt. Peppers sounds like it does because it was recorded on a 4 track. People are not being forced to make decisions so a mixer now must do that. The decisions caused by limitations informed the record. Making decisions early on – having that limitation – forces you to think and plan more about the sound of the record early.
Bob Power: Freshness and creative energy are important. You need to maintain the musician’s enthusiasm. Tedious work during tracking can kill the energy.
Craig Street: “Analog is really nothing but an attitude.” Give yourself limitations. Don’t do so much because you can. Do what the song needs. You’re just trying to capture a great performance.
Frank Filipetti: “Be really gear agnostic.” “There is no piece of gear that you have to have to make a record.” “It’s not the gear.” There isn’t anything you could buy for even $100 that couldn’t be used to make a great record.
Bob Power: You need to participate in artist development.
Frank Filipetti: You’ve got to have a video running during the recording session now too.
Hank Shocklee: “I never wanted to be a record producer. I only do what I like. And what I like, I see it through all the way to the end.”
Bob Power: Developing the broadest skill set that you can helps you survive and ultimately become a better practitioner.
Hank Shocklee: The mastering engineer is the key specialist now.
Kaleb Rollins: How can I do this on my own terms? I setup a recording studio in my dorm room and charged people. Early on we had to pay the bills so we took any session that came along just to pay those bills. When you can find good artists who actually have good money, that’s amazing.
Carter Matshullut: Branding is a big deal for younger producers, to come in and make things “cool.” There is the hustling side of it – studio in the dorm. Be able to answer the question: Why should I hire you?
Bob Power: People pay you for heart and sole. They want you to help them make their dreams come alive. Give more than the artist will give themselves.
Nick Sansano: Younger practitioners seem to have an innate sense of branding.
Carter Matshullut: Royalties are a distant hope in many genres. Sometimes producers take jobs because the project is cool and will get some buzz.
Hank Shocklee: “I’m hearing 808s in Country Records.” I want to do things like Baskin And Robbins where they put interesting things together.
Jesse Lauter: You gotta know if you are right for the job. “I knew I wasn’t the right person for the job.”
Frank Filipetti: I really admire the young people, how they go after everything. I am not a multi-tasker. “But I can concentrate like a motherfucker.” When your eyes are open, too much of your brain is used on visuals. I like to mix with my eyes close. “When someone pours their heart and sole into something there is really something to it.”
For more convention presentations, photos, audio gear, etc. see: 135th AES NY Roundup