Producing vs. Engineering

A colleague of mine who runs a great studio in the area recently posted an article about the difference between engineering and producing. And so it got me thinking about the fine line that I walk working with our artists here at the label, and how to navigate the two.

Playing loud yet always protecting the ears, lol.

I learned engineering by producing. Meaning, before anything I am a guitar player and musician. I write songs, ditties and melodies, and dream about how to capture them in the best possible way. I hear things in my imagination that I try to access through my abilities as a musician. Like all musicians, sometimes I am successful and sometimes not so much. But my interest in engineering has always been in service to this quality about myself.

I didn’t start off as an apprentice sweeping the floors of a studio, or working at a company that makes recording consoles. I originally learned about engineering by being recorded. The bands that I was in recorded several albums and I always enjoyed the process very much, probably more so than my bandmates. I would drive engineers a little bit crazy, asking questions and wanting to find out why they were using particular mics, why they set things up in a particular way, and what all of these buttons and lights did. But this was all for the purpose of realizing a sound or a vibe that I had in my head, and in that sense I am a producer: I am passionate about helping people realize the artistic vision they have for their music. It started with my own and I learned over time that I really enjoy doing this in concert with other people.

So I learned how to engineer in order to pursue this passion. As you can imagine, my first recordings were terrible, but I knew they were terrible, and I was motivated to learn how to make them slightly less terrible the next time. It took a lot of trial and error, careful listening, as well as a lot of questions asked of people who were much better at engineering than me. But over time, I got better. I made better recordings from a technical standpoint and I began to make better decisions about how the music should sound in a more general, subjective sense. To this day I am still less adept at explaining to you the mechanics of how a compressor works, and more skilled in applying the effect of a compressor to some aspect of a recording. Don't get me wrong. I'm still a total gear nerd when it comes to guitars and recording. But I don’t really care as much how microphones work as I do about how they sound and why certain microphones sound really good on certain people, and why other ones don’t.

I hope to bring the strengths of my personality, gifting, and experience to the many songs that will be recorded with Rachael and Jarod over the next few months. Above all I love making music and working with talented people, and it's a privilege that I get to do both in my capacity as ‘producer in residence’ at 6:4 Records. Stay tuned!

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