Ted Young- Chief Engineer- 10.02.05
Thanks to Ted Young for making this thing happen. As stated before, if you have any additional questions or need one of his answers clarified, be sure to e-mail him personally at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frank: What is an "engineers" job as opposed to a "producers". Do the two go hand in hand?
Ted: To make it as simple as possible, the producer handles the 'who, what, where and when' of a recording session, the engineer handles the 'how'. A producer will handle the recording budget, will work out the songs with the artist, book the studio dates and time and oversee the recording process to make sure everything gets done. The engineer handles the technical side of making a record, which involves setting up the players to record, miking the instruments properly, and making sure everything gets recorded properly. The engineer is basically a translator from a musical idea in someone's head to an actual recorded sound. The lines often times get blurred, as alot of producers will do their own engineering and mixing, and often times the producer is simply the guy who owns the pro-tools computer, not necessarily the guy who makes the decisions.
Frank:Obviously, every artist has different ambitions and different ideas for their records. Is it hard to get the sound on a record that the band wants, and is it hard to adapt to the varying ideas and goals between artists?
Ted:That's the gamble you have to deal with everytime you walk into a project. It helps to understand the band, the music and the situation the band is in for everything to work. Get to know the band before they walk into the studio; find out what kind of band they are, what their goals are, what their favorite records are and what their influences are before you start to work with them. If it's an established band you have to understand the work they've done in the past. A good producer or a good engineer will be able to adapt to whatever situation they're thrown into. Someone who only works with one type of band or one style of music is going to have trouble down the line. Part of the job is understanding what kind of record it is that you're trying to make.
Frank: Engineers and Producers are known to have good ears, is a good ear something that can be taught, or is it something that a person naturally possesses?
Ted: Some people just have a natural feel for music and just simply know when things sound right, musically or technically. Alot of what goes into developing what people call "a good ear" is repetition and example. I lucked out in my situation because I'll assist for people who have been making records for twenty years, and be able to watch how they work. Then, when I work on my own I can take the knowledge that I've seen and apply it. Alot of it is trial and error. If there's a certain sound you're trying to get you can experiment until you find it, as long as you're not wasting too much of your client's time trying to find it!
Frank: When a band comes into the studio to work with you for the first time, what is the general routine to ensure the album gets completed efficiently and in a timely manner?
Ted: Time is always your enemy in the studio. You have to take into consideration the amount of work to do and the time you have allotted to do it. And, of course, time is money. A good engineer will always try to be one step ahead of everybody, so nobody has to wait for him to get any work done. And you have to make sure everybody is comfortable, because people work alot more efficiently when they're relaxed and they can trust you.
Frank: Do you prefer working with veteran song writers or up-and-comers? What are the main differences?
Ted: The benefit of working with veteran song writers is that they've been making music for years and years, often times their entire life, so you get to see what someone with all that experience brings to the table. Younger writers often times have new and fresh ideas, and they'll purposely try to make things new, exciting and interesting. Sometimes that's great, sometimes it's pretty terrible. Not to say that experienced songwriters always write great songs and younger ones always write bad songs. I try to learn something from every writer that I work with, be it a good skill or an example of what not to do.
Frank: When selecting a producer, what factors should a band take into consideration?
Ted: If I were in a band who was producer-shopping, I would look at records that I like and see who produced those, then try and get their interest. Invite the producer out to see a show, send him a demo, whatever it takes. You should check out the producer's resume, see what other bands they have worked with. They might have worked with one band that you love and fifty that you don't care for. Most importantly you have to get along with the person, you are going to spend many long hours stuck in a room working with them. You should ask bands you know who have worked with the producer what it was like to work with them.
Frank: Any last words, thanks yous, jokes, stories, shout outs, etc.?
Ted: Anyone who decides they want to seriously pursue a career in music, whatever angle it might be, has to understand the commitment that is involved. It really takes over your life. And the one piece of advice I can give is to not get discouraged at any step along the way. It's not always fun, it's not always fulfilling, you will get rejected, people are going to get pissed at you. As long as you try to learn from these experiences and not let it get you down, things will eventually work out.