Q & A with Head Engineer : Patrick Billard
What are some of your favorite projects that you've done recently? Why were they special?
Well first off, all of my clients and projects are special! But some that have stood out recently include a voiceover session with Deepak Chopra. It was an honor to meet and work with such a inspirational and acclaimed author and spiritual leader. Mastering the latest mixtape from Dougie F was an exciting project as well. Dougie is so talented and clearly his star is on the rise so the opportunity to master his album was one I just couldn't pass up! It came out great and I look forward to working with him in the future. On the independent hip hop scene I've working with up and coming artists Ajaay $tylez, District Yatta, Guru Sol and J$moothe.
What are some of your top "go to" plug ins/gear? How have they been enhancing your overall work?
For gear I'll always love the Avalon pre-amp for it's warmth and clarity and it's smooth compressor for vocal tracking. Of course our Neve 5088 console for doing a true analog mix whenever I get a chance. The Manley Stereo Compressor for mastering really adds warms and punch while controlling dynamics on a mix. For plugins it's constantly changing but some of my favorites lately are the Empirical Labs Fatso which is an amazing compressor to really add color and help sounds standout in a mix. The Waves Vitamin multiband compressor does wonders on vocals and string sounds. The Pultec Pro EQ is my favorite EQ because it's just knobs, there's no visual component so it really makes you focus on using your ears while tweaking a sound and it truly sounds amazing. My old favorite McDSP ML4000 never ceases to be a crowd pleaser when it comes to mastering, it really gives a mix that modern sheen and when used correctly it doesn't make a mix too harsh or suck the dynamics out of the mix.
What advice do you have for new clients coming into the studio for the first time?
Be as prepared as possible. If you are recording vocals, rehearse as much as you can and try to have your lyrics memorized enough to where you don't have to read from your phone or lyric sheet. Some artists can use the phone and get great performances but oftentimes when an artist can close their eyes and really get into the music and let the lyrics flow those are the magic takes! Also, don't be nervous. This is easy for me to say as I don't have to be on that side of the glass but it really is supposed to be a fun experience and there's no need to be nervous. However, recording is an acquired skill so don't expect to get everything down in one take. Be open to taking direction and constructive criticism and don't be hard on yourself if it takes a while to get good takes. This is all normal! Also, don't expect to record a 3 minute song in 3 minutes and then move onto the next one. Getting one good song finished in a 3 hour session is quite typical, don't expect to record an album in one session!