Jamie & Eli on Analog to Digital Production

Friday September 27, 2019 / New & News

In this interview with SoundSuite's music production team, Jamie Clarkston-Collins and Eli Schurder, they talk about Jamie's time working in Tony Bongiovi's famed Power Station studio in New York City, the transition from analog music production to digital, and the key to using digital successfully today.

Jamie: I got to work with some fantastic artists, great writers, and in the '90s I got the experience of working in the Power Station with a lot of these artists. It had the most amazing equipment; the mixing desk that they had looked like it was from the 1950s, a wooden, oak kind of desk and it just sounded amazing.

I've always thought that digital as the way to go, but then I compared it to the analog recordings that I did there and did myself, and the analog recordings have a lot more warmth. Digital took that away, and I find the hardest thing Eli and I have to make sure we do is to make [digital] sound human, and not make it sound like a machine is churning everything out in perfect time. You can adjust things [with digital] so if you make a mistake with the pitch or something you can edit that. But we have a lot more options now.

Eli: As Jamie has said, moving to the digital age has made things easier. The recordings sound great and with the plug-ins now, it's possible to make it sound like a rich woodwind or other things that would be very hard to play in a synthesized way.

Jamie: I was classically trained, so I do have the advantage of knowing how to play my instruments. What I did have to learn is how to trigger all the instruments that we have plug-ins for which are different than just playing a keyboard. When you're playing a trumpet for example, it has to be played like a trumpet player would play it. We're very lucky because we have the plug-ins that sound amazing, but it can sound amazing and still be played terribly. We focus on not only making it sound good, but making it the way the instrument would be played.

Specifically with drums, because the drummer only has two hands and two feet, and he can't be playing all over the kit at the same time. He can't be playing the kick, the snare, the high hat and the right cymbal [all at the same time] - it won't work. What he has to do is play the kick and the snare, and then the high hat with his foot, and then the cymbal with his hand. Knowing that is really important to production.

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