Q & A with yours truly

Here's a little Question & Answer session...If you want to get to know me ;)

What questions do you ask prospective clients?

Well it depends, but it's my job to make sure I understand what the client / artist intend to say, what they want to convey with their music or film and to help them achieve this, all the while staying on budget and being on schedule. So I will make sure I have all the elements I need before I even accept a gig.

What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

When all is said and done, it's about sensibility...it's hard to find the person(s) who you're going to share your music with, I mean it's stuff that comes from your heart and I believe firmly that, provided the person(s) you are hiring know what they are doing, it's a human experience. You should never forget this...Also, don't just go for the cheapest in town, it's your project, so it's yourself you are investing in...Serious work comes at a price, but it's worth it.

If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?

My old El Maya P bass, my 2 track tape recorder, it's not fancy although it's super, super rare because it's a consumer grade machine that runs at 15ips...Like anything, if you pay attention, if you learn how use it, it will sound good...you have to know when and how to use a certain piece of equipment...so, what else, my Neve 33609 of course...but you know, it's not the gear it's your ears, and you know what? They're analog ! Can't beat this! Haha!

What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?

I've been making music for a very long time. I started as a drummer / singer in a band at age 10...we were writing our own songs...later on, when I turned 20, I moved to London and drummed for a few bands...and a few years later I joined a drum & bass collective as a singer...I've always been open to different experiences so my career path seems chaotic but in fact it has its own logic...anyhow, at 27 I got signed to EMI in France, on the strength of a demo...They released my debut album as a singer/producer...I still had a lot to learn as a music producer, but I insisted on making that first record by myself, with my own little hands, and learned the hard way...it was awesome to be able to record my own songs in proper studios, with proper engineers and Neve or SSL consoles...I was at it day and night, I felt so lucky, it was a blast and I've learned a lot from that experience...Film scoring came later, by chance, once again...we were hanging out in recording studios my brother and I, so you're bound to meet people...we were at the right place, at the right time, and when the opportunity came we were ready...I mean we were hungry and always working on our skills, and when we were asked to compose our first film score ever (EDEN LOG by Franck Vestiel), we didn't even blink...we said yeah sure we'll do it...we were scared shitless haha...a few years later, when we won the 'best music award' at Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival, we couldn't believe this was actually happening...it's a lot, A LOT of hard work and sleepless nights though...I've learned how to properly mix a track by necessity, although I was drawn to it...But you know, we always thought, ok we can do this, it'll be hard but we can do it...and we'll learn in the process...never stop learning...that's the spirit...

How would you describe your style?

It's been said my style is cinematic and angular whatever that means haha!

Which artist would you like to work with and why?

The Beatles during the recording of Sgt Pepper...just making tea and watch silently would be enough for a lifetime.

Can you share one music production tip?

Don't overdo it.

What type of music do you usually work on?

I like to call it pop...but to me it just means the hybrid / cross genre kind of music that we have today...in reality I'll work on any kind of music, provided I can bring something relevant to the table...I like, play and listen to all kinds of music, and working on film scores taught me a lot about breaking barriers between genres.

What's your strongest skill?

Easy to work with...good listener...not afraid to make decisions.

What do you bring to a song?

A point of view.

What's your typical work process?

I try not to overthink it...although that doesn't mean I don't come prepared...the key, to me, is to keep it fun at all times, because it shows...

Tell us about your studio setup.

It's a small setup but it works...I chose the hybrid way...Pro tools HD / Logic X and some outboard...Neve 8816 summing mixer, Neve 33609 JD stereo compressor on the mix bus mainly, Warm Audio TB12 Pre amp (this thing rocks), a couple of vintage digital delays, a 2 track tape recorder (15 ips), a couple of analog synths and a whole bunch of things and gizmos...Plug in wise I really like Slate... who doesn't eh? As far as microphones go, I only have a couple that I use mainly on my vocals, because they suit my voice...Neumann TLM 103 and Shure SM7...If I need anything else or to record drums for exemple, I'll simply hire some studio time...

What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?

Anybody with a fresh approach and people who make music from the heart really...There's so much music nowadays...I try to learn from any situation and from all generations of musicians and producers...

Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.

I've composed a few film scores in the genre known as the 'new wave of french horror' (i.e.: MARTYRS by Pascal Laugier)...that lasted for a few fun years ! Until the genre kind of dried up... Nowadays I tend to do more production work for independent artists, and that includes some arranging, performing, mixing... I also record vocals and do some additional programming for TV / documentary composers.

You can find the Q&A and more info on the professional audio & musical services I offer HERE .



Willie Cortez, Producer on SoundBetter