After recently becoming a new dad, I had some time off and between nappies and playtimes so I thought I’d give a little insight into a day in the life of a Record Producer, Studio Owner and Dad!
Mrs Groves and Baby Groves give me the morning wakeup and I make the breakfast bottle. I’m a load of shit in the morning so first step is a big strong coffee (Aeropress is my method of choice, original recipe)! Quickly check emails on my phone – there’s one from my manager Pip about an enquiry for me to produce a single, and two enquiries about recording in The Motor Museum with one of our engineers.
Quick sit down at the laptop to answer the important emails. I deal with the studio enquires first – the studio means a lot to me and I take pride in how it runs, so I like to take the time to answer enquiries personally. Both are from bands wanting to come in and record, so I loop my head-engineer Loic in who can chat to them about the details. Pip’s email is to update me on the arrangements for a project I’m really excited about. We’re both really pro-active about going out and finding new artists that we like, and this is a band I saw at Soundcity and fell in love with. Fingers crossed we get it nailed down!
I arrive at The Motor Museum and Loic hands me a cup of tea. He’s ALWAYS full of beans no matter what time of day, and always in a good mood! He’s been in-house at The Motor Museum for nearly three years and has worked his socks off every day – he’s a massive asset and engineers on all my tracking sessions now, as well as helping me to run the studio day to day.
Today I’m wrapping up production on a brand new band from Liverpool called Denio. They’ve got a bit of a Blur vibe about them, and I’ve been spending time with them in the practice room for the last few months helping them with arrangements before coming into the studio.
We’ve had a great couple of days in the studio tracking the tune, but ended up working past midnight last night so I wanted to come in and tie up a couple of loose ends before mixing.
After a quick chat to Loic who wants to show me his latest tattoo I make my way into the control room to start working.
I have a little ritual I find myself doing when I walk up to the control room; it started happening the day I took over and picked up the keys. The control room is right at the back, and as I walk through the building past the plants and live rooms I take a moment to consider all the amazing, influential records that have been made here over the years. Some of the best ones are up on the wall in the lounge, and as I walk towards the studio I visualise the records I produce sitting next to them. It gives me a moment to clear my mind, leave behind the outside world and get my head focused to create the best productions I can. It’s a nice little routine and a reflection of the very unique vibe The Motor Museum has.
Loic’s already been in and turned the room on, so I’m able to get straight to work.
I have a few listens to where we left the session as the band arrive at the studio. Everybody’s excited about what we’ve done, and we get stuck into my to-do list. We’ve got a couple of guitar lines to rework, and some programming to add. We blast through the programming pretty quickly and then I do everybody’s heads in faffing around with pedals for the guitar parts, but it’s worth it. While Andres is playing the part I’m messing around with my Earthquaker Devices delay pedal in real-time to get the sound to evolve with the part, but after each take I decide I can do it better, so we do half a dozen passes for me to choose from.
I’ve started leaving my phone outside the control room so that I don’t get distracted by looking at cocktail recipes on Instagram, so I poke my head out to check for a call from Pip. Nothing yet, but Loic does cheerfully tell me that the two enquires I forwarded to him this morning have already booked studio time, so we’re chuffed about that. Plus theres an email to tell me our new pool table is arriving this week!
Tracking finished! We listen to the tune a few times really loud and all think it sounds amazing so far! I give the band a monitor mix to take home and tell them I’m planning to mix the tune tomorrow. We say our goodbyes and I break for lunch.
Next up today I’m finishing a single for a new band from Nottingham called Camaro. They’re a really ambitious guitar band with great, hooky tunes and we’re all really excited about the band. This is going to be their first release and due to budget restrictions they produced it themselves, and then brought it to me for additional production and mixing. I spent a day with them in the studio re-working guitar sounds, doing some extra programming and sonic stuff, and then tracking all the vocals.
I’ve already done the main mix of Camaro’s single earlier in the week so today I’ll be going through the revisions and finalising my own tweaks. I mix on the console, but because of the way I print stems I can recall a mix in a few seconds. This was a really dense production that initially had around eighty tracks of audio, so being able to recall it properly was essential! The band have sent their initial notes and I’ve added my own tweaks to the list, so I start working my way through them.
Revisions all done. I spend twenty minutes A/B’ing between my initial mix and the tweaked one. This is really important to me, as not every revision is a positive one. There are often notes on the list that end up taking something away, so I’m always comparing to make sure what I’m doing is benefitting. In this case there’s a couple that I think have upset the vocal balance, so I put a mark next to it so that I can chat to the band about it this evening.
I check to make sure I’m happy with the revised mix, before printing a version and sending it to the band. Waiting for mix feedback always used to be nerve-racking, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve become more relaxed about it. These days I’m more excited for them to hear it rather than worrying about what changes they might have, which comes from having more self-belief in my mixes. You need a couple of successful records to give you that confidence, but once you get past that point it all becomes a bit more enjoyable and you can rely on being more consistent in your work. I put a lot of care into mixing so that my and the artists vision is presented perfectly so by the time I deliver a mix I’m pretty certain it’s the right thing.
Audio tech wizard Mark Burnley pops into the studio to drop off another Neve channel that he’s recapped for our console. Mark’s a really close friend and has handled The Motor Museum’s maintenance and tech support for years, and is a massive asset to us. He’s really passionate about squeezing the very best out of our gear and always has a problem-solving gadget with him to show me. This time it’s a really cool looking mid-side processor that he leaves with me to try out. We have a cup of tea and talk about some of the little inventions we have planned for the studio, and he fits the new channel to the console and takes another one away.
A flurry of messages come in from Camaro telling me how much they love the mix! There’s no better feeling than when an artist loves what you’ve done. I’m experimenting with calibrating my mix bus processing a bit hotter, so I print a couple of different versions of the mix for us to try out. Pip’s emailed me to confirm the session we’ve been trying to hook up is confirmed so I’m doubly pleased! All in all a pretty good day!
Loic and I have a tracking session tomorrow morning so he comes in to start setting up the studio for us. I play him the demo of the song and we spend a bit of time talking about what I’m envisaging for the production. Loic’s been with me for a couple of years now and has become a really talented engineer, so I’m keen to let him take ownership of the engineering on my projects. I usually have a few specific recording techniques I’d like incorporating, but the rest is up to him to manage, which free’s me up to focus on the production, performances and overall vibe of the songs. We agree on a plan for the setup and he gets to work putting together the mics and signal chains.
Been another busy day but I’m happy with how productive it’s been. Time for me to head home and enjoy the evening with my new little family!