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Andrew Scheps (RBMA Paris 2015 Lecture)

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by Sean G, Feb 9, 2016.

  1. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I really like Andrew. I don't agree with him 100% of the time, but he's a brilliant guy, and one of those rare individuals who are able to meld the technical with the artistic. I'm always happy to listen to what he has to say.
    He comes off as a guy I'd like to just hang with... a nice guy; honest, personable, brilliantly smart. My kinda guy.

    I found the interviewer to be a bit on the thick side at times, though. Asking for personal stories of his clients; that kinda stuff is just fluff - at least to me - and something I find distracting - and impertinent - when you have the opportunity to talk to someone of Scheps' caliber. No one in our craft should care even a little bit about hearing stories about J Z... ( or however you spell his name).
    Scheps said something I felt was poignant, at around 2:35, he siad, "I love music". This is the number one criteria to be an engineer - on any level. If you don't love the music, then it's all just technical; devoid of passion and feeling. You have to be a huge music fan first before you ever touch a fader for the first time. Everything else can be taught, or acquired over time. But if you don't love music, and I mean really love it, and have that ear for it, then nothing else past that matters.

    I could probably take any relatively intelligent individual off the street, and teach that person to operate the basic functions of a DAW. I could teach gain structure, miking technique. But I can't teach someone how to listen with the ears of some one who can hear inside a song; and I can't teach that person how to love music, or to be passionate about it, either. You either are, or you aren't, and those of us who do what we do were all music lovers from our earliest memories, before we were anything else, regardless of which generation you belong to.
    It doesn't matter if your first memories of music was The Beatles, or Led Zep, or The Monkees, or Madonna, or Nirvana, or Blink 182. The artist doesn't matter. What matters is that some sort of primal chord within you was strummed the very first time that music actually touched you, how it made you feel, made you think, made you mad, made you happy, made you sad, made you dance...

    And I think that's what I like best about Andrew. He's a music lover before he is anything else.
    And if you're not that first and above everything else, you have no business being in this business. ;)

    IMHO of course.

    Thanks for posting this, Sean. :)
  3. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Something that stood out for me, is when he said "I think I suck".....quite a few times too....its probably what keeps him in-check and grounded.

    I think that self-degradation is a reflection of the type of guy he is, not someone with an overly-inflated ego or massive head about what he has done or who he has worked for.

    I don't like everything he has done, Death Magnetic and the last few Chilli Pepper albums for example, but he is just a cog in the machine who caters to his customers, while we can be critical of the end product, isn't that what we all inspire to do?....make the customer happy??

    - At the end of the day we don't have to like it as engineers, and if you don't like it that much you don't have to put your name to it.

  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I've heard him say, ( and I'm paraphrasing) "Yeah, well, the loudness wars are over now, I won, and we all know how well that turned out..."

    Which, is a very laid back and cool way of saying, " I didn't like the way it sounded either, but yeah, I'm partly responsible, so let's call a pig a pig and get past it." He could have easily ( and probably rightfully so) blamed it on Rick Rubin... but he didn't.
    He owned his share of the blame. There's an honesty there that makes him that much cooler, I think. It's not easy to admit mistakes, or regrets. Especially in this business, where your future is pretty much defined on the very last thing you did.
    He survived that splendid little disaster because he was the engineer, which technically put him under the command of Rubin, who produced. That's the rank and file in a studio environment, and a lot of newer engineers don't know that. When you're acting strictly as an engineer, and under a producer, the producer is the boss - of everything connected to the project. As an engineer in that situation, you do what the boss tells you to do. You can voice objections, or give input, but only once, and after that, it's out of your hands... it's not your call. You either do it the producer's way or you resign from the gig... and if he had done that, it could have ended up being more harmful to his career... So he did have the benefit of that hierarchy to fall back on.

    There have been many, many mistakes made over the years by engineers and producers alike. Peter Asher ( of the 60's folk-rock duo Peter and Gordon) went on to be a very successful producer for artists like Linda Rondstadt and James Taylor. He produced the first James Taylor album for Apple Records, and on that debut album is the absolute worst sounding version of Carolina In My Mind in existence. Asher produced the song without regard to what James Taylor sounded like naturally as an artist. It's still considered to be one of the big "whoops" moments in popular music production history. But, it wasn't the first bad call in music production, and it won't be the last, either.

    Here's the version we all know and recognize now:

    And here's the original "whoops" version:

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