My musical journey began at a very young age. When I was in kindergarten and all of my peers were obsessed with Big Bird, I was religiously watching music videos and learning everything I could about all of my favourite artists of the time. I quickly developed an appreciation of all styles of popular music, new and old. I'm not sure where that came from, as most of my family thought of music the way some people think of wallpaper. Throughout grade school, my interest in music never waned and I decided that there would be no option but for me to become a musician. For a few years, I unsuccessfully lobbied my parents to buy me a drum kit. When I got to high school, I was excited to play bass or drums in music class. Unfortunately, the rest of the class had the same idea. I was forced to play trumpet instead. I eventually grew to love the trumpet, and continued playing and studying music theory and history for years.
Eventually, I got my own guitar. Within a couple of days, I had taught myself to play riffs from some of my favourite songs. The rest of high school was spent jamming with friends, forming several metal & hardcore bands, and deepening my relationship to music. The first time I stepped foot inside a recording studio to record my first band's demo, I was mesmerized. I wanted to learn it all and get as hands on as possible. The engineer was a recent grad from Fanshawe College's legendary Music Industry Arts program who recommended I go there. On my first try, I was accepted into the recording engineering program and my path was set.
While at Fanshawe, I became interested in electronic music, techno, drum machines , all things MIDI, and Pro Tools editing. I also gained a lot of invaluable experience working with analog tape, which was still commonly used at the time. I still work with tape on some sessions, whenever it is feasible. Upon graduation in 2000, I was immediately scooped up for an internship at Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, when they were in the process of building their new SSL 9000J mixing room. I studied the channel strips on that console for hours, as I did with the G+ series console (while I was cleaning it using q-tips and rubbing alcohol for days on end).
Soon, I moved to another SSL mixing room (Iguana Recording), and quickly became a valuable asset to their small team. I assisted on many sessions as an intern, eventually meeting producer Dale Penner who took me on as his Pro Tools editor and helped me score my next gig -- assistant & junior engineer at Phase One Studios, which had recently changed ownership. At Phase, I got to work on all kinds of amazing sessions, mostly on their legendary Neve console. I did full jazz band tracking sessions, rock, metal, cuban, country, orchestral... Anything and everything. It was here that I met Sylvia Massy (Tool, System of a Down, Red Hot Chili Peppers) who was a massive influence on me growing up. It was a treat to work with her on a mixing session. We hit it off immediately and she asked me to join her at her brand new complex called Radiostar (located in Northern California in a 1920's era Vaudeville theatre). She even gave me my first "Additional Production" credit for a mystery track sonic experiment that I put together for her and the band.
Before I was to make it to Radiostar, I took a gig as Tim Thorney's personal engineer. Tim had recently produced a couple of hugely successful Alanis Morisette records, and was looking for someone to engineer all of his artist development projects. Tim taught me so much in my 3 years with him. He has a very old school approach to record production, and he helped me hone my ears and chops to a state where I actually felt like I might know what I am doing (sort of). We made a bunch of really cool country and rock records together over the years.
Eventually it was time to move on, and I headed down to California. Working with Sylvia was amazing. By the time I got there, she had bought up half the town of Weed at the foot of Mount Shasta (where the aliens and Lemurians would come out to play). She had no less than 5 working studios in different and unique buildings, all stacked with some incredible gear. She often had 3, 4, 5 projects on the go, and she trusted her engineers to do a lot of production on the records she was making, leading to a lot of creative freedom, and co-production credits on many projects. One summer, she asked me to head to Barcelona, Spain with her to make a record. Who was I to decline? That project in Spain lead to several more for myself over the next couple of years. There's nothing like making records in a 14th century structure with a Neve console in the Catalan countryside. Some great music and great new friends came out of that experience.
After returning to Toronto, I hooked up with the folks at Cherry Beach Sound and began engineering and occasionally assisting on some choice projects for them. These sessions were mostly with hip hop artists like K'naan & Drake (who had the #1 single on Billboard, but no album out yet). Soon though, I found out that another of my favourite producers had set up shop in a small space in Parkdale. I contacted David Bottrill (Tool, Peter Gabriel, Muse) via email and met him the following day. After meeting me and hearing about my experience, David chose to hire me first as a Pro Tools editor, and soon I moved up to engineering complete projects for him when he wanted to focus 100% on producing. David and I have been working very well together on select projects for several years now. It's always a joy to be involved in anything he does, as it invariably becomes a magical record. The man is a genius.
Meanwhile, I continue to engineer, mix and produce music for a lot of independent bands and projects. With my vast musical taste and wealth of varied experience, there is really no style of music that I can't work with. In recent years I've done metal, alt-country, techno, electronic downtempo, alternative, pop, experimental, folk and many other styles of records. I particularly thrive on any music that can be considered progressive and/or psychedelic. I have a list of different studios that I like for different things (depending on the project and budget), and I often mix from my home setup. Of course, I am always willing to travel as well. Some of the best records I have made have been created in unusual spaces and residential studios in the country (any country, really). All you really need to make a great sounding record is me, a Neve, API, SSL, or Trident console (or reasonable facsimile), and a few good mikes.
I have a very open way of making a recording. I am always willing to try out any idea, and will never discount something until it's been tried. I find something great in everything that I do, but I will be brutally honest when necessary. I am very artist-centric and will run the session democratically, trying to understand where the songs & ideas are coming from, then doing my best to help you realize that idea. I can pretty much make any sound in your head come out of the monitors, given the time and a clear understanding of what you are looking for. I also have much experience recording weird shit like chickens, doors, smashing glass, music boxes, drunken singers writhing in agony in dungeons, cats, dogs, vocals through drive-in movie speakers, and unusual objects used for percussion. Whatever it takes to get that sound and vibe!