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Quotable Quotes

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From the pages of RECORDING, here you'll find thoughts, tips, and classic tribulations from many of our industry's top Recording Artists, Engineers, Producers, Legends, and more. We'll be posting more of these, so be sure to check back often. Cheers! 

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Jack Douglas

March 31, 2016

“We were doing a song, ‘Dead Rat,’ on Yoko Ono’s Approximately Infinite Universe. I had no idea what it was going to be. The music was like, ‘da da da da da da da da da da,’ and then there’d be five seconds of silence. Then the music would start again, and there’d be another five seconds of silence. Finally, I found out what this silence was. It was the dead rat solo. Yoko brings a shoe box int...Read More

Bruce Swedien

July 31, 2015

"I'm a firm believer in computerized mixing. When I start a project, I store the balance levels in the computer--for emotional reasons, not a technical reason. The reason is that's the first time I react instinctively to the music and I want that not to be thought out at all--I want it to be purely instinctive. It's amazing as a recording progresses and you begin to improve it, how that so-c...Read More

Brent Heintz

July 2, 2015

"Let's make this mindset a reality: People that create musical tools, whether constructed of wood, metal, plastic, or binary data, should be compensated for their efforts. Stealing--whether it's music, photos, movies, articles, guitars, or music software--is not an option. It's tempting to take a copy of digital media and easy to convince yourself that you’re not hurting anyone when yo...Read More

Adam Curry

June 8, 2015

"There's this computer network that has just exploded lately, called the Internet. I'm going to have my own 'site' there, called MTV.COM. I'll put up files about digital audio, music news, artist info, anything to do with music...there are millions around the world who now have access to the Internet—it used to be just for and by academics, and all students are on it, but now you can g...Read More

Daniel Lanois

May 26, 2015

"Imagine, in your mix, you have six effects coming back into your console. They are coming back in by regular channels, whereby you can regenerate back to the effects. So you take the first effect, send it to the second effect. You take the second effect, send it to the third. From the third to the fourth and from the fourth back to the first. Then maybe a little bit of the first back to the...Read More

Bruce Swedien

May 22, 2015

"Many engineers today seem to have a highly technical approach to what they do. They seem to feel that hit records are made by the buttons and the knobs, and they're not. Memorable recordings start with purely emotional values, not technical values. I’ve never heard anyone leave the record store humming the console! And on the other side of the coin, of course it would be good for a lo...Read More

George Duke

May 22, 2015

"Well, especially with the whole rap phenomenon, a lot of people don't care about sound as much as they used to, and I understand because there's a certain vibe about what they-re doing. And it’s cool--I’m into that as well. I put loops within loops, just one conglomeration of a rhythm that you can't see through. But beyond that, you’ve got to be able to play it on car spea...Read More

Jon Anderson

May 22, 2015

"It’s funny--when you're recording, you have wonderful, wonderful sounds, but by the time you compress and all those sounds are on top of each other, you've lost the beautiful sound you had originally. In recording, you need to be careful of how much stuff to put on, because actually, for some reason, there's only so much space. I’d like to think that we’re going to move aw...Read More

Eddy Offord

May 22, 2015

“I decided to show my new wife Advision Studios, where I got started. Just as we were pulling up, Roger [Taylor, the drummer for Queen] came rushing out of the studio, looking a bit freaked out...We walked into the control room to find the engineer staring at the back of the room. His eyes were glazed...ketchup and sandwiches were splattered all over the wall... chairs strewn all over ...Read More

Jack Douglas

May 22, 2015

“[On the Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, one of the first songs to incorporate synthesizers into rock] Keith Moon was not the steadiest drummer in the world. He was all over the place. Now he was being asked to play to these sequenced tracks, so he’s got these headphones on and he’s going out of his mind. How is he going to play his usual wild stuff ...Read More

David Kershenbaum

May 22, 2015

“I think there is a lot to leaving [something up to the listener’s] imagination. Often when inexperienced people try to produce something they just put too much on, and it gets to the point where the person listening has to have really sophisticated extraction tools to figure out what’s really there. The purpose is just to get the raw essence of what the band or the individ...Read More

Roger Glover

May 22, 2015

“To what extent has technology helped music? It seems to be a sort of rallying call—some musicians decry the use of a drum machine as being anti-music, or sequences or whatever. But I think an artist will make use of anything that’s offered to him, as long as he doesn’t become the tool. Drum machines can play people—that’s what rap music is all about, peop...Read More

Jeff Baxter

May 22, 2015

Jeff Baxter on ‘outdated’ technology, December 1992: “We live in a world that is almost obsessed with planned obsolescence, bigger and better, and a relentless desire to get to the next plateau in the never-ending quest for perfection. Those of you who have home recording studios and must put at least some money away for food should tear your eyes away from the latest ads f...Read More

Andre Fischer

May 22, 2015

“I have half hearing in my right ear...I was touring with Rufus with Chaka [Khan]. I could never get a proper monitor mix, so I got my own little mixer and some headphones. Something happened one day. I had phones only on my right ear, and some kind of sound came, and I’ve had half hearing ever since. But basically it hasn’t been a hindrance, it’s just something that ...Read More

Michael W. Smith

May 22, 2015

“It’s interesting how ten years ago, the mentality was “We gotta go to the greatest studio to cut the great record.” And you know, it’s just not like that any more. Obviously, you want to go to a great studio to mix the stuff (if you’ve got the budget, which we do). But on my last album, I did all my vocals in my bathroom. You’re in a home studio, an...Read More

Craig Chaquico

May 22, 2015

“You don’t have to go to a studio to get a great sound, to get a performance, to get emotion. It’s exciting to think that we as home recordists can come up with material that ends up on the radio, right next to Sting’s album and all these excellent productions. In fact, some things about recording at home are better than in a studio. You have the freedom to go in and ...Read More

Jane Child

May 22, 2015

"So often you become attached to an effect and you think, ‘Well, we’re just tracking. Once we get into the mix, we’ll really get it,’ but you know, it’s never the same—especially with delays. If I like the effect, I’ll print it on a separate track. I’m very careful that way. The old cliche ‘we’ll get it in the mix’ is bullshit...Read More

Tom Lord Alge

May 22, 2015

“Print things. Obviously, you’re going to have to print effects on with guitars and drum machines, because you can’t tie up your only piece of outboard gear on your drums. If it sounds good going down, by all means, print it! Print a stereo mix with the effects if it sounds good. Commit, commit!”—Tom Lord Alge, November 1988.

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Nancy Wilson

May 22, 2015

“Try to stick with simplicity, which is the hardest thing to do. Try to keep it simple and honest. Try to write songs that give something back to the world, that enlighten people somehow. Try not to write songs because they’ll make you money. That’s hard to do. I mean, how many times have we felt pressured to sit down and write a hit so they wouldn’t take our homes aw...Read More

Adrian Legg

May 22, 2015

“I’m at the point now where I get as many women coming up and saying, ‘Oh, I enjoyed that’ as I do guitarists, and that’s a satisfactory balance. If it were just guitarists coming up—although that’s very nice—I would feel that something was wrong. I don’t want to be in some sort of exclusive little club. Music is for people first, and mus...Read More

Mark Mothersbaugh

May 22, 2015

“Commericals are heavier than film, heavier than rock’n’roll....if I was in opera, I would still be back at the bath Township Playhouse trying to write an opera for Akron, Ohio, for maybe a few lawyers who consider themselves the enlightened ones of the community. People would be stifling yawns, and no one else would see it. Commercials just seem like a more dangerous, more...Read More

Tom Coster

May 22, 2015

“No matter how much gear you have, no matter how expensive or inexpensive it is, a really wonderful project can come out of a home studio with the availability of today’s technology. But what it takes more than anything is the individual’s prowess to listen and to hear things. Because no matter how wonderful your equipment is, it’s only as good as you are a producer a...Read More

Willie Dixon

May 22, 2015

“I can remember Sonny Boy Williamson recording this song in the studio that required the drummer to come in at one point and make this big crashing sound. The drummer was behind this baffling, y’know, that keeps the sound of one instrument from bleeding into the sound of another, and just as he got to this break, the whole thing fell down. Wham! It made a real big crashing sound ...Read More

Dave Martin

May 22, 2015

Dave Martin on professionalism, December 1995: “As a studio operator, your job is to have the studio set up, ready for the session to start when the musicians arrive. As a musician, it’s your job to be there on time and ready to play. If you act with a little professional courtesy, not only will working be more of a pleasure, but the music that you record will be better. You don&...Read More

Steve Rapson

May 22, 2015

Steve Rapson on making it, December 1994: “Focus on process, not outcome. It’s good to have a goal. It’s more important to spend your days doing what pleases you. Years of deprivation and sacrifice to reach a place equals years of deprivation and sacrifice. The place is never enough compensation. Go ask anyone who is in the place you want to be.”

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Calix Lewis Reneau

May 22, 2015

Calix Lewis Reneau on speakers, April 1995: “The quest in recording is what they call in the movie business a ‘willful suspension of disbelief.’ We want our audience to forget they’re listening to speakers and electronics and hear the music. With the ubiquitous acceptance of the recorded medium, that suspension is a given. But don’t let convention fool you, the ...Read More

Bruce Swedien

May 22, 2015

"I’ve made hit records in some pretty ratty-ass studios, studios that would not qualify as high-tech; I’ve been in some high-tech studios that weren’t very inspiring; I’ve been in some bedroom studios that are just wonderful....For instance, my friend Rod Temperton (who wrote Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’) has a home studio; it’s the weirdest co...Read More

Tuck Andress

May 22, 2015

“Musically [playing live in the studio] gives the advantage that it’s harder to do. It’s just like the recordings when people only had four tracks to work with, or only three tracks. You had to be a really good engineer; it made you be a better engineer than you have to be now....You can’t do a take and like part of it, and not like the other part. Everything springs ...Read More

The Residents

May 22, 2015

“The entire pop industry does covers. People think because they change a few notes or a few words, they can say they wrote it, when actually, everyone is just rewriting the same song, over and over again, and claiming they wrote it. The Residents’ point of view is that they rewrite songs as much as anybody else. But instead of changing the name of it and claiming they wrote it th...Read More

Martin Page

May 22, 2015

“I wanted to engineer so I could control my own domain. I didn’t want to be calling on somebody all the time, and I wanted control on my mistakes...I concentrate on my ear. It’s a matter of just feeling how to do it. It’s useful to break down the taboos of thinking; one engineer would do the same thing every time.”—Martin Page, May 1995.

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Kitaro

May 22, 2015

“[Recording tympani,] I set up microphones, and then have the remote control, and then hit the drum, and then listen through the cue system. I check the sound on playback. ‘Oh this is not good.’ Basically—my board is an old Neve ’86—there is no equalizing, just a whole slew of modules. We don’t need equalizing because the sound is so great. If the mi...Read More

Buffy Sainte-Marie

May 22, 2015

“I don’t really approve of mainstream musicians going to grass roots people and ripping off their music—that’s not a cool thing to do...Especially with non-professional musicians, since that’s their daily bread and since that’s the only chance they’ll have to be recognized, I think it’s a pleasure to credit them and pay them.”—Buffy...Read More

John Simon

May 22, 2015

“Current myth says that music business people (an overburdened and generally slimy lot) will only listen to the first song. That is not true. They’ll only listen to the first ten seconds of the first song! That first song is like a radio hit: you want to hook the listener in the first ten seconds, interest him/her more in the next ten seconds, and if you can really hold them thro...Read More

Kim Wilson

May 22, 2015

The trap that we can all fall into nowadays is taking the loner approach to your music, and I used to be like that. But to me it’s kind of like playing a sport: you’re not really going to get any better unless you play somebody who’s ultimately better than you. I went straight to Muddy Waters and Albert Collins, you know? Not that everybody has that kind of opportunity, but...Read More

Peter Frampton

May 22, 2015

“I’ve spent days sampling with the Akai—drum sounds, cataloging them and all that. It’s incredibly time consuming, [but] that’s good to do when you don’t feel like writing, so you still keep going. You’re still in the studio and you’re still working.”—Peter Frampton, June 1990.

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Hartley Peavey

May 22, 2015

“Tape recorders are dinosaurs—I see no sense in putting mountains of R&D into what is essentially an obsolete technology. There’s nothing wrong with tape recorders, but I’m not going to put my money into designing an eight-track cassette multitrack system. I think that DAT has also missed the window of opportunity and that the future of recording lies in some form...Read More

Michael Cooper

May 22, 2015

Michael Cooper on speed vs. care in the studio, March 1994: “Tune out the pressure to work fast for a moment, close your eyes, and listen. You’ll thank yourself during mixdown, and your clients will, too...A good engineer is efficient, but spends time where it’s needed. Get things sounding right, right from the start. It may be the only chance you get.”

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Mike Metlay

May 22, 2015

"My studio had just installed its first digital reverb and I was still multitracking on a 4-track cassette recorder and dreaming of the 1" 8-tracks I’d left behind at the University. I didn’t own a computer yet; I was thinking about getting an Amiga since most grad students couldn’t afford a Macintosh, and I was eager to try software-based MIDI sequencing for my small colle...Read More

Pat Metheny

May 21, 2015

"I think it will probably be possible to have incredible, virtuoso musicians who don't play an instrument, that do everything in the context of non-real-time. But so far it hasn't really happened. Most people who don't play an instrument have come up with things that are kind of catchy, or quirky, y'know, interesting for three minutes, but substantial musical developments that have a long te...Read More

Les Paul

May 21, 2015

"The world today is moving fast. Musicians happen to be at a stage where how fast you can play is the important thing. It's not what you're saying, it's not the music any more--a player is judged by his speed. The criteria should be what the message is, what the story is. What's the bottom line? It shouldn’t be how fast you can play the run, but can you keep time? Do you have a heart, ...Read More

Andy Summers

May 21, 2015

"It’s important not to take too long making an album, because you lose the flow of it. I think there’s a moment when the energy’s there, and you get the best out of yourself and out of everyone. I can’t stand to be in the studio that long—it drives me nuts. There’s too much time when you’re not playing. When you sit around for hours on end reading a ...Read More

Don Was

May 21, 2015

“We knew the song [‘Nobody’s Girl’ by Bonnie Raitt, from the Nick of Time album] was great, and we tried cutting it three or four times and just couldn’t get it to work. It was a great demo, but we couldn’t seem to capture the feel, and we also couldn’t figure out why....I knew it wasn’t Bonnie. So I said, ‘Look, give me fifteen minutes o...Read More

Alan Parsons

May 21, 2015

“Changes—primarily technological ones—have caught up with the [Artist Manager’s] job and split it in two. A&R is now an office job with administrative responsibilities, while the producer has taken over the technical responsibilities and has had to learn how to be an engineer, a computer operator and a technician all rolled into one. Personally, I find this very f...Read More

Leon Redbone

May 21, 2015

“I finally figured out one day that most producers don’t have the faintest idea what they’re doing. They simply have the position because of circumstance, or they’ve wormed themselves into it, and it really doesn’t amount to anything! I just make sure that the sound that is being recorded is as close to the sound I want as possible. I don’t want to rely on...Read More

Frank Gambale

May 21, 2015

“A lot of people have the right equipment to [make a clear demo in a home studio]. Most of the time, it’s not so much the equipment as how you use it. I’ve heard people with really cheap studios do great recordings, and I’ve heard people that have worked in very good facilities come out with awful sounding recordings. So it’s how it’s used, and the quality...Read More

Joe Chiccarelli

May 21, 2015

“I think having a home studio and having limited technical resources is really invaluable. Or having to work with up-and-coming bands who haven’t really honed their songwriting or honed their sound. It’s good for you to be able to go in and spend time with them in rehearsal situations, you know, help work out a guitar part so it doesn’t fight a keyboard part, help str...Read More

Roger Nichols

May 21, 2015

“I don’t care what microphones I use, I don’t care what console, I don’t care what studio, I don’t care. Work with what’s there. It wouldn’t be too much fun working with a bunch of quadriplegic acoustic guitar players. That might be a little hard, and I’d need an SSL for that. But actually, I don’t really care.”—Roger Nichols,...Read More

Phil Ramone

May 20, 2015

"There's this terrible return to using old microphones. I remember saying, 'When I grow up I hope they get rid of these ugly microphones. They really don't do the job that I want them to do.' I don't want to go backwards. I don't want to see people in a home studio go backwards....Part of the challenge of using your equipment is to make it all sound good. Even the cheapest mic should be able...Read More

Daniel Lanois

May 15, 2015

"Creating music to fit the marketplace, so that music can be heard? If ever I thought that I even came close to catering to the marketplace, or designing my productions and my music to cater to what is currently fashionable, I would sell shoes for a living. For me, the marketplace can rot in hell. I will do music for the love of music and for the love of people who listen to music, and absol...Read More

Frank Zappa

May 15, 2015

“To me, home studios are completely logical. People have desires, and in America those desires are coupled with the concept that they have certain inalienable rights. Whenever society seeks to dwarf the desires or limit the perceived rights of the population, the American Way is to find a way around it. That’s what’s wonderful about this country. We’re ingenious at ch...Read More

Bruce Swedien

May 14, 2015

"The first million hours in the studio are the hardest, after that it gets easier." --Bruce Swedien, November 1987

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Patrick Leonard

May 14, 2015

"The most important thing about recording, no matter where you are, is that music comes first. Everything else is secondary. And as soon as you start relying completely on technology, you may end up with something that only shines on the first listen. What you need is something that's going to be interesting to you over and over. And the only thing that gives you that is people, because mach...Read More

Wendy Carlos

May 14, 2015

"Be truthful--again it's the question of personal integrity. You have to be a little bit obsessive, and a little bit aware of things as a left hemisphere person. You have to know what you're doing. But after that's all done, you put the driver in charge as being your soul, your emotion, your gut, your intuition." --Wendy Carlos, November 1992.

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