How to be a better producer with Ulrich Wild
The Grammy nominated Ulrich Wild has worked with the likes of Deftones and Pantera so knows his way around a studio. Read his essential tips on how to be a better music producer...
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Ulrich Wild is a Grammy nominated, multi-platinum producer and mixer. He’s known for his work with notable metal acts Dethklok, Pantera, Static-x, White Zombie, Deftones, and Breaking Benjamin. Ulrich owns an ASP880 and you can check out an interview with him where he talks in greater depth about his career, gear and inspiration here.
Here are Ulrich's top six tips for becoming a better producer and engineer.
Listen to music you hate
Everyone enjoys listening to different styles of music, but very few people listen to stuff they don’t enjoy. I blame the iPod (and all other mp3 players). People fill them with their favourite tracks and are rarely exposed to songs they dislike. Having to listen to music you hate causes a visceral reaction which in turn pushes your creativity in a new direction.
Failure is encouraged
Sometimes ‘failure’ leads to an unexpected sound, or a ‘wrong’ note turns a stale melody into a hit song. I call them happy accidents. If you don’t occasionally fail you’re not learning or doing anything new. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to recognise happy accidents while pursuing a vision so you have to be open minded.
Try something new with every project
In order to avoid my productions becoming too similar I insist on trying something new on every session. Changing mics, or trying new amps is always fun. Experimenting with tunings on drums or guitars, etc. can change things up. It’ll keep you on your toes.
Don’t obsess over gear
I always get asked what the best mic or mic preamp is. Or the best EQ and compressor. The truth is you shouldn’t obsess over gear. Focus on writing great songs and start recording with what you have. The best gear is what’s available when creativity strikes. A lot of great music has been recorded on mediocre equipment. It’s the song that counts.
Learn to trust your ears
It takes some time to gain confidence in your hearing abilities. Listen to how sounds interact with each other. How do the cymbals, the fizz of the guitars, and sizzle of the snare interact with the sibilance of the vocals? How do the mids of the guitar affect the snare and the vocals and the attack of the bass? Pay attention to how different mixers treat these elements to make them fit together in various musical styles. Knowing what to listen for truly is the most important thing in the studio.
Focus your mix
The brain can only handle so much information. So I usually limit my mixes to three main parts at any time. Naturally, there are many more elements in a mix, but I treat them as secondary parts. It forces me to figure out the most important elements for each part of the song/mix.
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