Wow, what a crazy week that was. So many great musicians recording and jamming in every room in the building. Bryan Steiner’s “After the End” project was an amazing experience for everyone, and every musician who took part in it deserves a 2 page spread in Rolling Stone Magazine, And although I could happily ramble on about every person in the project for at least 2 pages, for now, we are here to talk with one guy.

Just before he took a flight back to LA, I met up with Jamie Candiloro (R.E.M, Ryan Adams, Willie Nelson, Courtney Love, Melanie C, Luscious Jackson, The Eagles, Indigenous, Lisa Germano, Stampead) and had a little chat with him to sum up the week.

After spending around 10 days in the studio with him, the thing that impressed me the most wasn’t necessarily engineering skills or musical ideas. It was the level of communication and the control of the session.

What big a part do you think communication skills have in this business?

I’m definitely a person who feels communicating and making the session feel great is important. In fact the only times I get mad are usually when the artist is not being honored.  It’s just so good to make people feel amazing in there.  I’ve been on both sides of the glass and waiting ten minutes for someone to get on the talkback is scary!

What was your first big break?

Well the first time I worked on a record that was played on the radio was a band called Luscious Jackson.  They had put out a couple records and had a strong following. I worked as an assistant engineer at a studio called Baby Monster.  Half of the work was assisting and the other half was engineering smaller bands. This was before Pro Tools so everyone who wanted a recording hired a studio.  It was really important to learn from the producers that would come in and then be able to apply it to your own projects. Luscious Jackson had been working with Daniel Lanois (Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, U2) who produced some amazing records. He was also an engineer so when the project came to the studio there was room to help with some of the engineering. I knew my way around pretty well by then and the band liked my style of working.  I ended up recording and mixing about half of the record and the single was a hit! At that moment I realized that you could work on music and there was a chance it would be heard.

How did you start working with R.E.M.?

Working with R.E.M. actually dates back to my assisting days also. While at "Baby Monster" I met a fantastic Irishman named Pat McCarthy. I think Michael Stipe had also been to the studio a few times by that point too. Anyhow, Pat was producing a band called Luna. Such a great band based around Dean Wareham who was in Galaxie 500.  Pat and I hit it off pretty quickly. It was a similar situation where there was room for engineering if you were quick and knew how not to step on toes.  When I moved to Los Angeles in 1999, I had three names of people I knew there. Pat was one of them and after a little convincing he let me do some engineering for a R.E.M. film.  I think I was pretty careful to make sure I found the needs of a situation and adapted to that role.  For a lot of R.E.M. stuff I would build keyboard sketches from the demo recordings. Pat and R.E.M. taught me so much about music and keeping a session flowing smoothly. Pat is a real finisher. He always goes the extra mile at the end which is so important. 

What are you working on these days?

Besides being on the sessions for After the End in Israel I will be mixing the tracks in LA in a month. I'm really excited about the project. It is such a great collection of style and personality. I truly feel the record will be loved by so many different people.  I am also in the middle of a record with the Ohio band Red Wanting Blue. These guys are one of the best unsigned bands out there. The new batch of tunes goes deeper than I have ever heard them go before so I'm really excited about the overdubs which start with week.  I'm also producing a solo album for Mato Nanji. He is the front man of the band Indigenous. Amazing musician and artist in general.  His latest project is raw and dense with blues and soul leanings.  We should have that done by the fall. Lastly I run my own studio in LA so you never know who will walk in off the street.

What do you think are the most important things for people who want to get into the business of record making?

I think the most important thing is to be a great person first.  Have a love for life and exploring and learning. Making records is about current trends and openness.  It’s also about being in a room with people for long hours and sometimes difficult decisions.  After that you need to read a lot of manuals and really understand the technical aspects of a studio. Most producers understand music pretty well and have a lot of experience with instruments and players. 

 

?What do you feel a school should provide his students to get them ready for the real deal

 A basic aspect of how studio gear is used for starters.  You want to understand technical stuff because you don't want to look like a fool!  Of course the personal aspects are important also. I'm not sure how you can teach that. I learned a lot in the studio working but without the training of music theory and recording techniques in school I would have been lost.

How did you enjoy your stay in Israel, and working at Pluto Studios?

Pluto is a world class experience in my opinion.  My dirty secret is that I usually choose a studio by the staff. I want to be someplace that I feel welcomed and supported.  Of course you also need amazing gear which Pluto Studios has, but it has a great staff and it’s the people make the experience in my book.

I've noticed you have a pretty comprehensive understanding about instruments: drums, guitars, amps, keyboard instruments etc... What is your musical background, and how big a part are these skills to being a good producer/engineer?

There are some many different kinds of producers and they all make sense for different projects. Some producers are more hands on and even write with the artist. Some only listen and make comments. With the current age of more home studios, I feel being a jack of all trades is helpful. That idea really came out of necessity for me. Most projects had an area where some musicianship was needed so I started getting comfortable taking on that role as well. I would say if you are not much of a musician then at least have your knowledge of music together that way you will have a reference point for your projects. 

 

Who was your biggest influence as a Producer/Engineer?

Elliot Scheiner (Foo Fighters, Beck, Faith Hill, Steely Dan, Toto, Sting, Bruce Hornsby, Paul Simon, B.B. King, Van Morrison, Donald Fagen, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Eric Clapton, Eagles and Aerosmith) is probably the guy I look up to the most. His vibe is so great in the studio. He really knows to trust his ears and is just an amazing producer.  I learned a lot working on surround sound mixes with him and his spirit for the music is just incredible. I loved every day I worked with him. A true legend in my mind. 

 

Let’s get a little technical for a bit. I’ve noticed an extended use of filters when recording: Rolling off highs as well as lows off almost everything, including Drum OH’s, Vocals, Acoustic Guitars, and so on. Why?

Well, In the first few years of my career recording to tape was still pretty much the only way to go, so when digital recording started taking over I always felt it was a little too edgy and revealing (In comparison to recording to magnetic tape.).I feel gentle use of the filters brings me closer to that sound, and takes out some of the harshness. As far As High Pass filters go, I Think that if they’re (the low frequencies) not part of the sound, I would want to filter them as much as I can while recording, so I won’t have them interfere with the way the circuitry handles the signal, especially the Mic Preamps. A lot of the time I would switch on the high pass at the microphone itself if it has one. I think that’s really important, especially if you’ve got a compressor on the track.

Speaking about compressors, I’ve noticed you EQ’ed a lot, but barely compressed to tape this week. Is that your usual way of doing things?

It’s not that I don’t compress when recording. There are many sessions where I do, but I only do so If It’s the kind of session where I will have plenty of time to mess and tweak it per song. If I don’t have that luxury, I would rather record an uncompressed track, and mess with it later. I might slap something on for monitoring purposes though, because if for example, I’m going for a really compressed vibe on the vocals, I would like the performance to be influenced by it. I find it very hard to compress some vocalists after the fact, when the take was sung without a compressor; they just sing differently, they react to it.

Well man, Thanks for your time, It’s been great having you here, and I hope you’ll comeback soon. We’ll finish this interview with a slightly generic question. So, off the top of your head: What are your top 5 Albums you think everyone needs to hear?

That changes daily! Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” is pretty important to me. Also Bill Evans “You Must Believe In Spring”.  The Zombie's “Odyssey and Oracle”. The Beatles “Rubber Soul”/”Revolver” are a tie. Bob Dylan “Blonde on Blonde”. Hard to stop there! I love so much!

Written By Daniel Anglister.

Photographs taken by Eran Jago.