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Band Profile, Commentary, In the Studio, Industry Analysis, Mastering, Producer Profile, Producers, Training

Turning Music Into Food: An Interview with Mike Turner

After recently mastering a new EP for 20 Amp Soundchild, I spoke with producer, Mike Turner. He’s a great performer turned producer with the behind-the-scene insights on the music world today. Enjoy!

20 Amp Soundchild with producer, Mike Turner From L to R: Justin Lant, Nick Vieira (in yellow jacket) Mike Turner Dave Hughes, Ryan Walke

AC: Can you tell me about Pocket Studios today?

MT: I developed Pocket Studios as a great place for bands to work where we offer the very best gear, without the frills. We turn out radio ready music in terms of the sonics, without the larger overhead of the ‘big’ studios. They also get the benefits of my experience as a producer and player. My background as a musician and the people I’ve worked with like Arnold Lanni and Bob Rock, has given me a unique insight into the producing process. And I’m keeping busy! At the end of the day, everybody in the business is just trying to turn music into food! (we’re both laughing at this point) But I still love what I’m doing, and I just never found the exit sign! My mantra is ‘do good work’ and that’s how I run Pocket.

AC: How do you approach producing?


MT: When a band gets to a certain professional level, I think that making a record is a balance between doing the best you can do, then accepting the best you can do. A recording is a kind of snapshot of who you are today. In contrast to a live performance, which is very ephemeral, recording is a process. And everybody wants the perfect take, the best song, the perfect solo….you can spend a lot of time sweating the details. The low cost of recording today allows you to do that. But sometimes to get the hypothetical last 2%……is just being too hard on yourself with questionable returns. If you’ve crested in your performance after 5 or 6 takes, well, you’re done. For me, I look for that take that may not be technically perfect, but has an emotional hook and is speaking to me. When I get that, I know I’m there. Many of the other details I can work on later. I like to tell the band,”I hope in five years time you can play the heck out of this song! Why would you want to stop growing?”

AC: What do you think about the industry today?

MT: From a production side, the budgets have changed. Bands are spending their dollar three times over, trying to get the most they can. One problem is that many people don’t value themselves enough to ask for what they deserve. I work hard and have a high standard. I try to work within the band’s budget, but I know the value of my own work and the great value at Pocket as well. Taking too many shortcuts can lead to compromising quality and professional standards and I just won’t do that.

The big change in the industry, over the last 10 years, is that record labels are not signing bands and giving them a budget to go out and record. Record labels today just buy the finished project. If an engineer/producer works on a first album at a low promo rate to help the band out, when it comes time for the next album, they’ll probably be expected to work at that same low promo rate. The band’s budget will not have changed.

AC: How’s the 20Amp Soundchild project fit in your Pocket?

MT: We had great sessions and they’re a great band – So many special things – like the many nuances, the lead singer does, really an amazingly expressive voice, lots of interesting voiced guitar chords, very beautiful! They really have powerful songs – I felt that the first time I heard them play live. In this latest EP, they’ve really focused their style and sound.

Mike A. Turner musician and producer, was the former lead guitarist of the band Our Lady Peace, and played in Fair Ground, and his latest band, Crash Karma, who launched their self-titled debut CD in 2010. Inspired by his work with producers Arnold Lanni (Our Lady Peace, Simple Plan, Finger Eleven) and Bob Rock (Our Lady Peace, The Tragically Hip, Metallica, The Cult), he became very involved in the production side of the industry and opened up his recording studio, Pocket Studios in Toronto. As a producer Mike won best new rock single of the year at the Canadian Broadcast Awards for Afflicted by Age of Daze, and is up for the same honour this year with the single, Awake from his recent Crash Karma record.

20Amp Soundchild will be releasing their new album on April 19. Look for the big bash at Clinton’s Tavern in Toronto! MTV is already doing a Drops segment on the band leading up to the release. Catch the band in Oshawa as they open for Hollerado on March 25 at the Status Lounge.

Adrian Carr is a 4 times Grammy Nominated mastering engineer, and resident mastering advisor and contributor at the Music Producers Forum. For more information on Adrian’s work, visit www.acmastering.com

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