Contemporary listening enthusiasts likely would agree that the sound recording of an album or song is essential to the music’s delivery, whatever the category. Similarly, scores of classic music collections have been remastered in order to improve upon subpar audio quality. So, why not record the project the first time around with the right music producer. Enter Ryan Stephenson from E&R Sounds. While you are at it, check out Stephenson’s new production tutorial. But there is more.
Founded by Stephenson, E&R Sounds is a North-London based music production studio featuring mixing, co-writing, recording diaries, drum/beat sample packs and a host of other services. Enthusiasts can hear some of Stephenson’s studio work with the producer’s own band, Clockwork Boy, which was recorded by E&R. The debut track, “Tired,” definitely has a Robert Plant-Zeppelinesque feel. Clockwork Boy’s CD and Stephenson’s DVD production tutorial are available as a merchandise bundle direct from E&R Sounds. Additional content can be viewed on YouTube.
An Interview with Ryan Stephenson
What services does E&R Sounds offer?
E&R Sounds is a small music production company that I run. If you are looking to have a track produced, recorded and mixed, we can help you with that.
What separates E&R Sounds’ music production from the rest?
I’m simply very passionate about the art of recording and producing music. I would actually go beyond calling it a passion. It’s more like an obsession for me. Every day I’m striving to learn something new.
What type of artist do you generally work with?
I’m open to all musical styles and genres, from country to acoustic pop to rock. Generally speaking, I love rock music. It really connects with me. Anything with big chunky guitars and a heavy, groovy drum beat, that’s my cup of tea.
What is your DAW of choice?
Logic Pro X is my digital audio workstation of choice. Like most people starting out, I used GarageBand as a teenager. Logic was the next logical step after that, pardon the pun. Plus, I’m not a fan of Avid® or Pro Tools, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole.
Have you really used a Boss DS-1 guitar distortion pedal when recording drums? You mention in your production tutorial that Led Zeppelin did something similar. Can you tell more about that?
Ah, that wasn’t Led Zeppelin, but I know what you are talking about. I was watching a production tutorial for the track “Loaded Dice & Buried Money” by the band Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown. Fantastic group by the way; I recommend listeners check them out. Anyway, the producer and engineer for that album, Vance Powell, used guitar pedals to create a Led Zeppelin vibe to the drums, particularly the triplet groove that we all know and love in the track “When the Levee Breaks.” Whilst we were tracking drums in the studio for the band Clockwork Boy, the room microphone didn’t arm properly, so we basically didn’t have an ambient microphone on the drums, which sucked. So I used a combination
n of reverb units and parallel drum distortion, using a Boss DS-1 guitar pedal, to simulate a heavily compressed room microphone. To enhance the room sound even further, I re-recorded the distorted drums through an old bass amp that I own. I then blended this in in parallel to the clean drums on an independent fader in Logic.
As a recording producer, if a singer’s vocals are the most dynamic instrument in the studio, why is clip gaining often used?
Clip gaining a vocal is the process of making the whole vocal track relatively equal in volume across all the independent phrases that are sung. As a result, the signal that you send into the compressor is pretty well balanced, which drives the compressor more consistently across the entire waveform. Basically, it helps to get the vocals to sit properly in the mix, which is always a pain in the ass.
They’re a real bunch of troublemakers, only joking. Clockwork Boy is a side project that I set up with some friends from music school. We wrote a bunch of original material whilst together, but never got the chance to record or release any of it, so I thought it would be cool to do so.
Who are the musicians in the band? Have you worked with them before?
Clockwork Boy is Jacob Powell on drums with Gabriel Penteado doing the vocals and I’m on guitar and bass. Gabriel is actually a much better guitarist than I am, but unfortunately you will have to put up with my playing on the single that we just released, sorry about that! We all met whilst at music school and played regularly in a band as part of our assessment criteria for the course. I’m actually in the process of recording and producing a solo project for Jacob as we speak.
Do you produce all of the Clockwork Boy music?
Yes. The first track that we just released, “Tired,” was entirely self-produced by the band and me. We hope to release more music in the future, which we plan on self-producing again.
What’s the best way to contact you at E&R Sounds?