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9 November 2021

"I was like: "What are you talking about? Just put it out now!" Where is the barrier here? His barrier was that he believed he was too young or something, and so I thought that was fascinating because there is no such thing as too young or too old. Frankly, it's just a mindset. " - Andy Stewart

About the 


Andy Stewart is one of Australia's most highly regarded music producers and studio engineers with over 3 decades of experience.
Andy Stewart has worked with acts such as Gotyé, Paul Kelly, The Whitlams, Kutcha Edwards, CW Stoneking and Brighter Later. Whether as a musician, composer, engineer or producer, Andy has a long back catalogue of independent and commercial albums to his name.

The Production Talk Podcast - The modern way of producing music

In this episode:

In this interview, Andy shares his music production philosophy, including:

  • From the idea to a finished master

  • How to establish the right tempo for a song

  • The importance of contrast in music production

  • How to get lo-fi and hi-fi sounds to work together

  • The importance of 'pressure-testing' a song

  • The law of diminishing returns in mixing

  • The common character traits of successful musicians

  • How to measure 'success' as a musician

  • How magic happens in the studio


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Extra Content:

Andy's The Mill Studio is one of Australia's most prestigious recording and mixing studios, with the recent purchase of a 56 channel SSL XL9000K console - arguably the most advanced analogue console ever built.

Contact the podcast host Jan 'Yarn' Muths at

Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.


Jan 'Yarn' Muths or, in the studio


(auto-generated by a robot - please forgive the occasional error)

Thank you so much for making time today. It's it's really good to have you on board and you know finally see you in Person. We've spoken a lot on the phone. We've emailed many times but I don't think I've ever seen you face-to-face. So it's good to meet you online personally look First. Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your. Career as a music professional studio owner producer. Where did you start from now what were the Bay major milestones of your career. What are you up to do these days. Give us give us the highlights. Andy Stewart It's a long It's a long to long boring story probably um I started I started when I was really young I think I was probably 15 when I first worked in a studio um working on an album. That I was where I was a member of the band. Um, very first day I ever worked in the studio I was put through sort of hell behind a drum kit for about twenty six hours sound checking the drum kit you know endlessly or what sort of thing. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah, well. Andy Stewart And it kind of um that very first day in the studio did 2 things. It sparked my extreme interest in it somehow because it also sparked my feelings of that I'd been very badly treated as a musician by the engineers and I thought. Andy Stewart If I was to ever do this I would never treat me like that. Um, yeah, so I it sort of started me off with a certain perspective on how to treat the musicians right? at the get go because I am 1 still. Jan 'Yarn' Muths You're right. Andy Stewart And a bit of a hack of a musician I might say but ah but I still do play live and on nearly every record I work on. so but yeah so I've been working in Studios for a long time had a couple of studios in Melbourne that I owned 1 in a. 1 in a place in Melbourne in richmond that is now bake house and then another 1 at home at a place in my house in st kilda and then I move to sydney lived there for about 10 years worked at a couple of studios. There. 1 of them was called milk bar and turtle rock and then it became electric avenue and worked so I worked there for quite a few years mastering with rick at turtle rock and doing some productions in the. In the main studio that was part of the same building and and then about I don't know about 15 years ago I moved from there to here because I wanted to have a place of my own again that didn't involve a million dollars in Rent. So. Andy Stewart Because there was quite literally a moment where I ah was offered a deal of of ten years and the rent was a million dollars. So at that point I was out of there. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Well Okay, so you're based now in Victoria and the countryside if if I remember correctly is that right? and and. Andy Stewart Yep, that's right? Yep yeah I mean I mean it's about an hour and a half south of Melbourne down on the coast. Yep on 20 acres. Yeah, and so. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Nice lovely living the dream 1 Andy Stewart Well, that's what people say that's what people say to me I don't know whether it's the dream. But it's but it's certainly ah yeah ah yeah I mix with Ocean views which is nice. Um, and I yeah I certainly have a pretty good life I suppose. Have to say compared to the way other people live I certainly have a pretty charmed life in many respects. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Lovely Lovely good and you are now a studio owner and also a producer and a musician so and your current studio is the Mill Can you talk us about how the Mill studio is going. Andy Stewart Yep, the mill studio is going. It's going. Well it's ah as you would know having had personal reaction ah interaction with it. It's ah it's. Having a whole lot of changes made at the moment. It's being um, it's got a new console that is all too familiar with you which is a K -s seriesies ssl from sae and byron which is being kind of worked on at the moment. It's been a little bit slow because of covid. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Of course. Andy Stewart Um, I've got ah ah, sort of an associate acquaintance friend of mine who's who's gonna help get it going and get it installed and everything and his name is al smart. He's a ah, very well-known engineer like technical engineer and designer. Andy Stewart Who worked for ssl for many years who has as you probably know has a company called Smart research. So there's he's got a couple of very pretty famous compressors that a lot of people would know of the the smart c 1 and the smart c 2 Andy Stewart So alwl used to work for us to sell for many years installing consoles and setting up places like real world and townhouse and so he knows a thing or 2 about it. So that's going to be great. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, okay, slow. Ah, lovely. Lovely so I've had a couple of interviews before with you know home already home home studio owners. So today. We'll look basically looking at the other end you have probably 1 of the most prestigious studios in Victoria if not in australia lovely. Andy Stewart Yeah, look I've got a I've got a I've got a bunch of um, different gear from different eras now. So I've been doing it been working in Studios for about 37 years or something so over those. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, bad is a long time. Andy Stewart Over that time a bunch of stuff has attracted itself to me. so so I've got I've got you know old tape machines I got j 30 seven I think it is from 61 which is a half -inch 2 track valve machine I mix to sometimes and I've got my kneeve console which is. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Okay. Andy Stewart Probably about to be sold I'd say the latest pro tools. So I've got a mixture of very old and and 3 weeks old at the moment. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Lovely. Um, having you know, been in the industry for such a long time. Obviously you've seen heaps of changes and just recently you know about a year and a half ago when a certain pandemic arrived things changed even more dramatically. So what. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Changes in the music production industry have you have you seen since what factors did it have on you and and how in your eyes. How is music music produced differently these days. Andy Stewart Well as you know as you've been experiencing. There's been a hell of a lot more recording at home in the last couple of years I don't think it's um I think it's probably just accelerated that change in some ways I think there's a bunch of people who are. Andy Stewart Who were you know I would rather dive and record at home who were now recording at home some big international names also mix at home. There's a lot of that going on which is quite a surprise to me actually um so there's been. Andy Stewart Yeah I think there's been an acceptance now that working at home is no longer kind of like being a second class citizen at all. So I think that's kind of good news for a lot of people because I think a lot of people feel a bit sort of you know like they are sort of. Andy Stewart Getting the rough end of the stick having a work from home or they feel bad about that. They're you know, working from home means that they're they come across as a bit dodgy but actually everyone does it from you know Michael brower. Me you know and look I work from home I've always last fifteen years I would say I work from home even though I've got my own building and everything it's still essentially on private property and I mean it's a bit I think I'm kind of a weird example of that. Um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Definitely yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, okay, and have you have you seen a change in mentality from the musicians that book your studio that work with you as a producer. Do they bring in you know, Half -finished songs in their. Yeah aw sessions already or how is that changing. Andy Stewart I Think that hasn't changed I don't think that's changed that much I think it's um I think people are still in a situation where they're never quite sure. What is um, a recording that they're going to be keeping or recording that's a demo like a. Andy Stewart Very rarely hear the word demo Perhaps anymore I don't know but um, but even if people do do that I think there's a lot of times where they assume that they're going to replace everything later I mean a good example of that will be someone who I just was speaking to the other day who's got a bunch of stuff that they've already recorded. Andy Stewart And they're coming here to make the whole album but essentially they've done their drums and bass already which is kind of a bit backwards I'm used to being you know often. It's big studios that are recording the drums and bass and then everyone and then that person is leaving going home. Jan 'Yarn' Muths To record guitars and Keyboards at home and and and what's quote. Yeah, what? what's the quality of of those drum and base recordings is it. You know acceptable to your standards. Okay. Andy Stewart In fact, it's the exact opposite in this case. Yeah, and all the vocals and. Andy Stewart I haven't heard them yet but that they were the guy swears they're and they're sounding good. So I'm yet to hear them I'll be interested to hear what they sound like but they're all done in their all pro tool session. So that's very easy for me to just import those files into. Andy Stewart My computer and and where we go. So I mean I'm I'm kind of always I think the thing for me is I'm always really open to just listening. What is you know but has been recorded without any kind of bias at all. Really I mean some of the best and and because. Andy Stewart I'm 1 of those people who doesn't believe that there's you know I think good or high quality words like that are they sort of a bit irrelevant in many ways because it just it takes all kinds of sounds to make a record you know, high quality, low quality. Whatever it's. Andy Stewart It's the contrast between them all. It's often the important thing rather than that they're all recorded with neuman's or neve preams or a lot of that stuff is kind of less important I think than than a good than a good performance. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yeah I couldn't agree more? yeah. Andy Stewart And then you know like if something sounds a bit trashy then then when you come into the studio. Maybe we maybe we combine that with something really high Fidelity. You know that's kind of how I see it often is to actually see. Okay, what is this thing strength. Okay and what is its weakness. Okay, let's work On. Putting something into the into the mix that that balances out that weakness you know rather than throwing the whole thing out. Yeah, yeah, that's right? yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah, that's a really smart way. Yeah yeah, I Really like that way of thinking that way you just you know? Yeah opposites attract in some ways is what you're saying and yeah, really Good. So okay, so in other words, usually. Musicians nowadays arrive with you know some backing tracks and they don't always book the studio for the entire album but do drums and bass and maybe guitars and then do some things at home and bring it back for mixing is that summing up the most common workflows these days. Andy Stewart Ah, certainly if you're asking about my workflow. Um, but that tends to be that I produce a whole record for people. Um I often get people coming through the door here with a guitar in their hand and nothing. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Nice. Um, yeah I see me. Andy Stewart You know they'll they'll have their acoustic guitar and some lyrics and that's it. That's as far as they've got and so my job is to go from that to a master so I do everything from that point on basically I'll help them change lyrics. The first thing I tend to do is sit down with someone and hear the album come out of their mouth and I'll sit there quietly and not necessarily take notes because I find that kind of intimidating and weird. But I just tend to make them. You know mental note of. Of that there was something jarring in that song I don't even have to pinpoint it straight away I'll just kind of go that song sounded great. There was something in there that was a bit funny. The first time I heard it and then we just go from there and I just I'm a great believer in. Especially if if it's a singer songwriter in in developing. Just making sure that the song is realized first before we start recording anything and that usually involves scrutinizing the lyrics and just kind of going my instinct tells me that that line is a bit not right? um. Andy Stewart And oftentimes my instinct nelly always actually I find whether it's been Paul Kelly or wally tobacco or whoever it is. It doesn't matter who it is really and I'll usually have a pretty good instinct for a line that's a bit smelly or a bit. Um, um, you know finished or or a bit of a. You know a filler and and then we just change it and then the song goes from being you know, not quite right and not quite ready to ready and then off you go you have to worry about it Again. You might keep changing the lyrics a little bit as you go. But at that point it's usually pretty settled. Andy Stewart The lyric changes are often at that point just about the performance just ad livingbbing something different by accident or you know, whatever at that point it varies. Jan 'Yarn' Muths And then would you start from own acoustic guitar vocal guy track and then laid on drums and bass and everything but would you believe is necessary or would you basically start with beat more? Yeah yeah, okay yeah. Andy Stewart Varies depending on the song sometimes I'll um if it's if it's a track that we really want to kind of um, add stuff to that's kind of loop oriented or anything like that I'll tend to sort of go. Okay, well there's no real reason why this can't be based around a a you know? ah. A tempo or a couple of tempos I mean I'm also 1 of those people who believes in that tempos and and that kind of stuff like disciplines like that are actually liberating. They're not constraining I think it's a myth that people say that. That those sort of things lock people in and then that's that's that's kind of constricting actually being free to play over. Ah what is a predictable timing is liberating in my experience and it is for other people as well provided. You have. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um I can so see that is. Andy Stewart Provider You have a sound that they can play to that They don't find infuriating. It's more about that I think than than the constriction of a time signature. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um. Okay, and when you work on a time. Do Do you prefer to actually play to Click or you know some people program some percussions instead have you got any preferences there. Andy Stewart Yeah, look I program things. Um, usually what we do is we I just usually sit down um play the song actually usually gets played over several days the song I often record even if it's it's whether it's in pro tools or just in a Notepad ah record the tempo of the song on a few different days and if it's all over the place on those 1 day It's seventy seven bpm and next day at seventy one and the next day it's eighty 2 that's where it's like you really got to be careful to establish the right tempo for a song It's really hard to do often. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, yes. Andy Stewart It's actually 1 of the things that is is quite um, it's crucial to get right? and and if you get it wrong. It can really make the whole thing struggle from that point on and you can show you can speed things up a bit or slow things down a bit but. Andy Stewart The the aim is certainly to try and get it right on before you start recording if you can. Jan 'Yarn' Muths What do you go by when you make those decisions you know when you feel it's not quite right? What's the instrument that should be in the right temple for the band to follow them for everybody else to follow. Andy Stewart Um, if it's an acoustic guitar based song I'll often play the guitar with the artist and we'll just play it for a while and get a sense of you know them singing along and okay, does that feel like the tempo. And sometimes I'll get on drums and play drums while they're playing um just sort of push it around and and try it on a few different things to get a sense that yeah, that's feeling good. That's not feeling rushed or that's not feeling like it's plotting along like lagging or struggling. Um, but like you. Andy Stewart Like you're kind of inferring. It's kind of it's a subjective realm that 1 you just got to go with the instinct really and ah as a general thing I would often say though that studios can tend to make people slow. They can. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah, yeah I can so see that? Yeah yeah, ah. Andy Stewart Studios can make people slow down a bit if there were if ever there was a generalization I would say that every gig I've ever been to has had a tempo where the live version of that song is 5 beats per minute faster than the recording of the album and that tells you a lot. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yes I Always always yes is yeah ah that's still true. Andy Stewart Ah, tells you a lot about the energy levels live competitor in the studio so that you got to be careful that to I'd always be pushing the tempo perhaps a bit higher rather than dragging it too far back because it's often you end up later going gee that's slow. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, yeah, that's true and you know if you decide for the tempo giving that your arrangement is sort of fixed. You know you also determine sort of the length of the song. So if you slow down too much. It gets much longer and that's not always an advantage is it? Yeah so um. Andy Stewart That's it. Yeah yeah, no, that's right. Jan 'Yarn' Muths A wise producer once told me to always finish a song before people are ready to finish it so that they want to go back and this and again before you hit the point of you know, getting to to the point where you know you've got it now and you're ready to for the song to finish that's too late then. Andy Stewart Yeah, yeah, that's it. Yeah. Andy Stewart Actually 1 thing I would say about that is that it's amazing to me actually how often I'll get someone. They don't necessarily have to be inexperienced or anything but they'll have a song that's six minutes long and from the outside looking in it is really just the same couple of. You know, musical changes over and over and over again. Um, and I often find that to be you know something that you work on early. It's like why are we going back to this chorus or this why are we going back to this drop. Why are we going to a drop out here. We're at five minutes thirty already you know like so. Andy Stewart Often people are looking for a contrast in a song late in a song which in fact is usually you know what? that's trying to tell them is that the song should be ending at that point. Yeah, yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, and that's when people introduce a C port or a main break or things like this just break up the arrangement. Yeah, that's what that's really good thinking? Yeah, yeah, yeah, right? That's very good I Often think about this same thing as as the entertainment factor of a song. So. Andy Stewart It's like hey ended already. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, and a really good way to measure that for me is just to play to a couple of friends and and just watch them as they listen and if they pull out the phones or stare at the window then I'm not doing a good job then I need to entertain them more and for me, it's mainly the mixing where I need to just do exciting things. Yeah yeah. Andy Stewart Yeah, and look up That's right. Andy Stewart That's it and the other thing to do is of course you know nothing beats pressure testing it by playing it like it's amazing. How many times you'll play something where you say you know you might have worked on a mix all day but it's the moment you go to play it to someone else. That you start going actually and before you know it out of your mouth come 3 excuses about the things that aren't finished yet and that's always an interesting and that's not quite directly related to your question but but ah, but pressure testing a song pressure testing a song is important all the way along. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes, yes. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah, yeah, yeah, so true La you you hit the nail on the head. Yeah it it. Andy Stewart Doesn't have to be with people who it has to be with people who are invested in the song though. Not just any schmo. It's got to be people who have some relationship to the song I think otherwise you can get all kinds of red herrings. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yeah I often get a lot of clarity just but changing environments. So sometimes when I when I'm halfway through a mix and I just get out and make myself a cup of tea and it in place in the background. That's when I suddenly see it. Andy Stewart Um, yeah, so yeah, yeah, yeah, actually Mike my. Jan 'Yarn' Muths So much clearer or when I listen in the car or yeah and the change of perspective. This is really healthy as well. Andy Stewart Yeah, my experience of that is often that I don't listen and I have a thing about not listening unless I'm working on it I am not listening to it at all like I preserve I try and preserve as much focus on the song as I can So if if we're just sitting around chit chatting. Andy Stewart It is off. It is not playing. It is like there is so that there's as much silence between listens as possible and that's what's the beauty of having a and that's this the beauty of owning a private facility whether it's in your bedroom or not is it to have the luxury of walking away. Andy Stewart That is huge that is not that and actually that is the massive advantage of a home studio over a commercial studio is that commercial studios. There's like there's a whip and there's someone going work work work work till four in the morning because it's so and that is that is. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah, yeah, yeah, and yeah, yeah I can see that yeah I made it free. Andy Stewart You know that is bad that is bad for the outcome. You know it doesn't speed things up so having having make making mixed changes at 8 o'clock in the morning over a bowl of corn flakes that's powerful stuff know. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yes, yes, so true I made it a habit never to to upload a mix to my clients unless I first sleep it over and check it in the car in the morning and then I know that's usually when I have the clarity so I realize okay, something went a notice and needs fixing. So. Andy Stewart Um, yeah, totally. Andy Stewart Yeah I mean I would as a general yeah as a general rule I would say I make more changes in ten minutes at nine in the morning on my own than I do in 4 hours after 10 o'clock at night you know. Jan 'Yarn' Muths That's mom. That's my quality control. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yeah, yeah. Andy Stewart It's just ah, it's a law of diminishing returns after very late at night. It's just almost pointless. So yeah I don't generally work that late. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yeah, that is so true. That's so true I know there are some people who there's some people who really love to work at nights but I'm definitely not 1 of them and yeah. Andy Stewart Look I don't mind working at night I just don't working don't like necessarily working from nine in the morning till 2 in the morning you know, especially if especially if I'm doing it for 20 days in a row or something I mean I did that last year there was about. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, yeah, um. Andy Stewart I don't know when it was it was a few months ago now I worked I must have done 21 days in a row of you know, 14 hour days and it was just insane. So you know, no, it doesn't that's right. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Oh yeah, well that doesn't work well for long. Okay say andi you know you? you've been in the industry for now you said 36 37 years you said? Yeah, so. Andy Stewart Something like that. Yeah, if I feel I can add correctly me eighty four I think it was so I think that's 30 seven let me just get the calculator up. Yeah, something like that. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah, obviously you you met you know lots and lots of musicians eighty four R G Ah yeah, right? Ah I was in school back then and so ah, obviously you met you know a lot of. Andy Stewart Nice, Well so was I. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, well I mean you know I was young I was would have been about 10 years old you've met a lot of different musicians and you know you've probably noticed over time that there are certain similarities between the ones that you know really get successful and maybe also the ones that. Andy Stewart Okay, yeah, right. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Not get successful. Did you notice that there are any sort of common. Let's you call it character traits or you know personal attributes that are typical for successful musicians. Andy Stewart Yep. Andy Stewart Um, um I think the most successful ones have always been clearly ambitious. For starters, um, they're not a lot of the people I've known who are successful have um. Andy Stewart Have clearly been um, pretty determined from the outset that that's what they were going to be is successful as musicians or or popular as musicians I think success as a musician and popularity am as a musician are aren't necessarily directly related. Really. And funny kind of way. There's a lot of measures of success apart from Popularity I would say um so it's a funny question because that's ah it's a difficult 1 for me because I often have I often work on records that aren't popular. They don't win Grammys or arias or anything like that. Andy Stewart But they're fantastic albums made by great musicians and on on a musical level. They're a great success but they're not measured monetarily or in popularity and I think as a musician whoever you are if you're gonna. If you are going to measure yourself by that that 1 measure then you run the risk of having a pretty sort of unsatisfying life where you feel like you've been sort of shortchanged somehow or ignored somehow or. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Moon. Andy Stewart It's not an easy road but it's um, but it's certainly not healthy I don't think to measure yourself only by you know how many Youtube views This song's had or how many people are talking about you on the radio. It's not necessarily. Um I think the other thing in particularly in Australia I Think the most successful people. Are the most persistent most people I know who are successful Now you know I know a lot of people who are successful now have sort of become quite household names in Australia and I've I've worked with them for years when they were complete nobodies. Andy Stewart And the thing that's made them successful is they've just kept at it. They have just kept making records and I think more than anything that is that is how you get somewhere. You just keep putting stuff out. You keep at it. You just keep doing your thing and eventually. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, right? Yeah right? and. Andy Stewart The world turns inward and looks at you and goes Wow you're cool. You've been around for a long time you know and then you sort of it becomes your turn almost that's funny. Yeah, absolutely. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, nice, nice. Yeah, the persistenency is what makes the difference and I guess you know it takes a bit of resilience because sooner late as a musician probably you will run into people who criticize you or doubt you and sometimes that comes even from the. Your friends or even family and that can be so Destroying. So The people who just keep going no matter what? yeah, That's that's really wise That's that's good stuff. Andy Stewart Absolutely yeah, totally yep and I Ah really do I Really do I'm a great believer in that that actually and look.. It's not for every genre like if you're going to be be a pop pop Star. It's probably not true of being a pop star. But like if you're ah playing Americana or folk music or country music or any of those sorts of other styles. Rock bands Persistence Persistence pays off. It's the old adage but it really is true and you know like I've just done an album with kucher edwards. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Well said. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Listen. Andy Stewart And it's a beautiful record. It was Nominated. It was short listed for an area but not nominated for an area and you know I could sort of go Well the R is have really made a mistake here or I could just go No, It's a great record how it's. How it's perceived from bodies like that is utterly irrelevant you know and and so it's very it's very important when you're producing albums whether you're the artist or a producer to just focus on the music and that's it beyond that. Jan 'Yarn' Muths So true. Yeah. Andy Stewart It's out of your control and if you really try and control it too much. You will be disappointed. So to me, it's just about making great music all the time. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, that's actually really wise words. So in other words, you need to manage 1 ne's own expectations so that you don't set yourself up for disappointment if you if you've focused too much on the wrong thing. Yeah. Andy Stewart Yeah, that's it and and manage your own not just manage your own expectations but realize that there are there are important things about being an artist and then the rest of it is just getting caught up in all the ego and all the. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yep, yep yeah right. Andy Stewart Music industry rubbish that is really when it's all said and done pretty hollow. You know it rings hollow. It's not. It's not um, if you were to get caught up in all that even if you were successful. It won't be satisfying like to me great sounding records and a great life in music is about. Andy Stewart Enjoying the recording sessions not enjoying the dinner six months from now you know, um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yeah, nice, nice look and if we just expand on this. You know, but in addition to all the character traits that that 1 may need to to be successful to. Today musicians are actually not just musicians anymore. They know they are to expect it to be recording engineers and songwriters and arrangers and basically a 1 ne-man show to do it all and promote themselves and some people mix and master and do everything. Andy Stewart Since. Um, yeah, yep, it depends on what the music is I know some people who do that brilliantly? um, on their own and the and they're kind of. Jan 'Yarn' Muths What is your take on this is that a wise workflow is that a good thing. Andy Stewart Trip is a sort of a solo trip and no, no, no, there's other people who who just don't do that. Well they don't know how to mix to save their life. They wouldn't really know 1 end of a microphone from another it this sort of takes all types. There's some people who are very capable of. Andy Stewart Being a 1 man show like that. But there's I would say that there's fewer of them than than than there are people who think they're in that Club. There's not many people who can mix their own music at all in my experience I am yet to come across an album where. My mixing of someone else's record who thinks they know a thing about 2 about mixing for instance, doesn't end up with them kind of going. Oh my god this just sounds a million times better I have no idea what you're even doing. You know there's ah, there's an artistry to all this stuff and there's. There's everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. The other thing I would say is that um, a lot of albums are well all albums. They're the sum total of the people involved. You know they sound like they sound like the people involved. So if you're 1 person then. Andy Stewart You've kind of got a limited bag of ingredients because you're 1 person whereas you know if I draw like the last record I worked on I've worked on with kutcher edwards. There's a lot of people are drawn into that album and I do that purposefully knowing that I am. Pulling in these extra ingredients that aren't in me either physically or emotionally or whatever. So so I'm kind of saying to these people I want the record to sound like all of us. Not just me you know and so that's a really important. It's a really important notion is that. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, Wow That's good stuff yet. Andy Stewart Art like that is made as ah as a group and that's kind of why everyone goes on about you know when everyone's in the room magic happens. It's like yeah because there's all these personalities there and you hear it you hear it on the recordings. Not just because of the sound of the mics or because they're all playing at the same time. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Oh no. Andy Stewart Because they are all these different human beings there and that's how they interact and when you're just 1 person and there's no interaction because you're just on your own. It's um, yeah's there's not. There's no sparks in the same way as there is when you've got other people involved. Andy Stewart So I would always say to people. Why are you working on your own. Why how is that you know like try it. It can be It can be fascinating to work with other people, especially when you um, don't necessarily think that they're going to provide anything ah people are. You be you me Maze. How often you're so really surprised by what someone will contribute and you know so I could sort of go on for days about that because that's a huge topic that really is. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, yeah, definitely and I love your take on this. It's right down my eie I Always love bouncing ideas for and back and in in basically every part of the production. Basically I'm songwriting up to the production mixing mastering this concert feedback. Andy Stewart Ah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Where it goes back and forth between people. It just naturally gets better it. So it's sometimes ah painful. But but yeah, just it's always worthwhile So that's that's really good now I find that the people who I know who produce themselves or themselves. Andy Stewart Um, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Seem to have a really hard time. It seems like a real upper battle for them and that's maybe just the lack of you know, having ideas bouncing for and back and yeah, yeah, very good stuff. Andy Stewart Well, it's a that's yeah that there's a lot of people who work on their own like that and frankly, the other part about that is that there's a lot of work. So if you're just doing it all on your own then either you will drop the ball. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, yeah. Andy Stewart Somewhere along the line or you will um, take forever doing it So that's that's a problem in itself. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yeah, yeah, yeah, right? Yeah so I guess we often see this. Let's say in Edm music where people often produce all by themselves from home. But there. Andy Stewart Yep. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Idea of you know when when they call themselves I'm a producer that's probably a very different idea to to your idea of of what a producer does can can you shine some light on this How what is your take on what what makes the producer. Yeah I know. Andy Stewart And. Andy Stewart Oh my god the word producer. The dreaded word. Um, yeah, like this often comes up producer is a funny word because there's a lot of people who want to be the producer for some reason because I think it just means. They think they've kind of climbed to the top of the mountain or something I don't know but ah often a producer is simply another perspective on something so either either. It's the but either it's sort of or it can be a sort of thing where it's an autocratic thing like a film director or something. But a lot of the time. It's not about that a lot of the time it's about you know, being ah sort of a more objective ear or ah, the ability to scrutinize things you know outside a band or you know like it's often. It. So it varies the role varies. From album to album. It really does and it's kind of it's a very vague term but these days it's a very loaded to me. It strikes me as being a very loaded term because um, everyone seems to want to be 1 but they don't even know why a lot of the time. Andy Stewart Um, people like to get that credit on the record I don't know why you know it's ah it's a it's an ego thing. It's ah and and actually the worst thing you can be if if you're if you want to be a producer because of an ego thing then you know. Ah, wouldn't want to be in the room with you. That's a show but that's true that happens a lot you know because actually to me fundamentally albums are about honesty. They are absolutely about honesty and so most people who are kind of ah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Look at. Okay, yeah yeah. Andy Stewart You know, obsessed with their ego and their um, their standing in a situation whether it's in the studio or in the bank there are you know they'll be. They'll be doing things that benefit them not not the music. So ah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, very good point. Andy Stewart That's really unhealthy so you know, ah, um, ah, um, um, as happy to ah like people pushing back against my my perspective on things all the time. The last thing would ever be would be the guy who would say no I'm in charge here. So therefore what I say goes. Like that is not to me that's not production. That's you know that's if you want to be that guy will go be a foreman at a job site or something. Yeah, um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, ah, good well said well said okay look any what advice would you give to to musicians who start out these days you know young teenagers Maybe who learn their instruments and now want to form bands or just want to. Andy Stewart Okay. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Get out there and yeah, start their music career and what what can they learn from somebody with your experience. Andy Stewart Ah, what I would say is that they can learn things from me but the 1 thing they shouldn't do is not back themselves. There's a heap of kids out there. It seems to me at the moment who feel like they need to be waiting for something before they. Back themselves. It's like nut just do it go for it. Don't don't hesitate don't feel like it's not your turn don't feel like it's not your right to express yourself for somehow you know a lot of the bands that are these sort of famous older bands around these days. Andy Stewart They they were 15 at 1 point and that's you know and they backed themselves and so I don't I don't think age is an issue I think there's heaps of people around sort of thinking they need to wait around for a while for something or gain more experience somehow or it's like nut just start. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, yeah. Andy Stewart Just play and just start recording and and don't look back really and actually the other thing I would say is it's hard. It's easy for me to say this hard to do and everyone goes through it but I'd be in trying i' be inclined to say try and be as um, you know. Honest with how you play and as individual in your performances as you can be as as as an artist your strength is in you. It's not in copying something else. It's really, it's it's It's not easy to copy something Else. Nor is there any benefit in copying something Else. You can you can play in the style or you can try and copy. Someone's song or something for a while maybe as a form of kind of you know, practice or discipline somehow. But actually all the best music is made by. Andy Stewart Abandoning that and doing something new and it's kind of some people would say that's hard to do but my experience it's like it's not you've just got ah and look ah, we've talked about this on the phone. Perhaps once before but to me the way you do that? is you just go into the studio and you just keep asking yourself 1 question. I love this if you love what's happening. That's it. That's all you got to do if you just ask that if you answer that question with a yes a thousand times over at the end of it. You end up with a record that sounds like you. It's it's unavoidable. But if you're kind of constantly trying to go I want it to sound like you know ed sheeran or something then then you're just not gonna sound like Ed sheeran in the first place and nor are you going to sound like you either. You're gonna be in this kind of nowhere land between between you know. Ed sheeran and and you know getting a job in the Bank. You've you've got to back yourself and you've got to understand that you're the best strength you've got not looking at elsewhere or outside for that inspiration I really do think that's you know. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, wow. Wow yes wow look Andy Stewart this is so good I wish somebody had told me that when I was you know a young engineer 20 years ago so that is so good that is still good. Yeah. Andy Stewart Really important and the sooner people learn that the sooner they progress you know. Andy Stewart Yeah, look I I literally was talking to some kid about this I was talking to some kid about this 3 days ago he was he came to me this kid is like he's 13 right? and he's been doing um stuff you know with with um. Andy Stewart You know ableton live and a couple of other plat things for about 4 years since he was like nine and he came over to the studio and he was kind of all nervous and and embarrassed and freaking out and he played me some of this stuff through his laptop and I was like this kid just. You know like some of it was just you know samples of things thrown in there and everything but this kid knew a thing or 2 about you know multi -band compression and tonal changes like he you know he'd mixed all his own stuff and everything and ah and I was like. The thing he kept sort of saying is what do I need to do before I start to put my own stuff out. It's like to me I was like what are you talking about? just put it out now like there is nothing to what is the barrier where is the barrier here. His barrier was that he was. Too young maybe or something and so I thought that was fascinating because there is no such thing as too young or too old. Frankly, it's just it's just a mindset. It really is so if you're if you think you're doing really if you think you're doing really great stuff and you're 12 well great. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, well, that's good and even that's good. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah. Andy Stewart Put it out. You know like I mean I remember um listening to leo cotke this who was ah, who's a very well-known american guitarist acoustic guitarist of of many years now and he he put his first record out. I don't know how old he was but I think he was maybe 16 or something and it's quite famous as a record now because he was famous for being this kind of really fast finger picking guitarist and you know he was just a kid and and so there is just no reason why particularly now. There is so much stuff that is so based around computer production. It doesn't have to be doesn't have to be dance music but but there a lot of productions are made with a computer. Let's say and there's a lot of kids out there who are very savvy with a computer. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Are. Andy Stewart In the same way that I was when I was 12 with a four track that that is now what someone plays now someone who was at that stage. You know when I was when I was a little kid I had a four track the same age group now has you know ableton live with this mountain of. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah. Andy Stewart Capacity So there is nothing to stop them from putting that music out. Why not I mean some of the best music is made naively you know without any knowing what's right? or wrong like you know before anyone's. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Fantastic it it it. Andy Stewart Deciding that the words right? and wrong matter just put it out you know because it doesn't it doesn't matter. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yeah, well well, any that is that is amazing stuff. Thank you for having this conversation with me I Love it I Love every bit of of what you just said it really resonates so well with me Well Andy Stewart state. Andy Stewart I worries. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths If 1 of our listeners wanted to learn more about you or maybe consider to to book you on your studio where where would they find you. Andy Stewart Um, they might find me at a bushfire that's coming up in the summer no um well look you know I've got a studio called the mill as you know and it's just online so I'm easily contacted via that website. Jan 'Yarn' Muths By the website and good fantastic I I put a show and excuse me. Um, let me say that again I'll put a link into the show notes if you want to check that out. Yeah, excellent and are you on social media as well. Andy Stewart Andy Stewart Show sure yeah, yeah, yeah, ah look I I've got a Facebook page which which I neglect I've got a website that I mostly neglect at the moment I ah I've been I think my. Andy Stewart My defense the thing I've done for years I've been a writer so I've been the editor of audio technology magazine for a decade and and probably for the last nearly a decade I've been writing for cx Magazine. So I do a lot of writing which is usually my. My equivalent of social Manager media. But yeah like I'm not a I don't tweet and I don't you know use Instagram I probably should but I'm too busy in this studio to ah yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, that's a good place to be andi. That's a really good place to be so that's very good. Okay, well look. Thank you so much for sharing all of these amazing you know, nuggets of wisdom with us. That's some amazing stuff. So yes. Andy Stewart Yeah, she. Andy Stewart Have I I'm not sure if I have. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes, yes, look I'm absolutely blown away by what you just said there was some amazing stuff in there for me and I'm sure for other people as well. So thank you so much for sharing that with with us and and the world. That's means a lot to me. Thank you Andi good. Thank you look I'm just going to stop recording here. Andy Stewart Um, Wow let's get oh that's good. Thank you so much for my pleasure. My pleasure anytime.
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