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Published

27 December 2022

"I set up a microphone in the control room and in the live room. There's no time, when they say 'I wanna record', it's now!" - Tom Garnett

About the 

guest

Tom Garnett has established himself as a standout recording and mix engineer amongst the Studios 301 team. Recently adding an ARIA credit to his name by mixing Justine Clarke’s 2018 award winning Best Children’s Album “The Justine Clarke Show!”, Tom continues to carve a name for himself in the industry as one of Australia’s most versatile and hard-working engineers.

The Production Talk Podcast - The modern way of producing music

In this episode:

  • Tom Garnett's career in music production

  • How Tom records world-renowned artists at Studios301

  • Preparing your instruments for a recording session

  • Tips and tricks for recording at home

  • The problem with cheap condenser microphones

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Extra Content:

Contact the podcast host Jan 'Yarn' Muths at mixartist.com.au

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

Tags:

Jan 'Yarn' Muths or mixartist.com.au, in the studio

Transcript:

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

Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome to the Production Talk podcast with me, Yarn, of mixartists.com.au. In this podcast series, we celebrate the modern way of producing music. We want to talk about all things related to songwriting, recording at home and music production. So, if you produce your music at home, this is the place to be. Please subscribe and recommend this podcast to all your friends. This is the Production Talk Podcast episode 73. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome back to another episode of the Production Talk podcast. At the beginning of this episode, as always, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the country that we are recording this interview on today, the Arakwal people of the Bundjalung Nation, and I would like to express my respect to the elders past, present, and emerging. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: With me today is Mr. Thomas Garnet of 301 studios in Sydney. Tom is a long-term staff engineer and he recently was mentioned as the mix engineer on BAHAs Aria Award and nominated song. Welcome to the show. It's great to have you. Tom Garnett: thanks for having me, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I had to listen to this song and it sounded fantastic, Tom. It's been a long time. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: We've crossed path, I wanna say, six to eight years ago in the Northern Rivers, and then we just ran into each other a couple of weeks ago at studio 3 0 1 s producers and Engineers Barbecue, which was part of the Aria Week. And it was really great to meet you. So I'm just dying to find out what has happened in the meantime. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So maybe just wanna start with the beginning of your career. Talk me through the milestones and tell me what you're doing now. Tom Garnett: Oh, wow. Such a big question. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Start at the Tom Garnett: Yeah, well, I guess like most engineers, I was a musician or I wanted to be a musician and I was sort of, I left school and wanted to get some gigs and me and my buddy who I played with, we couldn't get any gigs because we asked to play places and they said, we want to hear you, what you sound like. Tom Garnett: We were like, how do we do that? And then so we, we figured out you have to go to a recording studio, and then we figured out that was too expensive. I decided, well, I'm just going to, it can't be that hard. I'm just gonna do it myself. So I bought like a, I mean it was before I figured out DWS and computers and I, I bought like a boss recording system that had like six, eight channels or something and I started making demos and I really thought that was fun. Tom Garnett: And before I knew it, I was enrolled at SAE Byron Bay and. I didn't go to class very much, but I booked the studios more than probably anybody there. So, and then which was really handy because after I finished my degree, I applied for internships to pretty much every studio, including studios 3 0 1, who I didn't get a call back from, but I got an internship at another studio, which ended up. Tom Garnett: Really cool and probably in some ways a lot better cuz it was it was the old 3 0 1 cast race street, so the original 3 0 1 cast race street at 3 0 1 Castray Street, which was called Rec Studios. And the two guys there were legends and they're good friends of mine. And it wasn't like run like 3 0 1, it was sort of musicians. Tom Garnett: There was the musicians run. It was a studio of musicians run by musicians, and a little bit more ad hoc, a little bit more crazy, but it was in the city. So anytime big artists would book and they didn't want to get a cab to 3 0 1, they would come to the studio. So I got to work with some really big name clients, really straight away. Tom Garnett: And I mean, actually one interesting thing was almost a classic story. My first day of interning, I. I got there. I immediately, I was really nervous and scared. I grabbed the vacuum cause I was like, I'm gonna be cleaning, I'm gonna be scrubbing toilets and, and, Guy who the owner and one of the head engineers said, Hey, what are you doing? Tom Garnett: You don't have to do that. I need your help . And just happened that their engineer, their engineer left that day for some reason. I, I'm not sure if there was a, a miscommunication or, and there was no engineer on the session and they had an SSL console and Pro tools and the studio owner, Ross was, he was playing drums on the session. Tom Garnett: And then the, the artist was playing guitar and singing and they didn't have anyone to run. He was like, can. Run tools. And I was like, yeah, I can do that. And he's like, can you use the ssl? I was like, yeah, I can do that. And I ran the session and then, I mean, there was a bunch of other interns there. Tom Garnett: Some of them had been there a lot longer than me, but it instantly catapulted me to sort of the, the favorite position, I think. Well, I, I like to think so, but, so Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Did you have any experience on SSLs before? Because they're not easy consults to Tom Garnett: Yeah, so luckily at S sae Byron, they had the S Sslg when I was there and the S S L K, so I was pretty across it. And they had SSL E series at rec studios. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Which is very similar to the g Tom Garnett: So it was like being back at school. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic. Okay. Well that's really good. And, and about what year was that? How, how long ago? Tom Garnett: That was in 2014. , I think was when I started at that studio. So literally January, I, I, I remember I, the, the new year started and I moved to Sydney. I, I was from the Gold Coast. I moved to Sydney to do this internship. And yeah, I just, I took all my stuff and just moved down there. I, I didn't have many, many friends or I just wanted to work and I, I had no plan b I was just, I'm gonna become a studio engineer. and yeah, that's kind of how I started. I also had a, another gig at another studio called Alberts, which was a, like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I had, my band had recorded there and I, I sort of was like this assistant there for a bit as well with another guy. And did a lot of cool stuff there as well, including tape transfers and, A lot of cool sessions. Tom Garnett: And so I, I was really lucky. I mean, you have to make your own luck. I, I kind of made my own luck, but when I got those opportunities, I, I was well prepared and I worked really hard, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you were ready. Tom Garnett: I didn't, I, I wasn't going out and socializing too much. I was just coming to the studio every single day, whether it was my internship or not, and trying to be helpful and just, and, you know, I'd clean the floors and do whatever. Tom Garnett: Or if they needed help on sessions, I would help them. And I think that, I think that made a big difference cuz some, some people do internships and they, they just want to play their beats on the speakers and they don't care about what the patch bay does and stuff like that. And, but yeah, that's kind of how I got my foot in the door. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. And how did you move from being an assistant to being actual staff engineer? How, how long did it take you to, to take on this title? Tom Garnett: Probably about a year, I think. I mean at this, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's quick. Tom Garnett: yeah, it was quick because I mean, at 3 0 1 it would probably take a bit longer and, and probably be harder. But at this studio, because the two, the two guys who ran it were musicians and they had other interests. Like one of them is an artist manager and Ross is a drummer, and they didn't want to do the engineering at the studio so much, and they kind of got a little bit sick of it. Tom Garnett: So they would start passing me the gigs they didn't want to do. And before long, those gigs just got bigger and bigger and. , they wanted to do less and less. And I was the, I was the most capable of the interns because they had a bunch of other interns, but they, they weren't trusted to run sessions. And I just, I, I'd been in positions where I'd proven that I could do it. Tom Garnett: And so they just started giving me more and more sessions. And then it wasn't like officially like, Hey, you're an engineer now. It was just kind of, I was just doing sessions and, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: it happened. Tom Garnett: and it just kind of happened like that. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And for how long were you there? Tom Garnett: I was at Rec for three or four years. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Tom Garnett: I was also working at Alberts, but Alberts closed down and then rec it got to the point at Rec where I got busy with my own stuff cuz I'd been doing so many things and I got my own room in the same complex and I just didn't want to do everyone who came through the door anymore. Tom Garnett: I. . I was getting a little burnt out to be honest. I was just, I worked so much and it was, it was invaluable experience. Like I, I literally working there for three years was like working in another studio for six. I always tell other people Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Right. Tom Garnett: Those guys didn't have the budget to fix stuff. It was an old building. Tom Garnett: It was the old 3 0 1 and before that was capital. So, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm-hmm. Tom Garnett: all the wiring was old. The the console was, was break, was breaking and didn't work very well and, and they just didn't have the budget to fix it. They, we had techs come in, but, and so just getting things to work there sometimes was, was a real challenge. Tom Garnett: And sometimes we'd have big bands with like 11 people I remember. And there'd be an engineer that came from Melbourne and it was like I had to get everything to work and. , it was a real challenge and just, you do 14 to 16 hour days or more sometimes, and if you do enough of those in a week over and over and you just, you just get burned out. Tom Garnett: And eventually I was a little bit burnt out and I didn't want to do the, there was kind of too much work there for one engineer, but not enough for two. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I see. Tom Garnett: we couldn't get, we couldn't get somebody else to come. And Philly. And so eventually I kind of passed the torch to one of the, the other guys who used to assist me and who then ended up becoming a 3 0 1 engineer as well. Tom Garnett: And, and then unfortunately rec closed down because they sold the building. So they, those guys did really well to, to run a really cool facility for so long and keep the, keep carrying the torch of that building. I don't know if anyone listening. The original 3 0 1 was at 3 0 1 Castro Street, where this studio wreck was, and it was the, I think it was Capital or e Emmi and like David Bowie did an album there and, you know, heaps of famous from the sixties and seventies. Tom Garnett: Heaps of people recorded there. Like, it's unbelievable. So it was a real honor to see be even to be able to work in that building. So I'm really grateful that I got a, got a shot there and Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Nice. That's a piece of history Tom Garnett: A piece of history. Yeah. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Cool. And yeah, tell us about the next steps of, of your career. Tom Garnett: Well then next, I, I had my room down the hall and I was just doing lots of mixing and that's kind of when I really fell in love with mixing and, you know, I'd record someone and then do the mix and people just started book me for mixing and I was sending all of my mixes to 3 0 1 for mastering. And I think I sent, like, I don't. Tom Garnett: 20 or something songs in a month. And they were like, who's this Tom guy? We should meet him. So a few of the 3 0 1 team called me up and said, let's have some beers. And they came over and we got really drunk and I got to know him. And then really luckily for me, a few of the masking engineers at 3 0 1, like Steve Smart and Andrew Edon, they kind of, they put in a good word for me to run who's, who runs 3 0 1. Tom Garnett: And they, they said, you need to get Tom. Like he's really good and. I mean, I, I dunno why they think that. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, you aren't that Tom Garnett: And Ron, he, he he hit me up and said, do you wanna come and do some stuff for us? And I said, yes. And there was just at the time when 3 0 1 was changing the building to the, to the new facility and, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm. Yeah. That was a big move. Tom Garnett: a big move and they'd lost some staff because of the close down. Tom Garnett: And when they were opening back up, they. Stuff back and some of those old stuff had moved onto other places, so I, there was a, luckily just, I was in the right place at the right time and I showed up and they needed people to test the consoles, so they were like, Hey, do you know how to use. And I didn't, but I said Yes, cuz we need to test every single channel and every single part that cuz they'd reinstalled it and we need to, cuz it had been in storage for a year. Tom Garnett: So I got paid to test the console and at the same time I taught myself how to use that console so that the first session that was booked there I was on the session and it was a big producer from America had come to produce an artist there. I was the sort of engineer and I had just learned that console literally the days before, testing all the parts and figuring it all out and reading the manual and asking questions to people. Tom Garnett: So I kind of, yeah, I kind of snuck my way in. And then they have an SSL there as well, which I also knew how to use. And so then I was, once I did those sessions, I was, I was, I was kind of part of the. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow. Fantastic. Tom Garnett: and it was, it's pretty rare because usually you have to intern and I kind of skipped the, I skipped the, I did my time somewhere else, but yeah, it's, it's funny Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Tom Garnett: I did apply there and they didn't accept me and now I, I came back as an engineer. Tom Garnett: So, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: You played that well, . Good on you. Good on you. That's Tom Garnett: long road. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Okay. And what's a week like for a staff engineer at three, one, you know, how, how does it start? How many days do you work? How long are your days? What, what do you do all day? Tom Garnett: Well, I guess the week doesn't really start or end because at a place like 3 0 1, it's pretty much open 24 7. So it, and I got a, a quick reputation for doing the late hip hop sessions is kind of was my. that was like my niche. You know, other guys did rock and jazz and Simon does the vocals and I sort of found my niche as like the hiphop engineer and I did a lot of the international. Tom Garnett: A lot of people don't wanna do the international hip hop sessions because they're a real punish. These guys are often really rude. They come in really late at night, they work a really long time. It's crowded, it's noisy. They have the volume two 11. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh gee. Tom Garnett: So I did a bunch of those and I guess like sometimes those, you'll start at 4:00 PM in the afternoon and you'll still be going at eight, 8:00 AM the next morning. Tom Garnett: Sometimes, sometimes longer. So, and they might have booked three days in a row, so you go have a sleep, wake up, come back, do it again. , and that's usually on the weekend. So there's no real Monday to Friday for me at least. Some, some people manage to work themselves a good schedule, but I've always been down for anything. Tom Garnett: And if it's a good session, I don't care what time it is. If, if we're making cool music and it's something that I gonna be exciting, I, I'll go whenever. So I don't have any kids and , so I don't have Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, I was just wondering. Tom Garnett: Yeah. . So I've, yeah. That's also another reason I, I, I got to do other things, so, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Look, you mentioned earlier that earlier in your career you got a bit burned out. It sounds like that could be a recipe for burnout. Again, how are you managing your strength these days? How, how do you self monitor? When do, when do you know that it's time to have a break and, you know, how do you recharge your batteries? Tom Garnett: Well, that's a really good question. I mean, I was probably getting pretty burnt out from those sessions and I haven't done those for a while. I mean, COVID was a natural break because the studios all had to close pretty much. And even though we could go in, we were all isolat. There wasn't, as, you know, there was no sessions for nearly two or three years and definitely no international sessions. Tom Garnett: And so that was kind of a, a natural break other. by now. I definitely would be, I think pretty burnt out. But I think you just have to, you have to take breaks and just not do those all the time. It's, you can't do those forever. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, of course. Tom Garnett: That's why I've always thought, like I was, I, I've, I've, I came into engineering quite young and I, I sort of climbed a ladder pretty quickly. Tom Garnett: So I'm 33 now, but you know, when I started at 3 0 1, I was under, in my twenties still. I still had the, the time and the energy and the freedom to be able to do those things. So I, my goal was to make the most of it and sort of make a name for myself, if you will, while I had those freedoms. So I think that's really important cuz obviously as you grow older and you have family, your, your priorities will change and you don't wanna do those things anymore. Tom Garnett: So I've, I've put all my hours in. Yeah. I've, I've put in a lot of hours, like, and, and, and now I, I'm, I've actually noticed the last year I'm way more selective. I don't, I'm a bit grumpy if I have to do something like that. Like I, I think twice about it. Whereas I used to be like, yeah, just, I don't care what time it is, book it, I'll do it. Tom Garnett: Whereas now I'm like, I don't know if I wanna do that. So I think make the most of it while you, while you've got the legs. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Cool. Excellent. Tom Garnett: you will get over it. I think so. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So how does it work? You just, you know, come in, power up the studio in the morning, you know, is the client, do they come in a bit later? Do you set up, have you got help to set up microphones? Do you do a lot of sessions with many inputs or you set hip hop, so that's often just a single microphone. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: H how complex are those sessions? Tom Garnett: Yeah, it really depends on the, the, the session. Obviously. I, I, I guess I'll just talk about like, if you're doing an international hip hop star or a pop star, because I mean, a lot of people know how bands record, but maybe not everyone knows what you do. When a, someone kind of famous comes in the most of the work is done. Tom Garnett: Actually preparing the room with catering and sort of things that they will want to eat. And obviously I don't have to do that, but we have a lot of staff at 3 0 1, so there'll be like a you'll engineer, which is usually me or whoever, and then you'll have, they'll have an assistant and then there might be a couple other staff just. Tom Garnett: To help with like runners basically, because the, the bigger international acts, they don't come alone. They come with a group of people. They usually have security guards. They have friends that they've known their whole life. They have their managers, they have all sorts of people in a circus following them around. Tom Garnett: And those people ask you for things like they are the artist and you can't really say no to them either. So you need to have, if you're the engineer and you're by yourself, you don't want them asking you to go get. Some salmon at three o'clock in the morning when you're trying to record the vocal. So you need like the, the support staff is really important. Tom Garnett: And at 3 0 1, that's what they do really well. And that's why 3 0 1 does a lot of international, like a lot of famous people come to 3 0 1 is because they have the capacity to run those sessions. But yeah, I guess for something like that, it's, it seems like it's just a vocal and, but actually we go pretty in depth, so I, I've learned. Tom Garnett: having a lot of experience doing this. I set up a, a, a microphone in the control room because sometimes they wanna do it in the control room. I set up a microphone in the live room cuz they might wanna set up, they might wanna do something in the live room. You never, and there's no time to, when they say, I wanna record, it's now, it's not like, Hey, gimme a second while I step another mic. Tom Garnett: Otherwise they're gonna be upset. So it, everything needs to be done before they get there. So usually we come in. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I see. Mm. Tom Garnett: We'll, we'll just set the mic up. Set, set those both mics up. We'll set up auxiliary cables. So I usually put several auxiliary cables all around the studio. So in case they have multiple producers or friends who wanna play songs, sometimes they pass phones around and that person's like, Hey, can I play this song? Tom Garnett: And he's further away, so I'll have an auxiliary at the desk. So in case the artist is sitting there and wants to plug their laptop in and play a beat or play a song they're working on, I'll have a long cable running through the couches. . And so if someone's singing back there and they wanna play a song and then all these things are just either on channels, on the console or they're on externals, actually, I usually put them on channels. Tom Garnett: I learned because in case they say, Hey, can you just record that? And I'll just, I'll just sing over a top of it even though it's, it's rough and just come over at a laptop. If it's on an external, on the console, it's much harder to record. If you just put it in a line input, I can flick that into, into Pro Tools and I can just grab that chorus or something and then they can immediately just wrap over it or sing over it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Nice. Good thinking. Tom Garnett: and these are things I've learned from making mistakes. Like I've done things where I didn't have any of that stuff set up and I got yelled at and I felt like a real idiot. So but luckily by the time I got to 3 0 1, I'd, I'd already learned all these hard lessons and I was well prepared. So I think I did help a lot of people at three one learn that Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic. Wow. That's some great experience. Mm-hmm. Tom Garnett: we usually try to keep the same mics as well, so. If they change where they are in the, if they want, if they're in the control room or if they're in the live room, it's the same mic. And obviously put headphones in both places, copy the settings, things like that. Just make it easy for them. Tom Garnett: So no matter where they go, it's easy. Like, you wanna record here, it's done. You wanna record there? It's Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Yeah. I see. So, and if somebody wants to record in the control room, you just turn the speakers off and put your, put headphones on or, or do you run the speakers quietly? Tom Garnett: That's up to them. But I try, I would, I would personally try to turn the speakers off, but usually there's 15 people in the control room having a party and Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, right. Tom Garnett: but with that, usually with, like with hip hop recording quality is, I mean, I don't wanna say for everyone, but a lot of times it's is not the priority Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Yeah. It's about the vibe. Tom Garnett: try to, I try to build a baffle or something in there and, you know, and just, I, I will tell people to be quiet if I, if I think it's appropriate, but, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Does that affect your choice of microphone? Knowing that there are many people around, would you then consider maybe a dynamic microphone or something that picks up less detail? Tom Garnett: No usually you gotta use the best mics you got because these people are pretty cluey, like they've recorded in good studios before. If you put a 57 up, they're gonna be like, what the hell is this? Where's the Elam? Where's the 87? Like, they know what these, they don't necessarily know what they are, but they know what they look like and they'll, they'll be like, what's that? Tom Garnett: That's not what I usually am used to. And they'll hear it too. So you know, I'm, yeah, like obviously I go for the best mic we have, so Makes your job easier. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Nice, nice. So you just mentioned the Noman U 87. Obviously that's, that's a very prestigious microphone that's I guess known as, as the, or rounder. You find it in many studios, but the Elam is that the two fifty one is that the telephone. Yeah. Yeah, right. That Tom Garnett: real great mic. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah, and it's rare and it's extremely expensive, isn't it? Tom Garnett: Extremely expensive. But oftentimes people, they just. , they expect that they won't. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah, yeah. Tom Garnett: So we have to rent if we don't have it. I'm at 3 0 1. We have a Elam 2 51, but we didn't for a long time and we had to, we were renting it so often from another place that we eventually got one. We had to, because people were just, they just expect it. Tom Garnett: Same with the Sony C 800. We don't have one at 3 0 1, but it's 50% of the time they ask for an Elam and the other 50% of the time they ask for a Sony C 800. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Right. Okay. Tom Garnett: and that's a, that's also equally expensive and even brighter, which is almost impossible cuz Elam is very bright too. But it is a very beautiful mic. Tom Garnett: Sounds amazing. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Does that cause trouble with sibilance? Tom Garnett: I think like it's de dependent on the singer, so, or the who, who you're recording because if you, those mics are bright, but you're usually gonna make a mic that's not that bright, brighter. So it's gonna bring up the sibling. So if you use an 87, it's not as bright, but you're probably gonna boost some top end. Tom Garnett: And so then if that something is a sibling and, and they there's nothing you can do about it, he's gotta pull it down. So, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. I see, I see. And do you apply any processing to. Tom Garnett: I'm not a big processor. I'll filter things on a microphone if there's a microphone filter. But there's too many variables in sessions like that. They don't want you to be fiddling with stuff. They wanna start recording literally yesterday. So Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yep. Tom Garnett: if you are fiddling with the attack in the release times and 1176 and saying, Hey, can you just do one more take? Tom Garnett: They're gonna get, they're not gonna be happy. They just wanna start recording. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Got Tom Garnett: I, I prefer to, for the client to just be super happy and not for me to be noting out on compressor times. It's, if you, if you're working with someone who's a friend or a client that you are really comfortable with, then I'm more happy to ex experiment. Tom Garnett: But if it's, if it's someone I'm not sure about or I don't know, or I skip, and also there's less noise and less potential issues. , if you have, the more things you patch in, the more problems you can have too. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yes, of Tom Garnett: big, big, big studios like 3 0 1, we every studio in the world, you can have glitches and, and bugs and problems with gear. Tom Garnett: So some of these sessions are really high pressure and, and there's a lot of expectation. So you want the smoothest and easiest way forward because if you make, engineers can't make mistakes, if you make a mistake. You're done . Like there's no, there's no forgiving. I don't, I don't know why we don't, we don't get a lot of forgiveness with mistakes. Tom Garnett: So it's just, it, it's like, do your job and if you do your job really well, you won't get a pat on the back. It's just, you won't get in trouble. So, the compliment. So, yeah, I, I try to skip stuff and, and oftentimes, you know, you don't want to risk. If you don't know someone who you've record, you're recording. Tom Garnett: I don't wanna stick in 1176 cuz you don't know what they're gonna do. You don't know what's gonna come outta their mouth. They could be whispering and then start screaming. And then you're just gonna distort the compressor or you know, or just really crush, crush the vocal. And yeah, I don't wanna risk that. Tom Garnett: So I'm a little bit conservative. Other guy, other people are different. But that's just my approach. It's, it's just a simple trouble free. , get it clean and you know, you can always run it back through stuff later if you, if you really want to. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And, and do you find that there's a difference in well, shall we call it attitude maybe between, you know, the high end clients and sort of like beginners or locals? Do you get more attitude from the high end clients or what's the difference in flow if, if you work with smaller acts or larger acts? Tom Garnett: yeah, I mean, I think attitude, attitude's probably. an individual thing, but there's definitely extra pressure that comes when you are working with someone who's a really well known. It's pressure on you, not just like you. I put pressure on myself as, as everyone probably does to do well, but you know, you're worried about what this person's thinking of you. Tom Garnett: You're also worrying about the studio. Like if you let, if you don't do a good job, you're letting other people down, not just yourself. They'll, they'll think bad about where you're working. And there's also usually a lot of other people in the room. And I've been fired from sessions from people who are quite famous, oh, once or twice. Tom Garnett: And it sucks. It really sucks. And when you work with people who aren't as well known, it's definitely more relaxed. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm. Tom Garnett: You can still be like, I still remember it being very stressful when I was younger and less experienced. But as you get more experienced that. It goes down in, in sessions kind of when you know what you're doing. Tom Garnett: But yeah, I, I don't, I think attitudes, like you can have some people who have never released a song and can't barely sing and they'll have the worst attitude ever. And you can have a celebrity come in and they'll be the nicest person you've ever met. So, generally speaking, that's not the case. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I see. Yeah, Tom Garnett: I think celebrities are very, are usually used to getting what they want pretty quickly. Tom Garnett: And if you don't deliver on. They can be really nice and then they'll get a pretty angry pretty quickly. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I see. Yeah. Yeah. Tom Garnett: that's just, that's just my experience, so, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I don't wanna ask for any names when it comes to, you know, con confrontations or so in the studio, but can you talk about some of the most enjoyable sessions you've you've had, you know, just were things just. Went better than usual. People you got got along with really well. Tom Garnett: Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: You happy to drop some names? Tom Garnett: ah, there's been so many. Yeah, I would, I don't wanna drop names just to sound like I'm dropping names. I mean, I do a lot of work with Delta Good Drumm. She's obviously one of my she's become one of my closest friends and I work with her pretty much every week. And I have worked with her for three years and she's really lovely and down to earth and we have a great working relationship. Tom Garnett: And I mean, when I first worked for her, I was really stressed and I know that when she has to work at with other people, they get really stressed working for. just because she's a celebrity, but she's really nice and I know that you know how she likes to be recorded and she has a lot of trust in me and it, it makes, it's working with her is, is just like working with a friend. Tom Garnett: So it's always good recording her and she's an amazing singer. She just does, it's one of the few people who just does full takes and. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh wow. Tom Garnett: kind of finished. Yeah. So she'll just do a few full takes. I mean, not always, but oftentimes she'll just do three or four takes and it will make an easy little comp and it'll be done. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yep. Those are my preferred sessions. You know when the singers can do that, but that's not always the case and it doesn't suit everybody, of course. Okay. Tom Garnett: And I've had some really awesome rap sessions. I think Kid Inc. He was really nice that we had a really good session. Yeah. Sorry, I'm just drawing a blank. I've just, but I've, I've done lots of cool stuff and Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Say and when you produce these days is everything literally recorded in a studio or is it. Like, you know, I guess in most budget studios that musicians bring half the recordings from home was done on a di box at home. And record drums is it, is it a blend of home recording and studio production, or is it all done in the studio? Tom Garnett: Definitely more of a blend, I'd say. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm. Tom Garnett: But then I don't, this last year I've been doing recordings pretty much everywhere except for studios. I've been traveling a lot and I, I recorded Delta on a cruise ship a couple weeks ago. Delta sometimes doesn't like to come to the studio cuz she's busy, so we'll just record wherever she is and that's a separate challenge and probably a separate conversation. Tom Garnett: But yeah, we'll, we'll stick a mic up, try to deaden the room and, and record and, but I mean, I did a, I did a band the other day at 3 0 1 and they'd had a bunch of backing tracks finished and they wanted to. Some live drums to the, to the demo and they brought a drummer in and we recorded drums and some guitars there. Tom Garnett: So that's pretty common, I think. And then with mixing, like a lot of people will send you things that have been produced and they think, eh, if you, you know, if, if you're hearing anything, add something. I don't do a lot of production, but I, I'll add stuff if I think. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Tom Garnett: Into a mix. If I, if I, I always ask first and be like, Hey, I think this could have better drums or something. Tom Garnett: You know, that'll make it almost, it'll help the mix be better if I add a drum that does this, and if you don't like it, you know, just tell me. But here, I'll try it. And if they say yes, then I'll throw something in and, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So as, as an engineer who's used to working in the very best studios in the continent, Tom Garnett: Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: working with recordings that were done at home, I guess that's a bit of a mixed bag. You know, some of it is probably pretty nice, but you probably. You also have to deal with relatively problematic stuff at times. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: What are your most common problems that you find? What, what are people struggling with most when they record themselves at home? Tom Garnett: Ooh, that's a really good question. Well, it a big one, obviously vocal recording cuz that's what most people do at home. And I, I encourage, So many of my own clients to record themselves because coming to a studio is expensive. It's stressful and it's a lot of pressure. Like sometimes if you're not feeling the best and you've booked the studio, you have to perform, otherwise, you're, you're not gonna come away. Tom Garnett: So I think everyone should learn to get logic or protos or whatever, and you can get a pretty cheap mic these days and get a sound. That's pretty good if. Really good. But the problems I see most people have is either doing too much processing yourself, trying, like trying to do too much, or just simp simple things like your room's not dead enough and you have a terrible reflection and that's causing your microphone to have, you know, a really early reflective sort of frequency spikes and things like that, or, or just roomy sounds. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Tom Garnett: Or too close to the mic. Just, just people don't have the, some people don't have the ear to hear that they're, so if you're really close to the mic like that, you're just obviously gonna get a lot of proximity effect. And even if you cut it all away, it's still, I don't know how to describe it, but, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, yeah. You, yeah, I, I know exactly what you mean. You can't fully fix it later. You can Tom Garnett: And there's also just. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Tom Garnett: I think if you have a combination of a, a cheap condenser mic and a cheap interface, you get this really brittle sounding top end. Which, I mean, I shouldn't say this because, but I call it the road mic effect because it's oftentimes, I, I don't want to hate on road mics, but it oftentimes is people have a road mic, a cheaper one at home. Tom Garnett: And I mean, I, I had a, I had a road k2, they make some good mics, but the cheaper ones, they have a very particular sounding top end and. When someone's recorded at home and you're trying to get a modern sounding pop sound and it's has a lot of brightness. You just, if you push the brightness, it's harsh and if you take away it sounds dull and it's, there's no I, I talk about this with some of my colleagues all the time. Tom Garnett: There's just no matter what you do, it doesn't sound good. And Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Tom Garnett: necessarily a road mic. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: what you're talking about. I've, I've Tom Garnett: call it the road mic effect, but that's a little harsh to road, I think. But I mean, some people, I think it's a combination of. And the mic, and you know everything, but Jan 'Yarn' Muths: If I can share a trick that I use there if, if that's the problem I'm facing with, and particular if it's a brighter female voices, that just makes it exponentially more, more brittle. But if I've got a brittle voice I use irk sounds sooth plugin, Tom Garnett: yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Followed up by, by tape. Tom Garnett: Oh, okay. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: and between the two, we're often sort of I, I find a compromise that I can live with that that works in the mix, but it's, it's different every single time. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So it doesn't always work, you know? Tom Garnett: Think I have soothed two on every single, every nearly every single channel of my Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, right. Tom Garnett: Usually Jan 'Yarn' Muths: right? Tom Garnett: the highest Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, that, that's a lot. , you're Tom Garnett: always that it's always an ultra four times oversampling just to make me feel better and. It's, yeah. Even if a vocals perfectly recorded, I think, well, why not? Tom Garnett: Just a little bit of, just a little bit of sooth just can't hurt. But it's a really, it's a really great plugin and it actually, people ask me like, oftentimes, oh, what can I do to sort of combat that effect at home? And I'm like, well, I use this plugin, but I don't know if you wanna spend that much money on Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. It's not, it's not Tom Garnett: because I think if, if you, if, if you used it too much, it, it, it actually does make things sound worse. Tom Garnett: It's like a Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I think so too. Yeah, it's, it's like a surgery knife that, that thing, so you can do a lot of damage with that as well, as well as good. And I really believe in getting it right in the first place wherever possible. Tom Garnett: Absolutely. That's, that's definitely most Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Well said. Okay, so let me just sum that up. So you know the advice for re musicians who record themselves at home, that's definitely look at your reflections and how the room sounds and don't capture too much. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And I guess a good tip could be to just do a little test recording and then just literally put on headphones and crank it a bit louder for a moment and just listen to how much room you hear. Tom Garnett: That's, that's a Jan 'Yarn' Muths: would be a, a good, good test, I guess. Tom Garnett: I reckon people don't listen back enough to them, their own recordings. So they might be focusing on their pitch or the delivery, which is normal for a vocal. But if, if you want someone to be able to make it sound really professional later what's happening in the background's important because as that gets compressed and made louder and all those little things are gonna come up and. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I see. Tom Garnett: it makes all other things hard, like auto tuning and stuff. If you have other noises and weird stuff, Melaine and Auto Tune's gonna detect that and it's gonna do that little thing. Makes weird Jan 'Yarn' Muths: which can be terrible. Yeah. And then the second piece of advice was to sorry, lemme just collect my thoughts was to, you know, work with the best microphone available, and that's not necessarily the $150 condenser. So maybe, you know, to our listeners who produce themselves at home if you do something critical, maybe just ask around, borrow a better microphone if. Tom Garnett: Yep. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Or maybe even go to a local studio if they've got something decent. But Tom Garnett: I mean, you can rent U 87 s for like 50 bucks a day or something, but also I, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: not, not where I live, unfortunately. Tom Garnett: okay. Well, someone might have one. You might know someone who has one and you can rent it. But I've, I've heard, I've literally heard a Norman, U 47, a vintage one. And shot it out with an SM seven and the SM seven won. Tom Garnett: So, and that's happened not just to me, but other people I know. So just because of Mike's more expensive doesn't mean that it's better and, you know. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: it also depends on the voice. That you record? Yeah. Yeah. Look, the SM seven is a phenomenal microphone. I've got one in my studio and gets a lot of views and I've had quite a few situations where had a, you know, drum and bass player and one live room and a guitar player and another live room and percussions and another, and then a piano player. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And then the vocalist was literally in the control room playing guitar into the eye box, singing into an SM seven, Tom Garnett: Mm-hmm. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: which was meant to be a guy tech. But it sounded good enough, and we just said, , there's a certain magic in the moment. You know, the, the, the spirit of the recording was right and we, we used it, so, and it's in the recording, so why not? Jan 'Yarn' Muths: You know, the SM seven is legendary. It's been used on many recordings many professional recordings like Metallica, Michael Jackson, and we could keep on going. Phenomenal mic. Tom Garnett: and it's gonna pick up less room sound if you're recording at home too, which Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Exactly. Exactly. And pretty much that's the reason why I set it up in the control room so that I wouldn't capture the, you know, people talking and breathing and so on. Yeah. Nice, nice. That's some really good advice, Tom. That's some really good advice. So look let, let's go back to other things that we. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That, you know, musicians can learn from, from your experience. And, you know, musicianship is, is of course one thing, but what about preparing instruments for recording session? Have you come across any anything you wanna suggest to our or listeners to prepare themselves for recording session to get the most out of? Tom Garnett: That's such a good point. I think it's such an undervalued part of the process. The most important thing as, as you know and most engineers know, is the, is the what you're recording. If you have a guitar that's outta tune, it doesn't matter. If you use the best stuff, it's gonna be outta tune later when you record it. Tom Garnett: So I, I mean, like, get your g Like, don't be afraid to get your guitars set up by professional. It sounds so much better. I mean, I just took my bass of the day to someone in Sydney. You sometimes even forget how good it can sound when it's been properly set up. If you do that before you record you, you're already 90% of the way there to having a better sound than most people. Tom Garnett: And that's gonna make your engineer super happy. And I mean, you don't, it's, it's weird. Engineers are, it's like we are fighting to get sometimes musician. To, you know, tune the guitar or change the strings that we can get a better, but actually as a musician, it's, it's your sound that you should want to be the best that it can be. Tom Garnett: So you should come with, you know, fresh strings or if, I mean, if, if that's the sound you want or, or, and make sure your intonations sorted out if you have a guitar. And for drums, I think it's, it's unbelievable to me how many times people have old skins on their drum kit and they want to sound like a modern band. Tom Garnett: And it's like, but the, the skins are. They're barely hanging in there. And I mean, if you, if you hear the sound of freshly changed jump skins, it's just, it's, it's night and Jan 'Yarn' Muths: a world of a difference. Yeah. No EQ in the world can make up that difference. Tom Garnett: it's just, it's it's, and it's the same with any guitar strings. And Jan 'Yarn' Muths: mm. Tom Garnett: I mean, it doesn't happen very often, but the best thing to do is, is have a drum tech, you know, I mean, I. Tom Garnett: Been in many sessions where that's happened. But I know like if you do a big session in America, there's the drum doctor. I know, I know Delta did one, her last album, she went to Sunset Sound or one of those big studios, and they just spent four days just getting the drums to sound perfect . And it's Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Four days. Tom Garnett: I think something like that. Tom Garnett: I, I could be Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh gee. Tom Garnett: I, I wasn't there, but you know, they, they would, they. 20 drum kits or however of many, and they had 'em all tuned and ready to go. So it's like, oh, this song, we want more of this kind of sound. So we'll use, and it's almost, cuz I always say that my, my friends and colleagues, we all put the mics kind of in the same place on if you're, let's just take drums or guitars. Tom Garnett: Like if it's a guitar app, you're putting the mic pretty much in front of the cone. Or if it's a drum kit, you're kind of putting overheads up and mic on the stand, mic on the kick. I mean, people, everyone does something slightly different, but there's a general. We all kind of do the same. The differences between a good sound and a bad sound is what the instrument and the, the playing sounds like. Tom Garnett: So I mean, if you have those things taken care of, you just have to put the mics up, you have to put the mics up, kind of where everybody else does it. And you've already got a better sound than most people. And then, you know, put a couple weird things around to make it interesting. Put a guitar pedal on a, on a drum kit or something and make it sound crunchy. Tom Garnett: But you know yeah, that, that to me is when someone would you, this session drummers who are really good at tuning and when they come in, you know, it's gonna be a good day. And some of the best drummers in the world can't tune their drums. And, and even though they play amazingly, they don't record well because the kit doesn't sound good. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm. Tom Garnett: I think, yeah, being prepared for your session is, is super important. Obviously knowing what you're playing to save time is, is also really important. But you'd be surprised how many people don't know what they're doing before they come to a session, even at 3 0 1, which is on, on the expensive side, or they haven't practiced. Tom Garnett: They just assume they're gonna show up and and kill it. And then they realized, wait, I, I have no idea what I'm doing. And before you know it, eight hours flies by and. , you've just wasted thousands of dollars and, and I don't like that either. I feel terrible. I don't know why I feel really guilty. So I have sometimes stopped people and said, Hey, you are not ready. Tom Garnett: I'm gonna stop the session now, and you can have six hours credit come back when you've practiced. Because I don't want to sit there for six more hours and watch you struggle and then beat yourself up after, because you didn't do a good job. And then waste your money. I, I also feel guilty because it's, you're, it's a team. Tom Garnett: It, whoever you're recording and you, it's a team effort to to, to get Jan 'Yarn' Muths: that's a difficult conversation to have. Tom Garnett: It is difficult, but it's better than Jan 'Yarn' Muths: guess being, being honest there is actually serves the musicians best if that's what needs to be said. But does that happen often that people arrive unprepared? Tom Garnett: N not very often. Not very often, but yeah, it does. But it does happen. And Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Hmm. Tom Garnett: I just, it's interesting that you brought up the preparation thing. I do think it's really important and it doesn't get talked about very much. So I think it's a really good point. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And maybe sort of, maybe one of the last questions, but you've worked with so many people, very ex experienced but also I guess some younger musicians. Did you find any common, let me call it character traits that all the successful people have? Or is there anything that you can, can point your finger at any, any work ethics or demeanors that that make successful musicians or that they have in. Tom Garnett: I think most people who are very successful have a really strong work ethic, and they also have a lot of confidence in themselves. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm. Tom Garnett: even if that confidence is somewhat misplaced, confidence is still, you know, if you don't, if you don't back yourself in a, in a recording studio, you're not gonna deliver a performance that's convincing to people that you know, you can hear when someone's kind of nervous. Tom Garnett: A little shaky. So I think people who are really successful, I mean, I mean, success breeds confidence. So it's easier for people who are already successful to be confident. But you know, I think if you look at newer artists, the people who I feel do better in studio situations already have the confidence of someone who's really successful. Tom Garnett: Like, they don't even think that they're new. It it, but it's not, it's not arrogance, it's just like, I'm really confident in what I'm doing. I'm, I have talent, I have skill, and I'm gonna kill it today. And then they go and just deliver. And it's, you know, and that gives you the best takes. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's a great attitude to have. Thank you. That's great. Works to finish up on. If one of our listeners wants to find out more about you, maybe wants to book you for a session, where can we direct them to her? Tom Garnett: You can check out the 3 0 1 website. I'm notice I'm really terrible at promoting myself. I have Instagram. I barely Jan 'Yarn' Muths: to put the, the link in, in the show notes Of course. Yeah. In you on Instagram as well. Tom Garnett: I'm on Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you like me to put that in the show notes Tom Garnett: yeah, sure, please. I'll, I'll share the, the podcast episode as well. And yeah, you can book me at shoot your three, one website. I'm just, but, but if you have, I always say if people have questions about anything, they can message me on Instagram. I mean, I don't do master classes or do these teaching things, but because I always say, if you have a question, just ask me. Tom Garnett: I mean, if you want me to listen to your song, I'll, I'll listen to it if I have time. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: that's a really Tom Garnett: love just con Yeah. So yeah, it's, it's, it's, you know, hopefully I can learn something as well. So Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Love it. Love it. That's a great attitude to have. Tom, thank you so much for speaking to me today and for sharing all your wisdom. I really appreciate that. Thank Tom Garnett: was really my pleasure y thank you so much for having me. It was great to see you again. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Awesome to speak to you. Cheers mate. Tom Garnett: Thank you. Bye. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow. This was a Mr. Tom Garnet of Studios 3 0 1 on the Production Talk podcast. Thank you, Tom. I really enjoyed this chat. It's so good to see you again, mate. Also, this is the last episode of the year 2022. Next time I speak to you will be in 2023, so I hope you all have a fantastic New Year. Hopefully this will be a better year for everyone who listens to the podcast. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: If you want to find out more about Tom and what he offers at Studio 3 0 1 in Sydney go to the show notes, scroll down, and all the links are there to social profiles and of course to Tom's webpage on the Studios 3 0 1 website. However, if you want to reach out to me, you can of course do so via my website, mix artist.com.au, where I offer a mixed on services for everybody worldwide who needs a little bit of help getting their mix across the finish line. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And of course, we also offer amazing studio recording services in the Northern Rivers in the Byron Shire. So if you have any projects coming up for the next year, and you are based in this area, if you need to. Please reach out to me. There's a contact form on our website and I would love to hear from you. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's all for this year. You have a fantastic time. I shall speak to you on the other side. Bye for now.
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