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"One day I'll be doing a record in someone's living room and the next day I'll be in a studio with a Grammy award-winning artist or number 1 artist or whatever. So, it's quite a varied lifestyle." - Russell Cottier

In this episode

  • Russell's preferred choice of DAW

  • The state of the music industry in the UK

  • Russell's studio workflows

  • Russell's take on broad EQ and console mixing

  • Russell's favourite DAW

  • The worst advice Russ has ever received

  • The best advice Russ has ever received


About the 


Record Producer Russell Cottier has worked for Chart-Topping Artists and Labels - such as The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Sony, Sky TV, Nuclear Blast Records, Tamoki Wambesi Dove, Cavern Records, Playboy Channel and many more. Russell is a resident at the Grammy Award Winning Parr Street Studios. He also does national and international work at other major UK studios.

The Production Talk Podcast - The modern way of producing music


Jan 'Yarn' Muths of explains the ins and outs of Harrison Mixbus

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Jan 'Yarn' Muths or, in the studio

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



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Jan 'Yarn' Muths Thank you so much for making time today. It's ah the very first time that I'm actually doing an interview with a guest overseas. So so far all the interviews were we are all here in Australia and you know I've done interviews with over. Russell Cottier Ah, really. Jan 'Yarn' Muths People before but not for this podcast So that's a premiere which is fantastic. So really glad to have you on board. It's eleven o'clock in the morning is that right. Russell Cottier Show. Russell Cottier Ah, it's eleven in Sunny England Yes, yeah, it's not so sunny these it's winter and it is as you would expect. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, in Sunny England Okay, well it's winter here. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, well I've lived in that general area of the world before and yeah. Russell Cottier Ah, yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Can be quite miserable. Yeah, and you've got a cup of tea going for me. It's late at night. It's quarter. So. Russell Cottier Ah I have a I'm I'm so British I have to I'm so British, I have to have a cup of tea at all times. That's ah ah, absolute requirement for studio. Jan 'Yarn' Muths For me, it's a bit later so I hope you can forgive me I'm having a glass of red wine because it's allready past 10 pm at the stage. She's. Russell Cottier Oh nice, nice. Well, I'm on decaf after 3 pm now. So decaf tea. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Okay, yeah, not a bad idea actually that's actually not a bad idea. Yeah good rasa and first tell us a little bit more about yourself. Please do you want to just. Russell Cottier Definitely, definitely um, stops you from working all night which is a good thing. Jan 'Yarn' Muths You know, talk about who you are what you've done musically and what your passion is. Russell Cottier Oh, do I have a passion? Yes, okay so I'm a record producer I'm ah based in the UK in the Northwest in Liverpool um as I look out of my studio I'm on the first floor or sort of what you would the first floor up, not the ground floor. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Okay, see. Russell Cottier Um, and I can see right across the right across the River Mersey over to Liverpool So I'm in the sort of the yeah Epicenter of UK music as it were um, certainly the history of UK music. Um, which is nice. Ah so um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Well. Russell Cottier Yeah, I'm a record producer I've been doing this for nearly 20 years. Um, I started as ah as an engineer in a local studio and sort of built up from there and I do a lot of educational stuff. Um, so I'm an ambassador for Harrison Mixbus. Um I Run a Youtube Channel I have an electronics company where we make hardware controllers. What else do I do Oh just so much so much stuff. Um, and yeah I think um I think that that basically covers me I mean I Yeah I've worked with. Jan 'Yarn' Muths M. Russell Cottier All sorts of people from you know 1 day I'll be doing a record in someone's living room and the next day I'll be in a studio with a grammy award-winning artist or number 1 artists or whatever. Um, so so you know it's quite a varied lifestyle. Um, and um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Swallow. Russell Cottier Ah, just try and make records that are really fun and interesting. So that's my kind of the main goal really when I'm when I'm producing. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Excellent, let me just maybe clarify because not everybody might know about Harrison MixBus. It's a Daw or digital audio workstation. What? what's special about it. What? what? What do you like about it so much. Russell Cottier Oh yes. Russell Cottier Um, okay so I was fortunate enough to be old enough to grow up on the end of the tape era so digital recording and digital mixing were just coming in when I started in the industry. Um, well. I say just coming in they were coming into more regional studios. Obviously the big London studios have been doing this for 4 or 5 years but you know at at the point where I came into the industry the the studios I were working I was working in. We were still using analog mixing we were still using analog tape. Jan 'Yarn' Muths M. Russell Cottier So I started off on 16 track 1 inch and a big amek console and tanoy golds and all that kind of stuff. So um, that's how I kind of got into things and learned to experience mixing music. Um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Nice. Russell Cottier As I moved on to working in the box more which is great. Absolutely fantastic. Um I was finding that I wasn't getting the sound that I wanted and I ended up having ah a sort of a default setup where I would drop an ssl plugin channel strip onto every input channel. I would have some kind of saturator on all my busses I would um, maybe run into a compressor plugin. So I had this kind of desk setup and I was using well I I would use whatever daw the studio was comfortable with using because I work in a lot of different places. So. Jan 'Yarn' Muths But but you're basically emulating the and and you look analog Tape workflow in in a computer. Yeah. Russell Cottier You know I started off using cake. Yeah, the sort of the the the yeah the the analog workflow in the in that you've got all your input channels and then and then you would have a number of group buses and then you would have your master Channel and I would even put all of my um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths E. Russell Cottier Auxiliary sends on every every channel so I would be able to easily and quickly grab a reverb whenever without actually having to break into my mixed flow and click add send a bus Reverb Blah Blah blah. So so that was. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, yeah, yeah, got it. Russell Cottier That was the that was the workflow I was using and then I kind of came across Mixbus in its very early early stages back before the guoey redesign you know b plus 2 or mixus 3 or something and I sort of used a little bit and then I was working on pro tools a lot. Um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah, yeah. Russell Cottier And then I kind of re-encountered Mixbus a number of years ago and decided to move over most of my project work to to that. Um, you know some? It's not appropriate for certain things. It's not really appropriate for working with um you know. Ah, sessions that have to be locked into another daw so sometimes I'll work in logic because the client has logic and uses logic and we need to work up to that stage and then maybe I'll bounce out stems and sum them in mixus. Maybe there's a studio with pros hd or htx or whatever. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Is. Russell Cottier Whatever the current generation is and you know you you would probably be a fool to to walk into a studio that you didn't know and start kind of trying to track recording sessions in a piece of software that they've never never used on their system. So so quite often I'll I'll be tracking as something else and then I'll bring the. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yes, so true. Russell Cottier Files into harrison makes us but you know the the studios where I work regularly I have that rigged and um, you know I'll I will even um, sort of. If I know the system can handle it I'll I'll use that from the ground up rather than user pro toolss accelerated sort of setup. So the the cool thing about Mixbus. Yeah I mean the cool thing about Mixbus is that it gives me all of the this is what you were asking really isn't it. It gives me um, ah eq ons screen for every channel. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yes, yes, that might that makes sense. Russell Cottier All times it gives me um, ah dynamics for every channel at all times. Um because it looks like a mixer so I don't have to click into plugins which is so slow I mean it's incredibly stuck. You'll know this mixing on a console. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes. Russell Cottier You can jump around and you can eq 1 thing and you can you know immediately jump to compression on the kick drum and then you can go between the vocal you know like you can balance these things which aren't really doable as easily if you have to go through. Ah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes. Russell Cottier Plugin Click Click Click even with a mouse. Um, there is a delay obviously compared to ah sort of an analog console or or a physical controller. Um, but yeah, just it's just a really nice nice system and it sounds great because it has saturation built into the. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yes. Jan 'Yarn' Muths It does doesn't it. Russell Cottier Buses and that's what I think is the the key thing about making a ah professional mixed gel. You know? So um so I found mixbus again and I've been working with them ever since and they're so good to me Ben and Mike and and and they just. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Oh. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah, yeah, fantastic. And and you look well after them. Well I'm I'm a mixed best user as well and I've been using it. Also since since version 2 Russell Cottier Just the best people to work with absolutely the best people to work with they look after me, let's put it that way you know oh well I hope So yeah, um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths And yeah look I Love that piece of software. It's It's ah, really intuitive and you know everything you just said, really resonates very much with me. Yeah, nice, really nice. Russell Cottier Yeah, so I was I'm so talking to someone the other day about a sat here at my con. So I've got a attack match list which is 1 of the models from ame for British manufacturer. Um. And large format console I'm sat right in front of it and I'm looking at the eq now and the eq has 1 2 3 15 knobs on it and I've never mixed a record on this on this console and thought oh I need a more surgical eq I just it doesn't happen. Um, if there's a problem with. Ah, particular track that does need some kind of graphic or or very precise eque then I'd probably rerecord that track or I would probably fix it within the context of the computer. But for the actual mix process I think less can be more and you can. Of a avoidid doing lots of damage by having nice gently cucurves that can't really be cranked too much and I think mixus translates that concept into the software world whereas if you look at the standard stock eq for most of the Daw's you can. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um. Russell Cottier You can really go to town on some sounds and when I hear inexperienced engineers mixing on on those workstations you get all sorts of all sorts of crazy problems which just wouldn't exist if they weren't given the tools to to like ruin this sound. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, yeah, like like using way too many plugins. You know Ive yeah yeah I've seen that as well I am. Russell Cottier Way too many plugins and and you know I picked up ah a sort of ah a session off of a friend of mine who's ah, a producer who needed me to to finish mixing a record for him because he was busy with another 1 and um. Great guy but clearly he'd been mixing this project on headphones and probably or or ah, not not a very great environment and all the instruments had these crazy cuts in them. This is like these sort of dip eqs really weird frequencies and. Just went in and bypassed the eq and the whole thing just came to life so much more. So I think a lot of the time people are fighting things that don't exist because of monitoring issues so something like a piece of software like Mixbus kind of stops you going crazy with the plugins doesn't it. You know as such? yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths M. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Keeps you focused on what really counts? Yeah, yeah, yeah I can see that I can see that nice. Russell Cottier Absolutely I mean the vocal rides and stuff for the yeah I mean ah you know levels and automation and compression is so much more useful than than eq in my opinion and and my mix is over the years I use less and less eq. Jan 'Yarn' Muths M. Russell Cottier Less and less processing and and they sound better and better. Hopefully hopefully yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes, same same same. That's that's so true. Yeah I was actually finishing a metal and rock album the other day and noticed that for the first time in probably forever I actually used a compression ratio of 2 to 1 Russell Cottier Yeah, oh yeah. Russell Cottier Oh my goodness. Ah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths As ext extreme as 2 to 1 I'm a 1 point 1 point 3 to 1 point five person usually and 1 point 7 when I get angry and yeah. Russell Cottier So so this reminds me a little bit of um of sort of you know tape compassion. Um and ah sort of the compression that you can ah either either. Um noise reduction technology or or um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um. Russell Cottier Compression that tape applies and you know that's 1 of the things I think that makes tape stuff sound so good because if you hit it hard then you get that gentle compression if you hit it just the right level. You get that gentle compression and it comes back in sounding kind of more ready as it were um so. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yes, exactly yes and it's a fine balance Now if it's just a bit too much or then it can really break apart. Yeah. Russell Cottier So yeah I mean you know? Um, yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely Absolutely Yeah yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, that's that's so true. Good say what's the situation currently in the Uk you know we all know about the pandemic and the havoc that has coursed in in the music industry. What's the situation over there. Russell Cottier Well, okay, as as we're recording this. The news has just broken about the prime minister having attended a ah christmas quiz party. Um, so that's interesting. Um in terms of and this is relevant not just my political rant. Um. Ah, it's very difficult because you know for the past 2 years we've kind of not or nearly 2 years we've kind of not really known what's going on. Um, bands are not able to tour live music acts aren't really able to tour consistently It's happened for a bit but smaller bands that don't have that that. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um. Russell Cottier Budget behind them have kind of stopped and put everything on hold which means the recording industry has slowed down for a lot of people. Um, Fortunately I It never really happened for me. Um, because I had so much on and so many kind of arms to what I do. Um. I was able to focus on stuff that I was able to to to to undertake um Studios were closed for a little while and then because we can't complete that particular type of work from Home. We were allowed to go back into them. Um. But yeah I've not really been I've not been away working in Europe for a while Obviously and I've we had Brexit as well which has caused all sorts of issues. Um, but you know I've got a session I've got a session on. Jan 'Yarn' Muths E. Russell Cottier Saturday so yeah, in 2 days time I've got another record on between christmas and New Year so things are happening. Um, just it's all very tentative. Yes I mean it might get canceled at any point but who knows. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Oh that's good. Yeah, okay, okay so business is basically back there but on a lower level at this stage and and what's what's the tendency. Russell Cottier Yeah, definitely and I think. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, is is is it coming back are geeks coming back or are people still locked away and. Russell Cottier Ah, well they were and then we've we've I think I think people have become more frightened over christmas so you know there are gigs running and they're using the the the Covid passport system just to make sure everyone's vaccinated and logged. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Me. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, that's quite similar to to what we see over here. Yeah. Russell Cottier Um, the risk. Yeah well I mean I think I think with the smaller artists. There is a risk that um ah 1 person getting sick will cause the whole. The whole 1415 people on on a particular tour to have to sacrifice the rest of that tour and cancel. Um so I was talking to a friend of mine who's ah, who's ah ah you know, um, a professional musician at a sort of medium to high level and And. He was saying he's He's basically ah very nervous about this this this whole thing they're going to continue their talk but as soon as someone gets sick and they have to cancel their all remaining dates in the tour then it could be ah it could be a major issue. Um, but yeah I mean I think. Jan 'Yarn' Muths O. Russell Cottier But there's nothing. There's nothing we can do about this. So I think embracing other forms of technology is is a really good way to operate so you've seen audio Movers has has hit the the big time recently and. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes. Russell Cottier You know we've been working in the industry remotely for years and years haven't we you know firing wav files to each other on. Jan 'Yarn' Muths That's right, can that's right can can you just explain what audio Movers is not everybody may may know what what that is. Russell Cottier Oh right? Okay, yeah, um, should ah ah right? Okay, so audio movers um, there are a few ways of piping audio in a relatively live manner around the internet. Um audio Movers is a company that released a plugin called listen to I think it was. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes. Russell Cottier And there are 2 There are 2 forms of this plugin. It's a subscription service. They have a server somewhere that sort of lets you I think it's a server-based system rather than a Peer-to-peer system. Not entirely sure. Um, but ah, they let you? um. Create a link that you can stream high quality audio out of you out of your daw from wherever you drop that plugin and you can send that link to your client and the client can listen in a browser Alternatively, the client can drop a a plugin into the Dw or. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Guess. Russell Cottier You know anyone can drop a plugin into their dow put in the passcode and then they can actually grab audio into their workstation live from from you so I tried this out with a friend of mine in who's based um I'm in the north of England so um. Ah, she's based in London and we managed to do some sort of backing vocals over ah over a ah backing track so you can conduct you can't conduct live sessions. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, oh Wow did did you use that live recording sessions effectively. Wow That's that's phenomena. Yeah. Russell Cottier Yeah, it's not very good though. It's not. It's not a patch on something like Steinberg's Cubase remotes. Whatever that's called. It's very it's very complicated. So the I don't know if you have you used the the Cubase. Jan 'Yarn' Muths I have not now but I've used audio Movers myself and source connect and other so solutions and obviously latency is usually the biggest problem now to? yeah yeah, yeah, exactly. So. Russell Cottier Remote recording setup. Um, yeah, yeah, it's not.. It's not ideal. Is it Well? Well the the the yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths In in the end. Usually we still exchange files for and back via Dropbox or Google drive and return away Files of the same star point. That's that's an unbeatable system but it just can't be done live you. Russell Cottier So so the um, the Cubase thing is definitely worth checking out if you're a Cubase user and it's basically ah if you have a certain version of Cubase or something and you can load. Basically the the client or the talent or whatever it is. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Okay. Russell Cottier They download a very small application at their end and it has very simple controls on it. So I think it's got like a reverb control volume level of backing track volume level of you and it does a video link as well and so you can kind of you can kind of plug in. Um, and record whilst having a video conference with the producer who might be thousands of miles away. Um and it does all the alignment for you. So everything is. It's not exactly real time but it's like within a second or something. And then it will upload a temporary version to um, the producer and then slowly upload the full version as as you go along which is a technique that I don't know if you've ever used om studio which is fairly outdated now that was om boys from. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah, you could I have not no. Russell Cottier They're a french programming company and they kind of interested I think they sort of came across this idea first. But I I don't think that the um, it's like an online workstation. It's definitely worth checking outs. Om studio o h m um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths E. Jan 'Yarn' Muths You're right. Russell Cottier If you have a ah computer that will run it because it's 30 2 bit only um and um, yeah, it's ah it's a sort of ah a web-based collaboration workstation which is great fun. Um maybe not ideal for professional use though. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, ah, okay, well, it's quite amazing how you know in ah in a time where the music industry is in somewhat crisis. How technology leaps forward. Russell Cottier It's worth having a play with you know some of your listeners are into that. Yeah. Russell Cottier Ah, absolutely yes. Jan 'Yarn' Muths And suddenly we find ways to to produce that were unthinkable before and you know technologies like zoom and you know ah audio Movers now they just leap forward and then become mainstream. It's great to see in some ways. Yeah. Russell Cottier Yeah, yeah, absolutely I you know? ah I think we were at the perfect. Um, we're at the point where where it hasn't been many years since we would have been able to cope in this way. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes. Russell Cottier With a pandemic. Um, so you know let's say 3 4 years ago I don't think people would have all been working from home just because of internet speeds and um, you know availability and but now everyone has that access and we're also used to. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, and how was how was producing music different to to as it was before. Do you see more of a blend of you know people recording parts at home and parts in the studio is that happening. Russell Cottier Facetime calls or you know video calls on on on whatever platform. Um. Russell Cottier Yes. Jan 'Yarn' Muths More often than before How is how is producing music different now. Russell Cottier I've I think it was always going that way. So I've I've had a I've had a few projects on a few major projects on over the last um ah year and a half um have consumed a lot of time. Um, 1 I was able to go and actually do recording session on a boat in in London in August last year yeah and that was really weird. So we we kind of all tested and and made sure that we were. We were trying to um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Oh wow. Russell Cottier Trying to socially distance within this boat. Um, meanwhile a storm. It's more moored in trinity wharf. So It's It's not a sort of a not a boat out at sea per se but um, ah yeah, that was that was really interesting because you know, ah. There were there were risks involved I think but you you have to kind of limit those risks and make sure everyone's sensible about testing and um, you know keeping it in contact if we have ah an app that that would would alert you if you've been around anyone who's tested positive all that kind of stuff. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um. Russell Cottier Um, so so I don't know I mean things have kind of returned back to normal but just at a slower rate. Um and you know I will be in the studio with bands. But we're all very careful when we go in and. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, and is it more acceptable these days that parts of the music or sometimes entire albums are literally recorded at home. You know that was something people looked down on ages ago. Russell Cottier Who we interact with afterwards you know. Russell Cottier Um, yeah, yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Is this more acceptable in the U K these days or does it happen more often. Russell Cottier I mean I think the I think the quality issue for for.. Let's say Guitar playing is actually relatively similar. Um, so the quality of maybe a guitar part de-eyed and then reamped by me. Might be better than if the guitarist was was in because I'll have more time and less less stress dealing with the guitarist. Um, so if they can get a good clean recording. That's Great. A good di recording. Um, you do lose that interaction with the loudness of an amp. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Okay. Russell Cottier And you know microfeedback So I'm quite into um for certain certain parts having the guitarists stand next to the amp that is loud. Um, but you you know you don't need that for every guitar post and a record. So yeah I think people have started to to go that way. The only issue with that is. Jan 'Yarn' Muths He is. Russell Cottier It does require a level of technological understanding which is why something like that Cubase type application. It takes away the stress from the artist. So like when I'm in a studio with with musicians I don't want them to even notice that we're recording. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes. Russell Cottier Don't want them to know that I'm tuning drums or I'm moving microphones around and ah, you know, ah the the experience should be of making music and and they should They should be wowed by what it sounds like and they should not be stressed about. Any kind of um, sort of ah you know, um, technological side Issues. Oh bear with me I think pardon can you say that again I think our internet just. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah I get it so musicians. Yeah, so when people record themselves at home. They are musicians and also recording engineers. Yeah sorry yes, sure, no worries. So if if musicians. Russell Cottier Dropped. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Record themselves at home. They basically just spread their attention across playing an instrument but also being a recording engineer and dealing with you know microphones and gain and operating a daw and all of this does that take away from from the musical performance in any way. Russell Cottier Oh yeah. Yeah, and it's um I think if you can make it as simple as you ah um, ah as simple as you as you can then. Jan 'Yarn' Muths E. Russell Cottier That's the best way of doing it. Oh um, you know I'm just having ah an issue with your podcasting thing here bear with me. Do do do Oh I think it's just trying to access a drive that that has no space on it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Okay, what's it doing or not doing. Jan 'Yarn' Muths So where were we? Russell Cottier Brilliant, Okay, cool. So um, well we were talking about things that that have happened during the lockdown and and um I I kind of moved. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yeah. Russell Cottier So obviously I do a lot of educational stuff and motivational work. Um, in terms of you know trying to help people become the best producers or engineers or work effectively within the industry. Um, and I actually launched a coaching program. Six months ago which was um, a sort of how to be ah how to be the best model of yourself as a producer um or a songwriter or a performer or whatever it is in the industry. Um. So I did that through my company recording studio masterclass so recording studiomasterclass dot code dot u k um, and yeah, we've been running coaching sessions weekly. Um, we do like a weekly seminar with a guest. We've had all sorts of people like ah ah, um. You know muses producer and John cornfield um, and you know the the lovely ian chapodje no ian from production advice. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes, Ah, he's a legend. He's got to he. He's got a great podcast as well. It's it's a bit technical so not maybe everybody's cup of tea. But it's the mastering show. It's the mastering show and he he's just you know a genius in in his own way and and a true gentleman. Russell Cottier Oh it's very technical. Yeah yeah. Russell Cottier Yeah, well I mean this this it's the weekly seminars are great so we do ah we do a Monday at Midday just to sort of kick off the week and um, you know we'll do either sort of tutorials on a specific thing or we'll have we'll have a guest on. So you know the manager of a big london studio for instance or a session musician or a songwriter or you know someone who's working in the industry usually just a load of my friends. We just have a nice cup of tea and and chat. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Well. Russell Cottier And then yeah I do a 1 to 1 with the students. Um during the week and you know what it's so rewarding to see like the the progress that they've made as well either technically or you know just in confidence. Um, in terms of yes I can do this yes I should be speaking to these people. Jan 'Yarn' Muths A. Russell Cottier Because I think there is no so especiallyally in the covid world. There is no kind of Studio studio system like they used to be. You know the t the t yeah kind of or so tapeop role. Um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes, is. Russell Cottier Doesn't really exist exactly anymore in most studios. So people kind of miss out and don't know how to access like how do you find a label. How do you talk to a music library who who is good who is not who's like how does Pr s work all those kinds of things as well as. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Death. Russell Cottier This is how you ride a vocal the sort of stuff that things that we cover. Um, so yeah I've kind of really diverted my my attention more into education as well over over the over the pandemic because you know people have got a lot of time as well at home now. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yes, yes, and um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths That's so true Look That's that's that's absolutely fantastic I've got a passion for passing passing on my knowledge as well. You know and it's great to see that you do that as well. And so besides being a record producer and recording engineer and mix engineer and you. Russell Cottier Just this waiting? Yeah, exactly exactly? Yeah. He a. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Run your educational courses and you are also the head of recording recordproduction dot com and you've got a quite a successful Youtube Channel and you also us ah sorry but I thought but you you. Russell Cottier Um, oh I'm I'm not the head of freproduction dot com ah I owe ah no, no, no, not at all. Um, okay, he's a very secretive man. The guy who runs it so um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths The mastermind behind it a harckey Oh Woki I Just saw your face all over it. Russell Cottier Yeah, So oh no, no so record. Yeah Recordproduc dot Com is a really interesting story. Um I started working for the for the site I say working for the site I'm not paid. Um, it's more of a social you know we we have events that we we we run and we. We don't turn a profit on it at all. Um, ah so um, so record production nutcrum is run by a guy called Mike Banks of who is a salesman for um, solid State Logic. So He he he kind of. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, right. Russell Cottier 1 year he decided this is twenty odd years ago, he decided that instead of using the normal budget for um, for entertaining producers for a dinner party kind of schmooze thing. He would um, he'd ask his boss if he could hire some. Mininie's I think it was Mininie's you know, small small cars and have a rally drive to france and drive around paris or I don't know whether they got the ferry over and drove around anyway, 1 way or other and he had all this video footage and he was like what am I gonna do with this video. How do I share this video footage with the the. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah, that's hilarious. Yes. Russell Cottier Producers who were there So I mean this is this is the thing so ssl ssl have this really great approach and you'll know this because you've you've been involved with them but they don't need to sell their desks. They don't need to advertise their consoles to you because you already want them because they are so Good. So really, their marketing approach is just interacting with people and being being Cool. You know I understand' how it runs so anyway Mike Mike set up this um this website at Recordproduction dot com to share the videos things have moved down the line. You know nearly 20 years later. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Oo. Russell Cottier Um, and most of the content's moved over to youtube and we go out and interview people and do features. We had a little tv series on sky ah during the Pandemic. Ah, and yeah, it's it's it's such a great. Site to look at um and you know a great channel to follow on youtube um, we've just had a site overhaul so in the last 2 days. The new website has been released which I think looks beautiful so get yourselves over to recordproduction dot com and you can see my face and so. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Definitely. It's a great website. Russell Cottier Ah, few a few more attractive and cooler ah members of of the of the team as well. Um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Well I really enjoyed your interview with Sylvia Massey Whoa What a legend to speak to? yeah. Russell Cottier She's a wonderful wonderful. Yeah I mean you know? Ah yeah I mean what can I say she's great. She's great. Yeah, so um, um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Well, she's a legend. Russell Cottier Yeah I got a lot of information from her actually which I thought was was was great and just just seeing how people work I just you know what going into I think was edge studios in in Cheshire. So um, and I've worked there before um and ah I um. Ah, walked into that Studio. It's an old milking parlor converted on on a farm and just the sheer power of of the sound coming through the doors because it's not like a proper studio build which is it's a great place to record you know the doors are still. In doors and it's not really kind of It's not really like a ah ground up studio build but just the power of these guitar cabs just she records loud. Let's put it that way goodness me and um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah. Russell Cottier It was nice to see that she was doing some techniques that I'd sort of independently discovered as well. Which I think was really cool. Um, so 1 of the things that she never talks about ah you know the pickle trick you have to use a solid state amplifier to do the pickle trick just just. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yes, yes, ah okay, doesn't work on 2 bams. Yeah yeah, right. Russell Cottier Otherwise you'll blow your tubes it will but but you will probably end up causing um causing a short eventually and then and then the the Valels don't really ah the pickle trick I think she was using cheese actually um when um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, look I think that's something we need to explain because the pickle trick The what? what's the pickle trick you get. It's to tried all kinds of things. Russell Cottier When when I saw. Um, yeah so the pickle trick is you you have a guitar signal going through a solid state amplifier and she was using a p amp you know that kind of just as a normal kind of rackmount Amp Um, and ah on the way to the speaker. On 1 of the on 1 of the wires. Um, you you cut that wire not while it's running you cut that wire and you attach I think you see attaches it to nails right? and then you put 1 nail in um, you know like carpentry nails. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah. Russell Cottier 1 1 in 1 end of a pickle and 1 in the other end and then as the guitarist plays the the signal goes through the pickle. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths So just to be perfectly clear. We we're not talking about some kind of sound tool that is coincidentally called a pickle. It's an actual edible edible pickle. Yeah is that right? salty? Yeah yeah, yeah. Russell Cottier Yeah, so a pickled gherkin or a pickled cucumber or yeah, yeah, or a piece of cheese or she has this other thing as well that she she has like um, she'll get a socket for a piece of um, you know like so she'd she'd been to a charity shop and bought a load of old bits of. Like just tats Basically um so an old an old fan and an old telephone and and all sorts of rubbish but she I think she had a fan running and she had a I'm sure she had a socket and she was running the guitar signal through the fan before it got to the speaker. It was crazy. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Well. M. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Crazy crazy she she and she absolutely has no rules or limits. Everything is possible for her and when when when the signal passes through the pickle a pickle does actually sound come out the speaker. Yeah, and no, but. Russell Cottier Um, so. Russell Cottier Yeah. Yeah, it sort of it doesn't sound good like that's that that's the thing. It's like so yes, it's It's a non-achievable um sound. Basically you can't get that sound because again, you'll never get it again. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Different. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, yeah. Russell Cottier Exactly and you you can't there could be a plugin that does it but that takes some of the experience away from it and I think like I have a very similar opinion like when you're making a record the experience of the artist whilst making the record is probably as important as the as the actual. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah, that is so true Mm that is so true. Yeah. Russell Cottier Recording because it it will make them play differently. Yeah, So so that's why I say they shouldn't be tired. They shouldn't have they shouldn't experience. They shouldn't even know when a cable goes down. They shouldn't know when there's a problem with desk and and I have. Ah, couple of really good assistants who work with me from time to time if there's a budget on that specific record and their role amongst engineering as well is 1 of us has to entertain the artist whilst we're fixing issues because there will be issues in a recording studio. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yes. Russell Cottier Thousands and thousands of wires. Um and bits of tech and there's going to be Ah, there's got to be a problem at some point so you know if you've got ah an assistant who knows when to say hey let's go and make a cup of Tea. Ah should we all go out for coffee for half an hour. Um, whilst Ross is frantically panicking trying to resold or ah, a broken microphone something you know, um, or or vice versa. Um, that's a really good. That's a really good skill to have you know? um, and and. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, well said? Yes, yes, that is so true. Yeah I can really see this. You know in front of my eye that that would be some kind of an effortless flow state like. Russell Cottier Yeah, it's about reading reading reading people. You know as much as reading technical manuals. Yeah, so that's that's ah yeah, but so. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Experience for the musician. Yeah yeah, yeah, yeah, that really resonates with my view of of how recording session should be and in all honesty it doesn't have to be hard. It should be easy. It should be Yeah yeah. Russell Cottier Hopefully hopefully ah yeah, that yeah because what look? Well you know mike start no, it should be and and microphones you know. You want a good sound put a microphone in front of something that sounds good because Microphones are generally pretty good now. Um, so you know that's it's it's not complicated I have started using ah just a single u sixty. So um, well yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yes, um. Russell Cottier Ah, u sixty 7 um on ah on guitar cabs recently so a lot of my lot. My heavy guitars I don't even record with a dynamic right up against the grill. No I just put ah put a microphone a big large Diaphram condenser microphone about a meter away from the. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Lovely. Russell Cottier From a 4 by 12 and it sounds insanely good. Do you know why? it sounds good. It sounds good because the speaker cabinet sounds good and the amp sounds good and the guitar going into it sounds good. But most importantly, the playing is good of a good song because you know, no 1 ne's no Jan 'Yarn' Muths Boom. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yes, yes, that's where the money is yeah and. Russell Cottier Yeah, no 1 ne's no 1 ne's stressing none of the listeners are stressing about oh I want this to be like you know they they want to hear the sound of the instrument and everything to sound great and they want to hear the vocal and they want to just get excited about the music and they want to dance or you know. Jan 'Yarn' Muths M. Russell Cottier Rock their feet or whatever. But no, 1 ne's really caring about you know whether you put 1 point five decibels or 1 point 8 decibels of of gain at Ten K with a queue of Nott point 8 no 1 cares about that. You know it's all is a some good or is some not good. It's the arrangement. Good. Jan 'Yarn' Muths M. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, yeah, that that's the core of it. Russell Cottier Um, I've just I've just done a course. Yeah I mean I've I've just um I've just released. Ah oh sorry I'm just about to release a course called analog mixing basics which is like a video course where I I go through mixing a record and I think there's. And and all the skills that you need and all the techniques that you can use even if you've only got ah you know 1 bit of gear. Um and ah and a 2 in 2 hours interface or if you've got ah ah 1 of those little desktop mixers with 1 fader on you know you can still mix analog. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths 2 Russell Cottier And I think like the thing that really comes across in that I was just reviewing the edit yesterday and the thing that really comes across in that is like I'm dancing around and I'm throwing um auxiliary sends and I'm kind of getting down I'm enjoying the music and there are in the multitrack. You know there's There's an element of scrappiness to the timing of the backing vocal but we didn't fix that because it's about the experience of that music and it worked in that situation and the song is so Good. It doesn't need to be. You know, grided and it doesn't need. All those all those things. Um and I think that's 1 of the important things to remember is that you know you you don't have to kind of go crazy. Um in that respect. So yeah, yeah, that's that's my general sort of. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yeah, yes I'm so with you on this, you know it's it's It's the little imperfections in in music that make it really lovable and if if music is too perfect. It gets boring turn to my ears. Yeah. Russell Cottier That's my general. Yeah so to to me the timing is is really important and yes you can drop things to a grid and and and working to a click is great in everything because it means that. Jan 'Yarn' Muths That's that's really good. Russell Cottier You can work. Ah, you can play around that timing. But but I think if you've got a good song and it's arranged well mixing doesn't doesn't have to be difficult like mixing is easier with a better arrangement because the parts that the the that you have to mix together kind of already gel. Um. And that's a very big difference between actually you know people writing properly and sort of desktop music because if you haven't been in a room together and played the music together. It's often much more difficult to to make sure you know. How the arrangement's going to work whether to drop that acoustic guitar out to single chords you know a dime kind of 1 note per per bar. Um, and when to when to sort of bring the electric guitars back in and when to move over to your China symbol instead of you. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yep. Russell Cottier Crash and all those things you know that that you only really get when you actually putting the musicians together. So I mean ah the the risk of rambling it like yeah oh definitely. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, is yes and and you know even then even then it probably needs to ripen for a while and they need to record themselves on a phone and listen back and realize oh what I tried didn't work and you know it goes through the cycle of. Trying things and listening back and you know fine-tuning and and that's where a lot of the magic is coming from. Russell Cottier Definitely and yeah and and and as a producer like I and you'll you'll know this you become so used to listening to Demos and knowing what they're going to sound like in the end the the quality of the. The demo recording is irrelevant. It's all about that music. That's why people listen to bootlegs you know bootleg recording I've I've got some sort of Jimmy hendrik's box set of all like dodgy recordings that were made. Um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths That's so true. Russell Cottier From from gigs by audience members and and it's brilliant. It doesn't it doesn't make it not good because ah because of that issue you know? Um, yeah, so so I think that's a really important thing to remember Definitely um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, okay look let me challenge you with you know, a question and of of a different nature if you just you know, think back about your early days of of being a producer and now before you developed all of this wisdom. Russell Cottier When you're approaching. Oh. Russell Cottier Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Have you ever received any really bad advice that you figured out later was in our bad advice something that that 1 shouldn't do as a young engineer. Russell Cottier Oh well. First of all, you don't need to back it up that would be bad it that would be bad advice now you always need a vacuo. You always need to um, don't worry about it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths You You don't need to back it up. He sir. Ah that will be terrible advice ah that will be terrible. Okay, yeah. Russell Cottier The the hard drive won't fail I'll be fine. Um, oh goodness I don't know really you know? um I think ah what would so. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah, yeah. Russell Cottier So yeah, that's a really oh yeah, Okay, so here's some bad advice I was doing a session once to somebody else and um, they said I want everything that leaves this studio to sound professional and the the project was um. Was covering someone was Ill and it wasn't something that I would normally do but I was covering another. It was an engine. The house engineer was Ill and it was some kind of school project Band. You know the kind of the kind of thing they'll book the studio and they all have to get there. Have ah ah, an exam that you do when you're 16 here called Gcses. Um, and it was like music gcsc everyone needed to demo reel that kind of thing and um ah the the studio owner was like that and. Everything has to be perfect before it leaves of course that's that's not appropriate for an exam because it's meant to be a recording of what they've done and I think that's kind of bad advice in a way because I think you know pushing things too far can actually cause ah an artist to not develop and so. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes, see. Russell Cottier You know to see a development between your records is a really good and really satisfying thing so you know ambition you can make a really great record even if you can't sing fantastically but you just have to be you have to embrace what what you can do fantastically and you can. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um. Russell Cottier You know you can be not so ambitious and then as you as you develop and push forward. It's nice to see an artist sort of progress and and and I think so I think that's that's probably that's probably 1 bit of advice. But um, ah you know. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yep, got it. So so good. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Nice and and what's what's the best advice you've ever received. Ah nobody should need that advice. Everybody should know that anyway and look. Russell Cottier Just. Always back it up. Ah always always always back it Up. Um, and and and yeah backup multiple drives different locations. Jan 'Yarn' Muths The the best teacher is is Libertyy to once lose Files you know and if it happens to your onces. You'll never ever skip the backup again. Russell Cottier Oh do you know what? I there was a time once. Well I think you have to appreciate as well that all hard drives will fail at some point in time. So so that's a. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes. Russell Cottier Ah, but I mean on a less and a less sort of silly and a nerdy aspect a good piece of advice. Um, oh goodness. Well I think just to to understand what your client is after um. Ah, not try and make the record that you want to make make the record that they want to make with you. Um, because ah you can quite often. Get some multitracks and then go off on 1 Ah well I've turned this into a synth wave remix. Jan 'Yarn' Muths M. Russell Cottier And actually what they were after was an english country dance. Um, you know, kind of ah sort of record with recorder and fiddle and and and you've turned it into ah into a dub step um 12 inches thing you know. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah, get to got it. Um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah, okay, yeah. Russell Cottier So so so thinking about what's appropriate for for um for the record and so I actually studied media at university majoring in sound recording but a lot of my time was spent looking at Media theory and you know the production of. Products. Um, and I think that is really important as well. You know, um to make sure ah a record is not a record if it is not released if it's still sat on your hard drive 10 years later it's not it's not a record is it. so so um you know. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Always so true. Yeah, that's true. Russell Cottier Releasing a product on time and on budget is is possibly the most important thing so people ask me Oh what does a producer do and they expect me to say Well I'm really going to take your vision and you know we're going to translate that into a most wonderful topselling blah Blah blah. And we're kind of really you know? Yeah yeah, get the emotion out of you and all this kind of stuff but that's all secondary.. The propriey thing is is this record going to get made and is it going to be good. You know So So that's that's that's the sort of the nuts and bolts of it and then all the rest of of actually. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yes, yes. Um. Russell Cottier Making the record that they want to make and then making the record that I want to make on top of that is is like ah icing on the cake. Jan 'Yarn' Muths So as as a self-producing Musician you know a lot of people don't have the advice from somebody like yourself or another person to say. Okay, it's good enough send it out. So so have you got any advice How to. Russell Cottier Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Sort of not to overproduce it not to get caught into this loop where you produce an album for 20 years and never finish how do you know when a song is finished without having that interaction. Russell Cottier Okay, so I mean this is 1 of the things that was kind of 1 of the reasons why I've done this analog mixing basics course is that back in the day when I had 16 tracks of tape and I could maybe add keyboards if I so. Dred 1 of those tracks with time code and then I could kind of link the time code to the computer to do so midi sequencing etc, etc. That's 15 tracks of audio and that's it and you know 8 of those are going to be on your drums probably um so there was a there was a physical limit. The technology that we could use and yes you could spin in sound effects and stuff off quarterinch or off cd or off data or whatever live and try and get them mixed. You know do that every time you did a mix bounce. Um, but. Having a limit to the amount of tracks you use I think is a really great way to to not mess around too much. Um and using using an analogue if. You've got a little desk and you go. Okay I'm going to do my mixing on this little desk console as some of your listeners. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Oh. Russell Cottier What do you say there is it desk or console. Ah, okay, ah, um, that's good. Um, so yeah, using using Hardware is quite a good way to limit what you what you can do but also. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Oh we we use either here console desk mixer. Everything goes. Russell Cottier it it it focuses you a little bit because you don't go off on on a tangent and then oh I could add I could have 3 compressors on this snare drum to make it sound fatter or whatever. It's like no stop it. It's no 1 go nobody listens back to. Okay I grew up listening to new metal. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Ah, yeah. Russell Cottier Um, so I'm that that age um nobody goes back like ah and goes oh that corn record sounded rubbish. Well it kind of isn't what you would expect from an album now. Ah, but it had this power to it. You know the first album had this power to it and the drummer sound. What we would consider not to be a great recording but now like if you look back on it. No 1 was going oh those drums don't sound powerful but now I'll listen to modern records of the same sort of genre even the same band and I oh yeah, it's okay, but it doesn't have that to it. You know. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Me. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah. Russell Cottier Um, and I think part of that is that there's this infinite amount of of messing around. You can do. So if you kind of limit yourself to say 16 tracks or 24 tracks and you you use? Um, ah 3 reverbs well 2 reverbs and a delay on an auxiliary set up your. Console like set up your workstation your daw like a console like ah, an analog studio you can achieve those those same things. Um, it's okay to edit. That's fine, but you know what? like if if you. If you're editing and editing and editing and editing and editing and if it's taking more than a day to edit a track then you probably should just record it properly. Um, it's a difficult or the other option is speak to a producer because there are loads of producers across the world myself included who will take on. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um, yes. Russell Cottier Projects from independent artists. Do you know like Andrew shepps for instance I was astonished to see the kinds of artists the kind of indie ground level artists that he works with and then he'll go off and do a Metallica record or you know. He's mixed adele or the Beastie boys and michael jackson he's worked with and and all these amazing artists and then he's working with a little band from you know, whales or something and it's not It's not an insurmountable. Ah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Um. Russell Cottier Issue to actually go and pay a producer for a day or something to get some advice I think like that is ah is a really worthwhile task really worthwhile routes to go down. Um. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Well said well said good and say if you know 1 of the listeners now feels like reaching out to you and learning more about what you could do? What's the best way to find you. Russell Cottier Oh well. Um, my name is really unique so you can pretty much Google that and unless it's a microbiologist. Um, you've probably found something that I'm doing anything about Audio. So um, they can search. Russell Cotier Dot Com is my website. Ah my producer production website. Um, if you want to check out ah recordproduction dot Com I'm on there as Well. Um I have ah an electronics. Jan 'Yarn' Muths All over it. Yeah yeah, it. Russell Cottier Well like electronics company called I've got a youtube channel under my name and then obviously recordproducing dot com. Um, ah where else? Oh yeah, we've got Rokco which is rokcopro audio dot com which is my electronics company. That's r u c o proor dot com. Ah, where we make control surfaces and things very cottage industry but fun. Um, and if you want to learn stuff. Ah go to recording studio masterclass dot code dot u k you don't have to be from the the the dot code dot uk area to um. To to to go on that site and and benefit from it. We do like online courses and all sorts of stuff. So yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Well, that's fantastic If you're okay with that I'd like to put all of these links into into the show notes so that everybody could just scroll down and and find you there. Well. Russell Cottier Absolutely yeah, yeah, come find me come say hello I'm on all this some of the social medias and I occasionally reply to answers. But Youtube is a really good place to find me. Oh I ah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Yeah, youre you're very active. We had you know long discussions on Facebook before and Messenger and it's great to finally to speak in person. That's really good made. Russell Cottier Yeah, make make absolutely in yourself. Yeah I mean mixed bus users will know me off the Mixbook pro or the pro users group on Facebook um, so so I'm I'm I'm there shouting bit. No. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Now Yeah, you, you're the face of mixed bus. Yeah, that's right. Russell Cottier Ah, evangelizing. That's so I'm doing but you know what it's ah like it's whatever works for that if you if you love pros and it works for you if then that's great if you love ah Ableton or whatever. Um, then. Absolutely fantastic. The the reality is. The the tools don't make the record the tools are just tools for making the record. Jan 'Yarn' Muths That is so true. That's fantastic wise words to to finish up this episode I Reckon Russell Thank you so much for making time for us and for having this you know fantastic, I Really love that. Russell Cottier That's your sound bite. Thanks for having me. Jan 'Yarn' Muths It's literally the the last episode before christmas so I'm gonna go on Christmas break. So merry christmas to you I hope you get a bit of a break and don't work too hard. Yeah, we've got Summer here. So I spend a lot of time at the beach with my kids and walking the rainforests and so um. Russell Cottier Um, ah happy Winterval All yeah I'll try ah happy Some of all oh ah, well. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Oh gee I don't miss the code I used to live in Hamburg so I know exactly what the weather's like there I don't miss it at all Russell. Thank you so much? yeah. Russell Cottier We had storms so on that note. Russell Cottier Ah D a cool I will hopefully see you again soon. Jan 'Yarn' Muths Let's see you soon. Thanks mate.
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