Hey Jack, thanks a ton for having this interview with us! Please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a little bit more about what you do.
No worries thanks for having me on! My name is Jack Longman, I’m a music producer and mixing engineer based down in London, South East UK.
I love making records for bands with big-sounding guitars and drums, expansive vocal harmonies. I’m not too fussed about the genre, if it excites me and I can relate to what the band is trying to say with their music, then I’ll do it.
Coming from a band background with a huge DIY mentality, I also have a huge passion for helping out the underdogs of the music scene, the bands going it alone and doing it all themselves. I tend to do a fair bit of artist development after I work with a band/artist on their music, which I just see that as part of the job of a modern producer these days.
I also record/direct in-studio live sessions for bands and artists and I run a series called Live At The Lab which is based out of Soundlab Studios and has been gaining momentum for a few years and has just started working with Monolith Studios on their brand new series called Monolith Live. Working in live session format is awesome, it gives you an insight into the bands live show, which is a different experience than listening to their perfectly crafted record.
What aspect of production pushed you over the edge and made you realize this is something that you want to become acquainted with?
I kind of fell into doing this, to be honest. Most people know me from playing guitar and self-managing my old band Giants, which was a big part of my life for most of my twenties.
Whilst I was in that band I had a part-time job in a studio local to me (Soundlab Studios), which allowed me to start learning the very basics of recording. Although I didn’t really take a massive interest at first, it was a great job for me to have whilst being in that band as it allowed me to tour consistently.
But yeah I guess I didn’t really “get the bug” until our band was making its debut album with Neil Kennedy at The Ranch. We basically ran out of time at the studio and our singer Ed got ill, so I had to take up the mantle of recording vocals for the whole record back at my studio a few weeks later. In doing so, I completely fell in love with the whole process, layering sounds, doing different things for different purposes and hearing how that changed the feel of the part, you know that kind of stuff.
When you were younger, did you ever think that this is something you’ll be known for?
Not at all! Cliché as hell but I never knew what I wanted to be when I was a kid and as I explained in the last question, I just kind of fell into doing this.
I guess I always knew that I wanted to be involved in music, I just thought for a long time that it would be writing and performing my own music. But I really do think those years of grafting in my band as not only a band member but the “silent manager” helped me with my production career though, as I know what it’s like to be on “both sides of the desk”. For example, I feel it has helped me with understanding different dynamics of certain bands and also how to approach certain wants, needs, and problems that an artist may be experiencing with their music, as opposed to “this mic will sound better”.
What is something that you wish you knew before you moved into this industry?
How much studio rent prices are in London? Haha
With the production industry becoming very digital and accessible, the bedroom producer is very much a thing in 2019 – what is your opinion on things shifting in this direction? Do you feel that some of the sampling software out there can replace the real deal?
Oh yeah definitely, there’s a lot of incredibly good
software out there now and the knowledge is so much more accessible now than it
was even a few years back.
I personally try to embrace it, because it’s not something that’s going to stop or go away.
Sure, I love making records with big tube amplifiers, outboard gear, and real drums, but it isn’t about me, if the bands’ vibe is kempers/amp simulations and programmed drums, then that’s the vibe! It’s about making great records that are true to the bands’ vision.
Also, yes you’re right, it’s a lot easier for bands and artists to be a lot more self-sufficient with recording and producing their own stuff. But that’s a great thing!
Hell, I’ve been in a band, writing drum parts into Guitar Pro 5, playing that out loud so I can try to record guitar and drums at the same time into my iPhone… just to show my bandmates an idea. What pain!
It’s an amazing thing that it’s easier for people to make art now. The last three records I’ve done for bands, I’ve had full Logic tracking sessions sent to me, with tempos mapped out, sometimes even some processing already applied to vocals etc. which is great as it gives me an idea of where they want things to go, makes my job easier and more fun!
Yes, some bands may no longer need my services in the engineering area, but if they are serious about their art then they might need to have things mixed by someone not as close to it as they are, or need the production expertise to take the song up a few gears. A producer is surely meant to bring more value than set up mics and twiddle with knobs anyway, look at Rick Rubin and the crazy back catalog that guy has, and he barely ever touches a recording console.
Who were some of your favorite artists to work with and what did you learn from working with them?
Last year I co-engineered and co-produced the latest album by The Skints, called “Swimming Lessons”.
Working on that record with those guys taught me more about what I do for a living than I think any project has this far. They are so committed to their craft and all criminally talented musicians. Like it’s actually dumb, Marcia can play like 10 instruments, sometimes she plays like 5 in one song, what the hell. Josh first approached me about helping out with file management as they needed a Pro Tools guy and saw one of my Insta posts about Pro Tools.
They were recording with the great Ben Lamdin at Fish Factory and he was away for a while, so they needed some help with monitor mixes and editing. This led to me cutting a few vocals, which lead to cutting almost all of the vocals, guitar, keys, percussion, sound design, pre-mixing and in the end full production decisions and shit, crazy.
I am forever grateful to The Skints for trusting me so much with their art.
They knew full well I was relatively new to the game, yet they still gave me the freedom to run with certain ideas, which I usually wouldn’t have the confidence to try. I guess I knew how important the record was to them so I was determined to do the best job I could in all aspects. So the more the project went on, the more that trust grew between us, the more confidence I found in myself to try new stuff.
The album went on to become the Billboard Charts Number 1 Album in the USA, as well as a few tracks I provided production on becoming playlisted on BBC Radio 6 and more. I guess the whole process has taught me to be a lot more confident in asking to try certain things with bands, and also that the trust between producer and artist is paramount to everything.
What are the most useful tips you have for people that want to start out with production? It’s a huge information overload so a lot of people find it very overwhelming when they start out.
It’s the ear, not the gear, listen to the song/sound – does it sound good? Because at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
If you can get something to bang without using a vintage piece of gear that is in all the recording magazines and Youtube videos, then that’s that.
Does the song grab you by the balls when you listen to it loud or quiet? Does the chorus lift you to space if it’s played a certain way?
People listening to the track when it’s released aren’t going to give a damn about how it was recorded; they’ll only care how it sounds as a finished product and how it makes them feel. If it makes the bands/artists fans feel good, then the band will call you again, it’s as simple as that.
And looking at it from a band’s perspective – could you name a few do’s and don’ts when they book time with a producer and go into the studio.
Respect that the person working with you in this creative field is still at work. Making records is a very collaborative thing at least for me, so if everyone on the team is feeling good and respected then the record will sound better in the end.
Where can our readers check out your portfolio and listen to some of the material that you have produced/mixed?
Got a few examples on my website! (www.jacklongman.com).
But in all honesty, if you have a question or want to collaborate in any way just send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org
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