Tim Sparks met up with Adam Fiasco (clever name) to discuss, music technology, production and working with new artists...
OUTSIDELEFT: How did you get started in the music production industry?
ADAM FIASCO: I think like most people, I started writing music and forming a band with my friends in school. We all wanted to be the next huge pop/rock band and only being teenagers we couldn’t afford to go and record at big fancy studios. So one Christmas I asked my parents for an 8 track tape recorder. I loved that thing and recorded everything and everyone I could. Eventually I graduated to my first computer based DAW and in the end I ended up realising I had a much bigger passion for the process of recording and mixing than I did the performing side of things. So that’s how I got into producing – I still like to go out and perform from time to time, but producing and mixing is where my heart lies.
OL: What is your creative process like when producing a new track?
AF: It can vary greatly but typically I’ll sit with the artist (in person or remotely) and we’ll listen to the demo. We’ll talk about what we like, anything we don’t like or need to give some attention to and plan out the arrangement. We’ll then start tracking foundational elements such as drums, bass, rhythm guitars, keys etc and build the track up as we go. If we’re working remotely, I’ll have regular zoom calls with the artist where we discuss what they love, anything they don’t love and we go through that process until the track is done and ready to mix!
OL: What DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is your choice and why?
AF: Cubase – for no other reason than it’s the one I started out on. I don’t get hung up about DAWs. They all do the same thing so just choose one you like the workflow of and don’t look back.
OL: What's your setup regarding In the box and Outboard gear?
AF: I run a hybrid setup. Most of the processing is done ITB, especially when mixing, however I do have certain outboard pieces I use especially when tracking to get a great sound in. I have a bunch of preamps including a Neve 1073 and API 312s, some compressors including several 1176s and an LA2A, along with a few different 1073/1081 EQs and a vintage pair of Dolby A360s.
OL: How do you stay current with new technology and software in music production?
AF: Social media is great for this. I have a few tools I rely on software wise and its great to hear what new tech these guys bring out. Also love to follow what happens at shows like NAMM where all the brands showcase their new stuff!
OL: What are some of the biggest challenges you face when producing music, and how do you overcome them?
AF: Self doubt is a big one! There’s a lot of noise and can be a lot of hate out their in the big wide world of the internet. It’s important to not pay too much attention to this and just keep doing your thing, and keep improving every day!
Another one is getting your music productions and mixes to a point where they’re competitive with anything on the radio. This can and will take years to master, and you’re also at the mercy of figuring out how to make your studio translate by mastering acoustic treatment and monitoring. This can be super difficult out of a home studio and is the reason most independent artists who self-release sound terrible!
OL: How do you feel about collaborating with artists and other producers to create music?
AF: Love it! This can be a really great way to quickly expand your audience and get more and new listeners.
OL: Can you walk us briefly through the production process for one of your recent tracks?
AF: I produced and mixed a track for UK Singer Songwriter Ronnie called ‘Halo’. We started with his demo which honestly was an amazing song already. We did virtually nothing to the actual song writing other than figure out a different ending that was a bit more radio friendly, and plan out the arrangement. The references we listened to included Lewis Capaldi and Harry Styles so we went for a really tight, dry drum sound, and a simple rhythm. We built on that with a bassline that fitted tightly with the drums and some acoustic guitar and piano for the rhythm elements. We wanted to make the song lift in the chorus so we added extra production in the choruses to provide a lift – this is something I’m conscious of with every song I produce. If it’s just flat all the way through it becomes boring and fatiguing. We need to build dynamics and have sections that drive forwards, then sections that pull back to keep the listener engaged.
OL: How do you approach mixing and mastering your tracks to achieve the best sound quality?
AF: Honestly, the best way to get a great mix is to get the writing, recording and arrangement right! If the recording is average or bad, then you’re automatically limited in how good the final mix can be. References are important here too as a point of comparison.
OL: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in music production?
AF: Make as much music as you can! You will almost certainly be terrible at first and that can last years. But the more you do, the more you learn and the better you’ll get. It takes time and practise – no shortcuts!
OL: Are you comfortable recording and mixing your own songs…or do you prefer another set of ears?
AF: This is a tricky one to answer and I’d say it depends. I know some people hate recording and mixing their own music as it’s almost impossible to remain objective. So getting someone else in for your own tracks solves that problem. I like to get extra ears in for my own music – especially at the mastering stage!
OL: What do you think sets your music apart from other producers in the industry?
AF: I’d like to think I have a much more holistic view of creating music and that this really benefits the artist. Rather than just recording and producing anything artists bring to me (which many studios and producers will do), I will work with artists from the very birth of their song so that it is the best it can possibly be – in terms of writing, arrangement, production and mix. This is absolutely key if it is going to connect with their target listeners, and ultimately grow their fanbase. And those are the results artists who work with me get!
OL: How do you deal with artists that come to you with a really raw song demo version?
AF: This would work the exact same way as any other artist coming to me with a song. We'll sit down, listen through it and figure out the songs strengths and how we can enhance them, along with anything we want to potentially change. Then plan out the arrangement and go from there!
OL: What advice can you give to people who want to get into production?
AF: If music production is really something you want to do and get really good at, just be consistent. Your first dozen songs (at least) will sound terrible - you're gonna suck! But the more music you create the better you'll get. It doesn't happen overnight and you need to get comfortable with being bad for probably several years before you start creating anything good!
Contact to contact Adam or to discover more about his work visit adam-fiasco.com