Incognito: Chris Hughes, Music Producer
When it comes to the LOVE TWAIN HQ, a good record, a glass of wine and a burning candle are daily staples. Consider them the Xerox and shredder of a grown up’s office. Sure, we own both, they are just covered in dust and Vogue Magazines. But a good tune, well it can make or break our day because as we all know, a missed fax never killed a business but a lack of creativity – well that’s murder! You can imagine our excitement then when we discovered that one of our go-to fashion muses and daily Instagram stalks Patricia Manfield was set to release her debut single. The last time we were this excited was when Leto made his Gucci debut. I mean fashion and music – it’s a marriage really.
Not content sitting around waiting for the single to drop we decided a little behind the scenes action would cure our itch. And so Chris Hughes came to the rescue with a cultural fix our office needed. The Producer, Musician, Sound Engineer and owner of Oscillate Recording Studio was kind enough lift the veil on the life of a music producer. Heck, who knew there was more to the game than attending fabulous parties! Kids, if a music is your career goal, be ready for long hours and some serious commitment. Read and take note…
Let’s talk about your role as a music producer
Tell us how it all began…
Probably about 25 years ago when I first picked up an acoustic guitar. Since then has been a long journey of playing in bands, then getting into electronic music, working at variousstudios, setting up a record label and eventually setting up my own studio 6 years ago.
A typical day involves…
Every day can vary for me depending on the clients I’ve got in. Some of them like daytimes, others evenings so I try and work around them. Often though I’m awake at 6.30am. I don’t have an alarm clock because my 2 young boys are usually jumping on my bed at that time. I skip breakfast, shower and leave to beat the rush hour traffic. At that time the sun is coming up and it’s quite an inspiring drive through the Cheshire countryside to get to the studio. I’m in the studio for 7.30am, eat breakfast because we have a kitchen there and then start planning the day ahead. I like to always be early so I can prep the day and this could be listening back to what I’ve done the night before, edit some instruments, vocals, or just listen to some relevant music to compare my production with others. Also it’s a chance to answer any emails, little amends on tracks for people and a bit of social media. The band/musicians usually arrive 10am. The day starts getting intense then, so it could be vocal or instrument recording which can be fairly repetitive until we get the right take. Also in this time I could be micing up drums, guitars, bass, and beat making, playing keyboards, anything musical to make things sound good. If it’s a day time session things start to finish about 6pm and I’m out the door by 6.30pm, the day is done.
Describe what your role as a producer is all about?
Trying to capture the essence of what the artist is about, and also getting the most out of them.
As a producer, what type of artists are you looking for these days?
Obviously having a great talent at what you can do, whether it be a singer or a band, but also importantly having the correct work ethic. Having the talent but being complacent or lazy isn’t going to cut it.
How do you scout for talent and the next big thing?
I don’t really go out and scout for new talent people tend to come to me. However I do go to a lot of local gigs and I’m always
looking out for new music, bands and artists on Soundcloud and YouTube.
There’s quite a few. Probably working with the Courteeners and their producer Joe Cross on their Extra Love acoustic album. I’ve also just been working with Joe recording a band called LaFontaines which was amazing too.
What are you currently working on?
Various projects! My own album with Hacienda legend Jon Dasilva under the guise of TVMR which is already gaining a lot of interest. Also have been working with Patricia Manfield recording vocals for her musical project Heir and am currently midway
through an album for the brilliant violinist Lauren Charlotte. We’ve also started work for DJ Lempo who has just remixed a Snoop Dogg track. Busy times.
How many hours go into recording an album?
Can range between 10 and 20 days, maybe 8-10 hour days.
Does your studio boast any vintage equipment?
Yes, lots! For the pick we’ve got a Fairchild 670 mkII which is beautiful compressor with 1960’s transistors in there. Also our 1960’s AKG C24 stereo mic. There’s only about 200 left on the planet and it sounds golden.
What makes your studio unique?
Probably the acoustics. Pretty much every other studio I’ve been in over the years the acoustics are bad so that mix sounds great in the studio but when you get it home it sounds rubbish. Not here, we spent over £150,000 on acoustics with some beautiful ATC300 monitors. It’s pristine. Also we are the only studio I know to have teamed up with an online music mag, so we can provide bands and artists a potential outlet immediately. The mag is called Flick Of The Finger.
What recording techniques are you known for?
Keeping things fresh and creating a great vibe in the studio. Getting the most out of the musicians, making them feel relaxed and at home. They can do this!
How do you keep a recording studio relevant in this day and age with technology and the abilityto record in your own bedroom?
Again it’s finding an edge over technology and the acoustics and the general vibe of the studio is going to give you a recording experience you won’t get from your bedroom. Also with the blend of analogue equipment we have you get a truly unique warm sound from our recordings.
All about Chris
Current playlist: Jamie xx In Colour
My life in a song: Pink Floyd – Echoes
All-time favourite album: Primal Scream – Screamadelica
I can’t go a day without listening to: LaFontaines – Release The Hounds
Artist to watch: Heir (Patricia Manfield and her producers Joe and Jeeves), album due out around summer and it’s magic!
Studio sound track: I do love electronic music, but also old music as well. It’s a good blend of old and new. I’m always interested in new sounds and try to take new ideas on board.