Joel is a multi-platinum winning engineer and producer with scores of legendary artists including Eric Clapton, Lara Fabian, Rod Stewart, Craig Armstrong, Lily Allen, B.B. King, and Norman Jay, just to name a few.
Growing up in London during the influential rock scene of the 90’s, Joel began his musical career as a guitarist with a keen interest in music production. He eventually connected with Olympic Studios, where he has become the respected world-class producer, mixer, and recording engineer he is today.
When the studio was closed/sold he started getting more into music for commercials and movies…
We were lucky enough to get the chance to talk to him. Check out his answers to our questions below!
How did you get started in the music and entertainment industry?
When I was a kid I got really into computers, that was my hobby, but one day I went to a friends house to borrow a video, remember those? He had this white strat copy, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever, I pretty much ran home to sell my computer to buy one. For the next 10 years I played guitar any way I could, wedding bands, student bands, writing songs, I remember using a 4 track tape recorder to make demos, and as computers began to get more capable I started using those.
You started to work at the famous Olympic Studios how and why did that come about?
I was at music college in Brighton, I was lucky in that a family friend had a contact at Olympic, I asked if I could do some work experience and rather than the usual tea boy thing that usually happened, they set me up with a job transferring old cassette demo tapes onto hard disk, I was given hundreds of recordings! İt took all my spare time from college to get through it, months I think! but everyone got used to me being around and started asking me to help with other things, so I naturally became part of the team.
Your status is mix engineer/producer, songwriter; that’s a full package; However, what’s your preference, working in your studio (engineering, producing and mixing tracks for release) or getting out there with Music composition for Film & Video?
Right now I think the variety is my preference, I learn things working on film and tv that I find apply to mixing music, and vica versa, for example recording and mixing voice overs for adverts has affected my approach to preparing singers vocals before we get mixing, and sound design has helped me with atmospheric elements in a song, you never ever stop learning with this stuff.
What could great-sounding recording do for an artist’s career?
The song is, of course, the most important thing, no doubt about it, a great sounding recording is what frames it and makes it presentable, so that’s really where production comes in, and your job is helping an artist get their specific idea out of their own head and into a format that everyone can enjoy.
You’ve had an incredible career so far, what are the highlights?
I think that first period between being a student and actually become part of the Olympic family was very special, I was meeting all these amazing people, it was really like a dream come true.
I remember as a studio assistant I’d watch the big boys mixing on the SSL consoles, you had to stay out of the way really, but I’d pick up on some things, one day I was assisting John Leckie on a mix, as I peered over the edge of the console in studio 2 he looked at me and said “There’s no point watching me, you can only learn this by doing it yourself!”
Then there were always those magical moments during recording sessions when the orchestra transformed a chorus, or a fantastic guitar solo came out of nowhere, but really the best thing is being able to make friends and work and learn from so many different talented people from all over the world.
You’ve worked with artists such as Eric Clapton, Lara Fabian, Rod Stewart… Is it difficult to deal with superstars?
Not at all, it’s usually a pleasure, I mean you need to be very well prepared, and by that I mean pretty much prepared for anything! and you need to be able to judge people’s moods, but all of the real pros I know are confident in their own ability and that of their team, also it’s usually well budgeted and well organised, so you end up living in a bit of an artist focused bubble for a while but it’s usually a lot of fun and a rewarding experience.
What is the centerpiece of your studio at the moment?
My own studio is based around a Pro Tools HD rig hooked up to my SSL X-Desk which is a fantastic summing mixer and center section, I’d hate to be without it, combined with a few bits of outboard it really gives me a great analogue sound and a speedy digital workflow.
Any message you want to give to your fans? Or offer any services or offers of collaboration with others?
Always happy to hear about interesting projects so feel free to get in touch via my website www.joelevenden.com