“I love the set-up at La Fabrique, and how they take care of the tutor and the participants. Everything is well-organized, with a clear structure and roadmap, and there really is a family feel. All the participants are already working in the business, at a high level, so I can talk to them at the level of them being my peers, rather than me teaching. I don’t like the idea of teaching. I like the idea of sharing.”
Mixer, producer and engineer Jimmy Douglass thoroughly enjoyed his first Mix With The Masters seminar, in May 2013, and is eager to conduct more. The seminars give him a platform to share the immense wealth of insider know-how and experience that he has amassed during a glittering career now in its fifth decade. During this time he has worked with legendary acts like Aretha Franklin, Hall & Oates, Foreigner, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, and Roxy Music and more modern artists like Aaliyah, Missy Elliot, Ginuwine, Jay-Z, Sean Paul, Kanye West, Ludacris, and Justin Timberlake. Douglass also has a long-standing association with legendary producer Timbaland, and has won four Grammy Awards.
“In the first decades of my career there was no Internet,” Douglass explains. “The information that is available for people today simple wasn’t out there. Everybody did not yet know yet how to do everything, and working in the studio still was a magical mystery tour, with people wondering, ‘how did they get that sound?’ and ‘how did he do that?’ But right now, everyone can easily find out about every aspect of the recording process. Plus with DAW’s everywhere, everyone is now using the same gear. This means that there are no technical secrets anymore, the magic in terms of the technology has disappeared.”
“This means that I spend a lot of my time at La Fabrique talking about things like the industry, and how to conduct a career, and how to have the right attitude and mindset. With everyone having access to the same tools and the same know-how and rough mixes more sophisticated than ever, it’s more about your capacity to deal with the artists and producers, and to get their approval and put the mix to bed and deliver it.”
“At the same time I still work with bands, often with indie labels, who allow me the freedom to be creative and do what I want. I love that. The two highlights during my first seminars at La Fabrique fell in this category. Many people brought their finished multi-tracks for me to mix, and in a quirky way it was almost like they were paying me to mix their record, which was fun. But there was also one guy who is a drummer who wanted to do a live thing that he had in his head. So we got we created a band from the participants in the room, and we wrote a song together. Colby O’Donis, who is big in the US, was one of these participants, and he sang the song. We did that in one day, and it was really cool. Another thing I really enjoyed was this guy from Africa who had written a tribute to Nelson Mandela, and all together we did this amazing thing with it. These things are more production.”
The way Douglass continues to straddle the analogue and digital worlds and the corresponding out-of-the box and in-the-box approaches to making records is also apparent in his studio in Miami, Magic Mix Room, where pride of place in the main room goes to a Neve VR72, and an impressive collection of outboard. Of course, the studio also has the ubiquitous state-of-the-art Pro Tools rig.
“Whether I mix in the desk or in the box depends on the artist and the label. If it’s a major label, I’ll mix in the box, because they are guaranteed to want loads of recalls and they’ll want them done immediately. But if I’m recording an indie band, I’ll work on the desk and will use outboard. When you are making decisions while you are recording, you are really thinking about what you are doing. I like stuff that is different and honest. That is what I search for. You want to create something that is real and memorable that will hopefully create memories in people that they won’t ever forget.”
Clearly, Douglass’ recording studio and ethos span the five decades that he has worked in, and with this rich experience in hand, the American is committed to making sure that the best of the old still enhances and deepens modern approaches. His unique knowledge and wisdom make his Mix With The Masters seminars truly memorable experiences.
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Q&A with Jimmy Douglass
Harlem Shake with Jimmy Douglass
Teaser – 2013 Session