“What matters is getting to the core of music and of engineering, and of what people are trying to achieve. All this absolutely happens at the Mix With The Masters seminars, but rarely happens anywhere else. The biggest thing is that the seminars go on for a week, and that you’re teaching people who actually know what they are doing. On the first day I talk about the same things as I do when I’m on a panel or being interviewed. After that the seminars go much further and much deeper.”
Andrew Scheps waxes lyrically about the two MWTM seminars that he has conducted to date, in November 2012 and September 2013. He was at la Fabrique courtesy of his incredible career achievements, which incorporates a credit list featuring stellar names like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Adele, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Michael Jackson, Robbie Robertson, Justin Timberlake, Iggy Pop, U2, Jay-Z, and many more, and also have earned him several Grammy Awards.
“The whole behind-the-scenes thing and getting details of how people do stuff is always fascinating,” continues Scheps, “but in the case of MWTM it was possible to go past the things you tend to learn from reading or watching interviews. One thing that really helps is that there’s not the added stress you have in a normal recording situation of having to deliver a product, so there is lots of space to analyze and explain things. The other is that the quality of the people that attend these seminars is amazing, so I learned a lot from working with them as well.”
Andrew Scheps is originally from Long Island, and began his musical career by playing jazz trumpet. From 1984-88 he attended the Recording Engineering Program at the University of Miami. After this he went on to work for three years for New England Digital as a Synclavier engineer, partaking in high-profile sessions with artists like Sting, Mark Knopfler and Benny Andersson. He left the company in the early ‘90s because he « wanted to make records,” and moved to Los Angeles where he in 2001 teamed up with legendary producer Rick Rubin, with whom has since worked regularly.
Rubin and Scheps’ work on the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s album Stadium Arcadium in 2005 was a turning point for Scheps. He found the band’s decision to record and mix entirely in analogue so alluring that he fitted his Punkerpad West studio with two Neve 8068 desks to go with his wall of analogue outboard.
“One reason for that decision was the sound,” recounts Scheps, “but mainly I just loved the workflow, the logistics of working with analogue gear. It is about having physical knobs in front of me for everything, so I don’t ever have to think about anything. I am a very physical, hands-on mixer, and I hate having to hunt for something. When I know what I want to do, I want to be able to just grab a knob and do it.”
Scheps continued to work like this until the fall of 2013. After his second seminar at La Fabrique he was given an unexpected opportunity to assess his working methods that had far-reaching consequences. Scheps was offered a project to mix, and because he was still in France with his family, he had the choice of passing on the work or working in the box. He opted for the latter, and found what he initially regarded as a one-off was much more attractive than anticipated.
“Going back into the box wasn’t a sonic decision, but I actually rediscovered that I really like it. It’s really cool from a creative point of view. It’s great to be able to work on three or four songs at the same time, and also, even when people say they understand what it means to mix on a console, they’ll still call a week later and ask me for detailed mix changes! I have not gone back to working on the desk since then. While I miss some of the visceral hands-on aspects of the console, there is a lot of creative freedom working this way. It might seem like a drastic change, but it are only the tools that have changed: remarkably my philosophy and sound have stayed the same”
This latest dramatic change in his working methods has allowed Scheps to redefine the way he blends old-style and new working methods and technology. He continues to apply this in his mixes, and also as an engineer and producer, the latter often when working with the artists he signs to his Tonequake label, but also most recently with Gogol Bordello’s sixth studio album, Pura Vida Conspiracy, which he produced, engineered and mixed.
During his many years of working with both vintage and modern gear, as well as with many of the worlds’ top artists and producers, Scheps has acquired a tremendous amount of experience of the inner workings of record making at the highest level. Scheps is scheduled to conduct his seventh seminar at La Fabrique from JUNE 6 to 12, 2017, offering participants another unique window into the American’s experience, working methods and philosophy.
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Q&A #2 with Andrew Scheps
Q&A #1 with Andrew Scheps
Teaser – 2012 Session