Hi Sylvia. Thank you for doing this! Big fan of your work!
How do you, as a producer, find your inspiration? I figure you must have picked up a lot of different styles/techniques from all the great artists you've worked with - could you possibly share some defining "light bulb moments" from your career?
I can think of an important "light bulb moment" that completely changed the direction of my career.
Back in early 1992 I was scheduled to engineer Tool's debut album. I visited their rehearsals to discuss how we would record. I had not been asked for production advice from the band, but after several hours in rehearsal, I realized they needed help. They needed a tie-breaker, someone who was not in the band to make judgement calls. In that way Tool's inter-band politics could stay out of their delicate decision-making process.
A loud bell rang in my head when I realized they needed me. This was that "light bulb moment." I was filled with ideas and immediately jumped in to offer help. Having previously been trained to "have no opinion" as an assistant engineer at Larrabee Sound, when the opportunity came to help guide the project, I was ready. I had many opinions!
That was the turning point in my career when I changed from just being an engineer to being a producer. I loved this band. I loved their music. I knew how good the album could be. And now I could help to steer the ship. Tool is an amazing live group, no denying that, but more than just documenting that stage energy with audio photographs, I was painting their portraits with my own style, directly choosing colors and textures.
Since the Tool records, I am not intimidated by big hairy mean-looking tattooed rockers. Nor am I intimidated by fame. Everyone needs someone they can trust to tell them when they suck. When to try harder. When they've reached their peak performance so they can move on.