November 9, 2023
Words by: Factory Studios
Q&A – Jon Segar: Recording & Mixing Engineer
The recording studio is a vital component in the journey of capturing and releasing music, and a process that will vary massively. At the heart of this is the engineer, who is placed to ensure the music is given the best possible chance of meeting the requirements of the project.
We caught up with our very own Jon Segar to get an insight into his approach when he’s working with artists in the studio.
For those that don’t know you, can you introduce yourself, the work you do and some of the projects you’ve been involved in recently?
I'm Jonathan Segar, a recording and mixing engineer. My work primarily revolves around recording and mixing for various bands and artists, as well as freelance audio projects like live sound, dialog work for film and gigging with a couple bands. One recent project I've just finished involved recording, mixing, and playing keys for an album by Mohamed Errebbaa and Tagna Groove, which is rooted in authentic Gnawa music from Morocco. It's quite different from my usual genres. I'm also excited about a project with Horses on the Beach, focused on Reggae, funk, and soul, where we're wrapping up some recordings at the moment.
From a technical and studio standpoint, what do you enjoy about recording at Factory Studios? What sort of contributions do you find it makes towards bringing artists music and sound to life?
In terms of Factory Studios, one standout feature for me is the exceptional acoustic quality of the live room. It's perfectly controlled and diffused, eliminating unwanted slapback and reflections while adding a fantastic ambience and vibe to recordings. This not only enhances the quality of the final product but also inspires the bands during their performance. Additionally, having access to a large format analog console and an assortment of outboard gear allows me to shape the record during the recording process itself, which is a much more inspiring approach than leaving everything to the mixing stage. It means the raw recordings already carry the essence of a record, crucial for creative decision-making.
Recording can be an exciting yet daunting experience for artists. How do you create a comfortable and creative environment in the studio, ensuring that artists feel confident and inspired during their sessions?
Creating a comfortable and creative studio environment is vital. Part of this comfort stems from achieving a great sound during recording, allowing the artists to witness their music coming to life as they play and listen back. When working with artists who are new to recording or lack confidence in the studio, effective communication and flexible workflow approaches are key. This can involve accommodating their specific needs, such as providing a private space in the live room with dimmed lights or having multiple band members present to infuse energy into the performance. Sometimes, it might entail suggesting adjustments to their performance to adapt to the recording environment. The approach varies based on the artist and their unique requirements.
Could you provide a brief overview of what artists can expect when they step into the studio, from setting up to finalising their tracks?
When artists step into the studio, I often set up for multiple band members to play together. The studio's layout allows for instrument isolation, which doesn't hinder post-recording overdubs and helps create a live energy. Typically, the first couple hours are spent setting up and ensuring everyone has a good headphone mix before recording starts. I aim to maintain this setup throughout the day, allowing for flexibility and spontaneity. By the end of the day or days, we refine parts and add finishing touches like harmonies and overdubs, resulting in a product close to completion. We can then discuss mixing and mastering options, with many bands opting for me to handle the mixing if they've enjoyed working with me.
What recommendations would you have for anyone planning an upcoming recording session?
For those planning a recording session, thorough rehearsal of the songs is essential. While there's room for creativity and production decisions during recording, a solid performance foundation eases the pressure on the day. Details like drum choices, guitar tones, and the use of click tracks while recording can be planned in advance, but we can also work on them collaboratively during the session. Some aspects, like guitar tone, may be better decided once the drum tracks are laid down, giving us a clearer picture of the record's direction. Flexibility and collaboration are key throughout the process.