Matt Bayles is a Grammy/Juno nominated producer hailing from Seattle, WA. He works out of his Red Room Recording studio in Seattle. He has worked with such bands as Pearl Jam, Mastodon, Norma Jean, The Sword, Minus the Bear, Horse the Band and many more. We spoke about early days, how humanity is making a comeback in recording, what part of guitar chain is nonsense and where to put your money when your just starting out.
1. What was the thing that got you into Music Production?
Music was always important to me, mostly due to my mom. I started a label released a 7” when I was 16, but I didn’t really explore recording until my second year of college. I just kind of stumbled into it initially, but after being curious I took a class at NYU to see if it fit. Turns out it 100% did. Then I went on to finish college and get a BS, then move to Seattle and slowly make my way.
2. What’s your stance on the digital vs analog battle?
I grew up with analog and made some of the records I am most known for with it. I do love tape, but the reality is that most artists expect the performance refining that is doable with digital. That plus the cost of tape makes digital my preference at this point. I can treat digital like a tape machine and not fix anything or I can dig in and fix whatever may come up.
3. Do you think one day software, emulation-hardware etc will surpass the real thing?
While emulations are cool I don’t really need my software to just be about emulating hardware. I have a ton of hardware and do my best to impart the character I want during tracking rather than saving the production during mixing. Plugins are really great these days, but there is a such thing as too many choices.
4. How do you see the current Music Production scene? The pros the cons, what we might be missing/what we could improve?
I think as far as performances I am glad that humanity has started to be valued again. While certain genres may benefit from quantizing and tuning, I don’t personally prefer making those types of records.
As far as what’s missing, the easy answer is record sales revenue for the artist. When the artist doesn’t earn money, recording budgets fall, which means less time to make a truly great record. Of course not every records requires a month or two to be made, but having the flexibility to take more time as needed without financial panic is something I would welcome.
5. What’s the latest piece of gear (hardware/software) that made you go bananas?
Lavry gold MX A/D converter, Burl Mothership.
6. Let’s say we could get the brightest of the brightest and smartest of the smartest to come up with a piece of gear (software/hardware) and it could eliminate one annoying thing, what would it be (could be audio or anything, physically impossible or possible)?
Hmmm, amp noise in general, but especially in hi gain situations. Gates on guitars are nonsense, and editing the noise out in the tighter gaps sounds mechanical. Izotope RX series is the best solution for that type of stuff, but I would love to find a way to never have to deal with it.
7. If you could give one piece of advice to a young starting home-studio producer, what would it be?
Don’t ever think you know it all. There is always something to learn or get better at.
8. If you could go back in time to remix/master/record one album, what would it be? (Can be your own production or someone elses production)
No idea to be honest. Not that I think my previous work can’t be improved, but I try to accept the records I make as a portrait of that moment and not second guess too much after it is completed. Same basic philosophy for records I haven’t produced.
9. How do you stay healthy during recording process? Exercises? Diets? Things to avoid? Things to remember?
I try to eat relatively well. Light on the junk food as best I can. I only have one coffee a day. Sadly haven’t successfully worked exercise into my routine yet.
10. What’s the 1 item that a new producers shouldn’t be cheap with?
Monitoring and room acoustics. If you can’t hear well in your space you will make nothing but bad decisions as far as the tones you are capturing are concerned.