Following on from our recent Q&A session with our new audio engineer Jordan Tishler, mixing Audio Pros would like to welcome our latest member of the family – another great audio engineer, Ben Lindell.
We thought what better way to introduce him than with another Q&A.
mixing Audio Pros – How and when did you start your musical career? Can you give us a bit of background info on Ben Lindell?
Ben Lindell – My musical life actually started a little later than most, my father and I had a long standing bet that as soon as I took piano lessons for a year he would buy me an electric guitar. I waited until I was 9 to finally take him up on his offer – my desire to be the next Billy-Joe Armstrong (Green Day was my favorite band back then) could wait no more. Luckily, I stuck with learning both and eventually transitioned to playing bass in high school. I picked up the upright bass sophomore year of high school and practiced my ass off to earn a spot in the All-State Orchestra and a scholarship to University of Miami by my senior year. At Miami I started by studying Music Engineering, but switched to Commercial Music Composition as I’ve always been more interested in making music than making hardware or software. One of the first things clients notice about me is that I speak fluent musician; I understand it when they are talking about C#7b5 chords and when they ask for the bass to sound more orange. You’d be surprised how many people work in the music industry and have zero musical knowledge or instinct; that’s like working in web design and having no idea how to code HTML – it’s possible to work without that background, but it makes it harder to communicate with others effectively.
In New York City, I interned during a summer break from university at Smash Studios then when I graduated I immediately moved to NYC and was able to take over the head engineering position there and began interning with Fab Dupont at Flux Studios. Being able to focus 100% on recording and producing from the get go was key – I’ve never had a day job to distract me from what I love doing, and I was able to grow into my career quickly.
Working as an audio engineer at several commercial recording studios in one of the biggest music markets in the world has given me the chance to not only work with some big names, but also an awesome variety of musical genres and working relationships. What I’ve learned the most from working in NYC is how to find things in every genre, artist, and song that I enjoy. I come from a very strong rock background, but working in NYC has taught me to not only appreciate but love hiphop and pop music more than I ever thought I would. The best part about being exposed to so many different types of music is that I can take bits and pieces that I learn from each session and incorporate them to future projects to create something unique and new.
mixing Audio Pros – When did you first start out on your own recording studio and how you made that progression from first working in studios to running your own?
Ben Lindell – I’ve always worked back and forth between commercial studios and my home recording studio. There are strengths and weaknesses to both, and I really love having the flexibility to work anywhere. At my home studio, I have a very streamlined production and audio mixing workflow that allows me to work very efficiently and comfortably (generally with pants on). There are many things that I can’t do at home that I need to go to a real studio for: tracking drums, vocals, and other instruments; big loud speakers; and more outboard gear. I’ve set myself up with a system drive that I travel around with – all of my plugins, settings and preferences are with me anywhere I go. I boot from that drive at any recording studio and can open my projects without having to reconfigure anything.
mixing Audio Pros – Do you have any preferential working methods of note, i.e using certain gear for certain sounds?
Ben Lindell – I change my mind constantly and do my best to repeat myself as little as possible. The only things I do consistently is laying out and color coding my tracks with a heavy dose of OCD. Everything else is subject to change based on how I feel when I wake up each morning.
mixing Audio Pros – How is the music scene in New York? Are here any particular bands or trends that you are enjoying at the moment?
Ben Lindell – The NYC music scene is so large and diverse that it’s nearly impossible to define it by any one style or movement. The cool thing is that I can go out any night of the week and see something that inspires me to want to go create more music – sometimes it’s an amazing singer/songwriter, other times it’ll be a DJ at a club playing remixes that drive the crowd wild.
The good and bad thing about the NYC music scene is it’s size – the supply and demand curve in many respects is totally screwy. There’s more music happening here than anywhere else in the world, which raises the bar that artists have to operate at just to hang. “If you can make here you can make it anywhere” is an absolute truth; the level of competition in the music industry here in the city is so high that “good” isn’t good enough – it has to be “f**king fantastic” for anyone to begin to care about it.
mixing Audio Pros – You are obviously adapting to the changes in technology and the music industry in that you are offering online audio services. How do you feel that the industry is adapting to “‘remote services” such as online mixing and mastering for instance?
Ben Lindell – I’ve always been a huge tech nerd and love the fact that I can collaborate with people so easily from across the globe these days. It’s great that everyone else is becoming more comfortable utilizing remote audio mixing and mastering to help increase the quality of their musical product even if they are thousands of miles away.
mixing Audio Pros – Favorite band?
Ben Lindell – Simple answer: none. I listen to and love WAY too much music these days to try and narrow it down but some perennial sources of inspiration would be Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder.
mixing Audio Pros – What is the single best decision you have made in your life so far?
Ben Lindell – Marrying the most understanding and supportive person I’ve ever met in my life. There aren’t many wives out there that would put up the ridiculous schedule I follow and the amount of work I take on. We work our hardest to make time for each other away from work as often as possible but there are still weeks on end where we barely even get a moment to chat on the phone because there’s so much going on. Without her support I wouldn’t be able to do everything that I’m doing these days.