We recently introduced Jordan Tishler to our ranks and we thought it would be good to have a quick Q&A session to give us a bit more insight in to the man behind mixing desk.
mixing Audio Pros – So how and when did you start your musical career? Can you give us a bit of background info?
Jordan Tishler – I started playing music at age 4, first piano, the oboe (my own choice, go figure), then bass, guitar, keys, etc. I’m not really great at any of them, but being so versatile has helped me be a great music producer, and I can lay in tracks when needed.
I grew up listening to a mix of what’s now called classic rock (though it wasn’t classic then) and reggae. When New Wave and punk hit, that’s when I joined a band. I’m hard to pigeonhole on taste: I love everything from Cream to The Cars to Metallica to The Jurassic 5 to Deadmau5. Musicians often ask me about what kind of music I “do”. My best answer is always “Good”. I firmly believe that my job is to help bring the artist’s vision to fruition and, if it’s their goal, to make it accessible to popular sensibility. That doesn’t take being the master of some short-lived micro-genre, it takes experience, breadth, and taste.
I made the crossover from player to audio engineer in college when, as a result of the bands I was in, people started asking me to record them. I built my first recording studio around a 4-track cassette machine in my dorm room. After that I spend some years recording and doing artist development freelance for the majors. In the late 90s, I started seeing the writing on the wall. The majors were less and less interested in and able to do the development of artists. In the winter of 2001, January 21st to be exact, almost everyone I knew at a major label was laid off. It was a telling moment. Thankfully, I’d seen it coming and have developed my own shop back in 1998. So, while my clientele has changed over the years (from being the label to being the artist, for the most part) I’ve been able to keep doing what I love and do best, make music and develop artists’ careers.
mixing Audio Pros – do you have any particular methods or preferences of note, for example using certain gear for certain sounds, preferential ways of working or musical styles etc?
Jordan Tishler – When I started out, digital was just coming around, and nobody really knew how to make it sound good. That become one of my skills; hence, I named my business Digital Bear Entertainment. But life has its ironies, and many years later my current (6th) studio is largely analogue! I realized that digital was getting better and better. You could get the sound to maybe 95% of what it should be. Like really good. But the problem is that the “art” and “brilliance” lives in that elusive last 5%. I slowly went about dipping my toe back into analogue waters, and have found that it make all the difference. At first you barely hear it, but then suddenly, it’s everything. Over time, I’ve bought an SSL console, scads of rack gear, and now even a Studer 2 track. We used blinded A/B testing at every step of the way. We didn’t want to buy into (at great expense) the Emperor’s New Clothes. Yet every time, we found the analogue won. So we bit the bullet and invested. I’m proud to say, it’s paid off, the recording studio sounds great, and is a pleasure to work in.
mixing Audio Pros – You have obviously adapted well 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?
Jordan Tishler – I’ve always worked remotely. That’s part of why I find mixing Audio Pros to be a good fit and a great idea. Perhaps because of the way my career has unfolded, I’ve always had a national/international view. I routinely work with clients from NYC, California, and points in between. I’ve worked with clients from Canada, Britain, North Africa, Japan, and the Caribbean. That’s fun! It’s really easy these days with technology such as various Cloud services.
mixing Audio Pros – How did you come about to work with the Audio Engineering Society of New England, and what did your role consist of?
Jordan Tishler – I began working for the Audio Engineering Society (AES) many years ago when a mentor suggested that I take on the role of secretary. I quickly brought the section into the twenty-first century (which hadn’t started quite yet) publishing their first web site and converting the paper newsletter into an emailing. Eventually I became the chairman, overseeing meeting topics from how to build your own guitar amp to keynote speakers like Elliot Scheiner and Jerry Harrison. After establishing the next team of board members I moved on to work with AES HQ, but was quickly drafted back to focus on recruiting new membership among student sections.
mixing Audio Pros – Could you tell us a little more about the artist development side of your work? I can imagine it’s pretty rewarding?
Jordan Tishler – Artist development and artist management is a direct outgrowth of my experience in the recording studio and with the ascendance of the artist as the master of his or her own destiny. As I mentioned above my career started with the majors and has seen their influence wane. As a result I found many artists unready to fulfill their new role as a business person in addition to musical star. When you realize that everything we do in the studio is part of producing a product (recording) and that the product must serve a purpose for the artist’s career (sales or promotion, for examples) you see, as I do, that production is inextricably bound to business decisions. For me, then, becoming an artist manager was a natural outgrowth of understanding how and why recording studio work was being undertaken.
I’m also a fan of bold branding statements. Image is everything! Musical acts that look compelling, sound undeniable, and have strong message are my real passion and I’ve become good bringing these ideals to fruition for my acts.
Check Jordan out in his Digital Bear Studio here