From U2 to Bjork
London based engineer Sie Medway-Smith got his start as a Tape Op in his teens at Miloco studios in East London. He has since worked with some our generation’s biggest artists and we got the behind scenes take on Sie’s approach to production.
You’ve worked with some big artists (Bjork, Depeche Mode, U2, Gang of Four, Moby, Chemical Brothers) how did you get your foot in the door? Do you have any advice for upcoming producers looking to get into the game either producing their own music or others’?
I wanted to know how to record properly. All the way from demos to finished tracks. My mentor was Howie Bernstein (Howie B). He saw spark in me and took me under his wing. I worked on some big records with him throughout the late 90’s and word got around that I was a safe pair of hands in the studio. Once I reached a certain level I needed to go out on my own or I would have stayed Howie’s engineer forever.
A friend introduced me to Daniel Miller at Mute Records and I became his go to mixer almost overnight. The whole journey has been very organic for me. My advice to upcoming engineers and producers is to keep your head down and learn your craft. Develop a style of your own be committed and doing it for the right reasons.
What do you make of artificial intelligence in the production sphere? Do you think it has a place?
I love the thought of A.I. in Music and Production, it has a place for sure, LANDR is proof of that, it has made my workflow so much quicker. If you’ve got a good set of ears and you’re open minded the results are clear to see.
What are you working on currently? You mentioned that you’ve been using LANDR in your productions?
I am currently working on a project with some analog obsessives called VAVOX from Bruxelles. We have a really interesting way of recording. The guys are anti midi www.vavox.be, so its all live takes. I then bring it into my ABLETON LIVE 9 system optically, which I believe to be the best sound currently available. I mix it internally and finish off with, ECKMILLER EQ and LANDR. You could say LANDR is the cherry on top of the cake! I am really enjoying the results and I have learned how much I need to respect headroom.
People are using whatever means possible to make good music, which in my mind is the the best situation. Producers are making tracks, combining acoustic sound with electronics and heavy-duty digital processing in ways never imagined. Lines are being blurred. Producing is getting lightspeed-fast and hyper advanced at the same time.
Making music has never been easier, finding new music has never been easier. Finding good quality new music has never been harder! Though this is also a good thing because you really have to dig deep to find the gems. Without the passion you will not find it.
I love using ABLETON and guys like yourselves at LANDR who are pushing the boundaries and are all inclusive of progress. The audio side of ABLETON is so powerful and I don’t know if people realise it. I use it for writing, recording and mixing. And now I’ve added LANDR to the chain now as well.
What do you think of the changes in the industry in the time you’ve been in it?
I couldn’t have imagined what has happened since I walked into the studio on that first day in the summer of 1994. I am every bit as excited now as I was then. It just keeps getting better and better! And now you guys are here too:) Analog, Digital, LANDR = Freedom.
Any last pieces of advice for the production world?
Find your sound, trust your ears, believe in yourself. If you don’t nobody else will. Mixing is an art and a craft that comes with knowledge and experience. I have been mixing for 20 years now and my tracks have never sounded better than they do today using this combination of tools. Embrace the unknown.
Posted by Rory Seydel: Musician at NoniWo and Music Editor at MixGenius – See more at: