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Jonathan is a Seattle based music producer, engineer, mixer, musician and studio owner.
He started his producing career in the early 90's at London Bridge Studio, working along side some of the top producers of the day. He helped to record and produce some of the most successful and influential bands of the 90's, including Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Blind Melon, Candlebox, and Zakk Wylde.
In 2005 Jonathan and producer Geoff Ott purchased London Bridge Studio.
Today, Jonathan continues to produce and engineer music projects. Jonathan's clients range from rock bands to singer/songwriters. More recent artistes include Brandi Carlile, Kim Virant, Codey Beebe and the Crooks, Massey Ferguson and Rafe Pearlman.
He is an active board member of the Pacific Northwest Grammies. He plays guitar and drums in several local bands. Most recenty he released an album with singer Rafe Pearlman called Dust & Gold. His wife, Alcena Plum, owns Louisa's Cafe and Bakery near their home on Eastlake.
I spent the better part of the 90's working on major label records as an engineer and producer at London Bridge Studio. This was the final decade of big budget records as we knew them. We would typically spend one to four months in the studio making a record. The bulk of time in the studio was spent on the delicate refinement of the band's performance and sound. I have lived and learned the art of making major label records. So much of the way we make records today has changed! While I fully embrace the modern techniques of record making, I have a deep commitment to performance based recording, rather then the modern approach of piecing music together with sterilizing computer accuracy. (Blah!)
I much prefer to leave things sounding live and real. I'll often overlook mistakes if the feel is just right. Even though I've become a ProTools master over the years, I try my best to keep my hands off the editing tool. And I still love working with analog when possible.
I've been blessed to learn production by working side by side with some extremely talented producers including Rick Parashar, Kelly Gray, Don Gilmore and Michael Beinhorn to name a few. I learned early on that a great recording starts with a great song. Many of the producers that influenced me were musically hands-on, often getting involved in song arrangement and even writing. While I feel the technical side of a recording is very important, I feel the arrangement of a song is equally important.
In a typical recording project, my work as a producer starts with the songs and their arrangements. I will carefully listen to each song with unbiased ears and recommend any changes I feel will be important to the overall composition. I might suggest shortening a part here or extending a part there. If a part of the music isn't cutting it, I may suggest re-writing it. Once the arrangement is strong, we usually move on to making sure the individual parts are interesting, solid, and gel with the song as a whole. I'll take the time to focus on the fine details, such as making sure the kick drum pattern and the bass guitar part work together.
My role in this process can vary greatly depending on the artist. On some projects, if needed, I will help write and co-write songs or sections of songs. On other projects, I'll take more of a back seat role during the pre-production stage and not offer any input. It is critical that the artist and I agree on my role as a producer before hand in order for the recording to be successful.
My general school of thought for recording is to capture as much of the live performance, and the feel of one, as possible. I have a huge respect for the magic that happens when musicians play live in a room together1 No amount of digital editing can replicate a live feel. (Believe me, I've tried!)
London Bridge Studio is a uniquely equipped studio for live recording, with its enormous space and easy line of eye sight to each room. I can have 5 or 6 musicians all playing live with head phones in one room, and have the sound of the instruments isolated in other rooms.
Typically, the first few days of basic tracking is focused on the live performance, with a particular focus on the drums. Even though a band might be playing live, we can always go back and fix mistakes on other instruments later, but the feel of the drum tracks is the foundation of a great recording. Once we're happy with the drums, we'll go back and fix or replace the other instruments where needed - usually starting with the bass.
**I love analog tape! When the budget allows, I prefer to start my recording on analog tape.
In the spirit of trying to make more honest sounding records, I tend to keep overdubbing to a minimum. With today's technology, it's all too tempting to add layers upon layers of content, which tends to cloud up the original idea.
I will often double up guitar parts to enrich the sound, but may shy away from adding non-essential melodic content.
Recorded music is usually focused on vocals and melody. Using overdubs, I try to frame these important elements with tasteful simple textures.
Harmony vocals in the right places can be very effective and even make or break a song. I now have years of experience working with and writing harmony vocals. It's one of my favorite aspects of recording.
My approach to mixing differs depending on the type of project I'm working on. I always prefer mixing through an analog mixing board as opposed to mixing inside ProTools. To me, ProTools mixes can sound shallow and one dimensional. With bigger budget projects, it's wonderful to mix on the board from start to finish, using all the analog outboard gear and equalizers. With smaller budget projects, I usually start the mix inside ProTools and then blend the final mix through London Bridge's Neve board. This is good way to save on budget yet still take advantage of the warm, punchy sound of analog.
After the mixes have been completed, mastering is usually the final process before duplication. The main function of mastering is to make sure all of the songs are at equal volume and balance and to add any final equalization or compression to the record. Typically, mastering can brighten up mixes and increase over all volume, punch and clarity.
I've found that mastering can make or break a recording. I will usually recommend a mastering lab in Seattle or Los Angeles, depending on the sound and budget. Please view our Community Page for details. If there is not enough budget to use a professional mastering lab, I will often agree to master the project myself.
My job as a producer usually ends when I hand off the final mixes to a mastering lab. However, since owning London Bridge, I've worked hard surrounding myself with a community of music business professionals. While I am not an expert in publishing and marketing, and have no power to get an act signed to a record label, I now know many professionals in the field to whom I can refer my clients. Please view our Community Page for details.
Recent work by Jonathan: