Gavan, long time no talk, what happened since we spoke last? I bet a ton 🙂 Let us know…
I think the last time we talked, I had just had my little guy and he was hangin’ out in the newborn intensive care unit. Now he’s sitting next to me pushing buttons and driving me nuts! I’m also doing a lot more creatively within iHeart Salt Lake City now. I’m producing spots, helping with station launch imaging in smaller markets, and writing creative campaigns occasionally. It’s a lot of work, but it’s cool to be branching into every aspect of the production department.
What is your favorite DAW right now and why?
Right now, it’s Studio One 3 and TwistedWave on Mac. I converted to Mac about 4 years ago, and haven’t looked back. I was on Pro Tools for a while, and have played with Logic and Ableton too, but last year I really looked at what I was doing, and how fast I was doing it in every DAW I could get my hands on. The winner? Studio One hands-down. It’s amazing how similar it is to Pro Tools, but how much faster and easier to navigate. I can setup non-destructive plugin chains on individual clips and automate things extremely quick. It’s become an extension of my brain and I really enjoy it.
As for TwistedWave, I use that to cut up v/o tracks and to record clients and audio. I use Studio One for the more intensive recording and editing, but TwistedWave is fantastic for cutting a quick spot or doing a basic batch conversion. It compliments everything I’m doing, and it’s always running in the background.
Right now, I love OneKnob Filter from Waves. I recommend it to everyone. I’ve got it set up on all of my music tracks, and it automates a low-pass filter with one envelope. It’s phenomenal for transitions and cutting frequencies under v/o. The price is great too, because it’s usually between $30 or $50 and always on sale.
I also really dig Eventide’s Blackhole reverb. It’s perfect for long reverb trails to end music beds on beat, and I have started playing with it to add some extra tail to a hit or sound design piece when I’m producing something pretty dry that’s designed to run over an intro.
Recent work? What did you change the most over the course of the last years?
Here’s a screenshot of a major campaign for WWKA-FM in Orlando. They do a show every year with new country artists, and some pretty well-known artists, called the “All Star Jam”. This is the session for all of the elements used to promote it, as well as a screenshot of the v/o chain for Brian Lee and Rachel McGrath. I also included audio from one of the promos for you to listen to.
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“All Star Jam” Promo:
The biggest thing I changed was switching from Windows to Mac. It was tedious to re-train myself to use different keyboard shortcuts, and the file management. Once I got going though, I haven’t looked back. I’m using it at work, at home, and on the go. As far as work goes, I’ve taken on more and more of it. Learning how to manage my time and spread out projects through the day is an evolving skill.
How does the perfect VO chain look for you?
I don’t think I’ve figured it out yet! I’m constantly changing things up, but as a rule, I start with Waves REQ and do a high pass filter cutting everything below 130hz. Then I add a C1 Compressor and start with the “Classic Compressor” setting and tweak from there. Follow that up with a limiter to beef it up a bit more and that’s where I start. Then I do a bunch of other EQ’s on various tracks to add texture. But if someone has the perfect v/o chain…. Hit me up!
How do you get creative and how do you stay creative?
I used to live and breathe imaging, and to an extent, still do. But I found myself doing it all day, every day, and I noticed myself getting burned out. The best thing I can do is find a way to be inspired without listening to the radio. I enjoy listening to podcasts like ESPN’s Pin Kings and Serial, just to name a couple. The production value on those are awesome, and it really inspires you to think about the way you’re telling your story with audio. I also find music outside of what I usually hear when producing for the formats I usually do. I do a lot of country and CHR imaging, so I try to listen to things that are totally opposite of those formats, like hip-hop and trance music. You’ll find yourself trying to figure out how they produced a certain vocal effect or a musical transition, and that can bring some fresh ideas into your own production that wouldn’t usually get there by doing things by the book.
Work Life balance, what is your secret, if there is any?
It’s tough. There’s so much to do, and not enough time in the day. I also do imaging for freelance clients when I get home from work, so that can be an even bigger challenge. I try hard to spend time with my wife and two kids when I get home. I usually get home around 6pm, and the kids go to bed around 8 or 8:30. It’s a good two hours that I’m away from a DAW, and it’s refreshing to get away from “noise” for a little bit. Once they go to bed, I usually work from about 8 until 10pm. If I get everything done, perfect. But if not, I still try to cut myself off if the deadline allows it, and I’ll finish it up first thing in the morning before I start my day. Those hours away from the studio can be the most important for you creatively.
Who influenced you the most lately?
Too many to count! Off the top of my head, I really enjoy hearing what Forrest Martin is doing for Apple’s Beats One. It’s such a unique station, and Forrest is extremely creative with the various pieces that he images it with. I also love what Capital in the UK is doing. I know there’s a team of guys over there, and I think the imaging they do is incredible. And I can’t leave out Andrew at Power 106 in LA. He’s got such a great story of how he ended up working in this crazy industry, and he is incredibly talented. I love the vibe he brings the station, and the next time I’m in LA, I’m hitting him up for a tour!