[audience question] Who are your favorite producers right now?
My favorite producers right now? There's Greg Kurstin. Greg did Sia, and he's done a tone of stuff. Great, great producer.
I should be taking notes for interviews.
He's definitely one of those guys. He's actually in a band called The Bird and the Bee, him and his wife [Inara George]. Great, great guy and a great band. Super talented. Alex da Kid, because he just pushes it to the limit. I love that. That's why we get along. When we get together, there are just no rules. I'm usually the conservative one. "No, that's too much!" There are so many cool producers right now that I get the privilege to work with. Honestly those two guys right now are amazing. Malay who did Frank Ocean — he's got such an amazing sound. Justin Meldal-Johnsen. There are so many good guys.
[audience question] You've obviously been really successful at getting the feel of a particular song. Do you feel like you've been more successful with that as your career has grown? If so, what's changed?
That's a great question. I think it's just being more mature; being wiser. Just understanding song structure. The innocence I had when I was younger I now kind of analyze to see what makes a song a song and what gets me excited about a song. I feel like it's just experience, the experience of knowing structure, knowing what a song needs, knowing what a song could have to have that emotional connection with more people than you can think of.
[audience question] Have you been aware of that growth in yourself?
Yeah, absolutely. Definitely. That's really cool to feel, because you really feel it.
[audience question] So you get pumped more often by your own mixes?
Exactly. I always say that. I just want to feel a big hug from the mix. Or sometimes I just want to be slapped.
You were mentioning earlier mastering being an extension of your mixing process too.
Nowadays it is.
Do you feel like that's because if you deliver something quiet, the artist and management and labels go, "What's wrong?"
Yeah, "Oh it sounds too dull." Absolutely. "It's not exciting enough."
Well then, what does the mastering person do?
Back in the day we didn't have those tools. I just played a song that I mixed almost 20 years ago. We discussed how we delivered it. I remember delivering it like 8 or 9 dB softer than how it came back.
On a DAT tape?
Pre-DAT days. The label goes, "Mastering saves records." They don't know the difference. It's just louder. We may not be mastering engineers, but we're always searching for what the end result is going to be. I feel like mastering today plays a completely different role than it did 10 or 20...