From a not-so-obvious career path that began by servicing early samplers, to engineering parts of a Michael Jackson's HIStory, to his current life in England and mixing in the box, Andrew Scheps has certainly carved out his own path. He's worked with artists as varied as Adele, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Hozier, Rival Sons, Andrew Bird, Daughtry, Rancid, Tinariwen, Green Day, and Ziggy Marley. We finally got to meet, and in addition to being an engaging and sweet fellow, he also had a lot of thoughts about the mixing process as well as navigating the needs of his clients, something I spend a lot of time thinking about as well.
You went to University of Miami for the Music Engineering Technology program?
I was there at the same time as Joe Barresi [Tape Op #23, #81] and John Paterno [#54] among others; really great people. It was a really good time there. I thought I would go intern at a studio, but a friend of mine graduated a year before and had a gig at New England Digital. He said, "They're looking for someone for the L.A. office. Do you want to do that?" They had a small [New England Digital] Synclavier [digital synthesizer/ sampler] at Miami, and I'd messed around with it and thought it was really cool. I could get paid to work, instead of working at a studio for free? I thought, "Yeah, I'll go do that for a bit."
For our readers who don't know, what was a Synclavier?
Well, along with the Fairlight CMI and the WaveFrame, those were the three first digital audio devices that were meant to be used in a studio to make music. MIDI wasn't a standard yet. The Synclavier started with FM synthesis; then they had monophonic sampling, which was basically one-shot triggering off of a disc. If you had a drum kit, your snare drum cut off the cymbal sound. They built it all from scratch. The CPU was like a Class A CPU: two circuit boards with a lot of cables going between individual components, and they were crazy good at doing certain kinds of math. Once they had polyphonic sampling, if you were sequencing drums and you wanted the kick drum louder, you would copy the kick drum track, because it was all sample-accurate. It would be louder because it was triggering twice. Crazy tight timing. I worked with New England Digital doing field service to fix the Synclaviers in L.A. and then in England. They had a London office.
Were you exposed to a lot of studio scenarios by doing that?
Yeah, I'd get a call. By the time I was working for them, they had polyphonic, 32-voice sampling. It would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it would be the centerpiece of the session. They would break, and I was the guy they'd call to come over; I'd bring a bunch of circuit boards and fix it. It meant that I was in sessions with all the people who had shit tons of money.
No one was buying rigs like that without tons of money.
No. If I was in L.A., it meant I got to go up to Frank Zappa's house, or visit Mark Knopfler [Tape Op #97] in London. I went to AIR Studios when it was still in Oxford Circus [London]. I'd get it working but they wouldn't trust it, so they made me stick around. "Yeah, sure. I'll stay for an hour."
What were you picking up in these rarified environments?
Just the sheer scale, and the panic of how much money people were spending per hour. Especially having an orchestra out there with a click track. Understanding the pressure of that; but also the opposite, where they were in these big budget sessions and they were going to stay in the studio until the album's done.
Mark Knopfler would be a good example.
Yeah, and Sting. They had this gear because it helped them make the records exactly the way they wanted. My introduction to the idea of record making was that you made the record you wanted to make. There weren't reasons not to do it; you'd never make an excuse for it. That was the extreme version, where you could afford to do it that way. But then you could carry it on to the home studio idea, where if you're tired, you go to bed, but then you wake up and work on it some more. If you can make a good record in a week, that's awesome. But you can't make a mediocre record and say, "Oh, well. I only had a week." Not even perfectionism, like in a Steely Dan way, but perfectionism for your art. What's the point in settling?
It's a hollow feeling if you let a record go too early, which we've all probably had to do at some point.
Usually it's one person that wishes, "Oh, that could have been something else." But usually the band wants it that way. If everybody is disappointed, then they should've kept going. If I can fulfill one person's vision, and it doesn't happen to be mine, well, that's the gig. They did what they wanted to do, even if they didn't know what it was.
How did you end up making the transition into sessions?
I always wanted to make records. While at New England Digital I thought, "This is a great gig, and I'm watching sessions." But then I thought, "This isn't exactly what I want to do." I grew up reading album credits. I would buy anything that Brian Eno's [Tape Op #85] name was on. I discovered Talking Heads because of Fear of Music; it said "Produced by Brian Eno" on the back. From working with Synclaviers, I could become a Synclavier programmer. I could get sessions that I certainly had no business being on as an engineer, but I could be the Synclavier guy. Then that turned into the Pro Tools guy. During all that time I was learning to be a better engineer. Then budgets started shrinking, and the number of people in the room started going down. Unfortunately, for a lot of really amazing engineers who couldn't get their heads around the technology, it was more important that somebody be able to run the technology than be a good engineer. An engineer who couldn't run it [Pro Tools] couldn't run a session. It didn't matter how good the mics sounded; they couldn't record them if they didn't know how to run Pro Tools. I ended up on sessions as an engineer because I could run the gear. I was right at the transition from analog to digital coming out of school, and then right at the transition from "full staff" records to just me and the band. All of that shaped everything I did. I've managed to be the beneficiary of that in a lot of ways. I'd be doing a Michael Jackson record, but when I wasn't doing that, I'd be getting paid $15 an hour to help someone put together a synth rig at their house or to help record another band for free because somebody had an ADAT. It was a really weird combination.
What were some of the first sessions where you were engineering?
One of the first ones was a Michael Jackson record. I worked on the HIStory [Past, Present and Future] record for a year and a half. I came in for three days to set up the Synclavier – a year and a half later the record was done. During that record there was such chaos and so many rooms going that I did a lot of engineering. Bruce Swedien [Tape Op #91] was obviously the main engineer, and Eddie DeLena was the other main engineer on that record; but I ended up spending six weeks or so with Steve Porcaro [keyboardist, Toto] in a room doing keyboard overdubs. It was just us; nobody even came by. We'd send tapes back, and people would be like, "Oh, that's great!" Then I got to do the same kind of thing when I got to the mixing stage; hanging out and submixing. I fell into a lot of jobs during that record.
Did you get to watch Bruce work? He's fascinating.
Oh, yeah. Amazing. You've read about his "Acusonic Recording Process." Basically, he records everything in stereo, no matter what it is. If he records a choir, they get in a circle and he places coincident mics in the middle. I'd think, "Great. It'll be like a figure-8 or an X/Y pair," but it'd be coincident omnidirectional mics. That's ridiculous! Then I'd listen to it and it was this amazing stereo spread with no defined center, which is what you want out of a choir. You don't want to be able to count the voices. He has this incredible natural gift. His balances were insane.
He talks a lot about sonic fantasy.
He's got pretty severe synesthesia, so for him it's all colors. What an amazing thing to know that something doesn't sound right because it doesn't look right! It's easier to say, "That color's wrong," than to say something sounds wrong. But that's the thing; he'd go until it looked right. I don't have any version of synesthesia at all. I think the good thing is the more I do this, I really do want it to feel like something. I get really bummed out when I listen back and the chorus doesn't feel like the chorus. But I've got to get over myself if I'm thinking, "Oh, the kick drum could have been better." Every once in a while, I'll wish, "The low end could have been something else." But any time it's more specific than that, it's just me wanking. I really need to be saying, "Is it something I want to listen to?" Hopefully the answer is, "Yes."
I've had clients ask me, "How will we know when the mix is done?" I say, "When it feels like a record!" What else could it be?
I get asked that a lot. "How do you know it's done?" For me, it's when I listen to it and I can't think of anything else I want to do. Usually it's that the chorus needs to smack me in the face, or the bridge needs to make me feel like I dove into the air over a canyon. Stupid things I set up in my head and want to have happen as "moments." At some point I either make them happen; or I realize that's not going to happen, so I'll do something else.
I'll mix a song to where I want it to be and I'll upload it and get four pages of revisions. I'm always like, "Did I miss the point?" I feel that sometimes the revisions take the feel out that I loved. How do you deal with that?
I never feel that it matters that I love it. If they don't love it, then I fucked it up. I've had comments recently where it wasn't even pages [of revisions]. It was only a few, but they were big, broad strokes. I actually emailed and said, "Look, I really love this band and would love to work with them, but obviously this is not the project to do it on. I'm sorry." They said, "No, we love the mix. It's just this 'stuff'." But that 'stuff' is everything. I take everything personally. Curl up in a ball.
My heart usually drops when I get the first notes.
Yeah! "Please love me, and my work!" Every once in a while, there will be something where I feel like, "Wow, they're really screwing something up here." In that case, I'll find a way to say something that isn't offensive. Like, "I'll do it, but please listen to this now and make sure you're cool with that." Ninety-nine percent of the time they are cool with it, because it's what they wanted. So, I'll have to give up on it. Usually it's me struggling to hear what they're hearing. Then I get to the point where I can actually do it, as opposed to running over some checklist. "Yep, did all your notes!" If we do that without listening...
That's hard. I want to get it done quick so I can get another mix up.
You know what I do? Usually the notes come in and they're super specific, like, "Could you EQ the guitar so it's less present? Drop the hi-hat 1 dB." I will always try to solve it in a different way than they say. If they want me to do it with level, I'll use EQ. If they want me to do it with EQ, I'll do it with panning. Because that way I know I'm actually going to listen. I'm not going to just do what they say without really knowing that it's achieved what they want. I try to figure out what they're asking for instead of doing this really specific task. If they knew what to do so specifically, they could mix the damn thing themselves. Obviously, they want me listening. But it's really easy to not listen when we have four pages of specific notes.
I'm glad to know you experience the "curl up in a ball" thing.
Absolutely. All the time.
I feel pummeled at times, but then I re-read the revision notes and go, "Okay, I can do these."
Exactly. The first read through is, "My career is over. I'm a fraud." Then the next one is, "I can do it." By the time I've done it, I'll realize none of that was terribly invasive. It must all be cool. They must like the way it feels.
Do you ever get mix sessions where the artist's outside mix references really throw you off?
Yeah. The textbook thing is to talk to the artist, find out what they're doing, and where they want this to go. Absolutely not. The rough mix is the only thing that'll tell me if something is true. I get bands all the time who say, "We want this song to be like [Jay-Z's] '99 Problems.'" What does that mean? The way the kick drum is distorted? The reference might mean something totally different to them than it does to me. I'll never hear the reference through their ears. In a lot of ways, that sets us up for failure. They've told me that's a reference, so now I have to do it. Otherwise I'm a dick! But I'll know that it's not going to work. "It can't be what they want." So, then I'm guessing. I'd much rather not have in-depth conversations beforehand. Once I've sent the first round of mixes, if they want to talk about the concept of things, then absolutely. If they have really specific things, like, "We don't like low end," that's good to know. But to say this should be like a certain record? Is it about the vocal effects? Is it the room on the drums? Is it the panning? Is it that the arrangements are better than yours? There's got to be something in the vibe of the rough mix which points me. Sometimes I can't even tell until I finish. Then I'll go back and see, "Okay, that's why this wasn't that way." There will be something in there, like, "Which instrument is way too loud?" Maybe it's got to lead, otherwise it wouldn't be that way in the rough.
Right. But what about when you get rough mixes that someone's not signing off on? They're saying, "I can't get a mix. I hate this."
It's good to know that. I don't mind them telling me about the rough mixes and saying, "This feels pretty good, but we want the vocal to be much more something." That's using their own mix as a reference. It's trying to figure out how other things can relate that can really be confusing. Do I undo what's great, or do I send it thinking, "Well, I've now blatantly blown off what they asked me to do." Or do I pretend that I've done it?
Yeah. It's a weird negotiation. Have you had jobs though where you had to say, "I can't do it," or, "It's a bad match; we're not on the same page," where you didn't finish the work?
Very rarely. I think that there were a few where I thought about it, but that is usually much more about people than music. That's like, "I cannot figure you out." A few years ago, I got the feeling that clients were at home saying, "Dude, we've got Andrew Scheps. We can make him do anything we want." They'd go in circles. Finally I said, "Look, you're asking me to undo the thing that we specifically did two revisions ago. Either you guys are total chaos, and everyone in the band is sending their own emails, or you're doing this just to fuck with me." So, I've got a great solution for that now. I've got this guy, Matt Glasbey, who was an engineer at Monnow Valley Studios, where all my gear is in Wales. Great engineer; really nice guy. He has all the same plug-ins as me. Once we get the mix done to the point where we're only doing tiny tweaks and I think things might be getting out of control, I say, "Matt is a great engineer. I trust him implicitly. Matt will do it, and you can pay him by the hour." Then they either immediately say, "Oh, no; the mixes are fine" – because they don't want to spend money on it – or it's so affordable that they can try to do what they want to do. Sometimes it's them being dicks, but sometimes it's that they have no idea how to talk about the thing they want. They keep telling me, "Do this, do this, do this," but it turns out they want something totally different. They can't figure out what they don't like about the mix. They think they'll figure it out and that it'll be better if they say, "I want more purple" or, "This snare drum is killing me." Then it turns out it was the vocal effects.
That is a cool handoff. The bulk of the work has been done by a certain point.
Yeah. Mix budgets are all-in now; it's no longer "this much" per day. It's "this much" per song, if you're lucky.
I stopped doing hourly rates for mixing, unless it's attended. I started saying, "Give me as much information as you can. I'm going to set a budget, and if you change any of these parameters on me, then we'll have to renegotiate."
Well, you're much better than I am. I'm like, "How much money have you got? Okay, I can do it for that." There's no point in me saying how much I want. I get the rough mixes and a feel for how the people are going to be, which is much more important to me than trying to set the budget. Then it's, "Do I want to do this?" Sometimes I feel really stressed out and panicked, and I say, "Hmm, maybe I won't do this." Sometimes it's like, "Man, I would do this for half that." Then, if I can't get it to finish, or if there's delivering stems, I'll do basic stems. "You want something that's crazy, like doing every background vocal on its own? Here's Matt's email." It's either worth the money, or it isn't. At that point they switch over to a very reasonable hourly rate, and they can make sure it's what they want.
He's probably happy to have work.
Absolutely. It's in his downtime. If something goes easy, I'll always try to deliver. I'll do stems and whatever. But, if not, it's a way to make the mix end.
With mix revisions, I say it has to be one document per album, song, or whatever I'm working on. It can't be 14 different emails from different people. Do you do something like that?
Yes. I've got this two-page mixing guideline that my manager sends to people. Nobody reads it. Sometimes they're offended, like, "We know how to make records!" For the mix notes, I don't care who sends the email, but everybody has to know what that email says, and it has to incorporate everybody's feedback. If the lead singer is the point person, they can filter the drummer's comments and decide not to send something to me. But the drummer can't come back to me and be like, "Why didn't you do my thing?" They all have to know what the notes are that I'm getting, and I need one centralized email. The other thing is the mix approval process. Everybody needs to know. A lot of times I start a project and I'm like, "Great, we'll send the mix to everybody!" Then the label, or one person in the band, or the producer will say, "Get it to me first." That's okay, as long as everybody knows. But I've been in situations where the band has sent notes, and it's literally like three things; then it's been a week because the producer hasn't had time to listen because they're working on another record and will not let me send a mix to the band. Instead of telling the band that it's the producer not having time, I have to make up a lie, like "Oh, I've been sick." I'm not doing that anymore. Everybody knows what the process is, and that's what we do. It's upfront, and people can get mad at other people, but I can't be covering for people to explain why something's taking so long.
Did you build yourself a room for mixing? What's your setup like at home?
I've still got my old Tannoy SRM-10B monitors. I've been set up in lots of different places. I've set up in caravans, in the living room of a house, and even at my wife Debbie's mother's house for a while. We're moving now; we're right in the middle of renovating a house. I will have a room, but it's just a room. For me a living room is the perfect mixing room. It's a dead room. It's big enough that I can get a little bit away from the speakers, and it has no influence on the sound. That's it. I don't want a mixing room that sounds like anything. I want to hear my speakers. That, headphones, and a computer. That's it. I had a Neve console at my house for years. It was awesome while I was doing it, but it got to be such a nightmare for mix recalls. I would starve now if I mixed one song at a time. I have to say "Yes" to everything and do multiple projects. I love it now.
Mixing has become much more street-level. People want to know how they can mix on their own more than how to track now, which I think is scary.
Yeah. Tracking requires gear and they know they can't afford it. They've got some four-channel USB interface and a couple of mics. They can't afford better compressors or preamps. It's really interesting to separate the professional audio space from the music space; it's like the size of the AES conference versus the size of the NAMM Show. Pro Tools is the fourth most popular DAW. People who want to learn all this mixing are creating music from scratch inside their computers. Maybe they're recording a vocal. They're not making records the way we think about making records. It doesn't have to be dance music – it could be anything – but it's made in that way. Sometimes I'll get emails from people who love my work, but are just starting out. "Could you mix a song for me? Here's the rough mix, and I'm really hoping to be able to replace the programming with live drums." That's the way they're making music!
It's weird to me how much emphasis is getting placed on mixing.
It's almost like the recording process for people now is, "Well, that's all that I could afford. I don't know how to use my own software." The expectations have almost gone down for the recording, which makes the expectations for what we can do in a mix crazy! But sometimes the things that we can do in a mix are crazy! I've had songs where I felt from the beginning, "This will always be shitty." Then I get done, and I had to work so hard on it that I turned it into something.
It's a weird point in time where there's a big crossover between being a producer and a mixer.
Yeah. I have had things where I've said, "I really think you guys should track some live drums. The programming is trying so hard, but it isn't doing anything." Sometimes they say, "You know what, you're right," and then they go do it. In other projects, it's like, "No, that's what it's supposed to be." There's an aesthetic that I didn't grow up with that they did, where weird, stilted, acoustic-sounding drums that aren't being played like drums – and sounds are cutting off a bit – is absolutely what they want. Then I have to get my head around it.
To even grasp situations like this, do you search around and listen to lots of new music?
I'm terrible about that. I really don't. Any time someone recommends something, I will listen. But if I go listen to any new releases or playlists, that is so in the pop genre. The genre playlists are what I like to listen to. It's like new releases, or weird shoegazer bands. "Swervedriver put out a record. Fantastic! I'll listen to that one." But I rely on other people. Every time I've worked at a studio in the past, I'd have the assistant give me a list. I worked at A&M years ago, and Bryan Cook gave me the best list, ever; it had Swervedriver, and a bunch of other bands I'd never heard of at the time. He was super specific, like, "You want to get the Soft Effects EP from Spoon [Tape Op #27]. The first track on that..."
One of the things you mentioned is a love of Brian Eno's work.
All the Talking Heads stuff. My Life in the Bush of Ghosts [Eno and David Byrne (Tape Op #79)] is something I still listen to somewhat regularly. That got me into all the Robert Fripp and Eno music. One of the records I had on constantly at school in Miami was Laraaji's Ambient 3: Day of Radiance. I was listening to the whole Bill Laswell [#93] avant-garde New York world; the early Material records, the Afrika Bambaataa he did, and then all his ambient and dub work.
When I interviewed David Byrne, he talked about working up grooves in the studio and later writing lyrics to fit.
It's coming back to the sessions you were talking about at the very beginning, where they could! They had the time and freedom to do that. "Okay, it's going to take me a week to write. So, don't come to the studio this week."
Do you find with projects you're mixing that people have that type of time because they have control over the personal studio they're working in?
I think so. It should be that way, right? People have infinite time if they're working at home on their own gear. I don't want to say it's a lack of knowing how to make records, because there is no "how to make records." Make them however the hell you want. But it takes a genius to be able to completely realize their own creative everything on their own. There aren't that many people who can make a really amazing record all by themselves. I'm not saying that people give up, because they really do work on it until they think it's done. But they can't be world-class at everything. Maybe the songs are absolutely ridiculous but they're not a very good bass player or the arrangements aren't right. Whatever it is, there's usually going to be some weak point if you are doing everything yourself.
I think one of the strongest aspects is collaboration. Sometimes when I'm mixing, I wish I could have been there at the beginning and producing. "This would be a better song."
At the same time, I'd think something like that and then think, "Wow, I'm an arrogant guy." They might just be different. Maybe this is what they want. Sometimes I'm afraid to say it. Then, when I do, it's like, "You know what, I was thinking the same thing," or, "What the hell are you talking about?" I think the interesting thing to figure out is what is timeless and what's not? How can I figure out how to make a record I want to listen to in a month, or ten years? The only thing I've figured out at all is never do something because I think I'm "supposed to" or because someone else did it. As long as the reason to do it has something to do with the record I'm making, then at least I have a chance at not pigeonholing myself in that time. That's the trick, I think.
When you're working on something like an Adele mix, and you think that might be an important release, how does that change your mixing process?
My personal taste is that I like "difficult stuff." That's not what's popular. I never think about, "I should do this, or that" because of genre. Mixing Adele; she's great, the band's great, and it's recorded really, really well. But there are records I've done that probably six people have heard, and I was more excited when I finished them. I'm really excited to work on a record where I want it to exist. That's why I'm not a successful producer. To me, if you're a successful producer, your opinion happens to be the same as a bunch of other people. My opinion's not the same as a bunch of other people. I like dissonance. I like things that groan and grind. That's not what most people hear. In a lot of situations, that weirder aesthetic being put into a more straight-ahead record is what people actually like. There's something slightly dangerous. I can't ever let something stay cheesy to my ears. I think, on some of the more straight-ahead records, that's why people wanted me. It'll be something a little more personal and less polished. It's not because I feel like every mix "needs this," but I'll hear that one element that will bother me until the day I die unless I do something evil to it.
You have your own plug-ins out there. Do you feel like you're giving away a little piece of yourself with those?
I don't feel like I'm giving anything away. That was an opportunity to build something I wanted; a plug-in that didn't exist yet. The Omni Channel is because I hate having to mouse around all over the place to get multiple plug-in windows to open. I'll want to see more than one at a time, and I'll forget to close it. I love the idea of a channel strip, but channel strips have always been, "I am an SSL" or, "I'm a TG console," and that's awesome. But I mix and match like crazy, even with hardware. I love Neve EQ but, every once in a while, it's gotta be an API or a Calrec. How do we get a channel strip that's as easy to use as it should be – everything's in one window? I really wanted that to exist, and Waves was cool enough to say, "Okay!"
Do you get royalties on the plug-ins?
Yeah, there are deals. I'm not going to retire on plug-ins, and I'm not going to retire on videos either. But every bit of income absolutely helps.
I do videos for LinkedIn Learning. People will see them and say, "We'd like to come work with you. You seem nice. You have some tricks." It's a really nice to get that across.
Other than trade shows, we're never in the same room with everybody. It used to be all word of mouth, because there would be three sessions going on in the studio. We'd see people down the hall, or there would be people in the club where the band we were working with was playing. I love teaching. I love that I went to the University of Miami. I think that having the fundamentals underneath, instead of believing in magic and voodoo, is really important. When people say, "I like analog tape," I'm like, "Have you worked on analog tape?" "No, but I love it." Analog tape can be amazing, and it can also be the shittiest thing in the world that will ruin a session. To think that pieces of gear are magic? At least identify what it is that is so awesome about it. It's fine to love it; Fairchild limiters are awesome, but they aren't voodoo. I think it's important to understand our tools really well. I'm the son of two teachers, so I have it in my blood. When I found out I could actually teach, I was so excited. I love doing it! It's much less pressure to talk about this than to have to do it! At the end of a class I don't have to send a mix to somebody and wait to curl up in a ball. I love doing the Mix With The Masters seminars. To completely reassess my own process once a year is good.
Do you play with the multitracks of the attendees?
Yes. That's two days that are set aside. Everybody brings something to the session and gets 45 minutes of me going nuts on it. The first 45 minutes is the most visceral, reacting to things. That's what people want to see. With the tweaking, it's like, "Who cares? How do I get to where I feel like I've actually started mixing?" The first two seminars I did with Mix With The Masters was all over the console, with tons of gear. The third year I showed up with a laptop. Every year I realize how much I've evolved in my own process and thinking. That's in a year! I'll think, "I'm doing exactly the same thing." Nope!
Have you gotten a backlash about moving to only mixing in the box?
There's a 50-page Gearslutz thread. There are people saying, "Oh, that's bullshit. He's doing that to sell us plug-ins." Really? Nobody's got time for conspiracy theories. It's not possible!
Maybe Apple gave you the money to do it. [laughs]
Yeah, I'm secretly funded by Apple! I wish that were the case. That would be awesome if they'd give me six figures a year to say, "I'm mixing in the box" when I actually work on my Neve console!
We try to keep the clients happy. That's one way to do it.
I was terrified doing it. I didn't know if it was going to work. I don't believe in voodoo, but I did believe that the 64-input Neve console and the wall of outboard gear was the only reason my mixes didn't sound like total shit. To say I was going to stop using all of that was terrifying! But, so far, so good. The weird part is that people listen to what I say, which is very strange to me. They feel like I'm advocating for anything I say. I'm not advocating for mixing in the box! If everybody on the planet mixed on analog consoles, that would be totally cool. I need to mix in the box, and I actually prefer it now. I would hate to mix a record on a console unless it was live, like a punk or jazz album performed with no overdubs. That would be fun, because it would be something different. But now I feel lost if I'm not at my Pro Tools rig with my trackball and buttons. But I'm not advocating for it, at all. People seem to get really mad.
Make the process your own. That's what we're supposed to do.
If it sounds good, it sounds good. That's it!