Meet Paul Smith
My passion for music was sparked by my mother who played piano in church as I was growing. At the age of four, I started piano lessons. Before too long, I wanted to learn other musical instruments. I borrowed my step father's (David's) bass guitar, and I was hooked. David was the bass guitar player at our church. But when I was seven years old, he and my mom got divorced. That left two voids in my life. The first was a father figure void at home. The second was a void in our church band. They didn't have a bass player. Talk about an unfortunate opportunity for me. I was seven years old and the adult band church needed a bass guitar player. I raised my hand, and before I knew it, I was walking on stage - in front of the entire church congregation - at seven years old as the bass guitarist. I was hooked. I knew from that very moment music would change my life forever.
The years following my mom's divorce were not easy, but music was always there for me. Music gave me confidence, perseverance, and hope. To be blunt, our family was broke. Actually, poor. Mom had gone back to school to create a better life for us. We needed money, and all I knew at that young was that music could help us financially. So by the time I was 12 years old, I had my first business plan and was working in the music industry. I was in a band and fortunate enough to have a positive music instructor. During this time, I started teaching private music lessons. My first client was 21 years old, and I was 12. Throughout my early teenage years, I was playing in front of large crowds. It was fun and I was young. The money I was earning was helping take pressure off my mom and allowing me to buy more music gear.
From 15 to 18, I was touring Western Canada professionally and learning more aspects of the music industry. We played AAA clubs, which I needed a special letter from the Liquor Control Board.
THE NEXT PHASE
When I was 18 years old, my older brother had a few students in a small town called Morinville, Alberta. He wanted to tour more, and I wanted tour less. I took on the business strategy side of Smith Music: looking for new income streams, improved teaching technologies, and marketing strategies. A few years later, my brother left Morinville and I stayed. In 2002 I officially opened the Smith Music store. In 2008 I purchased our new studio. One thing that didn't change is my collection of music gear. Today Smith Music is the largest recording studio in Western Canada. We provide music lessons, sound, video recording, and live production event management. Our customers are some of Canada's biggest acts, including Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. In our 21 years of business, we have taught thousands of students music. The next chapter of Smith Music will be helping musicians build profitable careers. Join the next chapter in our Facebook Group. See you there!
In the music industry, experience matters. Producing an album effectively takes a wide range of skills. Album creation is as much about project management as it is about getting awesome sounds. Tracking an album is so much more than hitting record and stop while the artist performs. My decades of teaching have shown me how to get the most out of a performer while keeping them upbeat and enthusiastic. I have been in many roles in the industry and all of them help inform my role as a producer and engineer. I have been fortunate to work in professional instrument repair, custom guitar building, live sound, and recording for Canadian Hall of Fame acts. I've toured professionally and performed on many large stages at festivals, corporate and self-promoted concerts. I bring more than a decades worth of stage, festival and event management to projects I select. I've studied electronics and built custom gear. All of these areas have helped me to become a well-rounded producer that knows how far a project can be elevated and how to get it there.
My mixing and engineering skills are best suited for projects going to small market radio and initial releases to a large market. I don't pretend to be the best engineer in the world. When a project calls for one of the worlds best engineers I select one to be part of the project.
What Makes A Great Producer/Engineer
To be a great producer or engineer you need to be a good communicator, love sound, have a high attention to detail and have a passion to bring something new to music.
I found learning to be an audio engineer one of the toughest endeavors I set out to learn. Compared to learning an instrument it was far harder. I took me a decade of hours per day mixing songs to be able to get radio ready results reliably. I was already an accomplished musician with years of live sound experience. Mix engineering in the studio was a brand new world.
Being a good communicator is crucial. A producer/engineer needs to be able to fully understand the clients' vision. You need to be able to educate musicians as to how to get the sound they desire after it exists in a song with many other instruments. Translating a massive drum sound in the studio through many steps that will finally reach your audience's ears on a laptop speaker or earbuds is an art, and it's not always intuitive.
An engineer has to love sound. This may seem obvious but an engineer needs to love sound on the deepest level humanly possible. Engineers not only listen to the instruments but they listen to what is in between the instruments. How eq on a snare reverb interacts with the main compression and how the vocal delay makes the vocal sit nicely in the frame that the instruments have built. You will find engineers listening to how an electronic transformer adds a little smooth distortion to an otherwise bland source and this will make them smile.
Mixing is about hundreds of small moves getting you towards a goal. A good producer gets a vision of the final project and moves everything in that direction one small step at a time. Keeping a high attention to detail is the key to success.
Identifying how a project can break new ground and bring "something new" is the most significant ingredient to giving any project focus. Even if a project is for sentimental purposes and will only be shared with family this is paramount. Staying aligned with the strength and positive energy of the project gives the whole team purpose, and is the fundamental lifeblood of every project. I only take on projects where "breaking new ground and bringing something new" to music is clear. When I am clear on this objective I can bring my very best!