You don't have to be the front-man in order to work in the music industry. There are a plethora of career paths that involve working in a studio as a session player or engineer, booking gigs, working as a manager or a promoter - the list goes on. In this series, we aim to provide you, as the reader, with an insight into the lives of these talented individuals, including how they got into their area of expertise, how they work alongside artists, and how you might get involved.
This week, we got to speak with Tyler Spicer, a producer and engineer at NAM Recording Studio, Wiltshire. Tyler grew up around music in his family home and was also a very big S-club 7 fan (great throwback for the 90's kids). He grew up playing Trumpet and guitar but settled with a passion for playing Bass and has since performed with a number of bands across the UK music industry. Tyler studied Jazz and English at university and was also involved in the commercial music course, all of which he felt shaped his appreciation for the song and its arrangement. This was the start of his pursuit of producing.
Tyler has always been a creative musician, going above and beyond to gain experience in a variety of genres and listening in to how his instrument fits in the context of a full band.
Playing professionally has really helped to shape his experience as a producer and he feels that it has developed his understanding of how it all fits together - what works and what doesn't. Tyler mentions that big-shot producers like Greg Wells tend to be really great musicians and this provides a level of inspiration and qualification to what they do.
Producing provides an element of working on the song with an element of shaping the music that backs that song. The process allows him to be creative and incorporate all aspects of the song when compared to playing bass. Tyler mentions that 'producer' can have different meanings:
"I think people should think of the producer as the director or conductor in the studio. You are given the blueprint by someone else... but they may not know how to best make that happen... it is the producers job to bring that vision to life".
A typical day in the studio
Tyler feels that before starting any new project, it is important to get the song right. He likes to sit with the artist and ensure that the way they hear their song is portrayed in the right way when it comes to creating a fully produced track. Tyler prefers to lay down the rhythm tracks first to flesh out the instrumentation and give the song some shape. These include drums, bass and rhythm guitar. Guide tracks can be laid down ahead of the final polished instrumentation to provide an indication of how it may fit with the melody. This might then be followed by laying down more intricate guitar parts and other instruments such as banjo and mandolin, that might grab the attention of the listener and give the track a level of uniqueness. Vocals tend to come last to provide the artist with full instrumentation to sing to. Tyler likes to give plenty of time for melody and harmony vocals.
I was interested in knowing how involved the producer should be in the process of creating the sound or steering the direction of the song. Tyler felt that it is most important to address the artist's wants. If an artist has a clear vision, it is important to work hard to make it the best it can be whereas, some artists may prefer more input and guidance, especially if they are relatively new to a recording environment. As a producer, he feels that it is important to research the artist, know their influences or what they already have released in order to create the best working environment and product.
"Personally, I am all about making things as simple as possible. Having the simplicity whilst also delivering what needs to be delivered. It is not my art, it is someone else's art. I'm like the snapchat filter or the Instagram filter on their art...I want to be the problem solver, not just give problems".
What should an artist expect or look for in a producer?
As a management and PR company working with a number of artists, we were interested in Tyler's view on what an artist should look for in a producer. One of the prominent points of discussion was that the artist should listen to what the producer has previously worked on - who have they worked with? What are their influences? What can they do for you and does it tie in to your sound? One consideration of course, is budget. It is rare to find a big space, with a collection of recording microphones and a good producer for a small price - there will always be some level of tradeoff however, it is important to feel comfortable and work with the right person.
"There is something to be said for working with people you know but also something to be said for working with people you don't know because that way, you are getting a completely fresh perspective and a fresh ear from someone entirely different... which may open up a new network".
Advice for those looking work in producing
We asked Tyler what advice he would give to those of you looking to get into producing. He mentioned that it is important to listen and do! If you play an instrument, continue to play and be creative. If you are a laptop producer, get stuck in and begin making sounds. But, always be humble. Identify what you know and what you want to learn and work on your weak points. It is always a great exercise to put on a pair of good headphones in a quiet room and listen to all the small, intricate parts in a fully produced song - notice what makes the track what it is.
In terms of gaining experience, although competitive, there will be many studios always willing to have individuals in the studio. Find somewhere nearby and get in contact. There is nothing better than being in the environment, observing and learning.
"Pursue what you love and enjoy it!"
Get in touch
If you would like to know more about what Tyler gets up to as a musician or want to get in touch, head over to his YouTube channel or Instagram page. Alternatively, you can email at firstname.lastname@example.org