Gaining On The Comets: Producer Woodie Taylor In Interview
Woodie Taylor has worked with Artrocker faves from Veronica Falls to Shrag alongside superheroes like Morrissey. Here the producer/musician reveals his studio secrets - and how you could get started at the desk
You've produced work for Comet Gain, Shrag and Love Is All among others. How did you get started as a producer?
Truth is, it’s been a gradual thing. I’ve been interested in recording since I was a teenager and started overdubbing using 2 x cassette recorders, graduating to a 4-track portastudio and recording whatever band I was in. I worked in a hi-tech music shop in the early 90s and had access to their equipment, I did some recordings there for Holly Golightly and other friends.
The next big step forward was when I asked Comet Gain (then a local band to me in Croydon) if they would be up for me recording and releasing an album of theirs. This became the Realistes LP, which by indie standards has proved very popular.
This in turn led to Kevin Pedersen, from What’s Your Rupture in New York, suggesting to Love Is All that I mixed their recordings. These were released as the 9 Times The Same Song album and ended up being licensed to Parlophone, which was a big thing for all involved.
To what extent is digital production trying to emulate analogue production these days, and is it a worthwhile pursuit?
This seems to be main pursuit of audio software companies! Trying to capture the essence of a bygone era. The plug-ins seem to get better and better at doing this but, in my opinion, they will never have the same organic feel as analogue equipment. That doesn’t mean to say they will sound bad, just a bit different - there’s good in old and new. So, worthwhile? Why not! Could it ever match mixing to reel to reel tape for the music I like? I doubt it!
What advice would you give to young producers seeking to start out?
The same advice that a guy who manages record producers/mixers gave me a few years ago - offer your services to up and coming bands that you like and make sure you get a credit on the record for what you’ve done.
Cubase, Pro Tools and Logic are often heralded as the professional music work stations; which do you prefer and why - and is there anything wrong with beginners turning to Garageband?
I use Pro Tools, as it’s the first one I came across and it felt the most intuitive. They all do the job. Garageband is excellent!
Outside of your work as a producer, you've also done a variety of interesting work, such as playing drums on the classic Morrissey album Vauxhall and I! What are your memories of that record?
Rather dream-like really. Three months of a hot summer at a residential recording studio. Working with (producer) Steve Lillywhite, who is inspirational – a master at drawing out the best performances. I think Morrissey had reached a new songwriting high (with Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte), was happy (honestly!) and singing so well - there were a great band of musicians and engineers involved in making this something really special.
You also perform on drums with Comet Gain - does being a musician help or hinder your production and mixing work?
I think it definitely helps. Having my background means I’m able to understand the whole process from a musician’s perspective and experience of band politics is very useful too. Production-wise, I’ve learnt a lot about what I like through being in bands and I’ve met a lot of like-minded people through being in Comet Gain.
Comet Gain are, of course, on Fortuna POP! who celebrate their anniversary this year. Are they a good label to work with?
Oh yes!... and 15 years too. quite an achievement! I'm really looking forward to the 3 x nights of bands at the Scala (1st-3rd November).
Finally, what is the best song of all time, and what is the best-produced song of all time?
I find these kind of questions hard to answer, as it changes from day to day with me… today I’d put 'Now My Heart Is Full' by Morrissey as the best song.
It’s the maverick independent producers I really admire - Coxone Dodd (at Studio 1, Jamaica), Lee Perry, Phil Spector, Joe Meek… but, it’s going to have to be 'La Resa Dei Conti (Paying Off Scores)' by Ennio Morricone (from the A Few Dollars More soundtrack) as the best production.
Modesty prevents me suggesting the mix I did of 'Beachy Head' on the new Veronica Falls album as the best production!
Comet Gain are playing at the Scala, London on Weds 2nd November,
as a part of the 15 years of Fortuna Pop! celebrations.
The Veronica Falls album was released 17th October on Bella Union.
Woodie Taylor is always on the lookout for new bands/solo artists to work with
and they can make contact via his website www.woodietaylor.co.uk