Joe Cross is no stranger to the music business. From being signed to Big Life Management, sharing the label with the likes of We Are Scientists and Bloc Party, to working with Courteeners, Joe certainly has his fingers in all of the pies.
Joe came in to our studios to lay down some tracks with Saytr Play with the help of some of our students, and sat down with us to chat about his producing style and career.
Thanks for sitting down with me today Joe. To start, how did you first get in to producing?
When I started out in a band we managed to record and release two records. While recording, I was able to shadow our producer and gradually learn the ropes. Just by observing I was able to learn so much.
Tell us, how did your session with Saytr Play go?
It was great. We managed to stick to the same set-up and mic arrangements that we used last time we recorded, so that made it a bit easier. Working on the NEVE desk was awesome, and recording in the isolation booth really helped to get a tight sounding drum.
That sounds awesome. How important do you think it is for students to grab hold of opportunities to work with producers like yourself?
Really important. Personally, I think some students can often approach a recording session from a very technical perspective as opposed to looking at the overall picture. And so, I think it is important for the students to get a clear view of the band or artists’ priorities before recording and keep everyone enthusiastic throughout the session.
With this in mind, what piece of advice would you give to students looking to get into music production or audio engineering?
Grab every opportunity you can to work on things, learn different genres and get to grips with how things work in different genres. But, most importantly, make your own music to get an idea of what it is like to be an artist, as this is crucial to be a good producer.
If you’re in that environment with all the equipment at your disposal, you have to take advantage of that.
And so, do you follow a creative process when producing music?
Pre-production is very important. In fact, I’d say I spend more time on pre-production than anything else. If everyone is on the same page before the recording takes place, it takes a lof of stress out of it.
However, I follow a very rigid system when I am producing. Usually, the band will give me their idea for the song and then we will build up a simulation of the song, including hardware and software.
As a producer, what do you find most challenging about working with bands you haven’t before?
I’d have to say getting to know people sufficiently enough beforehand is the biggest challenge. As a producer, you have to get to know people very quickly.
A lot of production is down to manipulation. And so, although you think you know the best thing for the song, you have to find a way to make sure everyone else agrees with you. In addition to this, I often take new artists or bands out for a drink, so I can get to know their tastes and see if there is any tension.
Before you go, tell us, what are you listening to right now?
Right now, I’m listening to Angel OIsen’s latest album, All Mirrors, which is just extraordinary. I’m also listening to Bon Iver’s new album, I,I, and Working Men Club’s latest single, Teeth.