After graduating from our Studio & Live Music Production course in 2016, Lewis Jones now works as a Studio Assistant here at Spirit Studios.
From working with one of the most successful session drummers, Andy Gangadeen, to writing and engineering tracks with Mika for his new album, Lewis certainly has his foot firm in the industry.
Busy working on his new album, we caught up with Lewis to find out about his time in the industry, so far.
Before, we find out what you’ve been working on. Tell us, how did you first get into music?
I started learning guitar when I was 8 years old. From there, I went on to study music at GCSE and became really interested in the technology side of things. Eager to study music at University, I moved to Manchester from Devon to study here.
After studying both the studio and live sides of music production, would you say there’s a side you sway towards more?
Live Sound was definitely what I wanted to do before I started studying here. When I graduated, I did a lot of live sound engineering for venues in Manchester, such as Sound Control, Soup Kitchen and The Northern.
But, over the past few years, I’ve really enjoyed the studio side of things which is weird because I really didn’t think that would happen.
Fast forward a few years, you’ve set up your own band, Barron. Tell us, what have you and the rest of the band been up to?
Yeah, that’s right. The band started off being almost 90s, early 2000s, indie-rock. But, recently, we’ve started working with Andy Gangadeen – a session drummer for the likes of Spice Girls, Massive Attack and Chase & Status – who is producing our music and pushing it in a much more electronic direction.
At the minute, we’re in the middle of writing an album down in Blue Barn studios in Cambridge. We decided to go straight into writing and recording in the studio, as opposed to having all the songs prepared beforehand. It’s been a really interesting way of working and has definitely made us think very differently.
During the sessions, I’ve been assisting the main engineer which has been really fun. Personally, I find it quite hard to engineer and be objective about my own music. But, it’s been great to learn from him and work with someone who is completely impartial to the music.
Following on from this then, would you say electronic music has taken over the typical Indie music scene in Manchester?
No, I don’t think electronic music has taken over. But, I think it’s nice to see bands pushing boundaries and crossing genres. Merging genres is definitely a way of keeping things current, and about making something new, right? You don’t want the first 1975 album, or even the first Killers album again.
Aside from working on your own stuff then, have you worked with any commercial artists recently?
In September, I flew out to Florence to work with Mika on tracks for his new album. His bass player, Max, approached me and asked me whether I wanted to be involved in some of the writing and engineering.
I was out there for 6 days, working with him while he experimented with a number of tracks. It was such a surreal experience. On the first day, Mika was literally sat to one side of me with a microphone singing, and on the other side was the hills of Florence.
For me, it was a great experience to work with somebody who is so driven and successful, and to learn so much from him too.
In terms of influences, are there any artists or bands you use as a reference point when you’re writing tracks?
Yeah, for sure. I’ve been listening to SOHN while I’ve been writing my own stuff lately – his stuff is just amazing. It’s very simple with chords and keys, but he also makes percussive clips and claps which sound incredible.
Lastly, you’ve done quite a few sessions with MCR Live in Spirit. How do you prepare for a session which has to be finished within a short period of time, with so many instruments?
Good question. I’d say, trying to find out as much as possible about the band and the set-up beforehand is the best thing. If you only have 4 hours, you don’t want to have loads of cables and microphones. For me, it’s about making it really simple, but ensuring I still achieve the same great sound.