Words & Photos: Billy Stillman
Swansea based music producer James Weaver has certainly made a name for himself in the city and beyond over the years, providing professional tracks of a unique style for many bands coming out of South Wales. With a production sound that is becoming more and more publicly recognised, I chatted with James about the importance of his recording services in the local music scene and the plans he has for 2019.
SWANSEA MUSIC HUB: 2018 was a very productive year for you, having been the go-to producer for countless Swansea bands, any highlights?
JAMES WEAVER: 2018 was an amazing year for me thanks to all the great artists that I had the pleasure of working with. It’s hard to highlight something specific from this year, as all the bands I’ve recorded have their own unique characteristics and musical flare. It will always be a highlight for me when I hear the bands that I record getting airplay on the Radio. Massive shout out to Adam Walton from BBC Radio Wales who has aired my recordings countless times and is doing a great job shining a spotlight on some amazing artists around the country! I also heard that some of the artists I worked with got signed up to record labels due to the recordings I created, so I’m over the moon about that! Its great to know that the music I work on reaches so far and helps people in various ways!
SMH: Being such a popular Swansea producer, especially with the younger generation who are looking for a professional sound, I understand you have a rapidly growing list of artists you have recorded. Do you experiment with new techniques and ideas with every musician and band that comes to you?
JW: I am constantly learning new techniques and try to soak up all the information I can get my hands on. I love to experiment with sound at any opportunity and I’m constantly filling up the studio with new gear and audio plugins that I get incredibly excited to implement into my artists music. When crafting ideas, I try to stay as close to the artists vision as possible, and then build on that vision to make something bigger and better! I think its really important when creating ideas to have a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the studio so that everyone in the room feeds of each others creative energy. That way you all come up with great ideas together. Always keep the teas, coffees and snacks flowing!
SMH: Are there any key musical influences that have a significant impact on your production style?
JW: I think musical influences are definitely dependant on the artist I’m working with at the time. Different genres and styles may define different musical directions. Saying that, I love music that has a powerful production behind it, for example; Bring Me The Horizon, Don Broco, Lower Than Atlantis and Enter Shikari. I try to embody that explosive, wall of sound in my mixes. Additionally, I adore listening to orchestrations and film scores by composers such as Hans Zimmer, Jesper Kyd, and Lorne Balfe. Their music style is so emotive and dynamic. Their minimalistic, yet commanding melodies have a way of plucking at your heart strings.
SMH: Who are you currently listening to that’s a favourite?
JW: Bring Me The Horizon, Pvris, Architects, Nothing But Theives, Arcane Roots, Don Broco just to name a few...
SMH: Since the beginning of your career as a producer up until now, do you feel that your recording style has changed and improved?
JW: I definitely think the quality of my recordings have improved in many ways since I started. Experience has given me a better grasp of the recording process and also working with people to create great music. Theres always room for more improvement though and I plan to make 2019 the year I take my recordings that extra step further!
SMH: If you had any advice for the younger James starting out his career as a producer, what would it be?
JW: One of the best pieces of advice that I learned is not to worry too much about the small things. Always keep your eye on the bigger picture!
SMH: And is there any advice you would give to artists going into the studio?
JW: Make sure you’re well prepared going into the studio. Practice your songs. Practice them again! Restring your guitars, reskin your drum kits. Have a good nights sleep before the session. Oh did I mention practice your songs... haha! Great recordings are made by great musicians with great ideas. Producers like me just add the extra sparkle! And last but not least, don’t worry or stress about it. Its just music at the end of the day and I’ll be there to help you along the way!
SMH: Who was the first and most recent artist you recorded? How much has your style changed in between the both?
JW: The first artist I recorded was my own band The Effect. The latest artist I recorded was a local Swansea band called I Digress. A great deal has changed since I started producing music in my bedroom all those years ago. I now have a professional studio setup with higher end recording gear and a mind full of new ideas that I’m excited to unleash. Although much has stayed the same. My work ethic hasn’t changed too much. I’ve always worked countless hours recording, editing, and mixing, getting the music to sound as best it can and thats never going to change. I always strive to give my clients 110% and I hope that shows in the music!
SMH: What have you got lined up for 2019?
JW: I have loads of bookings so far this year for recording so should be a busy year! I will also be stepping into the world renowned recording studio Monnow Valley in the near future to produce a song with a band, which I’m really excited about.
SMH: Finally, top three artists you would love to record / loved to have recorded?
JW: Oasis, David Bowie, Foo Fighters
To find out more about James and his music production services, check out: www.jamesweavermusic.com