Graham Reid | | 3 min read
Nic Manders is usually the guy on the other side of the glass, the one with his name further down the credits.
But as an acclaimed producer he has been there Brooke Fraser, Stan Walker, Katchafire, Lydia Cole . . .
And you only need to glance at that diversity to get he has skills right across the production desks.
And he has composed and produced music for film, television, ad campaigns, corporate events . . . Rock bands, string quartet, downbeat folk . . . you name and he has engineered, produced and mixed it.
In a normal year he'd be a busy man, but as we know 2020 was not a normal year and so the man with all the technology but no one coming into the studio thought . . .
His debut album This Time wasn't just something to do however.
He'd long collected song ideas, had fragments of music waiting for the moment when he could work on them himself rather than be diverted by producing for others.
And so with the luxury of emotional space, time and the technology the album emerged with themes of memory and reflection.
“Looking back over my shoulder,” he sings on Time, “find my feet in the way that I'm moving forward . . .”
Timely then to ask Nic Manders some questions about becoming and being a producer.
The song where you really first heard the production was . .. .
Tears for Fears - ‘Woman in Chains’
Ever bought an album for the producer rather than the artist? If so which?
Anything that Daniel Lanois has worked on! Though to be fair the artists he works with are pretty awe inspiring anyway!
As producers: George Martin or Joe Meek; Phil Spector or Rick Rubin; Quincy Jones or Dr Dre; Brian Eno or Nigel Godrich?
This is totally unfair! Can I not just choose all of them?! Lol.
George Martin, Phil Spector ( though really, those Rubin/Johnny Cash albums and Blood Sugar Sex Magic! ) Quincy Jones. And nah - can’t decide between Eno and Godrich. Unfair!
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear because they so well produced are . . .
Ultimately I feel like the best production is where you forget the line between production and song, and it’s just the song,. Daniel Lanois - The Maker. Bon Iver - 715 - Creeks. Phoebe Bridgers - Smoke Signals.
Though grossly unfair to have to choose 3 ;)
The recording studio you'd most like to visit just to get the vibe would be . . .?
Peter Gabriel - Real World studios
The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .
The Daily Adventures of Mixerman
If you could co-produce with anyone it would be . . .
Tchad Blake or T-Bone Burnett!
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
Can’t actually even remember!
One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you would be . . .
Where does one even start?!! Most songs that make it into the ears of that many people must have struck a chord somewhere along the line, therefore I’d be proud of any one of them!
Analogue or digital; vinyl, CD or streaming?
Production on a daily basis: What's the ratio of inspiration/perspiration?
50/50 I reckon. Even the perspiration should have an element of inspiration in it.
Ever woken up hearing the sound of a song fully-formed in your head? If so which one?
I’ve dreamed songs, but never been able to actually recall them in the morning. But I also do believe the subconscious is hard at work while asleep, so, many ideas are formed and it’s easy to see why an idea can suddenly come to you after some sleep!
And finally, what do you as a producer bring to an artist which you believe can be your unique contribution?
I strongly believe that the ‘process’ has a huge impact on how things turn out. The environment you’re in, the people involved, The amount of time you have (or not!), so many aspects affect the way music comes together, and they are often more than just the music itself. I’m a believer that curating that is a bit part of what makes a producer! I also love digging deep into the reasons for even recording in the first place and the stories behind the music.
Hopefully that creates a chance for artists to find truth in what they’re doing and be authentic in their expression.
You can hear Nic Manders album This Time at Spotify here.