In this latest Avid Blogs Music article, we celebrate the work of this year’s Music Producers Guild (MPG) Awards nominee.
Working with artists like Paul McCartney, Bill Fay, Ed Sheeran and Manic Street Preachers, quite rightly places award-winning Guy Massey as one of the best mix engineers in the business. Also famed for his work on the Grammy Award-winning restoration of The Beatles back catalogue, Massey is nominated for the 2015 ‘Mix Engineer of the Year’ award.
Growing up in a musically minded family of music teachers, guitarists, drummers and even Adam Ant enthusiasts, his Sound Engineering Diploma landed him a three month placement at the coveted Abbey Road studios in London. Here he learnt his craft from some of the best names in the business. After taking the leap of faith into the freelance world in 2005, Guy has never looked back and maintains a strong bond with Abbey Road. He shares with us some of the greatest career triumphs and why he wouldn’t choose any music production tools other than Avid.
Q: What is the very first thing that comes to mind when you think of Pro Tools?
The first thing that comes to mind for me is simply ‘work’! I use Pro Tools all day, every day, and Avid’s unique systems allow me to work in ways that are very different from 10 years ago.
Q: How have you and Avid/Pro Tools grown together over the years?
I think as computer software has become more engrained into our lives over the years, we rely on it in ways that were unthinkable years ago. So many aspects of our lives are now completely reliant on technology and it’s no different in my field of work. I made my choice to use Pro Tools many years ago and as the program has developed, so have I as an engineer. It’s a familiarity that I’m really comfortable working with.
Q: Why have you chosen to rely on Pro Tools?
Unlike many completely digital workflows, I still like to use tape where I can for recording. I then move everything into Pro Tools for editing and mixing at either another studio or my own.
Q: What are your favourite features in Pro Tools?
Visually I like the layout of Pro Tools, it feels well thought out ergonomically. You can use it like a digital tape machine or on a much more detailed level to manipulate sounds in a way that would have been much more time consuming in the past! That said, I’m really into the idea that just because you can doesn’t mean you should!
Q: How has the ubiquity of Pro Tools manifested for you in terms of collaboration and working in various places and situations?
The ease of overseas collaboration has been very important to me and I like the idea that sessions recorded at any studio you happen to be in will work instantly back at my place.
Q: How do you use Pro Tools? Song writing/composition? Mixing? What is your process and workflow like?
I use Pro Tools as a recording/mixing medium, as that’s where my work lies. I tend to track in larger facilities for short bursts of time. Transfer from tape if I have been recording to it, then edit and overdub and mix at my own studio.
Q: Do you use a lot of virtual instruments? How has Pro Tools support for more and larger VIs impacted your work?
I don’t use a huge amount of virtual features, but recently I have been using the NI range and the new Abbey Road Yamaha Grand which all work really well within Pro Tools. I often record at 96K too, so running VI’s at higher sample rates never seems to be a problem.
Q: How have the other new features in Pro Tools 11, like the Avid Audio Engine and 64-bit processing, benefited you?
Offline bounce has been quite useful and really helps me speed up final mixes and delivery.
Q: What led your career in this direction?
I guess I’ve always been known as a recording engineer, but these days I think it’s beneficial to be able to mix well and also have your own space. Mixing has become a key focus for me over the past three years or so, and I really enjoy the artistic freedom it gives you. In the past couple of years, I’ve set up a mix and overdub space in Crouch End which has helped me to mix a lot more and develop newer artists, such as Ajimal and The Soft Hills.
Q: What are some of your favourite moments in your career?
Getting my first job at Abbey Road and working on loads of great records with some brilliant engineers and producers (and stealing their ideas!). Some of the greats include John Leckie on Radiohead’s “The Bends“, Mike Hedges, Dave Eringa and Ian Grimble on Manic Street Preachers “Everything Must Go” and “This Is My Truth…”, and Owen Morris on Oasis’ “Be Here Now”. Also, my four year on and off labour of love helping to remaster The Beatles back catalogue and the surprising moment all our hard work paid off, when we won the Grammy for Best Historical Album! I still continue to make memories, working with great musicians and artists, in amazing studios with brilliant staff.
Q: How do you differentiate yourself in order to stay competitive and ahead of the game?
I try to inject some of my own personality into whatever it is I’m doing at the time and treat every project as unique, looking at it in its own way and tackle every aspect accordingly.
Q: How has the evolution of technology changed the way that you work?
As I mentioned earlier, the evolution of technology, and especially with Pro Tools, has allowed me to do complex recording and mix work in my own space. I’ve come a long way since my first Pro Tools rig that was limited to 16 tracks and came with a whopping 4GB audio drive – the size of a toaster!
Q: What advice would you give people who want to get started doing what you do?
Be sure it’s what you want, stay focused, and always try to be in the right place at the right time!
Q: How does it feel to be nominated for an MPG Award?
It feels nice to be recognised by your peers for hopefully contributing something of value. In 2010, I was lucky enough to win the MPG award for recording engineer of the year, and it would be great to do the same this year!