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Blake Eiseman

Blake Eisman
  Blake Eisman
 

"The way it happened for me––was the classic story," says producer/engineer Blake Eiseman, who owns and operates Binksound, an Atlanta-based production services company. "I was assisting on a session and the engineer didn't show up. The artist turned to me and asked 'can you do this?' I said 'hell ya I can do it!' So, I jumped in and did it. The next day they asked me back instead of the original engineer."

Being at the right place at the right time has led Eiseman into a decade long career of producing and engineering that show no signs of slowing down. The list of artists he has worked with is both impressive and diverse. Albums by Outkast, Matthew Sweet, Arrested Development, and Pearl Jam are all proof of his capability and versatility.

In the ever-increasing compartmentalization of musical genres and radio programming, it's refreshing to know that there are some people left in the industry who have learned to bridge the gap. "It's the kind of production I love," he says. "Like Alanis Morisettes's work with Glen Ballard, or Butch Vig with Garbage, you have this combination of different styles that creates a completely new sound. That’s exciting."

In addition to his non-stop work in Atlanta's top recording studios, Eiseman also does a fair amount of work in his home studio. "It's a home studio, and I've never thought of it as anything more than that," he says. "Although, I work with a lot of fairly big artists, and when they hear that I have my own studio they want to come see it. Sometimes it turns into more than being a demo."

At the heart of his studio is a Mackie Digital 8•Bus console. "I love the automation," he says. "There have been times when I'm working at home on the D8B, and then I'll go directly to a studio and work on a project on a SSL. I'll actually look for features that I'm used to on the D8B––you get used to having that amount of flexibility."

The bells and whistles are great, but what matters most to Eiseman is how good a mixer sounds. "The bottom line is that it sounds great," he says. "I've tried a lot of other digital consoles and I never liked the way they sounded––they sounded digital. The Mackie sounds and feels like an analog console––which I love."

Like most engineers, Eiseman prefers the sound of analog recordings. "Although my whole studio is digital, I'm kind of old school analog at heart," he says. "The Mackie is as close as you can get to having an analog sound without being analog."

Eiseman attended the University of Miami's Audio Engineering School and worked for six years at Doppler Studios in Atlanta before striking out on his own. Over time, he has developed his own unique approach to mixing. "One of the things that many engineers avoid or forget about is panning," he reveals. "I love having things off to one side, it gives everything else more room. For example, if the vocal is clashing with the guitar, the best thing to do rather than bring that guitar down or trying to EQ some frequencies out, is to pan it somewhere else in the mix. Of course, you're going to want the vocal in the middle. By panning whatever is fighting it, you get the troublesome frequencies out of the way. I use panning as a tool—it's a great way to fix a lot of these types of problems. Others who have listened to my mixes have told me they have great sense of space, and I think that's why. Almost nothing in my mixes is directly centered."

Sometimes another artist's vision or experience can also be influential. "The guy who taught me more than anyone about that (panning) is Speech from Arrested Development," he continues. "He pushed me to bring things in from left field and bring things in out of nowhere. He really pushed me to expand my horizons."

Recent projects Eiseman has been working on in his home studio include the first single from R&B artist Montel Jordan's new album. The track was recorded and mixed using the D8B. In addition, Eiseman has been part of a very special project called September Rising. This CD project came together after the September 11th terrorist attacks when members of a MOTU Internet discussion group decided to create a benefit CD to raise money for victims of the attacks. Musicians from all over the world wrote and recorded music to for the CD. "It's a community of musicians who have never met," he says. "We did it entirely over the Internet––sending files back and forth. I mixed six songs on the record. It was an amazing experience."

 

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