Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mentoring and the Music Industry > Profile

Introduction from Chia
I first had the pleasure of meeting Syd when we found ourselves playing for a duo called Little Pleasures (principal songwriters were Tania Murray and Aaron Lawrie) at a gig at the Basement a few years ago. We hung out and rehearsed for a weekend, and eventually I found myself jumping on ProTools for Syd so that he could stay behind the kit.

Only very recently, Syd and I worked together again on an album for the very talented/charismatic/bloody hilarious Nick Rheinberger. I found myself jumping on Protools for Syd so that he could stay behind the kit.
I am seeing a pattern emerging, here.

I admire the shit out of Syd Green. He was the magician behind my favourite Australian album of all time.... iOTA's "La Caravana" (2003), spending around 9 months - fulltime - in his studio, weaving together what is truly a remarkable manifestation of raw creativity between two unusually-gifted songsmiths. Just playing the same guitar that iOTA played on the album (her name is Matilda) gives me a huge buzz. I just love that album so much. At first, my admiration of Syd Green was based merely on the merit of his work with iOTA, but since getting to know him I've learned that his skill as a producer and a musician is only a fraction of what constitutes this outstanding human being.

What's your job? How long have you been doing it?

"Music Producer/Session Musician...I've been a musician for more than twenty years, and have been producing artists/bands since 1998."

Who were/are your mentors?

"I've had the opportunity to engage with several mentors during my musical life and who continue to inspire and influence me. When I was younger and discovering who and where I wanted to be placed in the professional sphere, musical peers and professionals provided subtle guidance along the way.

'A couple of producers that I had a chance to work with and observe were Terry Date (who produced Soundgarden, Limp Bizkit, Pantera and Australian producer and engineer Micheal Letho (Rockwiz, UnderBelly Series, Rush).

'Scott Smith is an aria nominated graphic designer, and we have collaborated on many projects for more than fifteen years. He is also my web designer and the first port of call for CD design, as he is at the top of his game and always seeking to push the limits of current technology and media. He's also my best friend, supporter and musical comrade (we've played together in several bands, Guilding the Lily, Christ Art Museum, Catbird). We're constantly bouncing business ideas back and forth and providing objective feedback to each other."

Was it a conscious decision to latch onto these people, or did it just kinda happen?

"I never really got to latch onto Terry as he was only here in Australia for 9 weeks producing Mantissa (the band I was in at the time), but the lessons I learned I carry with me today.  The greatest lesson I took from him was the importance of people skills and the ability to listen in order to collaborate with creative others. Micheal Letho and I have been working on many projects over the last 17 years. He is somebody that has seen me grow in terms of production, and he's always happy to steer me in the right direction. Besides his superlative audio engineering abilities, his skills to communicate with artists/bands to achieve an excellent result is outstanding."

What do you think motivated them to take you under their wing?

"I some times wonder that myself. I guess it must have been that glint in my eye and an eagerness to learn ."

In a nutshell, what have they taught you?
"Wow, i need a truck to fit in all the lessons. In the end, how to be a good communicator and the value of humility. There's always more to learn. :) "

How may they have they saved you years of unnecessary frustration?
Were you always open to listening to advice?

"Yes. I understood early the value of the knowledge and experience of those that went before me in the industry." [Are you getting this, kids? - Chia]

If you went through a phase of being stubborn and not taking advice, what do you think your reasons were?

"Being stubborn will eventually lead you to make mistakes as a result of not being open and listening to professional advice. I think that's the best lesson."

Who taught you how to run your music career as a business?

"No-one in particular. For me it's been quite an intuitive learning process. I do have a few close friends/peers who give me support (Scott Smith-Gong Online, Mick Letho) from their own business perspective. Production is a model I'm still fine tuning, particularly as it's a tangible product. Probably the biggest lesson I've gained is the importance to work hard and long hours for the client/s in order to exceed expectations. Word of mouth is critical to establishing yourself in the industry so professionalism needs to be a priority at all times."

Why do you think mentoring is important in our industry?

"To instill a standard.
It's one thing to purchase recording software, but one must learn the craft of how to use it creatively and correctly. Michelangelo had an apprenticeship before he sculpted David! Once you learn the rules then you can selectively break them. If you are charging fees for a service, it's imperative that you've taken the time to learn how to use the equipment in a technical manner so you can consistently provide work to the highest quality."


~ Chia

Check out Syd's website at

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