Carl Bown is a UK based Record Producer and Mix Engineer. He's heavily involved in modern UK metal and electropop with bands like Gunship, Bullet for My Valentine, and While She Sleeps.
Here's our chat with Carl:
Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?
While She Sleeps, Bullet for My Valentine, Gunship
How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on?
I like to take a pretty active role in most projects. As a producer I am often involved in the Pre Production and Writing process with the artist and I like to have as much control as possible at the tracking stage.
How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?
My background of being in bands and constantly being disappointed in the demos we had made led me to be involved in the recording process and recording them myself! . . . in my teenage years I listened only to a lot of metal but that's certainly changed! - I listen to absolutely everything now - Apple music is fantastic for that with its playlists etc. I’ve got two children and I’m making sure they get to listen to as much different stuff as possible too - it’s awesome seeing them react to different artists for the first time!
Can you name any factors you feel majorly influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?
My Grandad managed my uncle who was a successful Singer in the UK so I guess music as a job was never anything that was frowned upon…. in fact quite the opposite - I couldn’t have had a more supportive family when it came to the idea of doing production as a career.
Early on I was obsessed with the Machine Head album “Burn My Eyes”…. The producer was Colin Richardson. I eventually became Colin’s assistant, then engineer and in 2015 I co produced a Bullet for My Valentine album with Colin, so I guess that's a rad journey.
Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favourite tools/instruments recently?
I always like to have a set of Genelec 1031s to hand and a trusted set of headphones…. really helps decision making in unfamiliar studios.
Recently I’ve been very impressed with Klark Teknik Pultec and LA2A clones….. incredibly affordable and easily modified etc - very cool.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?
There is no substitute for putting in the hours and working hard. Networking is so important to success and I guess in order to be in the right place at the right time it’s really important to put yourself in as many places as possible to maximize your potential of success….. In my very early days I would drive 3 hours to London and back just because I knew someone would be at a gig that I wanted to talk to or give a CD I’d done etc etc…I would sometimes do this twice a week…. often nothing came of it but I guess you only need those few connections to get the ball rolling! It did the trick!
Also, listening is massively important, spend the time to learn to listen, everything else is just a tool to achieve what you want to hear, a friend told me that and he couldn’t be more correct.
How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?
Headphones have long been an element of my workflow however with something like the LCD X they have moved away from being an addition to the quality control process and have become a more valuable tool for mixing as well.
Also you can’t ignore how people have shifted to listening of headphones…. a good home HiFi used to be a main stay of a home's living room but, now very few households even have a decent stereo, everyone listens to headphones…. usually from their phone! - so I guess when mixing and mastering listening on headphones is more important than ever.
As more & more folk are using headphones as their main source of music consumption, it’s become increasingly necessary to have a high quality headphone monitoring option in both studios. The LCD-X headphones are a fantastic microscope as well as an effortless and super enjoyable listening experience. These headphones are seriously rad and I bloody love them. 🔥