I was so excited when I found out I would be able to work with Threadsence! I knew that after joining the TS family I would have to come up with some good interviews to live up to their awesomeness! So I closed my eyes and thought real hard on who I should get in touch with for my first interview. The first person that came to mind was none other than Charlie Vela. I met this talented gentleman while he was recording Cocoon with the band, Meg and Dia. I’ve been lucky enough to be around musicians all of my life. In the past, I had always given all of the credit to the musicians for making the good music that I religiously listen to but after meeting Charlie and being able to watch him work, I realized that there is so much more to it than knowing how to play an instrument and having a groovy voice.
Vela has been involved with recording for over ten years. So what exactly does he do? Well, when it comes to making a stand-out album, he takes care of the pre-production, recording, mixing, and mastering. And don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what mastering is, I didn’t either until I met Charlie! Just know for now that when you listen to a track done by Charlie, he is the reason every note sounds exactly the way the band intended it to be heard! So what are we waiting for? Let’s dive into this interview I have prepared for you all!
J-How did you first get started? How did you decide that this is what you wanted to do?
CV: Well, I was always interested in how things worked. Growing up I disassembled many, many toys. When I was about 12, I took apart my parents tape deck and managed to hook it up to another tape deck. Once I learned how to record one sound over a previously recorded sound, a practice called overdubbing, I was hooked. In high school I started recording myself and my friends, and my senior year began working in a local studio. I knew it was what I was going to do with the rest of my life. When I realized that, I was spending all my free time reading and learning everything I could about recording. I started to see everything else in my life as something that was taking time away from recording. When it gets to that point you know you’ve found something you truly love.
J- Wow! That’s awesome! Love at first sound. So if you weren’t able to do what you do now, what else could you see yourself doing?
CV: That’s a good question, ha ha. My degree is in Marketing, so I would probably try to work in some other aspect of the music business either in public relations or management. If that doesn’t work out there’s always the 9-5 world I suppose.
J- Ah, the 9-5…That’s always good incentive to work hard and stay close to music and away from the office cubicles. So, you’re big on music. I have to ask. If there was an album you could “steal” and say you produced/recorded, what would it be?
CV: So very many! I’m constantly hearing records that simply blow my mind. There are certainly some very commercially successful records that I wouldn’t mind getting royalties from, but I’d have to say probably Jimmy Eat World – Clarity. The arrangements are so beautiful and it’s one of my all time favorite albums.
J- I love that album too! So good! Now for someone who wants to do what you do, name one thing they need to be wary of and then name one thing that they can look forward to if they end up following in your footsteps. Any added advice to that?
CV: Be wary of the time commitment involved. If you have a significant other, be sure they are supportive of this fact. I’ve been very lucky that way. I typically spend 10-12 hrs a day in the studio 6 days a week, sometimes more. And sometimes that can make even the most passionate individual a little tired. But on the bright side, you are spending all that time working on music! I still can’t believe sometimes that people actually pay me to do this. It’s incredible.
J-Wow! There must be a lot of love for your work if you’re at it for so many hours in a day. Quite a grind. I never knew that recording an album took so much time! I mean, when a lot of people listen to an album, they don’t immediately think of the producer or sound engineer…They only think of the band members/musicians playing the song once and then it’s done (I am guilty of this). What other person/position do you think gets “overlooked” by people who are not familiar with how music is made and the process of making a record?
CV: Drummers… just kidding. I think even more overlooked than producers and recording engineers are mastering engineers. A lot of bands don’t even know what mastering is which is a little troubling. Mastering engineers take the final mixes of the songs we work on and apply processing to the whole album to make sure the songs all feel like a cohesive idea. In working on the individual songs it becomes easy to for artists and producers to lose the forest for the trees. A mastering engineer gives an outside perspective to the final album, the same way a producer can give an outside perspective to a band regarding arrangements and songs.
J-I am so glad that you explained that in detail. Mastering really didn’t come to my mind until you explained how important it is for the album itself. A lot of bands may not know what it means, but at least when they are with you they are in good hands! So now tell us about what is going on right now. Any new projects or activities in the making/coming up that you want to tell us about?
CV: Well, lately I’m really excited about how well the Meg & Dia record [Cocoon] is doing. It was an incredibly fun album to be a part of and a rewarding experience through and through. I’ve also just finished an EP for another really cool female fronted band called Sick/Sea and a full length record for a dancy funk/punk band called The Young Maths. They kind of sound like what James Brown’s band listened to Fugazi would sound like. I’m also getting behind the drums again with a band called Dignan. We’ll be recording an EP in the next couple of months and hitting the road in October. I’m really excited to get out and play in front of people. In the studio it’s easy to forget the experience of playing live.
J-Definitely! I’m so excited for you! I’ll be sure to check Dignan out. I’ll try to sneak out to a show in the fall hopefully and catch you drumming away on stage! Sounds like fun! Thank you so much for your time. I know you’re a busy man! I really appreciate you leaving the studio for a while and answering away just for the Threadsence team!
CV: Thank you, Jade! I had a great time.
And now that you know a little about Charlie Vela and what he does, check him out for yourself!