Originally a Chicago native, Dylan Magierek lived, rocked, and recorded in Albuquerque, Honolulu, and San Francisco, until the dust settled in his most recent home of Portland, Oregon. While traveling around the country, playing bass in a handful of “bands with terrible names,” including Trampled Under Foot, Travesty, Jet Pilots, and Cinderblock, Magierek was inspired to start his own independent record label and production company in 1997, coined Badman Recording Co. Over the years, Badman has released the records of a number of once-independent artists, including My Morning Jacket, Patrick Park, Red House Painters’ Mark Kozelek, The Mother Hips, and Starf*cker, as well as Magierek’s own project, Misc., which took him over a decade to record and produce. Aside from being the founder and head honcho over at Badman, Dylan Magierek is also involved as a partner with Portland’s Type Foundry Studio and Scenic Burrows, where he records, produces, and mixes music with several local engineers.
We managed to track down Badman Recording Co.’s Dylan Magierek (who you can see pictured here in the studio) in between recording sessions to find out what it’s like to be on the other side:
Green Light Go: How long have been producing music and what inspired you to become a producer?
GLG: As a producer, do you also set goals for yourself while recording?
GLG: How does being a musician yourself help to hone your production skills?
DM: Being a musician assists in the songwriting process with chord suggestions and how instruments can interact with each other. You can start with a single note and build on it, harmonize with it, repeat it, or modulate it. Suddenly, you have created a soundscape. If you are missing a certain audio frequency, then we’ll try an instrument that mainly plays in that area.
I occasionally play drums, guitar or percussion on some of the albums I am working on. I do wish I had a background in playing piano and could read and write music. That can be helpful aspect when bringing in outside players to sessions. However, humming a part or playing it on another instrument can work as well.
GLG: What are some of the most noteworthy artists you've produced in the past?
I loved recording and producing The Mother Hips’ Kiss the Crystal Flake. They are great guys and this album was their comeback after having been broken up for a number of years. So, it took special care from the start to make sure the atmosphere was conducive to getting good sounds, as well as getting magic captured right from the start. We documented the studio sessions on DVD and it has some hilarious moments.
Douglas Jenkins from Portland Cello Project brought me in to work on recording and mixing their second CD. Those sessions allowed me to record Thao Nguyen, who is an incredible writer and performer.
I’m sure I could go on and on but I’ll end with having some other stand out artists from Portland: Weinland and Starf*cker. I co-produced Weinland’s La Lamentor and Breaks in the Sun with my studio mate, Adam Selzer. Soon afterward, I co-produced Starf*cker’s self-titled album and their Jupiter EP. Weinland and Starf*cker are both superb Portland-based bands that gave me a lot of freedom to make suggestions and push them. We all were very open to throwing ideas around. Starf*cker’s albums were quite successful and they had a number of major commercial and TV placements, which will help keep them in music full time.
GLG: What bands are you currently working with?
DM: I recently recorded The Builders and the Butchers’ upcoming album with my studio mate, Adam Selzer. We did that at Type Foundry and got it down live to capture their big, dynamic sound. I was already a fan of the band and working with Adam was great.
Portland’s Strangled Darlings are a two-piece (guitar and cello) with a sound that reminds me of something from New Orleans circa 1920. The album is an operetta and seemed like a challenge.
GLG: As a producer, how do you know that you are a good match for a band? What things do you have to keep in mind before agreeing to work with an artist?
DM: If I like a band’s songwriting and personalities, then I’m interested in working with them. I need to make sure I can assist with arrangements and instrumentation, emphasizing the strengths of the songs and getting powerful performances out of the artist(s).
GLG: What is the best piece of advice you’d give a band that thinks they are ready to record?
DM: Have your guitars intonated and make sure your amps and drums sound great before coming in. If you want to save some time and money, be well rehearsed.
GLG: What is your favorite thing about producing music?