Interview with Taylor Larson
Taylor Larson is an American producer/engineer and owner of Oceanic Recording, in Bethesda, Maryland. Taylor is known for his work with a variety of bands including Periphery, Asking Alexandria, Veil of Maya, I See Stars, Jason Richardson, ERRA, Get Scared, Life on Repeat and many more.
Taylor also collaborated with Joey Sturgis Tones to create the Jason Richardson signature Toneforge amp simulator.
How and when did you get started?
I got started in 2008. I was in a touring band just out of high school. I was really into the touring life. Sleeping in 15 passenger vans/having to eat off of $5 a day/waking up in a different place every day. That lifestyle is tough! I was absolutely obsessed with music and writing with others. It was my whole life. I came up with another idea that I could be a producer. I could still write songs with other artists. All I had to do was learn Pro Tools and how to make things sound good! Haha.
What have you been working on lately (that you can divulge)?
I’ve been mixing a band from The Netherlands called Within Temptation. I thought Asking Alexandria had a lot of tracks to mix. This band has about 5 times the programming and production. Easily one of the toughest records I’ve ever mixed. I loved the challenge though!
If you were the age that you originally started today, and you had to start again from scratch, how would you approach things?
Well, the easy answer is don't say "yes" to everyone and burn yourself out, but that's also how I learned. There was nothing you could say to me at that time when I was starting out. I went to the studio all day every day. That's what made me who I am today, but I will say there is a point where your mental capacity lessens. So I'd say PACE YOURSELF! Don't put too much on your plate (which is what I've always done haha).
What is the most important part of a song for you?
Has to be the chorus. When I'm writing a song I write the chorus first. Then everything else after. When I track vocals I track the chorus first. I feel like the chorus IS the song. The rest is just trying to come up with an interesting, intricate way to get there without boring people.
What is your favorite project that you've worked on?
I get asked that so much! Such a tough question too. Any of the records that I've made growth on. You could start with P2 [Periphery II] because that's the record where I was starting to figure out how to manipulate audio. I didn't fully know what I was doing but that's kinda where I was making that transition. Others would be From First to Last, Veil of Maya, and for mixing I See Stars, and Asking Alexandria.
Who is an artist you would like to work with but haven't been able to yet?
You know I used to think of that. I think my view has changed. I like to appreciate my favorite artists for what they do. I feel like if I produce it or mix it, it won't be the same for me. With that being said I like working with artists that I know are good but could be better. Even if it's just a better mix, or better production. I like getting people to that next level. Nothing makes me happier!
Are you a big plugin user? If so, name some of your favorites!
Image courtesy of Pressplay Creative.
What is one thing that you can't get your sound without? Hardware, software or whatever else.
My Focusrite bus comp, my 1178 for cymbals (it just does something nothing else will), and my mega old Neve 33609 for drum bus. Also for tracking you gotta have an old 1176. I have one that Jimi Hendrix supposedly sang through! As well as a Tube-Tech for when you want that clean pop sound.
Who are some of your favorite producers & engineers today?
I always grew up loving the classics and the greats. Mutt Lang, Howard Benson, CLA, David Bendeth, Jerry Finn, TLA, John Feldmann, Brian McTernan, Matt Squire, Eric Valentine, and the list goes on but every single one of those people has influenced me.
What advice would you give to those new to the game?
Find out what makes you unique. Focus on that thing. What makes you different? That's what will set you apart in the end.
Outside of your day job, what music have you been listening to lately?
I listen to a ton of old music haha. Michael Jackson, Simple Minds, Terrence Darby, Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple. 70s, 80s, and 90s really. I feel like once you learn to appreciate everything in music you go back and revisit the greats.