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Ted Young

Ted Young

Producer, Engineer
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Ted Young

Producer and Engineer Ted Young got his first big break, and pay check, when he was asked to help out on an Allman Brothers session. He has worked at the very top of the industry ever since, with legendary artists, some tasty analogue gear and his Aston microphones.

Sonic Youth, Kurt Vile, Alice Cooper, Mick Jagger, Andrew W.K., The Gaslight Anthem.
Ted uses these Aston products:
Origin
Spirit
Starlight
Into the fire

Ted had played in High School bands before he started to become curious about other aspects of the music business

“I had a big idea that I wanted to help other musicians and other artists and I didn’t necessarily know what that meant when I was 19. I discovered audio engineering and tried to figure out how to get into that. I ended up going to SAE in New York and then went from there.”

SAE set him up with an internship at Water Music Studios, who subsequently offered him a paid gig helping out when they had the Allman Brothers coming in to record. Initially torn between his classwork and a ‘doesn’t get bigger than this’ opportunity, he skipped a couple of classes to go and work on the session. “It was like, immediately into the fire!” he remembers.

“One day Greg Allman showed up and his headphone mix wasn’t right and he threw the headphones across the room and left. I’ll never forget that.”

He still graduated in Audio Engineering from SAE and would later return to Water Music as Chief Engineer from 2002 to 2006. He then worked at Magic Shop in New York until its closure and has been freelancing ever since.

Two-take wonder

Ted works out of his own facility, Outer Space in Brooklyn, but also travels to produce and engineer in other studios.

“It’s primarily overdubbing and mixing and then when I need to track full bands then I’ll go to other studios around New York. I also travel a bunch, like to Nashville, and I spend a lot of time in Texas, there’s a really good thriving music scene and I have a lot of friends down there.

It’s also just good for me to have my own facility because I’ve always said the greatest resource is time when you’re trying to be creative but you’re also watching the clock, that’s a really difficult balance to have. Having my own facility just really affords me to be able to take time with people.”

Ted has worked with a galaxy of legendary stars; “Cyndi Lauper was an amazing one to work with, Nancy Sinatra, it was incredible to meet her, and Liza Minelli - that was wild.” He also recalls a vocal session with Mick Jagger:

“Mick went to the lounge to warm up or whatever. He was in the lounge for a couple of hours. He came out and he was like “ok I’m ready to do it” and he sang through the song in two takes, first take to warm up and then he went again and nailed it. Then he spent the next 45 minutes playing the tambourine.”

Something old, something new

When digital audio was in its infancy and good converters were still waiting to be invented Ted says he was fortunate to have started out studying the old ways:

“I learned how to care for and maintain tape machines, I learned how to work on analogue and make the best use of the tracks and how to bounce. I kind of feel like I might be the youngest person who still knows how to splice tape and do edits!”

Although he believes people have broadly got used to listening to digital sound he uses a best of both worlds’ approach, infusing the digital realm with analogue warmth:

I try to incorporate as much analogue equipment in my process as possible. I still have a tape machine that I run all my mixes to but then I’ll bounce it back into the computer and then I’ll use something like Izotope to take out the tape hiss because people want the analogue warmth but they say ‘oh, it’s hissy’ well yeah that’s analogue, that’s what it does!”

He uses an Ampex 440b tape machine he bought from Head Gear Studios in Brooklyn where The YeahYeahYeahs, TV on the Radio and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah recorded. “It was such an iconic piece of gear."

"At a certain point the digital stuff just got very good, and people like that sound. But I still incorporate the analogue as much as I can. I just think that it sounds correct.”

A stereo thing

“I’m pretty steadfast and utilitarian which is why I like the Aston mics because I know what they do and they just perform great in every circumstance. I especially like the Spirit and the Origin - having nice condenser mics that are going to be as reliable as rugged dynamic mics - they’ve been really, really handy to have around.

I’m still exploring the Starlights because they have a lot of options. I have put them up and they’re nicer than most small diaphragm condensers.”

The Aston Spirit is one of Ted’s favoured vocal mics and he says it’s also his go-to for kick drums. He has started using Starlights as overheads. Both mics are put to work when he’s recording acoustic guitars:

“I almost always have a Spirit on the 12th fret, then I’ll put something smaller like a Starlight back by the strumming hand. I get a kind of stereo thing and you can pan it as wide as you want.

Vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass – I really don’t think there’s been a circumstance where I’ve put Astons up on something and they haven’t performed great. My previous go to mic was the SM7 because I can always depend on that doing what it does but then Astons are just nicer and they’re also consistently reliable.”

Out takes

Q. Who are your favourite artists?
A. I love the Beach Boys, I kind of cycle through different artists. I’ve always loved the Rolling Stones and then got a chance to work with some if their stuff and that was mindblowing. I love the classics – classic rock like Elton John. My dream gig would have been Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers but that one’s not going to happen anymore.

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. I’d probably be working on a fishing boat in Nova Scotia, something totally opposite.

Q. What would your fantasy mic be?
A. My fantasy microphone would be small so I could throw it in my pocket if I need to and it just sounds fantastic on every instrument that you put in front of it.

Q. What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?
A. Reliable.  Elegant.  Fidelity.  Fun.

 Q. What is the first song that made you cry?
A. Neil Young’s Cinnamon Girl. I forget how young I was but it blew my mind and I had to listen to it 10-12 times on repeat.

 

Credits

Israel Nash

Mercury Rev

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