Interview with Carson Slovak

Interview with Carson Slovak

About Carson

Carson Slovak is an American producer/engineer, known for his work with his studio partner Grant McFarland and their studio Atrium Audio (now Think Loud Studios). Carson has an extensive list of credits, including bands such as August Burns Red, Everclear, Polaris, Candlebox, Texas In July and Lorna Shore. Carson is also the "Bass Commander" is Star Wars-themed band Galactic Empire.

Carson also has a signature Producer bundle for Kemper Profilers and Fractal Axe FX. It was created in collaboration with STL Tones, alongside his studio partner Grant McFarland.

Check them out here:

STL Tones Atrium Audio Producer Kemper Bundle
STL Tones Atrium Audio Producer Axe FX Bundle

How and when did you get started?

I got into producing music around 2005 after having been in a few bands and becoming interested in the recording process. I learned a lot about ProTools, recording gear and production approach early on from my friend and mentor Chad Taylor, who is now my business partner at Think Loud Studios in York, PA.

What have you been working on lately (that you can divulge)?

My production partner Grant McFarland and I work on all of our projects together and we’ve been lucky to work on a lot of amazing albums recently, including full-lengths for Rivers of Nihil, Polaris, and The Last Ten Seconds of Life. We also recently produced an album for the band From Ashes To New, which had a single go to #2 on Active Rock radio. The latest August Burns Red album that we produced and mixed was nominated for a Grammy for Best Metal Performance 2018.

If you were the age that you originally started today, and you had to start again from scratch, how would you approach things?

Technology has changed so drastically over the last decade. There are a lot of great tools and resources for people starting out these days. So I think I’d be able to approach learning in a much more efficient way. I’d also focus on understanding more music theory earlier on.

Carson Slovak
Image courtesy of Think Loud Studios.

What is the most important part of a song for you?

I am a big fan of songs that successfully communicate a genuine emotion without feeling contrived. It’s a challenge to make creative decisions and capture a performance that feels right. If a song we’ve produced has achieved that feeling then we’ve done our job well.

What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on?

That's a tough question. I’d have to say recording the last album from my own band Galactic Empire was definitely a highlight. It was one of the most challenging projects we've tackled because of the complexity of the music and the huge number of tracks in the mix.

Who is an artist you would like to work with but haven't been able to yet?

Another tough one. Wu-Tang Clan?

Are you a big plugin user? If so, name some of your favorites!

I really love the Fabfilter plugins, as well as Softube Focusing EQ and FET Compressor. Oeksound Soothe is also a recent favorite, as well as all the Soundtoys plugins.

Bass Commander
Image courtesy of Galactic Empire.

What is one thing that you can't get your sound without? Hardware, software or whatever else.

I have been stuck on a hardware Manley Vari-Mu as my mix bus compressor for a few years and I love what it does.

Who are some of your favorite producers & engineers today?

I’m a big fan of Andy Wallace, Garth Richardson, Eric Valentine, Nick Raskulinecz, Josh Wilber, Steve Evetts, Brian McTernan, Will Putney, Steve Albini, too many more.

What advice would you give to those new to the game?

I think the best way to learn is to immerse yourself and get hands-on practice. I started out recording friends' bands for free just to gain experience. Music production is a skill that develops slowly with patience and problem solving, so it's good to approach it as a marathon and not a race.

Outside of your day job, what music have you been listening to lately?

I listen to mostly hip-hop and 90's alternative bands like Alice In Chains, Nine Inch Nails, Failure, RATM, Soundgarden, etc.