WE LOVE YOUR SONGS BLOG
Interview with Record Producer Legend Stuart Epps
Today we are honored to interview Stuart Epps, with no doubts one of the most influential producers of the last 50 years of the music industry. He started is musical career in 1967 as a 15-year old office junior at Dick James Music. He quickly moved up the industry ladder to become Chief Engineer at DJM Studios, and later toured the USA with Elton John as personal assistant.
Epps was involved from the start when Elton's producer, the late Gus Dudgeon, built The Mill Studios on the banks of the Thames, near Maidenhead. It was not long before Dudgeon asked Epps to become Chief Engineer, Studio Manager and Producer.
He worked on many projects with artists including Elton John and Chris Rea. Later, Jimmy Page bought the studio in the early 80’s and Stuart became the Studio Manager and began to work with Heavy Metal artists like Led Zeppelin.
After gathering enough experience, he took over Alvin Lee’s private studio “Wheeler End” in 1994 and turned it into a comfortable commercial studio. Among his customers were John Leckie (Beatles, Stone Roses, Muse) and Craig Leon (The Ramones, Blondie). Oasis, Robbie Williams and Paul Weller are just few other names on the list of artists he has worked with.
In the last few years Stuart is actively involved in the music business, working with big name artists as well as helping a host of promising new and up-and-coming artists to sound their best, both on demo recordings and in full studio productions. He is also doing lectures through Skype and instructs students at the SAE in Oxford, UK.
You have worked with some of the most influencing artists of the last century, what are the ones you have enjoyed more to work with ? Any funny stories you want to share with our community ?
I’ve been lucky to work with some of the greats. Jimmy Page, Paul Rodgers, Bill Wyman, Robbie Williams, Oasis…
When Liam Gallagher came to my studio Wheeler End he said it looked like Jimi Hendrix Bedroom and loved it.
When I was recording Elton John’s big hit, Song For Guy, to begin with it was only supposed to be a quick piano and voice so I just put some spare tape on the machine. He kept making mistakes and after a couple of hours was getting very angry. He was in the middle of his best take, when I realised I didnt have a lot of tape left. I just prayed I wouldn’t run out but the song went on and on. I was now sweating and panicking, as I knew Elton would go mad if, on the one time he got the song right, I hadn’t recorded all of it. Looking at the machine it seemed like there was no tape left. Literally as his last chord played, the tape ran out and the whole song was safely recorded. Whew !!!!
Do you see around any outstanding and truly innovative artists that could change the contemporary music scene ?
I’ve been working recently with some very young singer/songwriters. One aged 12 !!! The standard is much Higher today, especially amongst young girls and I’m sure some of these will go on to be the stars of the future.
What your typical daily schedule looks like ?
That depends on the current project. The best thing about my work is that every day is different. Every artist I work with is different and that is reflected in my working methods. A normal workday may mean working in my studio at home, recording a 100-piece orchestra in a concert hall or producing a heavy metal band in Brazil. Even though I have been recording and producing for 40 years, I still continuously discover new ways to achieve the best results.
How do you think the music industry will change in the next decade ?
Right now, every one is saying that the music industry is finished and will never again be what it once was. I don’t agree. I think that the future looks better han ever for young, upcoming musicians, producers and audio technicians. The changes in the industry need to be accepted. Today it is literally possible to record your song in your bedroom, publish it worldwide on the Internet and sell it at the same time. It was always difficult, if not impossible to get large record stores to buy albums from new artists and put them on their shelves.
These stores are relics of the past and have been replaced by online downloads, so instead of sending demos to major record companies, where they go under in a sea of thousands, today one can take the whole thing into one’s own hands. Samples can be sent to online radio stations all over the world – and there are masses of them. In addition, live music is more popular than ever – another possibility to promote one’s music.
What do you think about Weloveyoursongs.com ? And generally speaking what’s your social media aptitude ?
Weloveyoursongs.com gives the up and coming artists the great opportunity to have their work seen, not only by other artists, which could help for collaborations, but also by industry professionals like myself, who can help with our experience.
I get great satisfaction these days helping, where needed, in the creative process in putting songs together for young singers/songwriters and bands.
Using the Internet it’s now possible to collaborate on a global scale and I’m very excited for the future. With the aid of Skype is possible to carry out recording sessions with musicians in different countries, the only barrier being the time difference. I am also one of the first to be exploring Skype lectures, which I see as the future for education, especially in some of the more remote areas of the world. So in answer to the second part of your question, I think and hope I’m keeping pretty up to date with the social media of today.
What do you suggest to the unsigned artists part of our community on Weloveyoursongs.com ?
The important thing to succeed is to stay focused and to do your work with passion.
There is a lot more competition than ever before, so it is very important, in my opinion, to have professional training before jumping into this business. Still,
I consider this to be the most exciting, challenging, and fulfilling industry there is!
What plans Does Stuart Epps for the future?
Right now, I am working on several projects at once and I am amazed at how much fun I still have working on new songs. I used to think that I would grow out of recording and producing at some point when I got older and that it wouldn’t interest me so much. It's just the contrary! You will be hearing quite a bit more from me!
Fell free to check out my web site www.stuartepps.com !
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