Engineer’s Corner: An Interview with Plaid Productions

Those of you who were at SMACC or SoJam 2011 know how epic the collaborative recording experience is. Read about how our recording sponsors put their own personal spin on the recording process and what their plans are for LAAF 2012.

Alex Green & Alexander Koutzoukis

Owners / Producers / Engineers at Plaid Productions

How did you get involved with LAAF?

Koutz taught a class last year and came back talking about how great it was and how easily accessible the In-N-Out was. After we found out that the Collaborative Recording session we originated was going to be continued at LAAF and that we’d be able to work with Pentatonix and Duwende, there really wasn’t any way you could keep us away.

What is on Plaid’s LAAF agenda?

Well, for starters, we’re going to be eating a lot of In-N-Out (are we sensing a theme yet?). Other than that, though, I’m personally looking forward to finally meeting some of the groups on the west coast that we’ve worked with or done work for in the past, like the USC Trojan Men and most recently the UCSD Tritones. Also, recording and partying with the winners of The Sing-Off won’t suck.

How do you help singers bring their live passion into the studio?

A lot of it, to me, is making sure that they know why they’re singing. Even “zhe den zhe doh” or a big long “ooh” pad can and needs to have some emotion and heft behind it, or else it’s just flat recitation of notes. Leads are the same way – you have to know what you’re singing, otherwise you’re just making sounds come out of your mouth. A lot of what we talk to singers and soloists about isn’t technique or how to sing high notes (though we do talk about that sometimes), it’s what they’re trying to make people feel. Sometimes that means channelling what they feel when they’re performing the song live, sometimes it means completely reinterpreting the song on the spot. No matter how you choose to perform a song, though, you need to sell it – a half-hearted or emotionally lacking performance, no matter how technically perfect, will never be as good as one that the singer really commits to.

What piece of gear could you absolutely not live without?

It sounds kind of silly, but particularly when you’re running around recording people in bedrooms, closets, apartments, and the very occasional treated studio, the most important things we have at our disposal are our ears and our opinions. Sure, we use a pretty nice-sounding microphone and industry-standard software, but if you don’t catch weird syllables or fix lacking emotion, all the gear in the world won’t make your final product sound any better.

What’s next for Plaid after LAAF?

Well, hopefully we’ll get just a little bit of down time to recover from our burger-induced food comas, after which we have a couple of remote recording gigs to travel to in Chicago, and a whole ton of editing and mixing to do during March and April. We’re also working on nailing down the rest of our schedule for the year, and of course working on getting BOSS off the ground since we’re 1/2 of the team of producers.

Plaid Productions is an independent music recording and production company specializing in contemporary a cappella. We cover all parts of the album production process, with in-house or mobile recording, editing, and mixing services available with hourly rates or fixed rates pricing for larger projects. More at

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