Recording “Letters” with Butch Walker

Recording Butch Walker Letters

The best records you make as a Music Producer are always the easiest to make. Butch Walker’s “Letters” was one such record.

“Letters” started with me getting out of the house and visiting my friend Butch In Little 5 Points in Atlanta. I went to drink Wine and hang out with Butch. Then he played me the demo to the song “Mixtape” and we decided a good way to spend the weekend would be to drink wine and do this song.

Butch had a ton of awesome gear setup already in his tiny guesthouse. We cut the first version of Mixtape tracking the drums in the little 8 by 8 bedroom in his guest house. We later re-recorded the drums at Belmont studio in Nashville. I played keys, some background vocals and percussion while Butch was his awesome self being Butch. We weren’t thinking about record sales or a deal, we were just having fun……so of course Sony picked it up.

Jim Ebert & Butch Walker

By the time the deal was done and all was well with the world, Butch had built a small studio in Little 5 points (I believe) and we commenced to making the record. We tracked everything 1n 9 or 10 days and mixed it in about the same amount of time. No over-thinking, no drama, just making music. No vocal tuning, a bit of drum editing on loop based songs but not much on anything else. Vocals were usually one or two takes with a couple of punches. We were just aiming at the soul of the song and perfection would be a bonus.

The players involved were perfect for the project. For me, Kenny Cresswell playing drums was amazing on that record. Great feel and great sense of humor playing and personality wise. This record was recorded so fast, we we’re a little bummed and surprised when it was done. Thinking we had just made the next greatest record ever, we were a bit bummed when Sony said they had no Idea what to do with it.

I thought, (like I had thought so many times before with records I had been involved with, but much stronger with “Letters”) just market it you dumb-asses . That never happened.

There is a core audience that loves this record, and as a producer I have gotten more work production work out of this record than any other. If you don’t have “Letters” you should get it… Jim


Music Producer Jim Ebert – Recording “Letters” with Butch Walker

Recording Matthew Ryan’s Certainly Never

Tales from the vault

may-dayIn the mid 90s, I had the pleasure of recording Matthew Ryan’s Debut album “Mayday” on A+M records. We recorded the record in NY, LA and Nashville using some of the finest recording gear available. We used 2 inch tape for the whole record, as most people did then. I used lots of equipment to get a very rugged natural sound but the biggest example of this was the song “Certainly Never”.

Matthew and I talked about the production on “Certainly Never” and he wanted a very room like, no frills sound for the song. At the time we were recording at Bearsville Recording Studio and I had access to the finest microphones and gear around.

The track consisted of Matthew playing piano and singing and Dave Ricketts playing Stratocaster (I believe) across the room about 20 feet away. Keeping with the spirit of the song, I took one AKG 414 and put it into the figure 8 pattern. I had Matthew and Dave play half the song, then I moved the mic a bit for vocal piano blend (still using the figure 8 pattern) and adjusted Dave’s amp volume a bit. I then had them play the song again. Was it perfect? No… Was it the right vibe?….. I believe it’s one of Matthews favorite on the Record. The lesson here is? Don’t over-think.

Music Licensing, Mixing and Mastering

Music Licensing is a big potential windfall for any artist. By adding one extra step, you will be prepared to potentially make a lot of extra money if a music licensing situation presents itself.

When you send your mix’s out for Mastering, send your instrumental mix for Mastering as well. If you ever get the opportunity for music licensing in film or TV , you will need both mixes.

Having both mixes available for music licensing is crucial. A music editor needs to be able to bounce between the song mix and instrumental mix to accommodate film or TV dialogue. Without both the song mix being Mastered and the instrumental version being mastered, the edit becomes very tricky and sometimes too difficult to do.

Without both mixes, you may lose your music licensing placement and be out potentially thousands of dollars.


Music Licensing, Mixing and Mastering

Hire Jim for Your Next Project

Contact Jim

Music Producer Jim Ebert

Keep it real

Washington D.C. Music Producer Jim Ebert’s tip- Keep it real.

The records you have grown up listening to, took a good amount of time to record, possibly weeks per song. Unless you have a huge budget, that scenario doesn’t work I alway’s suggest a song a day, if possible. I’ve Produced Major label stuff in this time frame. Groups or Artist’s will often come in expecting to get way more done than possible. i.e. we’re really tight , “we should be able to do three song’s….oh yeah…and we want it to sound like the Foo Fighter’s last Record”. This is not a reasonable goal. Getting the right performance, sound’s, arrangement, setup, etc….takes time. When anyone listen’s to your music, they don’t care if it took you you a day or year or how much it cost’s. They only know whether they like it or not. So, when your putting together your project, allocate enough time to do it well….there’s no point in doing it bad.

I’m accepting one-on-one Music Production Student’s for next year

I’m accepting one-on-one Music Production Student’s for next year.

This is a Virginia State Certified Course

Virginia State Certified Music Production Course