Posted: 21 November 2018
With a hitlist boasting titans such as Ghost, Paradise Lost and Cathedral, Jaime Gomez Arellano has established himself as a truly extraordinary rock producer. We caught up with him at his very own Orgone Studios to uncover how he’s got to this point and what he can share with those wishing to follow in his footsteps.
How would you describe your job to someone outside the music industry?
I see my job as helping artists convey their vision into a sound that works for them. There are a lot of producers that have a defined sound but that has never been my philosophy. My philosophy has always been to work together with the band from the pre-production stage all the way to the final master.
How did you become a music producer?
Well I started recording when I was about 13 years old, so it’s been a while! My mother is a folk singer in Columbia and she had a basic PA and some microphones. I figured out how to plug a cassette deck in and started from there. Gradually I upgraded my setup and recorded myself and friends’ bands.
I used to work every weekday, evening and weekends on various audio related jobs. From that I got some savings to buy equipment and set up a basement mastering room and a mastering business. I was chatting to the bands I was working with who said: “It’s cool that you’ve mastered our records, but how about doing the recording and mixing for us too?” and it cascaded from there.
What do you feel makes a great producer?
I think a great producer is a combination of someone that has technical knowledge and love for music. I see some very technical producers and that works for some bands, but when you go with your heart and intuition that’s how you make records more exciting and interesting.
I use click tracks sometimes but I prefer not to. I like when there’s a big chorus or part coming up and you can hear the drummer rushing a little. Mistakes are cool. Listen to 70s records and you’ll hear squeaky kick drum pedals or the hitting of the rim on the tom and I love that. I find it exciting and it makes it more personal.
How have you met the artists you've worked with in your career?
If there's a band I really like I just message them. A good example is Oranssi Pazuzu from Finland. I was listening to their early stuff and thinking "I love this band!" so I reached out them on Facebook, told them who I worked with and about my studio and they replied with "Wow that's funny because for our next album we are thinking about working with you!"
Obviously be realistic but go see bands you like and try to meet them. That's kind of how I did it. The first band I produced was Miasma and the Carousel of Headless Horses; they're a very experimental super kooky weird band that sound like soundtrack music, and I did that for free because I wanted to create something cool. Then Lee Dorrian put that out on Rise Above which is how I started making connections. You have nothing to lose, if you don't ask then you don't get.
How has production changed over the course of your career?
On the digital side everything is now sounding a lot better. It’s easier and cheaper which enables new bands to create their own demos and explains why the market is so saturated with bands right now. I think modern techniques sound good but I’ve traditionally been an analogue guy, so much so that Andy Sneap has been making fun of me (in a nice way) for working on analogue tape, he calls it “cassette” as a joke.
Where do you think your career is going to take you next?
I obviously want to keep growing and expanding my repertoire, and maybe work with a bigger variety of bands. Having said that I like the niche I’m in right now, I really like the bands I work with and I’m constantly trying to improve the studio and my skills.
I’m always reading up on new equipment and getting together with other producers I’ve met over the years to exchange tips and tricks. For me the goal is that my clients are happy and enjoying what I create. I’m not really in it for the money, if that was the case, I’d be a banker! As long as I can create, either my own music or someone else’s, then I’m happy.
What advice would you give to people interested in becoming a music producer?
It’s a very fun subject that never really ends. You’re a musician, a technician, an electrician, a psychologist. . . and that’s what fascinates me. The advice I would give is to practise a lot. Sound and art are never the same twice, so you may think you know how to do something and you try it, it sounds great, but then the next time it sounds terrible.
Always experiment. One of my philosophies is to never say no to clients. When I have a band here and they have a crazy idea, I’m like “OK let’s try it” because you never know. Sometimes you get some amazing accidents. 90% of the time it doesn’t work but the one time it does work you create something amazing.