Many of Matt Linesch's clients would describe him and his approach to the studio in one word: "Organic." "I don't disagree with it," says Linesch, who has worked with artists like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Dave Mason. "I don't like doing things like tuning and beat detecting. I'm very much about the song and the feeling and the vibe."
The word, "organic," could also be used to describe the trajectory of Linesch's career path. A self-professed beach bum, the Los Angeles native's love of musical arts led him to attend Loyola Marymount University's recording program. It was in one of LMU's classroom that Linesch had a chance meeting with Ross Hogarth (Motley Crue/Van Halen) that inspired him to spend the next years working in the studio with the famed producer and engineer.
Relying on what feels right in the moment, the results have been in favor of the young producer, engineer and mixer who has continued to work on many incredible projects such as Alex Ebert’s Golden Globe winning All Is Lost soundtrack and upcoming projects with The Soft White Sixties, Decorator, and The Wanton Bishops. Watch our latest Make Your Mark on Matt and continue reading below to learn more about his big break in the industry, approach to buying gear and a recent move to United Recording.
How did you land your first big break in the industry?
I went to school and we used to have guest speakers... We'd have really great guest speakers and one of them was Ross Hogarth. I really remember vibing with Ross. I remember him talking about Fleetwood Mac, his work with Little Feat and these were just bands that I loved. I liked his approach and that he still loved the music.
When I got out of school I just called him up and said "I'm out of school, but I know I have so much more to learn. I'd love to learn from you and work for you." So, I worked for Ross for about four years after graduating and the first project I came in on the tail end of was the new Doobie Brothers record... With Ross, that was four years of being put in situations of growing responsibility with him, which was a break because I was learning from one of the cats whose so well respected and knows his stuff.
What led you to work with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros?
I had known Alex Ebert, the lead singer, very loosely from his years of being in Ima Robot. Growing up in LA, I loved his band and went to all their shows, got to know each other and stayed in touch. One day he sent me a text and asked me about this console, the Trident 80, I happened to be working on the console for the past four years, so I knew it well.
They were at a crossroads where they were going to be building this studio in Ojai, which is about an hour and a half north of here, and wanted to know if I wanted to be a part of that building of the studio and that experience. It was loose in the beginning what my involvement would be with the band, but at that point I loved the band and thought it'd be a good opportunity to get involved with some music I love. What started as me helping them get going in Ojai, turned into me moving to Ojai and living there for three and a half years or so.
How did you end up at this space in United Recording?
When we decided to close that studio and I came back home to LA, I was on the fence if I was going to get a house and put a home studio in it, which a lot of cats are doing... Rob, the studio manager here, stepped forward and said, "The mastering studio opened up. Maybe you want that to be your mix room and production room and then when you need to track you can go across the hall." Fortunately, my favorite studio in LA is right across the hall, so it worked out pretty well for me.
What is sonically alluring about this space?
From what I understand, when they built this room they tore it down two or three times because they didn't like the tuning of it. The nice thing about this room is that it's pretty dead, but it still has a little bit of an alive feel to it. What I hear in here is very true to what is going on with the songs. This is the first room that when I do the mix and then go into the mastering studio, it's the same thing I heard in my studio.
You recently started to overhaul your gear. Talk a little about that.
Yeah with Vintage King. I basically built my studio with all new stuff, a new computer, a new HD rig and Universal Audio cards. Got a lot of Retro Instruments outboard gear. Really, my approach is quite analog in many ways. I do my mix on the console and use my outboard gear. I like the way it sounds, but for me, it's also a workflow thing. It's about turning knobs, moving faders and not having to look at a computer screen. Maybe I'll turn the screen off. It makes me listen differently and that little change is actually a big change.
What advice would you give to a budding mixing engineer or producer?
The one piece of advice I was given by multiple people when I was starting out, both Ross Hogarth and my good friend Charlie Bolois said this, was to not give up. It's the idea if you have a goal, most people don't reach that exact goal that they are going for, but if you have a goal and you go in one direction and it's not working out, you seamlessly move into another direction. If that doesn't work out, move in a different direction, but it's about having the passion and drive to not give up.
Check out some of Matt Linesch's work on the latest Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros single, "Hot Coals," and listen to other tracks he's worked on from The Wanton Bishops and All Is Lost soundtrack.