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Interview with Producer/Engineer Ian Bodzasi

Brian Toye
May 23, 2011



Quick Bio on Ian:

Ian spent 8 years at world renowned Metalworks Studios in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He worked his way up from Intern to Chief Staff Engineer. Ian has worked with the likes of Aerosmith, Tina Turner, Ben Folds Five, Finger Eleven, Limp Bizkit, Treble Charger, Kim Mitchell, Katy Perry, Sam Roberts and Sum 41 (Ian also engineered my old band's debut EP FYI "A Full Year Story" during his time at Metalworks).

Ian has also worked with some of the worlds leading record producers, including Bob Rock (Metallica, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith), Eddie Kramer (Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix), David Bottrill (Tool, Kid rock, Peter Gabriel) and George Massenburg (Phil Collins, Frank Sinatra).

Read more about Ian at www.bodzasi.com,

Ian, what led you to choose a career as an audio engineer?

I did an internship at Metalworks Studios when I was in high school. I was always very interested in music, but this exposed me to a whole line of career paths that hadn't occurred to me before. Getting my first taste at a major studio with such history and great people was invaluable. I was hooked right away.

What are your day to day responsibilities as an engineer?

Responsibility #1 is recognizing the artist's vision for their songs and capturing that. Getting there changes with every project, and with every client. Each will present their own challenges and have their own specific needs. I might be recording, mixing, producing, or editing, but every day is different.

Who or what is your biggest competition?

A couple of years ago I may have said artists with home studios doing things on their own, but I'm seeing that swing the other way now. While you can do great things in small studios with minimal equipment, you still need to know what you're doing. I get a lot of calls now from people who have tried to do things themselves, and then found they weren't getting the results they were after. I also find that more people are recording in general, partly because it's so much more accessible than it used to be. So I may not record as many overdub sessions as I used to, but more people are coming in to mix afterwards.

Having experience both as a staff engineer at Metalworks and now being a freelance engineer, what are the pros and cons of both sides of the coin?

They both have their ups and downs. As a staff guy, clients book the room and engineer through the studio manager, and you just show up and do your gig. All the business stuff -- negotiated rates, scheduling, billing, promoting the studio, collecting payment -- all gets done by the studio management, and you focus on the creative end with the client. It's a great way to gain experience in all genres, build a credit list and make strong contacts. The downside would be that as accommodating everyone tries to be, there's times you may not have much say in which clients you're working with or the schedule you keep. In my case, I had done the staff thing for 8 years, and it was just time to try something new.

Doing the freelance thing is certainly more of a juggling act, as you're also now running a business. Aside from the long studio hours, you have to find the time to do all those other things as well. It can also be a delicate thing to balance all the business stuff without it interfering with your creative relationship with the client. The plus side is that I really enjoy working out of multiple facilities, and I find I'm challenging myself more often and putting myself in new situations that I may not have had the opportunity for as a staff guy.

What is your ultimate career goal if you have not already achieved it?

Things are good. I just want to keep making records until I fall over.

On projects you have produced or co-produced have you ever received grants from such organizations as FACTOR (www.factor.ca) to help fund projects? If so what was it you applied for?

I've recorded and mixed projects that were done through factor. The artists had taken care of the applications themselves, so I don't recall the specifics.

What are the different sources of income available to producers/engineers in the record album business?

There's all kinds of things you can branch out into. Location sound, broadcasting, sound design, video games, film work, corporate projects, DVD's. Some guys get involved with plugin designers and other endorsements, some even build hardware or get into tech'ing gear. Some guys get into teaching after a number of years under their belt. I've had some pretty random calls over the years, everything from forensic work for police investigations, to work for military contractors (you're on a need to know basis), to "Hey, want to mix the Leafs game tonight?".

What advice would you give an aspiring producer/engineer or artist thinking about entering the music industry?

Don't.

But if you do, be aware of the following.

Be prepared to never see your friends, your family, or natural light as much as you'd like to. It can be a lot of fun, but it's also very demanding.

Expect it to take a long time for your stuff to sound any good, it won't happen overnight. It won't happen by having every plugin under the sun or a certain piece of gear. It won't happen by using a magical setting you saw someone use or read about on a website. It'll only happen by busting your ass for a very very long time.

Everything comes down to repeat business and referrals, so always put your best foot forward. Be professional. Don't drop the ball. Don't f* up. If you do f* up, step up and take care of it. That will go over a lot better. A lot of the calls I get are from people who had been working with another engineer who dropped the ball or f*'d up, and now they're left hanging. You just lost a client, and I just gained one.

Don't edit something just because you can see it. Perfect is boring. You're breaking good music.

Don't over think things that don't matter. Put detail into the things that do. Figure out which ones are which, and you'll do ok.

Don't f* up.

(No pressure…)




- Brian Toye -
We Make Records