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Producer's view - M People

An explanation of what it takes to become a record producer.

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M People don't use a producer. Co-writers Mike Pickering (the band's founder) and Paul Heard produce themselves, starting in their home studio working out ideas and laying down basic tracks, and moving to a top commercial studio such as The Strongroom in London for recording.

How they became involved in production

Paul Heard: "I was the bass player in Orange Juice (with Edwyn Collins) for about two years and I was working more and more in the studio with Edwyn. Because I was comfortable in the studio and I had some good ideas I started becoming more involved in production."

Mike Pickering: "I got involved when I was with Factory Records and I was in a band and we couldn't afford producers. The first real production I did myself was for the Happy Mondays. It's a process of finding out and learning in the studio."

M People

Mike Pickering: "M People was my project initially. I was doing so many productions and remixes and I wanted to be more on the creative side. I wanted to do an album of songs with people I liked. Heather (Heather Small, M People's vocalist) was one of the people I wanted to work with and it just clicked."

Paul Heard: "M People is completely self contained, we write and produce everything ourselves. We have never worked with a different producer. The last ten years have been a learning process. The more you are in the studio, the more you learn."

Recording technology

Paul Heard: "We have been recording for a number of years and we have built up a team where everyone is comfortable with their roles. We have an engineer, and a programmer as well, who we often use. They know our sound exactly, what kind of equalisation and what kind of compression. They work towards the sound they know we want to hear. It's important to know what the technology can do, but I'm not that interested in being 'hands on'."

Mike Pickering: "I understand what the equipment can achieve, but it doesn't really suit me and I don't really bother with it. I prefer to work with Paul, standing by the piano with a dictaphone or small tape recorder on top. He'll play chords and I'll sing what I think. If you are using computers you tend to start with the track, but we like to concentrate on the melody. We use a programmer for sounds. We ask him for a certain sound and then leave him to it for half an hour. If you spend all your time looking at a screen it dulls your creativity"

By David Mellor Tuesday March 25, 2003
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