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Paul Gomersall has enjoyed the privilege of engineering George Michael's 'comeback' album 'Older' where George, as usual, was his own producer. Other credits include work with producers Trevor Horn, Phil Collins (Collins working as a producer), Stephen Hague, Stephen Lipson, Thomas Dolby, Chris Porter, Laurie Latham and others.
Working with producers who are engineers themselves
"Producers like to distance themselves from the desk, as long as they have an engineer they can trust. It's one of the joys of production. If they have a problem then they might dive in and try and sort it out themselves, but usually there won't be a problem. You are the interface with all the technical stuff so the producer doesn't have to think about that. If the producer comes up with an idea you make it work for them. With computers, recording is becoming more and more technical."
What should an engineer do if a producer appears not to hear a problem?
"Point it out. One of the good phrases is, 'I think we should listen back to that', He will be listening by then. There are ways of getting your point across. Diplomacy is a big part of the job."
Working with George Michael
"I give him the mix output of the desk in his headphones. The headphone mix is very important to anyone. That's what they are listening to in the studio so that's what they want to hear in the headphones. If someone wants to hear a little bit more of the snare, you just push it up."
"The way he sings the consonants it gives a bit of excitement to his vocal sound. It's being used as another instrument. I generally set up two, three or four reverbs that I think will suit the track as it's coming together and take it from there and George will pick what he wants."
Mixing with George
"The mix is an evolutionary thing. We start a song and virtually every song we do we work through to the mix. You never get a stage where everything is finished and you start mixing. It evolves and somewhere along the line he'll want to do a vocal ride so we'll switch the mix computer on, then we'll switch it off again and add some more things and continue like that. I know when we are finished when he says let's put one down. He'll take a mix home and come back the next day and probably continue working on it. The programming diminishes as the work carries on and we get more involved in riding levels of things and EQ and other bits and pieces. And then suddenly it's there. It's finished. The rough mixes are really important because sometimes he will ask to refer to something we had done before and then carry on from there. So we keep all the mixes we have done in case one of them had something that was really good."