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Producer's view - Phil Harding

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

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Phil Harding came into production through engineering, from early days at Marquee Studio through to Chief Engineer at Stock, Aitken and Waterman's PWL 'Hit Factory' Studio, and now to production work with keyboard player/programmer partner Ian Curnow.

Assessing the demo

"Demos generally come from managers, publishers and record companies. If someone sends a demo through to us direct then we tend to pass over it, not necessarily because it isn't going to be any good, but we are not really business people. We have never had any success with anyone without a publisher, manager or record company behind them. Our forte is being able to fulfil the potential that an artist has put into their demos, once we have been approached by someone who has the power or money to see it through."

Developing the demo

"Because Ian and I are writers, we will take something on even if we feel that it needs shaping in a different way, and we will go as far as rewriting it if necessary. There is a fine line between changing an arrangement as a producer so drastically that it becomes a co-writing situation. Many producers end up doing that and are not able to get a co-writing credit because they haven't agreed it with the artist's management beforehand. You can get into all sorts of fights."

Instrumentation

"We tend to program most of what we do, but we did some production recently with Let Loose and they wanted the final record to have as much live drums and live guitar as possible. We programmed a lot beforehand and combined it with the live drums and guitars, and then sat down with them afterwards to decide how much of the live stuff they wanted to use and how much of the programmed stuff. But generally most of our records are programmed from top to bottom, apart from the vocals obviously."

By David Mellor Tuesday February 1, 2000
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