Producer Sessions Live: 11 Questions for Marc JB

We talk gear and technique with the PSL session host

With over 70 number ones across the US and UK, DJ Marc JB is one half of remixers/producers Bimbo Jones. They have remixed artists such as Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Pink, Ke$ha, Kylie, Kelis, The Killers, Tinchy Stryder, Katy Perry and Alexis Jordan. They've also worked with the likes of Sergio Mendes, Cyndi Lauper, Beverley Knight, Simon Bartholomew (Brand New Heavies), Omar, KC and Jocelyn Brown.

Marc JB is head of A&R for Soul Delux records, a seasoned songwriter, a multi-instrumentalist, a musical director and a jazz pianist. He's DJ'd across the globe, rocking dancefloors at clubs and exclusive celebrity parties.

Marc JB will be hosting a session at the London leg of Producer Sessions Live, which takes place at SAE Institute in London on 7-8 September. This hi-tech music event is brought to you by Future Music and Computer Music and offers tutorial sessions, gear demos and essential advice for up-and-coming producers. A second PSL event will take place at SSR Manchester on 28 September.

Retail partner Absolute Music will be in both cities, offering some amazing gear deals to Producer Sessions Live attendees.

Ahead of the event we asked Marc JB to tell us about his gear, working methods, musical heroes and what he'll be focusing on during his Producer Sessions Live session.

Producer Sessions Live tickets are available to buy on the event website.

What's your studio like?

"The basic studio is a fast Mac and Mackie HR824 speakers which have a flat response down to low sub frequencies. I recently bought a Mackie Onyx 16-track desk for recording the Brand New Heavies. I have a Neumann U47 mic and a Neve Portico channel as the front end.

"I have some great acoustic damping panels from GIK to mop up the room resonances. Apart from all the guitars, bass and percussion, that's it!"

What's your favourite bit of kit and why?

"I have a lot of vocalists coming through so I have an original Neumann U47 (1948) which is billed as the world's favourite mic. It was used by artists like Frank Sinatra, Jim Morrison and Aretha Franklin and gives a lovely big edge on the vocal sound. It came from a studio in Germany where it was used by Whitney and Black Eyed Peas.

"My favourite thing about it apart from the sound in the mix is the sound in the cans when monitoring, Your voice sounds like it is inside your head rather than coming out of the headphones. I would never sell this mic - I recently used it on recording by Angie Brown. What a combination - soul diva and classic mic!"

What's your favourite plugin?

"IK Multimedia ARC. It compensates room problems and gives you a ruler flat frequency response from your speakers. I can mix perfectly for environments like clubs, radios, lifts and cars - the mix always translates well. I have used this on every production in the last five years."

Which DAW do you use and why do you use it?

"Cubase. It has a lovely interface, it's very reliable and I can create on it lightning fast. The VariAudio is particularly good for getting a natural sounding vocal without artifacts."

Which bit of kit would you love to have for your studio?

"I would love to have a big live room for recording bands - proper air-con, acoustic treatment and big enough for a 5-piece. I am currently in a loft space with good acoustic damping and great monitoring. It's amazing what I can get out of this space - last year I had the Brand New Heavies in here. I had Jan playing drums - nine mics into a Mackie Onyx 1640i; Andrew on bass DI'd into the desk; and then Simon on Guitar. The amp was in the eves with a valve mic for a smooth, full sound. I then had everyone on cans - it worked great!

"I have also had a full brass section up here recently for my JBZ disco project with Simon Bartholomew playing on collaboration tracks with Beverley Knight, Jocelyn Brown, Leo Sayer etc. The sound was amazing but I had a lot of bleed between the mics!"

What was your 'eureka moment' as a producer?

"It was when I got a Drawmer compressor and used a kick drum coming out of a JV-1080 into the sidechain to pump the sound. I only put the bass and synths through and left the drums and vox. This gave me the signature 'Bimbo Jones' pumping house sound. Even when played out of small radio speakers, the pumping gives the track loads of energy. This has helped get the 74 number ones in the UK and US charts that we have had so far.

What producer or artist were you trying to sound like when you first started producing?

"There were many: Agent Sumo, Freemasons, Frankie Knuckles from the dance world. But then from a wider view I have always loved Quincey Jones, Sergio Mendes, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Shakatak, and then more guitar led productions like Nirvana and Living Colour and then old school hip-hop like Sugarhill Gang, Young MC and Coolio. Lots of different styles to draw from."

Whose productions do you love right now?

"Loving Fedde Le Grand - always a big phat sound with plenty of funk and soul thrown in for good measure."

What piece of advice would you give to producers still honing their craft?

"Ignore all criticism. I have found over the years that most criticism is there to make the critic feel better about their own limitations - people love to put you down. Also, everyone has their own style - ask six people you will get six different reviews. Very rarely do you get feedback that is constructive and helpful. Instead, follow your heart and do what you love musically. The only thing that is important is that you love your own work."

What track would you love to have the stems of for a remix?

"I have just about every track on the hard drive already! I would love to have the parts for The Beatles' Blackbird - now that would be a great track to turn upside down into an amazing club banger!"

What will you be showing people at Producer Sessions Live?

"I'm going to do a live remix on my laptop showing my secrets along the way - tricks with vocals, sidechain compression and FX. I will be building the track from scratch, starting with drums, bass, synth, vocals and FX, showing how easy it is to get a big phat sound using a few carefully chosen elements. I will turn a quick arrangement into a full DJ-friendly club mix, giving tips on how to make a record that will work on the dancefloor and the radio.

"I will also be sharing my knowledge of how to deal with A&R and record companies, what to realistically expect from the people you work with, how to break a song, ways to make money, and how to achieve a sensible working balance in your life. As long as we have time the floor will be open for questions and I will be around after if you wanna come say hello!"

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