Recording, mixing and mastering technician, producer, TV and film mixer
Musitechnic is proud of both it’s grads and teachers who share their passion for audio. This interview combines the two. Christian St-Germain is a graduate (1995-96) and an audio mix teacher at Musitechnic since 2011 .
MT : Tell us what your job is all about :
CSG : A freelance tech is called upon to do a variety of audio jobs. Recording, mixing, mastering, audio editing, sound design etc are all potential fields of work in audio. I have also always had a personal studio as a parallel income source and as a place to setup my gear to serve my personal clients.
” To ensure that our clients want to work and keep working with us we need to be dependable (on time), professional (know your job and your gear), patient and good-natured. “
MT : Who are your clients?
CSG : These days my clients are mainly commercial studios, producers and artists.
MT : How did you start your career ?
CSG : After graduating Musitechnic in 1996, I had the chance to experience practically every type of work possible for a freelance audio technician. As with lots of people, my starting point was doing “live” sound. First as stage tech, then “FOH”. I also operated the sequenced musical backing tracks for bands on tour. I slowly began doing more and more studio work both in music production and post production.
MT : Tell us about a turning point in your career?
CSG : In 1998 I was a Musical Sequencing technician working in France when a show promoter offered me a chance to partner with him to build a studio in his house in Montréal. I then became the main sound engineer on all the productions that went through that recording studio. It gave me the opportunity to work with a great many well known artists and to travel to record in some of the biggest studios in the US and France.
MT : Is there a project that you are especially proud of?
CSG : Lara Fabian’s album “Le Secret” is a project that I am particularly proud of. I was in a position to be at the heart of all things related to the final audio release from preproduction to recording the album including all the instruments and voices. I also did the album mixes and supervised the final mastering.
MT : What is one of the things that surprises you the most about working in this biz?
CSG : This business that I’m in isn’t a typical day job. You have to be very passionate about what you do to be able to hang in there and make a place for yourself then manage to stay there for the long run. The schedules, the lack of regular money coming in and the constant insecurity of never knowing if you will work next month makes the job of freelance audio tech a lifestyle that is not for everyone. To answer the question, what surprises me the most after all these years is not the job it’s self or the demands it entails, but rather my capacity to want to keep doing this considering everything it implies.
MT : What are your favorite tools to work with?
CSG : Obviously we can’t ignore Protools. You must master this tool because it is the only common denominator in all the different studios that we work in. That being said, recently I’ve been using Softube’s “Console 1” for my own production work and mixes. It is a control surface for SSL type channel Strip emulation plugins. I love the speed and fluidity of having one plugin per track and a physical controller dedicated to it’s parameters. It is very close to mixing on an analogue console while still staying “in the box”.
MT : Do you have 3 pieces of advice for anyone wanting to get into this business?
CSG: 1- To ensure that our clients want to work and keep working with us we need to be dependable (on time), professional (know your job and your gear), patient and good-natured.
2- Know the “language” of the people that you work with. For example, if you are working on a musical production it looks good and will inspire confidence in you if you can talk to the producers and musicians in musical terms. Same idea in post-production with the people who work in the visual domain or in video gaming with the computer techs.
3- Build your network … and I don’t mean social network! … Use the internet as a tool but nothing beats meeting people in person, making real contacts and building long term business relationships. The vast majority of our job opportunities come from the contacts that we have taken the time to develop.