Will Pugh (Cartel) on Music Production

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Here at Get Sad Y'all, we thought it would be a great idea to interview numerous people in various aspects of the music industry to serve as guides for those that might want to pursue a career. Those interviews can be found here.

If there's anyone you'd like us to interview, give us a shout.

Below, we chatted with Will Pugh (Cartel) about music production.

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Who are you and what do you do?
WP: My name is Will Pugh and I’m a music producer, engineer, mixer, and writer in Nashville, TN. 
How long have you been producing?
WP: I’ve been producing full time since 2014. I've produced or co-produced most of my band Cartel’s records since 2005.
What are the biggest projects you've worked on?
WP: The biggest project I’ve worked on is New Found Glory’s From The Screen To Your Stereo 3. I produced and engineered that record at Pentavarit Studios where I work. 
What's your day-to-day look like?
WP: Most of the time, I’m coming to the studio with a few light tasks to work on, such as mix revisions or edits to sessions to get them ready to mix. I try to find something every day that I can experiment with or learn about so I’m always getting better. 
How did you get on the path to becoming a producer? What made you want to become one?
WP: I’ve been writing songs since I was about 14 years old. The greatest mystery in the world was how music got turned in to albums that I could listen to on my own. It seemed so magical that I couldn’t wrap my head around it. As I grew up, I would try recording stuff on my own and it always sounded like garbage... even as I learned more about what I should be doing. It took a very long time to get to a point where I felt happy with what I could achieve from an engineering standpoint. I got there by asking a lot of questions and observing what our producers were doing while making our own records. I was lucky enough to get that advice/experience. I started by simply wanting to make better demos and eventually ended up where I am. 
What is something you've learned about production over time that you wish you had known from the start?
WP: I wish I would’ve known that there’s no “right” way to do anything. Music is art. It’s meant to have its boundaries pushed and its conventions challenged. It’s no different in the recording world. Make your own sound. Develop your way of doing things. No one has “The Answer”. 
Where should someone looking to get into producing start their career path?
WP: There’s a lot of helpful stuff online to get started. Don’t pay for online anything until you know that you need that exact information. Most anything you can find on YouTube or some other platform. Buy an SM57 and a decent interface and just start messing around. You don’t need the latest toys. You just need to know basic workflow and how sound gets captured. Once you get that down, then get another mic and learn a different way. Over time, you’ll develop a good sense of what gear does what well and the rest will flow. It doesn’t matter what DAW (Digital Audio Workshop) you use or this mic or that. The best single comment I’ve heard about gear is this, “It’s not the toys - it’s the noise.” 
What are three key things that someone looking to get into producing should know?
WP:
  1. No amount of experience or know-how will fix a bad song.
  2. Learn what gain staging is and why it matters. 
  3. Under promise. Over deliver. 
Anything else to add?
WP: Never forget that music is arguably one of the most important human inventions ever made. There’s good evidence to suggest that music is something we discovered rather than created. There’s MAGIC in it. Music can transform the human experience into something altogether different than what it was. If you lose sight of that basic fact, then every move you make starts to be for the wrong reasons. Music is life. Live it.

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Be sure to give Pentavarit Studios a follow as well as check out Cartel's tunes below!

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