Ever wonder what happens beyond the stage? Well we do. These roadies, managers, guitar techs, lighting directors, A&R, and even positions you may not have known about make the music you love come alive! We spoke with producer/mixer/engineer extraordinaire Lars Stalfors to see what kind of faders he pulls behind the scenes of our favourite bands!
AMBY: How did you first get into your industry?
Lars Stalfors: I played drums when I was a kid in high school in bands and was always recording with a friend of mine growing up. I became super interested in it when I first went into a real studio and recorded a few songs and they didn’t turn out how I thought. I figured I could do them better than what we had paid to do, I was wrong haha. I then interned for a studio where I grew up and learned from there.
AMBY: Explain to people what you do.
Lars Stalfors: I work with artists in recording studios to produce and mix the best records possible. That includes everything from placing microphones to helping write lyrics to mixing songs. My job is part musician part engineer and part therapist. I have to bring the best out of an artist which takes a lot of trust and that’s not always easy but is essential.
AMBY: Which bands are you currently working with and which have previously worked with?
Lars Stalfors: Well this year I am working with Cold War Kids, Deap Vally and Mackintosh Braun, previous artists I have worked with include Mars Volta, Chelsea Wolfe, Matt and Kim, Blaqk Audio, and Marnie Stern. I also played in Mars Volta for a little bit as well.
AMBY: You have a very cool, unique style with the way you engineer and mix music. Who inspires your work?
Lars Stalfors: Obviously people like Brian Eno, Flood, Alan moulder are all people I look up to. Also listening different styles of music and pulling ideas from that. I listen to a lot of hip hop and electronic music so when I do something rock I love to use ideas from other genres to give things a twist. That does not always mean adding keyboards to a rock song, it could be something as simple as using an arrangement that is known in the Electronic world in a rock song and vice versa.
AMBY: What is the craziest work related thing to happen to you?
Lars Stalfors: I would definitely say that I never thought I would tour the world in a band. I have seen so much of the world that I never thought I would see. It was a life changing experience.
AMBY: What are some of your favourite moments while being in the studio?
Lars Stalfors: I am always happy when something out of left field works. I love experimenting with ideas and melodies and those can be some of the most rewarding moments. It’s always best to not be too precious about a certain part of the song because that will always hold you back from something that could possibly be a huge breakthrough. If you don’t try you will never know.
AMBY: What do you do for fun outside of work?
Lars Stalfors: Well I spend most of my life in the studio but outside I am pretty boring. Trying to spend time with my fiancé and friends that have nothing to do with music is something I cherish. It helps keeps me grounded.
AMBY: What is the best and worst thing about your gig?
Lars Stalfors: Like mentioned before it’s a total lifestyle not a job. I have been so lucky to work with amazing artists but I have missed a lot of life that has happened with family and friends. I wouldn’t trade it for anything though.
AMBY: Which three albums changed your life?
Lars Stalfors: Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures, Daft Punk – Homework, Brian Eno – Here Come the Warm Jets
AMBY: What is the best piece of advice you have been given regarding the music industry?
Lars Stalfors: You live and die by your taste, it’s all you have. People will hire you for your taste.
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about you that nobody knows yet?
Lars Stalfors: Haha well that a tough one, I would say that most people don’t know that I am pretty color blind. So it makes sense that I got into audio in the first place.