Dream Industry Jobs Q&A, Sound Engineer

Dream Jobs: So You Want To Be A Producer? Meet Clayton Segelov of The Brain

Clayton Segelov is a Sydney music producer and engineer best known for running Surry Hills studio The Brain with more than a decade of experience producing a slew of quality releases. Segelov has worked with the likes of Antagonist AD (NZ), Vices, Endless Heights, Graves, Enabler (USA), Full Of Hell (USA), Daniels Johns (Silverchair), Bert McCracken(The Used), Sleeping With Sirens(USA), Datura Curse, Corpus, Red Bee, Little Napier, Them Dreamers, Dark Horse and many more as well as live sound duties for The Dillinger Escape Plan, Sneaky Sound System, The Scare, Lamb of God and Nasum – not to mention work alongside internationally renowned producers Fredrik Nordstrom (In Flames, Soilwork, Bring Me The Horizon, I killed The Prom Queen), Will Putney (Amity Affliction, Thy Art Is Murder, The Acacia Strain), Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, Foals), and Will Yip (Title Fight, Daylight, Balance and Composure), John Feldman (Panic at the Disco, The Used). But how did he score the music job of a lifetime (playing music but not having to deal with the rigours and sacrifices of the world of touring) and how can you break into a business where jobs are rare and opportunities are hard won? Read on.

Location: Sydney
Current Gig: Music Producer/Audio Engineer
Facebook: The Brain Studios
Facebook: Clayton Segelov
Website: The Brain Studios

How did you get into your line of work?
Mostly doing demos for my own bands and live sound for my mates’ bands as well as working at some local venues.

How did you get involved in running the Brain Studios?
I started The Brain Studios to provide a creative home to my friends (and my own) bands.

What was your first job and how long did it take you to get into producing and engineering?
Haha, My first job was delivering newspapers, i got $8 for the whole delivery! Haha. Is that what you wanted to know? I was engineering by the time i was 17, and have never looked back.

What do you think are the personal qualities a great record producer requires?
Personality, patience, professionalism.

You’re known for heavier music. How important is it to specialise as a producer?
I do love distortion! However, I think if I only worked in one genre I would get really bored! So for me, I just love guitar-driven music. I’m totally comfortable and happy producing Indie Pop or Black Metal! Having said that … we put our hearts into the things we enjoy. So I guess that means my “specialty” is simply music that I enjoy.

What are the personal qualities a great sound engineer requires?
How to build and maintain great relationships has got to be my No. 1. Great personal taste is a close second.

How much has producing changed over the years for you?
I can now do (on my own) what used to take 5 people to do. Somedays thats a good thing, some days, no so much haha.

What’s it like running The Brain Studios?
I love it. Wouldn’t change it for anything! Always busy, and very inspiring!

Who are the producers and engineers that you look up to?
Right now my favourite Producers are Moulder and Flood! But I don’t think they do any heavy music. For the heAvy stuff, Steve Evetts, Kurt Ballou make more unique records. Jason Seucoff and Mark Lewis are dope! Henrik Udd (who did the last Architects record) is a genius too! And the old school, Andy Wallace and Chris Lord Alge.

What’s the best way to approach a studio boss if you want to get into the business as an assistant first? What should you NEVER do?|
The best way to approach a studio owner? This is something that a lot of people get wrong! I get 10 emails a day from young engineers, most will never work in the industry. The primary mistake you could make is to email a studio manager/owner telling them about all the things you want or think you’re good at (this goes for any employment). A prospective employer doesn’t need to know what you want, they need to know if you are going to be an asset to them and their business. Try finding out what the employer actually needs and let them know how you can satisfy, and how excited you are to satisfy that role.

In your opinion, what is the best first question a studio assistant should ask on their first day?
“What would you like me to do?” and then go and do it!

What about your first day producing a record?
“Where’s my assistant?”

What is the worst thing you could do on your first day?
The worst thing you can do EVER, is to assume you know anything at all.

What are the three most important lessons you’ve learned so far?
I don’t know about the most important, but:

1. Never assume anything

2. Pay attention

3. Try everything

What’s your ultimate goal, ultimate band, ultimate project? Has it already happened?
I try and approach each project/client/band like they are my “Latest ultimate.” That way, ill never get bored!

You play in a band as well as produce/engineer records. What are the benefits to working offstage?
I love doing both things! I’m very fortunate to be able to do both those things! And both things feed each other, providing a solid understanding of what needs to happen on both sides. Knowing what is needed for me to do my very best performance, on stage or in the studio, is an incredibly valuable insight which allows me to create the ideal conditions and get the most out of the musicians I work with.

What’s the biggest misconception in your opinion about the touring lifestyle?
That people DON’T “party”!!! Artists want you to think that backstage is all “herbal tea” and “yoga” but really its pretty much all drugs/sex and an endless party where no one ever grows old! Is that right?

What’s the hardest part of the job, in your opinion?
Maintaining great working and personal relationships.

What’s the best part of the job?
The people. it has to be the people!!!

How has the role of the engineer and producer changed over the years in your personal experience?
What used to require several people’s involvement can now be handled by one person. So I guess it is a bit less of a team effort than it has been in the past. Musicians are more “recording savvy” than ever before and can often handle sections of the project them selves. And with technology, we can work with anyone from anywhere in the world, from the comfort of our very own studios!

For a young aspiring Australian producer/engineer (or a fan dreaming of being one) what would you recommend they do first?
Learn to play an instrument, this will help you communicate with your clients. Meet everyone! Well, as many people as possible. Make lots of friends. People like to work with the people they enjoy being around.



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