Mastering engineers are the final gatekeepers of a record’s sound, ensuring that it shines in its best light and is ready for distribution. In this blog, we sit down with Jeff Pesh, a renowned mastering engineer with a career spanning over 40 years. From cutting vinyl records in the early days to embracing online mastering today, Jeff shares his journey and insights into the world of music mastering.
A Journey Through Time:
Jeff takes us back to his beginnings as a motorbike messenger at Tape One Studios in Camden, London. He recalls the ingenuity of his job, where he would personally collect and deliver work for the studio, including tapes for record labels like RCA, Arista, and United Artists.
Transition from Messenger to Mastering Engineer:
From motorbike messenger to a mastering engineer, Jeff’s journey took an unexpected turn. His boss recognized his enterprising nature and proposed the idea of training him as a disc-cutting engineer. Initially, Jeff had aspirations to be a photographer, but he decided to give disc cutting a try, and little did he know this would lead him to cut his first record, a number one hit, at the young age of 19.
Memories at Iconic Studios:
Over the years, Jeff worked at renowned studios like Utopia and Townhouse, experiencing the heyday of the music industry during the Britpop era. He shares fascinating anecdotes of encounters with famous musicians, such as Van Morrison and Eric Clapton, during his time at Townhouse. Sadly, some of these iconic studios have now been replaced by flats, but the memories of those days remain alive.
The Importance of Music Fan in Mastering:
Jeff emphasizes the significance of being a music fan in his line of work. As a mastering engineer, he has to deal with various genres, and his love for music allows him to immerse himself in the creative process while maintaining an objective perspective.
The Technical vs. Creative Aspects of Mastering:
While mastering requires technical skills, Jeff believes that the creative aspect is equally essential. The technical side involves using cutting-edge equipment, while the creative side involves making artistic decisions that enhance the final product. Maintaining a minimalist setup in his mastering room, Jeff combines his technical expertise with his artistic sensibility to deliver exceptional results.
Online Mastering: Thriving in a Digital Age:
Discussing the transition to online mastering, Jeff highlights the advantages of this approach. The ability to interact with clients from all over the world has revolutionized the mastering process. Using secure online platforms, clients can upload their tracks, choose their preferred engineer, and receive the final master remotely. Jeff notes how this approach has bridged gaps, making mastering accessible to more artists and musicians.
Adapting to Changing Formats:
Throughout his career, Jeff has adapted to various format changes, including the resurgence of vinyl records. He maintains a strong focus on ensuring that masters sound clear and consistent across all platforms, from vinyl to smartphones.
Jeff Pesh’s journey from motorbike messenger to mastering engineer exemplifies the passion and dedication required in the music industry. As an experienced music fan with a keen ear and technical prowess, he continues to play a crucial role in delivering high-quality masters that enhance the music we love. Whether cutting records in a legendary studio or providing online mastering services, Jeff’s commitment to the art of sound remains unwavering.