One of the hardest working Professionals in The London Music Scene, his creativity, his compassion and drive for Music, is only a few of the many great characteristics of Alex Emrich. A Graduate of Fanshawe College’s Music Industrial Arts Program, the passion this incredible man puts into his craft of engineering, getting musicians sound just right, taking his projects to a whole new level. An award winning producer/engineer, Alex has only just begun.
Bringing out the best in the artists of various genres in music, Alex works one on one with some amazing talents in the 519, as well as around the world. Also a recording artist along with his sister Mikaila, their song “Every Little Thing,” out on all streaming platforms, just another example of the diverse creativity from Alex. Always eager for new challenges in the Music Industry, Alex Emrich, from London, Ontario, Canada will take an artist’s music to a whole new Professional Level in the International Music Industry.
How old were you when you first felt your love of Music?
My earliest memories go back to being just 4 or 5 years old in Kindermusik class. I would learn to keep the beat on a drum, or play recorder or glockenspiel. It was kids stuff to help me get a grip on rhythm and melody early on!
Then I started playing piano when I was 6 and continued with traditional training from there. I picked up guitar when I was 9, and it quickly became my go-to instrument. I think my love for music developed when I started to realize I could play my favourite songs with what I had learned. Once I discovered I could write my own songs – this was around the same time I picked up guitar – I was addicted to all things music.
How many instruments do you play? You are also a composer, what genre best describes your compositions in music?
Since the beginning, I’ve played piano, guitar, and a bit of drums. As time went on I got curious and added to that. In high school, I played trumpet and tuba. Funny because they were at opposite ends of the brass spectrum. I bought a violin, and learned some simple fiddle stuff – it was harder than I thought. Over the holidays last year I rented a banjo and learned that too! And ukulele! I find a lot of the abilities from one instrument can carry over to another, like guitar to banjo, so I’ve tried to recognize that when I want to expand what I can play.
I love composing and traditional composing for orchestra, especially soundtrack-style. While I have a catalogue of traditional compositions, I found that learning to arrange traditional instruments quickly transferred to arranging a modern pop song production and being a pop producer. That happened really naturally for me as I transitioned into pop and other genres.
What made you decide that you wanted to become an Engineer/Producer in music?
Whenever I was in a band growing up, I always was the one trying to record my band’s songs with the limited equipment and gear I had at the time. I started recording more and more with friends and cousins, and eventually I knew I wanted to go for it. I went to Fanshawe for the Music Industry Arts program, and that’s when I knew for sure that I absolutely loved the art and science of recording, and creating a great song. Now, I’m a music producer, recording engineer, mixer, and artist, and very grateful to have worked on incredible projects with incredible people.
There seems to be from time to time some confusion as to what an actual Music Producer is compared to that of an Engineer. Could you share some insight?
The traditional definitions of these roles have definitely become misunderstood terms, in an age where anyone with a laptop can make music. Traditionally, a producer’s role is to make decisions about the song arrangement itself. Stuff like when the drums come in, what style of bass-line is played, when to put a guitar solo, and to bring an emotional performance out of the singer. A producer would have a lot of experience making great songs, and they are hired for their expertise in arranging the song and getting the feel right. Traditionally, an engineer sets up the microphones, dials in the instrument tones, hits record and cleans the edits – specifically the technical stuff. Often, the producer of a song is also the engineer of the song, and usually that’s where I find myself. A mentor of mine once told me: always learn to be an engineer first, because an engineer can also be a producer. But if a producer doesn’t know how to engineer, they can never be both. And I wanted to do both!
As an engineer/producer, what makes your skills stand out differently compared to others?
I have a deep knowing that every artist has something incredibly powerful inside of them. It’s that unique piece that I’m dedicated to finding and bringing out in their performance. I want to translate the artist’s heart straight into the song. So I’m obsessed with getting the best vocal performance, and I often go really deep into the details of the vocal. Things like how an individual word is pronounced can make the difference in the effectiveness of a line. It can also mean getting really creative and experimenting with new sounds, to help translate that unique energy each artist has. I want the artist and I to have the freedom to find inspiration anywhere, and put what we hear in our heads into the sound.
You have recently released an amazing song “Every Little Thing” with your sister Mikaila. How did that project come to be?
Thank you so much! Mikaila and I have been making music together since we were kids. In our first band, Mikaila was the drummer and played with sticks on a cardboard box – it’s all we had at the time, but it was the beginning of making music together! When the pandemic happened, we realized it was the perfect time for us to make the music we always wanted to make. Every Little Thing was our first song together as a pop duo, and we are about to release a lot more music, starting with our new song “Unfiltered” this February! We do all the writing and recording ourselves, using layers of real instruments and modern sounds. We recorded two whole songs over the holidays, one of which we are releasing in February.
Our music tells what words cannot even say: it’s a feeling. Yes, there are of course words, but we are well aware that this is a time of transformation on the planet. We’re inspired to build on the foundation that is being set now in these times. We’re aiming to help fuel people’s individual journey’s as they step into their most empowered and fulfilled version of themselves.
What is it like for artists to work with Alex Emrich?
It usually starts off with a call or some emails where you tell me about your project, and we create a game plan. Then, we get to work! Normally, in person, we end up building a friendship and have a lot of fun in the studio – it’s creation for the sake of bringing something fantastic to life together. This past year, I’ve been blessed to work online more with talent around the globe, and while less personal than an in-studio session, it is filled with inspiration just the same!
Who are your two top music influencers?
Growing up I’ve always said Gordon Lightfoot as a songwriter, and Rush as a band. Now this changes all the time, since I’ve transitioned heavily into pop music and I go through different phases of music production styles and engineering techniques! I’ve really liked Walk Off The Earth and what they do, and was grateful to spend some time learning from Tokyo Speirs last year.
What was it like taking Music Industry Arts at Fanshawe College, and learning with Dan Brodbeck?
Taking MIA at Fanshawe college was a turning point for me. I got very serious about learning what I was doing, and understanding music – from engineering to production, to the business and industry side. Being an independent producer/engineer, the business and industry side is equally important to being a great producer. Everything works together, so I thought it would be best to have a good grasp on it all. Fully embracing the program eventually led me to working with the London Music Office, which led to my involvement in the 2019 JUNO Awards that took place here in London.
Dan Brodbeck, who is now the program coordinator of MIA, had a huge impact on me as an engineer, that I don’t think he even knows yet, ha-ha! He’s extremely humble, though his talent speaks for itself, as a Juno-winning, Grammy-nominated engineer. I picked up a lot during my time at Fanshawe – an engineering background with techniques I learned directly from Dan and the professors at Fanshawe. When it comes to engineering, a big takeaway for anyone is that the magic can be in the small details, something never to take for granted. I am grateful to still work with Dan on certain projects when they come up!
What inspires you to be so diverse in the music industry? For example, from producing, to actually recording your own songs, as well as writing?
I really can’t help it. Every part fascinates me, from the songwriting to the distribution of that finished, recorded song. Early in education, it’s common to be told that you should focus into one area and get really good at that, and getting incredibly good at something is very important. But in today’s music industry, everything is changing, and efficiency is everything. Those who are able to tackle more parts of the process well can be very efficient in creating great music quickly. Now more than ever, I feel that a diverse skillset can be very valuable!
Music recording technology has come a long way over the last 20 years from the mega-consoles to now Pro Tools on laptops? What is your take on this? What is your favourite?
One of the first songs I released after college was “Get Up”, a collaboration with Julia Haggarty and Casper Marcus. It was crazy; this song was picked up by over 50 major news sources in Canada and recognized as the first Canadian country-rap collaboration. I produced and recorded the whole song in my college bedroom. In Music Industry Arts, I had my hands on a lot of traditional analog equipment every day, including the fancy consoles and gear. That was great for learning how to use analog equipment, because the software emulations of those we can now use on a laptop are pretty much an identical sound and feel. Now I work and mix mainly out of my home studio. Over the pandemic, I have even produced a few singles for artists entirely over Zoom, so you can literally make a good song anywhere. I read an interview with one of the world’s best engineers, who now mixes entirely on his laptop. The playing field is now open. While you don’t need the multi-million dollar recording studio, I think you do still need good recording practices, a great song, production, and a great mix engineer to give a song what it deserves.
What projects are you currently working on now?
As an artist, I’m working on producing and recording a series of singles written with my sister for our group, Mikaila & Alex, which we are rolling out this year! Starting with our song, “Unfiltered” in February, and a follow-up track soon after. We can’t wait to share this music. I have also been mixing a lot throughout the pandemic, when artists or bands record their own tracks and send me the tracks to be mixed and mastered. This has been great to keep making music while things like lockdown are in effect. The digital music environment has provided a lot of opportunity to work completely online, so I have thoroughly enjoyed working with talent around the globe recently.
I’ve also recently produced and am working on singles with artists such as Sarina Haggarty, Michael Malcolm, and Justin Maki. Plus more amazing talent!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
It is my dream to create a lot of great music. Finding new artists to work with and producing their singles and records. A big part of this now too is being an artist myself, and releasing my own music as part of that positive contribution to the digital music realm.
I will also be sharing more about and teaching what I’ve learned. Stuff like production tips and tricks, and how to make song from start to finish. I feel like so many people have music inside of them and they don’t yet know how to get it out of them into a tangible finished song, and I want to help with that! The music industry was great to me in that way early on, so I want to give that back however I can to new producers and engineers.
How important is it for an artist to be prepared before getting projects started with you?
It really depends on what role I am playing in the process or at what point in the process they are looking for me to enter as a producer or engineer. If the artist has written a song and is looking for me to produce it for them from scratch, just having the song written is ready enough. If the artist has all the parts already figured out and just needs me to record it, I can do that too! If an artist has already recorded their song and is looking for me to mix it, having well-recorded tracks, labelling them, and sending them over for mixing is perfect!
Would you ever give up Music Production to focus on your own career as an artist?
I think if my career as an artist is at a point where I need to give it my full attention, I will definitely give it the attention it needs. Yet, as an artist with Mikaila & Alex, I find that I am recording and producing all the songs naturally, as we produce our own music. So I think being an artist would always still mean for me to be a producer too!
Keep up-to-date with Mikaila & Alex’s music on their youtube channel: Mikaila & Alex
Or check then out on Spotify: Mikaila & Alex or Alex Emrich
For more information on Alex, check out his website: alexemrichmusic.com