My name is Reuben and this is Mojito.
I like helping artists make their music sound great.
This is why I do it
Who shouldn’t work with me
Before I begin, I want to save you some time – I’m not the right fit for everyone.
If you need a studio with a massive gear list, leather couches and mahogany walls – I’m not the guy for you. If there were an award for the least impressive studio (on paper), I’d win.
I’m passionate and particular about my tools. I’ve carefully selected the gear I use, both analog and digital, and have learned each piece inside and out. I believe in depth over breadth.
While modest, my studio allows me to create exceptional work. But if you need something bigger and flashier (for whatever reason – I’m not judging), there are plenty of other studios for you. I’d be even happy to refer you.
Here are some producer/engineers who I am right for. Well, I’d hope so…they keep coming back.
Oh…and this is a dinosaur.
So…why another mastering studio?
In 2011, I was working as a freelance producer/engineer. After months of hard work on an album project, we had arrived at the mastering stage. There was a decent budget for this project, so we decided to go with a big name engineer from L.A.. He had a great track record and I admired his work. Needless to say, we were excited.
Our elation soon turned to disappointment. First, our only communication went through his assistant. He was nice enough, but after putting so much energy into this project, we wanted the engineer to understand what we were going for. After all, it was costing us around $2000. Perhaps this is not a large amount for some people – but it was very expensive for us. Were we asking too much because we wanted to speak directly with the mastering engineer?
Sure enough, the masters we received were unspectacular. They were not terrible, but not what we were looking for. We could have asked for revisions – but that would have cost more money – money we didn’t have. We made due with what we received. Would we have the same treatment if we were a big name artist? Doubtful. However, we were paying the studio’s full price.
This wasn’t an isolated occurrence. I had worked on many records that had received similar treatment. Underwhelming sonics with little or non-existent communication. It seemed that if you weren’t a big name producer or artist – or didn’t have a small fortune to spend on Bob Ludwig or Ted Jensen – getting an exceptional mastering experience would be challenging.
There had to be a better way.
After all, we’re living in a long tail world. These days, independent artists are producing the most records and some of the most interesting and engaging ones.
We live in the 21st century and the music industry has changed dramatically. Yet, many studios are still stuck in the old industry where style often trumped substance. What if we could take a hacker mentality, eliminate all the fluff and bs, and create a mastering studio that focuses on music, sound and what the artist actually wants? But could I be that guy?
I do have a background in mastering. In 2007, I apprenticed with Phil Demetro at the Lacquer Channel. Side note: Phil is one bad ass engineer and I am forever indebted to him. If you decide not to work with me, give Phil a call. He’s a legend.
After the Lacquer Channel, alongside my production and mixing work, I continued to master records as a freelancer. I also mastered plenty of music during my time at the CBC and in advertising. Trust me – when ad clients are paying $400/hour, they don’t care that the music they paid for wasn’t mastered by Bob Ludwig. They expect the best. I spent countless hours figuring out how to get my masters to compete with the best…I had no choice.
After years of working in almost every facet of the industry, I realized that mastering is where my passion lies.
In 2012, with the need for a studio that focused on the essentials – and frankly, my love for the art – Mojito was born.
These are some of the records I’ve mastered
The Golden Dogs – 3 ½Mojito Admin Joshua Van Tassel – Dance Music: Songs For Slow Motion (2015 Electronic Recording Of The Year – ECMA – Winner)Mojito Admin David Myles – So FarMojito Admin BMBSHL CMD – BMBSHL (Electronic/Dance Recording of the Year – WCMA 2015 – Nominated)Mojito Admin Jay Sparrow – Bluebird (Country Recording of the Year – WCMA 2015 – Nominated)Mojito Admin The Olympic Symphonium – Chance To Fate (2015 Album Of The Year – EMCA – Nominated)Mojito Admin Iskwé – Iskwé (Electronic/Dance Recording of the Year – WCMA 2014 – Nominated)Mojito Admin Gypsophilia – Night Swimming (Recording of the Year – Music Nova Scotia – Nominated)Mojito Admin The Elwins – Forgetful Assistance/Countdown Vinyl 7″Mojito Admin KC Roberts & The Live Revolution – From The North (Part 1)Mojito Admin David Myles – It’s ChristmasMojito Admin Spencer Cole – You Exist Right Now EPMojito Admin
You can check out my full credit list here
Here are the values I strive for:
1. The artist’s needs ALWAYS come first.
This seems obvious, but my experiences as a musician and producer tell otherwise. To ensure that I understand each project, I start by asking questions. I’ve crafted these over time to get to the heart of the music and to understand how it fits with the artist’s goals. I prefer doing this with a phone call, but an email questionnaire works too (if phone is inconvenient).
2. Always strive to create the best sonic presentation of the music, but never forget that the sound needs to serve the music.
My McGill tonmeister training made this a difficult lesson to learn. Breaking old habits can be tough. Sometimes the most “audiophile” presentation isn’t the best one. If the music dictates it, sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and dirty the mofo up! Mastering comes down to how the song makes you feel. The sound needs to help the music connect with the listener and make them feel something special.
3. Bass, warmth and bottom end rule the world.
4. The best records emerge through collaboration.
Revisions should not only be free but encouraged if it makes the music better. I believe this process gives us the freedom to experiment and push boundaries. Safe is for pussies.
5. Depth is greater than breadth.
By using a hacker mentality, strip everything that is unnecessary — leave only the things that help make better sounding records. Developing mastery over a few select pieces of gear will always be better than being mediocre with a larger selection.
6. Large gear lists and designer studios are primarily about ego.
I could build a larger studio and raid Vintage King, but why? Focusing on these superficial elements might look impressive, but generally do nothing for the music. If anything, they tend to distract the engineer from the task at hand.
7. Train like an elite athlete and treat each session like game day.
Mastering engineers aren’t perfect and I definitely don’t claim to be. This is a lifelong learning process. To ensure that I’m always improving and working at the edge of my abilities, I train at least an hour a day. Sessions are like game days, so I go early to bed, avoid alcohol and watch my nutrition. I want my mind and my ears to be in peak form when I work on someone’s music.
8. Don’t Be Afraid To Fail
Fear of failure is probably the biggest hindrance to creativity. This is another reason why revisions are free. I’d rather fail occasionally if it allows me to knock it out of the park more often. What’s the alternative? Being safe like other studios? Not for me.
There you have it. If after all of this, you still want to work with me (you brave, foolish bastard) – feel free to get in touch.