Rising Stars: Brian Sheil

We’ve found another worthy subject for the Audio Pro InternationalRising Stars section, our regular focus on the best young industry talent from around the world.

In this latest instalment, Brian Sheil, a producer/engineer from Carlow, Ireland, tells us about some of the successful artists that he’s worked with recently, and how he has high hopes for his own recording and mixing facility, Brytestar Studios.

Where did you study?

I initially completed a two-year Diploma in Music Technology & Sound Engineering at Pulse College, which is based in Windmill Lane Recording Studios in Dublin. After that, I wanted to further my studies and got accepted into the BA Hons Music Production Degree course run by University of Central Lancashire in the UK and Pulse College here in Ireland.

It was the best training you could ask for – combining academia with a high level of practical training at Ireland’s most internationally renowned recording studio. It was a great platform from which to spring into the industry. I worked extremely hard and graduated with a 1.1 First Class Honours Degree.

Where are you based?

Currently, I’m based at my own recording and mixing studio, Brytestar Studios, in my hometown of Carlow – just south of Dublin – which I set up in 2009. It’s my aim to be based in a major music business city like London, New York, Atlanta or LA within the next year or so.

Can you tell us a bit about some of your recent projects?

Within recent months I’ve completed a lot of mixing and mastering work for a new country artist that I really believe in – Derek Ryan. I remember contacting Derek via Myspace to work with him when he was based in London. He has a super talent! I’ve also completed producing a song for hit songwriter, Jeff Silbar (most known for co-writing The Wind Beneath My Wings).

Within the past week, I’ve just finished producing three original country records for a new female country artist. I’ve had some absolutely fantastic musicians in Nashville record on the project. You just can’t beat great musicianship and talent right from the source.

I have been doing a lot work with Brendan Keeley as well. We co-wrote a record in the last few months that we had presented to Barack Obama! We Will Be Strong was a great record to produce and mix. The premise of the song was that one day parents across the world will be able to see their children after the curse of emigration. We even recorded the Irish public on the record in a football stadium.

I also recorded, produced and mixed his #1 single on the Amazon Download Chart You Sleep With Angels. Brendan is also the musical director of Ireland’s largest Gospel choir, Tullamore Gospel Choir. I produced and mixed their debut studio album. There is definitely something special about Gospel music.

Some time ago, I mixed and mastered Parker Ighile’s charity single Heaven’s Playground. The single was for the victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting that tragically took place in Connecticut. Parker has an amazing talent, both as a producer and songwriter, and has a great team behind him, including his manager Efe Ogbeni.

I also have a great working relationship with US composer Christopher Ferreira. I produced a new ambient record of his, The Meditone Project. From that stemmed the opportunity to work on Hayhouse’s production of Tales of Everyday Magic. I worked on the episode Painting The Future as music mixer.

I was asked to compose three instrumental tracks for a brand new up-and-coming super talented theatre director, Janice de Bróithe’s unique production of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. It was one of best pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen.

I’ve been doing a lot of production and songwriting work with CLEERE in the past few months as well. I really believe in his talents.

So it’s been a busy last few months. I hope it continues. On the side, I’m always writing new material with different songwriters too.

What piece of work are you most proud of?

That’s a toughie! I suppose I’m most proud of my production on Brendan Keeley’s hit You Sleep With Angels.

I remember hearing this song at the acoustic interlude at one of Brendan’s live shows some years ago. I was absolutely mesmerised by it! My Dad was a huge fan of Brendan Keeley, and I’ve always heard his records played in my house from a very young age.

The song went on to to be a Christmas #1 in Germany on the Amazon Download Chart in 2011. The following year, Kathy Kelly went on to have a hit with the song also. Fortunately, that song got me nominated as International Producer of the Year at the Music Producers Guild in the UK this year. I really believe that this song still has more to offer in some shape or form in the future.

For such a young producer/engineer you have achieved a lot in your career so far. Why do you think this is? (A lot of hard work, good contacts, grasping every opportunity etc.)

I just work hard, and am constantly immersed in producing, mixing and writing music. I’m relentless in my work from making new contacts to just never taking no as an answer. Also, I’m always looking for new talent, and talent in general, even artists whom have had commercial success in the past.

I’ve always loved the A&R/ developing an artist side of the business – something that doesn’t exist in its totality anymore, but it’s an area I’ve always loved and feel will always have an element in my achievements. It’s true what they say about A&R; it really is the dark art in the music business.

In saying all of the above, I still have so much more that I’d like to achieve. However, I feel that there is only so much you can achieve in a very small music market. Yes, we have the internet nowadays, but I still think I need to be in a country where the bigger and real business is. I haven’t ”made it” yet, but I work hard every day to achieve that dream.

Do you have any advice for aspiring producers/engineers still looking to find their feet in the industry?

I think the answer has to be that you have to believe in yourself, work hard and be dedicated 100 per cent to this career – no deviation. That’s probably true of any career though, but particularly the arts, because there is no road map in how to be successful, or indeed how to make a living from it.

However, all of the above is no good if you have no passion or drive for what you do. I don’t think you can be in this career purely for all the cool stuff that you may see on TV.

Furthermore, I don’t believe in luck. People say all the time to me that you need a lot of luck in this career, but I’m still sticking to my belief that if you work hard enough, listen, and have respect for people, it will all work out in the end.

I also think studying how the industry actually works, from a business perspective to a creative and sonic level helps -– study up on royalties, recording contracts, etc. and study all those old records from Sinatra in the ’60s right up to music of the ’90s.

I would say listen a lot, too. Every business is in the people’s business, and listening to people in these positions will be beneficial. It’s a type of career where you can become deluded very quickly about your talent, and listening 90 per cent of that time may just stop that delusion, and more importantly help you to grow and get even better.

Finally, make it a priority to learn something new every day about the music business. If you’re an engineer, maybe study some music theory. It maybe that one thing that gets you your next job.

What is your favourite ever piece of audio equipment?

It’s probably the Telefunken ELA M 251 microphone, GML 8200 EQ or the Avalon VT 737 preamp. I can’t decide! There are so many great pieces of gear out there, but one thing I will say is that I’ve always preferred a great voice or player coming from the source, rather than having the most expensive equipment.

Which band/artist would you most like to work with and why?

I would love to work with Celine Dion someday – she just has a class about her that I love and don’t see in today’s current commercial market. When I was younger I always dreamed of producing a duet between Whitney Houston and Celine! I would also love to collaborate with Michael Bublé or Andrea Bocelli.

As a producer, I’m definitely more attracted to ”singer singers” as I naturally gravitate towards working great voices.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I hope to keep developing my skills set and making great records, while continuing to work with fantastic artists – both new and old – at the highest level possible in the business. Hopefully I will have had a few hits by then, too. It’s my intention to have my own team at Brytestar Productions.

Also, as crazy as it may sound now, I would also love to become president/chairman of a major record company, or shall I say an entertainment company, as that’s what they’ll probably be known as by then.

To get involved in our Rising Stars column, whether you are an engineer who is new to the industry and would like to be featured, or an experienced engineer who would like to nominate a particular student/apprentice, please contact Audio Pro International editor Adam Savage on adam.savage@intentmedia.co.uk or +44 (0)1992 535646.

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