Lisa Sanchez is a songwriter, producer, gigging singer, vocal coach & bassist. Involved in production since the 90s, when she ran a dance record label. As an artist, she had a few dance releases in the UK and USA. Recently graduated from LCCM in London with a degree in Music Prod. & Performance. Currently developing one of her singing students Zoe Jordan, having just released her debut single that Lisa co-wrote and produced. She is also working with singer/songwriter Floss.
How did you get into music production and did you always want to be a music producer?
I got into music production when I first started writing songs. I wanted my music to sound a certain way, and so I used to hire a drum machine to work out the beats, and arrange the song, before taking the band into the studio to record. I then started working with Nick Woolfson, who ran a studio in Fulham, (it was the late 80s). We were working with early technology, Akai samplers, Cubase etc, putting beats together and writing songs whilst working with a rapper. This progressed into writing and producing dance records, which bagged us a deal with an independent distributor. We formed an independent dance label, Jamm Records which I ran for 2 years. I was involved in all aspects from co-producing some of the records to A & R, marketing, press, distribution etc.
After this, I took some time out and started working more as a live singer, I was also bringing up my son as a single parent. This made it difficult to find the time to work on original music and production. I got back into it in the early 00's. I had a small studio in a studio complex I was helping run in Bermondsey, London. I started working on garage and RnB production on my own and other artists' material. The studio ended up closing after about a year, so again, I was left in a position of not being able to do as much songwriting or production as I would have liked.
I was very busy working as a live singer, and vocal coach, so my writing and production got put on the back burner for a number of years. I then joined the Songwriting Academy and started working with other songwriters and this got me back into production again, working from my home studio at the time. I decided that I needed to get up to date with the latest technology and also improve my skills, so I enrolled at LCCM to study a music production and performance degree. This led to me getting into artist development/writing/production with one of my long term singing students Zoe Jordan, whose debut single was released in May. I also started working with another of my students, Maisie Jay and have written and produced a couple of songs for her too.
I never set out to be a music producer, it was just a natural progression. I love the whole creative process, from writing a song, to hearing it finished. It's such a buzz!
Did you encounter any specific obstacles when you first started?
The main obstacles I faced when starting out, and to this day actually, are being taken seriously as a producer, by men. I have often been referred to as "just the singer". I have been interrogated about the gear I use during a conversation, having to prove I know what I'm talking about. I have had men say things like "What, you produced that?!!!", utterly shocked that a woman is capable of it. If I have co-produced something with a guy, other men have said to my face how great the guy's production is, and completely ignored the fact I was involved. I was once told that I would have to work much harder than a guy to be taken seriously as a producer.
The other obstacles have been mainly affording the latest gear, plug ins etc.
I was shocked to discover that only 2% of professional music producers are women. What are your thoughts about that?
I am not surprised by that statistic. It is a very male dominated craft, and women have been actively dissuaded from being involved for a long time. As per my examples in the previous section, it is so hard to be taken seriously. In my experience, women also seem to have a fear of technology and I think this is all down to how in the past we have been programmed, growing up and what we experience in the world around us. I do feel things are starting to change, and I have had some very positive experiences recently with regards to my production.
Do you have any tips for other women wanting to get into music production?
Yes I do! I say this to every singer I work with, get yourself a copy of Logic Pro and start learning the program. The great thing nowadays, is it's so easy to go onto YouTube and find videos to show you how to do most things. I would also recommend getting involved with any female producer groups on social media, for support. If you can, do a music production course, this will really help you on your way. Also, just be creative, try stuff out, even if you're not sure what you're doing. For example, you might find a sound you quite like, but it's not quite right, just start playing around with the controls on the plug in and experiment with different effects. It's fun and you might end up with something really cool! I strongly recommend listening to a lot of music that you like and dissecting the production of these tracks and using them as a reference when you're working on something. I also think it is really important to learn a bit about music theory, song arranging and how to produce vocals. Believe in yourself and be confident!
What part of the music production process do you find the hardest, and how do you tackle that?
For me, the hardest part of production is when I've got all my ideas together and it sounds good, but still I have to add all the "ear candy", to make it sound "finished". Sometimes, you get stuck and it's hard to know what to do next, especially if you've been editing vocals for ages and you've heard the track untold times. Your ears get so used to what you're hearing, it's difficult to have perspective. So, if this happens to me, which it often does, I give myself a break from it, maybe just one day. Then I go back to it, and I'm a lot fresher, so the ideas start to flow again. With creativity, it's important to relax, allow yourself to let the ideas come and they will. You just have to be patient, which is not always easy, if you're on a deadline!!
What’s the most fun part for you?
The most fun part for me, is when I'm nearly finished, listening to it over and over again and tweaking!!! I get such a buzz from that.
Do you have a particular process for recording and mixing?
My process is to get a basic beat and some sounds down, then record a guide vocal, with as many backing vocals and ad libs as I can. I love working with singers and trying to get the best out of their voice. Then I work on the production, which could also include recording session musicians, before recording the final vocals. Then vocal editing before finishing the production. I tend to mix as I go along and then tweak the mix when finished. I always use a reference track when I'm mixing, this is essential. I also sometimes like to get it mixed by someone else, (if it's for release), as they can give it a fresh pair of ears and some extra sparkle. It really depends on the track.
Do you write lyrics or sing yourself?
Yes, I do. I love songwriting and it's the first thing I did when I got involved in music. I often write with the artists I'm producing.
If you had to choose one released track that you are most proud of your production, what is it?
Why did you pick that one?
I picked that one because I love the song anyway, Zoe and I co-wrote it with another fantastic songwriter, Brendan Clearey. Also, Zoe wanted to change her musical direction earlier this year from 'country style' pop, to pop. I had never produced a pop record before, so it was a real challenge. I'm really happy with how it turned out.
What’s your next project?
I have just finished producing Zoe's follow up single, which is due for release in September. I am also working with another fantastic singer/songwriter called Floss @flossldn. Her voice is like a cross between Lana Del Ray and Florence, and the music is alternative dark pop, I love it! I'm also working on finishing a dance record I've written for another project, Kalisha. Exciting times!
How can we hire you?