Greg Wells | Interview

You started your career as an artist.. can you talk about that?

I always wanted to work with other people as well as make my own music. After moving to Los Angeles, I got signed in 1994 by Miles Copeland to IRS Records, home of bands I grew up with like The English Beat and REM. I soon found out the label was about to go bankrupt, which it did, and my record never came out. I had to reassess my career at that point, because as fond as I was of Miles, I hated the experience of having all my eggs in one basket. Miles and I continued to work together and he started having me produce some of his management clients. It started a ball rolling that hasn’t stopped. Along the way I realized my strongest talent was that of an accompanist, and that there were far more compelling singers than me!

What was your first step into producing and audio engineering?

It was a record called “Sleeps With His Guitar” by Pat MacDonald, done in 1996. Pat used to be in Timbuk3, who had that great hit “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades”.

What types of music have influenced you as a songwriter and producer?

Chronologically, it’s Jackson Five, Kiss, early hip hop, Trevor Horn’s productions, lots of early 80’s new wave, Peter Gabriel, Daniel Lanois, James Brown, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Radiohead, Henryk Gorecki.

Who are some of your favorite producers songwriters in your field?

I don’t consider myself in their field, but Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Dr. Dre, Jerry Finn, Nelly Hooper, Max Martin.

What was it like working with Katy Perry, who soon became one of the world’s biggest pop stars?

Katy is great to work with. She’s very talented, very focused, and very funny. I remember saying to her six years ago “why aren’t you already on MTV?”, and after some false starts it finally happened for her.

What are you currently working on?

New artist Elizaveta for Universal Republic, new Colbie Callait record, debut record of indie artist Rachel Goodrich, and in talks to co-produce an album with the legendary Burt Bacharach.

What Slate products do you use, and can you briefly discuss them?

Both the FG-X and the Virtual Console plugins are absolute necessities for me at this point. On the VCC, I like to use the API console with the drive set to 2 on everything. The FG-X does loud more musically – and louder – than anything else out there. Brilliant plugin. Also, your drum samples are ridiculous. Some of the best snares I’ve ever heard!