jacob detering is making records

Icon... The endless quest to make a record that I enjoy listening to ...

javier mendoza 'you' | that's a wrap!

After several months of tackling one song at a time, I'm happy to say that Javier Mendoza's new record 'You' is drawing to a close. Working on this record with Javi has been a rewarding experience - the most significant take-away of which has been the building of a creative closeness and friendship with Javier.

If you have followed this project at all, you'd know that in early March, I joined Javier on a quick performance trip to Kentucky after which we set up a small demo studio in an ridiculously quaint cottage just outside Cincinnati courtesy of Rick Cobourn and Janine Hooverman. And course, I cannot forget great indie music advocate Jay Brandt for his help in orchestrating such a great trip.

The goal in making 'You' was to really take Javier's music in a different direction while offering the record in two versions; Spanish and English. I feel that this record offers a new level of songwriting for Javier and directionally offers truly amazing supporting roles by the usual cast of characters: Joe Meyer and Dennis Stringfield on drums, Eric Grossman and Logan Detering on Bass, R. Scott Bryan playing percussion and nearly everything on the track entitled 'You', Jim Stevens and Dawn Weber offered great horn work, Jim Peters on guitar and of course, Javier on guitar and vocals. As I have said before - I am so thrilled with pianist David Aholt's contribution to this record. Great, great work.

Although I contributed significantly to the arrangement and direction of 'You' - I actually played very little on this record. Instead my role has been more engineer and over arching captain of the creative ship. In this regard - this record has been a shift for me in that it's required a more indirect influence on the creative space. Mixes are nearly done and we're scheduled to hit mastering first part of next week with guru Brad Sarno - I can't wait to hear Brad's work.

The release show is already booked and tickets are on sale. The first three hundred tickets sold will receive a free copy of the new record. Get your tickets today by clicking, here!



new england | i wish it was home.

The last 1o days have been jam packed full of great people, great music and amazing conversation. More than anything, I am so touched by the generosity and hospitality of all my friends out here - I am so, so grateful for the time and connection with all of you.

I landed in Manchester, New Hampshire hopped in Billy Petty's car and after a quick pit stop to grab dog food for Dora, trekked to Portland, Maine for a gig at a tiny, eclectic place called 'Blue'. It was here that I tasted one of the most amazing beers ever - Allagash Curieux; a tripel ale aged in used Jim Beam barrels. Ah - and prior to Amy's gig, we saw the red-headed woman from 'Sex in the City' at comic shop in Portland.

The next morning, Amy and I headed out early for a gig a The Berkshire Muse Fest in Pittsfield,MA. Despite being super hot and sweaty (amplified by carrying all of Amy's stuff around) it was a day full of great music. Just prior to Amy playing her set, I had a chance to talk with Sarah Bettens in person - which after shooting demo reels around for months and months was a real treat. It's always nice to finally meet someone in person and make that connection. All in all, it was just great to see Amy share a stage with the likes of Sarah Bettens, Melissa Ferrick and Susan Vega.

After grabbing breakfast with friend, I drove North of Portland to Lewiston, Maine to hang with producer, engineer and songwriter Taylor Mesple. After showing me around his studio in downtown Lewiston, Taylor pit stopped at a teeny tiny place a grabbed a handful of Maine lobsters for dinner. The rest of my evening was spent with Taylor and his amazing family eating lobster while trying to trick his kids in to eating ANY part of their dinner. (I never realized how much time is spent getting kids to simply, eat!).

Tuesday Amy and used as a day to rifle though her catalog of tunes. We begin working on a new record for Amy in the fall so having the chance to get in on the songs at the ground floor has been great. I have to say, her new record is going to be stunning; I can't wait to get started.

Wednesday Amy and I spent the day in a few of my favorite places in New England - Rockport, MA and Gloucester, MA. We ate at the Red Skiff - walked beaches and more or less talked about big and little things for the better part of the day. The only thing that would have made that day better would have been to have Billy around - but he was busy working.

Thursday I took a trip thru Cape Cod and jumped a ferry to Martha's Vineyard to spend a day with my friend George. Beyond great conversation around the music bizz and business in general, George drove from point to point of the island culminating with a stop at the cutest grocery store I think I've ever seen. We grabbed a few steaks, tomatoes, corn and bread - and then drove to a nearby beach and strolled a bit. The highlight of the day had to have been listening to George's daughter Annabelle outline in detail all of the careers she was going to have when she got older. Sure, we all talk about what we want to do when we grow up - but this amazing kid had well plotted business plans at the age of 5. Awesome.

Friday I drove back from the Vineyard, swung thru Derry, New Hamspshire grabbed Amy and Billy and headed back to Portland, Maine for another Amy-gig. The gig was at this great little place called North Star Music Cafe. Amy shared the stage with two other super talented songwriters - Rebecca Katz and Putnam Smith. It was a songwriter in the round type show - a format that I really love. All in all - a great night of music.

Saturday inolved a trip to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to catch up with an old, dear friend - and today, Sunday - I spent the bulk of the day hanging out with guitarist Bill Derby in Manchester, New Hampshire. All I can say about that is that I might have to sneak back to Bill's house, steal most of his guitars and his cat - a Maine Coon kitten.

Altough fairly sure I've thanked all of you personally for your generosity and time, I figured I'd do so here, too. It was so great to spend what time I had with all of you and I look forward to seeing you all sooner than later.





mastering :: loudness wars.

I've been trudging through old blogs on myspace lately and re-posting those that I feel are still relevant or interesting. The one I'm re-introducing today was written after a visit with mastering engineer M. Brad Sarno @ Blue Jade Audio Mastering.

I don't want to get into too much detail on this topic. Suffice to say, if you know what the 'loudness war' is, the attached video is very informative. If this is a foreign topic for you, please watch and listen carefully.

**I just realized that the embedded file didn't carry over to my facebook feed**



brain surgery at home for fun and profit!???!

It's pretty comboggling (a great word created by my friend Josh Meng - which in Menglish means confusing / mind boggling) to think that the portion of my life spent making recordings now exceeds time spent NOT making recordings. Over the years, it's fair to say that I've recorded on nearly every format available and in just about every environment imaginable.

In the early days, I'd hole up in what used to be the old coal room in my parents basement with my Yamaha four track recorder writing and recording several songs a week. On occasion I'd even rent a Tascam PortaStudio from my local music store for a month at a time. I would use these machines until they literally stopped working... And while at the time I knew nothing technically about recording and even less about gear, the whole experience was an immensely valuable learning in songwriting and process.

Since then, in addition to owning several of my own work spaces (I never liken them to world-class recording facilities) I've worked in a myriad of spare bedroom studios, semi-commercial rooms and full-on pro facilities.

Several years ago, I stumbled on Sear Sound Studios in NYC. Both Sear Sound and owner Walter Sear are mainstays in the studio world and have been for many years, advocates for the professional studio environment. And while I find myself far less rigid than Walter in his insistence of working in a world-class facility, I do find a great deal of wisdom in the analogy he draws. I decided to repost this blog because as of a few months ago, www.searsound.com was redesigned, eliminating Walter's 'articles' page.

I guess too, I decided to blog about this after discussing the decline of music qualitatively with my new-found friend George Howard (@gah650) over dinner. And while I don't think either of us really arrived at a definitive answer to the question, advances and the proliferation of music technology did get strong mention. But I think beyond everything, what's often omitted from the record making process these days is experience. And the decline in experience and wisdom throughout the recording process is at the heart of Walter's blog. Again - I'd link to the blog, but it's no longer available; the following is from a web clipping I grabbed long ago.




I'm not very technical but I just love doing brain surgery. I couldn't see wasting all that time to get an undergraduate degree in science, then wasting four more years in medical school and another three or so as a resident, but I'm sure that I can make up for the deficit with my enthusiasm and my love of brain surgery.

First of all, you really don't need to be in a big fancy building like a hospital. I use my ping-pong table in the basement to do my surgery. (I do throw a plastic sheet over it to preserve the paint). By doing it at home, I save on rent. I admit that sometimes the neighbors complain about the occasional screams that they hear, especially late at night.

Next thing is the equipment. They have all of that shiny stuff in the operating room and believe me, you don't really need it. I equipped my Operating Room at my local 99 cent store. At the hardware department, pick up a hack saw. This is very handy for cutting off the top of the skull. If you want to get fancy, pick up a cross-cut saw, for emergencies. A good claw hammer is handy for removing any extra bone that you missed with the saws.

Move on to the housewares department. Here, for $.99, you can get a whole set of steak knives. These are very sharp and they are good for the fine work. For the rough work--get a bread knife.

In the sewing department, you can pick up a sewing kit with all kinds of needles and different colored threads This is handy to sew the scalp back in place. You can also get a set of three different-sized scissors. Sometimes they come in handy.

There! For $7 to $8, you can completely equip your operating room.

On TV, you see the OR full of assistants. This is a waste of space. If you really watch them, they are all just standing around doing nothing. In my home operating room, I have eliminated all of these unnecessary people. I do, however, engage the family dog to sit under my operating table to clean up the scraps.

You see how simple it is to do brain surgery at home? Anyone with a love of brain surgery can do it. I never read Grey's Anatomy although I did see a copy once. Very nice pictures but half of it was in Latin. Who wants to bother with that! If you really want to be a brain surgeon, all you need is the desire and enthusiasm.

My prices are very cheap since I don't have all that stupid overhead.


Walter Sear


co-creation & intention.

If you are anything like me, you've long ago abandoned your myspace page. Anyhow, while perusing my page (http://www.myspace.com/jacobdetering) I stumbled on an old blog/image that startled me, again. I thought I might as was well post it again as it speaks volumes about me as a person:

"It's strange how every once and awhile, you stumble on something or someone that encapsulates something you think or feel so perfectly, it's almost shocking. If you're ever wondering what the hell i'm thinking - this postsecret.com entry pretty much says it all."


planning to make a record, what's next?

My partner Lauren Markow mentioned in passing conversation that in addition to blogging about the goings on in my musical world, I should begin scripting short utilitarian blogs about the record making process. As with most things, getting started is always the hardest part and at first attempt at writing, I got stuck in the usual places: What do I know about anything? Where would I begin?

Here's a novel idea - how 'bout at the beginning?

Making records is an often cathartic, emotional experience for artists. After all, it's in many ways akin to the birthing process; watching a song enter the physical world, growing from nucleus of an idea into a full on art piece. That being said, I feel it critical when considering the record making process, to set those feelings aside and honestly assess what the record needs to do for you and your career. Are you making a record as a keepsake or benchmark of your artistic growth? Or are you crafting a tool that will serve to further your career? Answer dependent, you should then decide direction, approach and ultimately the budget for your project. This considered, the following are things I frequently run into as a producer/engineer which have potential to make or break a project:

Songs are everything (songs are boss!)::
Send me your demos sooner than later. And while at it, send me everything! Songs are obviously the cornerstones of a good record. No amount of polishing, gear or playing can change that. I like to be involved in helping make play list decisions and working thru re-writes if necessary. I have a gigantic imagination, so don't bother making clean demos; if I can hear chord changes and words, I'm usually fine. If I tell you a song is 'weak' it doesn't mean I don't like you or your songs. It simply means I think you have better material in you.

Right part, right instrument::
Nothing will impact the sound or landscape of a recording like the right part performed on the right instrument. If I had a dollar for every time a drummer loaded in a 27 piece drum kit complete with piccolo snare drum and roto toms and proceeded to tell me he fancies John Bonham-esque drum sounds I'd be a wealthy man. Despite what you might think, you cannot make something sound like something it's not. Carpenters and mechanics all adhere to a simple philosophy: Use the right tool for the job, people!

The studio is not your basement::
Playing in the studio is a honed skill. For drummers, studio work is far more about playing the room and self-balancing the kit (kick to snare, snare to hat, etc) than it is about chops. Be organized about your ideas and execute them in an articulate, organized fashion! This means, don't noodle; play parts. Most brilliant session players I work with are systematic in their approach usually playing just time and fundamentals for the first several takes followed with crazier approaches after we're sure we have the part. Listen to your favorite records and REALLY assess what you hear. Here's a secret: You don't hear drum fills, guitar solos and noodling. Instead, you hear organized, memorable parts and usually, SONGS.

Listening is an art, the studio affords perspective::
Making records allows you to really hear what works and what doesn't. If you come in too sold on your own parts, you often lose the benefit of perspective that the studio offers. My guess is this is why the great players, engineers, producers and mixers all say that making music is truly the art of LISTENING, not playing.

Make your best record, not a record that's already been made::
People often ask me what happened to the music business. While I could give you a million answers, - I think the most accurate one has something to do with artists defining their success relational to something else they know as successful. Writing and making records has become a winnowed process much like a funnel. As you pour your ideas in - the options are abundant; you have creativity in writing, arrangement and engineering. But as you apply the 'success filter' to your process, you start trying to make your art sound like something else already deemed successful. You in turn choose from a palette of five 'successful' guitar sounds, three 'hot' snare and kick drum samples and you abandon your own creative, sonic signature.

Plan your work and work your plan::
In conversations with artists over the last few years, I've been offering the following advice: Assume the record itself will change nothing and that it's everything else that will make or break your career. Trust me, as someone that makes records this is tough for me to say. However, I truly believe that success with selling a record has far more to do with support/sales systems created than the creative/sonic perfection of your recording. Spend time planning about how to increase your visibility, ability to sell product and merch both online and off the stage.




javier mendoza | wrapping up

Seems like not so long ago that I was sitting in a cottage somewhere in Ohio listening to Javier play thru candidate songs for his new record. It's hard to believe that the record is now nearly complete.

This week marks the end of vocal track after which we have a few tiny detail overdubs to do; then mix. While we are still working thru logistics of the offering, it's exciting that every song on the record will be offered in both English and in Spanish.

Going into this record, Javier was insistent that this be a very different record; that it stand apart from other records and songs in his portfolio. Out of the gate, the idea was to make this a very simple record both in writing and in arrangement/production. Having worked on several of Javier's records in one capacity or another, I really feel that in this record's simplicity, Javier's passion and fire are somehow allowed to shine brighter. Without spoiling surprises, this record is much, much more organic and features great supporting performances from one of the greatest groups of musicians in St. Louis.

A big, big part of this record is the bi-product of the musical mind of pianist/writer David Aholt. Again, I don't want to steal the thunder - but at first listen, you will understand David's immense influence on this record. Also bringing so much to the table - drummer Joe Meyer, bassist Eric Grossman and multi-instrumentalist/writer R. Scott Bryan.

Javier's new record will be available in stores, on itunes (and many other digital avenues) and at shows early fall 2009. I hope you all enjoy the record and if you do, please share your enthusiasm with those around you.

Thanks, all.





other interesting news | caleb travers & taylor mesple'

It's been a busy, busy few weeks. Beyond pushing ahead full on with Javier Mendoza's new record, I've also started working with brilliant singer/songwriter Caleb Travers. I started receiving demos from Caleb several months ago. After working thru material, writing and re-writing, we decided to move forward with a handful of tunes. We've spent one evening in pre-production thus far with one more evening scheduled before we begin tracking. Most times, beyond getting MP3's emailed to me, I have very little time to do pre-production on material; it was nice to sit with Caleb, drummer Joe Meyer and bassist Eric Grossman and hash out tempos, feels and parts.

I also had the pleasure of mixing a song for my good friend Taylor Mesple'. Hailing from Portland, Maine - Taylor is a great, great songwriter and amazing pianist/multi-instrumentalist. In addition to being a great songwriter and performer, Taylor owns two Portland mainstays - The Maple Room and Old Port Records.

I've also continued to work on Nashville pianist Chris Walter's new record. My last session with Chris included drummer Jim White and was completely amazing. Chris recorded saw player Natalia Paruz for one of the tunes - video of that session is amazing and can be seen, here.






javier mendoza :: tracking the new record.

The last few months have been so, so busy...

Making records is often a very cathartic experience for me. Working on a full length project from the ground up is always such a humbling and grounding experience. There's something about taking a record from infancy to fruition that is demonstrative of how important PROCESS is in life. I realize while making records how much time of my life is spent wanting to be somewhere other than where i am. I often wish I was farther; wish I had this or that. It's often easy to overlook the importance of each brick in a wall; each step along a path. Making records is one aspect of my life where I see this, clearly. A good idea, the right people/ideas bolstered by the right intent and will builds things of relevance and beauty.

After a writing trip in Cincinnati with artist Javier Mendoza, we set up in the studio to begin tracking. Contributing massively on the record are the usual suspects - Drummer Joe Meyer, Bassists Eric Grossman and Logan Detering, Pianist David Aholt, Multi-instrumentalist R. Scott Bryan, Guitarist Jim Peters and of course Javier Mendoza. I've actually played very little on this record but have found my role to be more concept directive than in past; it's a different but great role to play.

What I am most proud of really - is Javier's willingness to let his songs be pushed and pulled by PROCESS. In some ways, his songs have been reworked several times, now. First in Cincinnati where we rifled thru the best ideas and reworked them and then in the studio where we really started assessing chord voicing, tempos, etc. Javier has been so gracious in this often difficult process. Too, I am so honored to work and play with a group of such consummate and giving musicians. Their dedication to music and craft is second to none.

This record is a new turn for Javier - the songs, the arrangements and the playing are all a leap in a new direction which I think you all will love. We plan to mix and master a tune next week which will be uploaded for you all; I hope it effects you like it does me.


Almost a month ago, now - I participated in an amazing show the historic Sheldon Concert Hall. On the bill were four of my favorite artists: Kevin Bilchik, Amy Petty, R. Scott Bryan and Javier Mendoza.

Having worked with all these artists in the studio and being completely immersed in their material, it was so unreal to see them all on one stage with nothing separating them from the audience except an acoustic guitar. Oddly, despite knowing the songs front to back, I felt like I 'heard' the material in a new way. During one of Kevin Bilchik's songs, I noticed each on of the artists attentively listening and smiling after cool emotive moments. This compounded with an audience that was so focused and attentive, made the evening one (of many, I hope) I will always remember.

I have the coolest job. For this I am so thankful.

Till next time,




chris walters :: songwriter, pianist and super nice guy.

Just this last weekend, I started work on a record with pianist and songwriter Chris Walters. Chris has a long, long pedigree playing for all sorts of music greats which reads something like this :

New Orleans born pianist Chris Walters has resided in Nashville since 1989, moving from New York to serve as music director for country music legend Barbara Mandrell until her retirement in 1997. He then joined the group Alabama, touring and recording with them through 2004. When not touring with his own band, Chris performs and records as the keyboardist with various artists, including the Jeff Coffin Mu’tet and Peter Mayer. He's performed with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and recorded the soundtrack for a documentary film scored by Bela Fleck. #

Also involved with this record in the producer role is my dear friend R. Scott Bryan. Our first day yielded great results with more to come soon. I'll will get some audio up as it's available - for now visit Chris, here.

Please visit me on one of my many sites:




progress report | drew johnson

A few weekends back, Drew Johnson and I embarked on the journey of making his new record. As I have been talking with Drew about this project on and off for quite a long time, it was really great to finally get everyone in one room and start hashing our way through ideas and material.

The beginning of every record is always hard; it's always a bit scary. As a producer / engineer, I am always a bit shocked and bewildered that an artist would entrust me to make their record?!? At times it's overwhelming - juggling so many ideas, personalities and most of all, managing the environment in which the songs are crafted. Of all the things I've come to learn (which extends far beyond faders, knobs, eq's and even performance) it's that interpersonal environment is everything when making a record. Great work happens when artists - both songwriters / artists and session players - feel safe to explore. Great recordings are made when people trust and have faith that the process will not fail them.

I was tickled to find this vlog on Drew's personal website - in which he talks about this very idea. Much thanks to drummer Joe Meyer, bassist Eric Grossman and most of all, Drew Johnson for a great start to what will be a great record. For more updates, check http://www.drewjohnsononline.com or http://www.jacobdetering.blogspot.com.

To watch the video - click, here.

Spring is here!



javier mendoza :: writing retreat cincinatti, ohio

I had the pleasure last week of traveling to Cincinnati, OH with artist Javier Mendoza. Although I've spent much of the last several weeks on the road, spending quality 'windshield time' with Javier talking music biz and listening to music was just great fun.

We landed in Crestview Hills, Kentucky were Javier played to a packed crowd at the Argentine Bean Bistro. I had then pleasure of sharing a beer and dinner with former St. Louis native Jay Brandt (Brandt's Cafe'). After packing up, we drove north just outside Cincinnati, Ohio to our home away from home 'songwriting safe-house' graciously donated by Rick and Janine Hooverman.

The cottage was just perfectly quaint and the perfect environment to buckle down and help Javier finish songs for his forthcoming record. For the next few days, we played, wrote, played more, ate, and then played some more. I'm happy to say that the week was very productive; we actually completed four new songs. Many thanks to Jay Brandt, Janine and Rick Hooverman and the Argentine Bean Bistro for such immense kindness and generosity.

Beyond all the productivity, highlights of the trip included my introduction to Cincinnati chili which is made with chocolate and cinnamon - and - maybe the best part: watching Javier eat wasabi peas. Awesome.

We begin formally working on the new Javier Mendoza record in April - I expect great, great things. For updates on progress, please visit http://www.javiermendoza.com or watch my blog.




josiah rosen | nashville songwriter

Sometime last year I received a phone call from Nashville singer - songwriter Josiah Rosen inquiring about working on new material. For those of you that are not familiar, Josiah was one of the founding members of the band Augustana and holds some amazing writing credits for songs such as 'Boston'. After leaving the band, Josiah settled in Nasvhille and is currently working on his own material along with co-writes with several major label artists.

A bit over a month ago, Josiah and I finally made good on our promise to begin sketching his new record. Lending supporting performances to the tune were drummer Joe Meyer, multi-instrumentalist R. Scott Bryan, pianist David Aholt and yours truly.

After tracking and mixing the song, I took a trip north to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to visit friend and engineer J. Christopher Hughes and mastering engineer Trevor Sadler.

One tune down and plans in the works to start sketches of several other songs. You can follow progress on my blog or by friend requesting Josiah on Facebook, Myspace or by visiting http://www.josiahrosen.com.

Take care,



drew johnson - march marks the beginning.

I can remember listening to Drew Johnson tunes years and years ago. Fact, I remember my dear friend and producer/engineer J. Christopher Hughes playing me Formula Kid board mixes several years and just being shocked by the talent and ability of songwriter and front man, Drew Johnson.

Strange how things go - several months back my phone rings - on the other end is Drew. Drew mentioned following my progress over the last few years, and that he had decided that I was the guy he wanted to make his new release.

I would go on and on about the development of our relationship - but heck, Drew does a great job in his vlog located, here (the video takes a bit to load). All I can say is that Drew is far too complimentary about my skills - peruse his site, listen to some of his demos and you will get my drift. I am so happy to be a part of this record and just know already that it will be a must have. Keep your eyes peeled for updates on both http://www.drewjohnsononline.com and on my blog.

take care,



kirk ward sessions

So - for several, several months I have been working on a new record for songwriter / artist Kirk Ward. For those of you not familiar with being locked in a studio with an artist, charged with helping with the safe delivery of their creative work - it can overwhelming and sometimes downright difficult.

While some artists are very phobic about dissecting material in front of other people and instead prefer to have their material mapped out prior to coming into the studio, from the word go I could tell that Kirk was comfortable working out ideas with and in front of me.

As session drummer Joe Meyer s
tarted to bang out material, I could tell that Kirk was very comfortable outside the box - letting Joe explore different feels, approaches and textures. From our first overdub session - Kirk and I were handing guitars back and forth - and in some instances, Kirk was truly producing me as a player.

The record features brilliant pop songs with a faith based message and brilliant playing by the usual cast of characters. Kirk is currently interviewing for fans - and would most likely love to have you
-- visit him on facebook or on myspace. The record should be wrapping up shortly - look for release dates sometime in early fall, 2009.