Interview with Jan ‘Stan’ Kybert: Artist lead approach, new Mac Pro, working with Paul Weller & working in vs. out of the box
Jan ‘Stan’ Kybert, or Stan for short, is a prolific Producer/Mixer/Engineer with a string of high profile projects under his belt. Stan has worked with numerous big name artists including Oasis, Massive Attack and Miles Kane, as well as Paul Weller, for who Stan played a pivotal role mixing and co-producing the UK number 1 album ‘Sonik Kicks’.
Stan is an avid (no pun intended) user of Pro Tools, and was in fact one of the first individuals ever to be credited as ‘Pro Tools Operator’ for his work on the Oasis album ‘Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants’. Aside from working with music artists, Stan also works on film & TV projects.
As one of our most recent high profile clients, we asked Stan to answer 10 questions to give us an insight into how he works and how he uses his Mac Pro. Check his answers out below:
You’ve worked with a great variety of artists, each well known for having their own individual sounds. When working with specific artists does your approach to mixing, engineering and producing differ or adapt? If so, how?
Always, I am artist lead in every aspect of mixing and producing. I feel it is important that the artist is fully committed to the project, as it is their name is on the product and they are the ones who have to go out into the world and sell it. One area in which I’ve been very lucky is that all of my favourite artists that I’ve had the chance to work with have each demanded a big say in what we do together.
As one of the first examples of an individual to be credited as ‘Pro Tools Operator’ (on Oasis’- Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants) how do you balance working in & out of the box? What do you feel are the pros and cons of each approach in terms of your own workflow?
Sonically there is not much difference between in and out of the box. With the advances in Slate Digital, iZotope, Fab Filter and UAD plug ins I am more than happy being in the box. I do miss the ability to do live mixes on a larger format console, once I have the mix down often I’d do a few passes with live rides, cuts and FX sends and just see what happens. That being said, the flexibility of working in the box, along with how plugins are now doing incredible things, and being able to take advantage of multiple instances, I’d take in the box everyday. Plus it means no recall notes of every bit of gear, I was never great at that!
You famously worked on, among other Paul Weller records, Paul Weller’s UK no. 1 album ‘Sonik Kicks’. Can you tell us a little about how you fit into the process of making the album? Was there anything that made this project unique in comparison to other records you’ve worked on?
Every record is different! Sonik Kicks was different as Paul had the album mixed 2 or 3 times by other people previously, and it just wasn’t sounding how he wanted it to. I could hear a great record in there, it just needed fresh ears to come in and take all the great parts and put them together. Those songs were like remixes of every track rather than just mix what’s there. I had a ton of fun with that record! Mixed at Dean St., great room.
Aside from working with musical artists, you also work on post production and sound design for TV and film. Does this type of work present any specific challenges that perhaps don’t arise when working on traditional records?
Yes post audio is a lot more technical and has a lot less going on. You’re not balancing so many frequencies in a mix, its more cleaning up unwanted noise and making sure the dialogue is as clear as can be. Dialogue is king in post audio. Again iZotope RX is a must have tool along with Alti-Verb and ProQ2.
What spec Mac Pro did you go for? Why did you choose this spec, and was it a big upgrade from your previous system?
We went for the Mac Pro upgrade at Paul Weller’s studio, Black Barn. It has been a breath of fresh air. The system rarely crashes and is now lightening quick.
What do you use your Mac Pro for? Which software do you run & how does the system handle it?
Pro tools 12.4, which is by far the best version of Pro tools I’ve ever used. Avid seemed to be getting a bad rep of late, but Pro Tools 12.4 is the greatest audio software ever released in my opinion. I couldn’t work without it.
How integral is your system/software to your workflow? Do you see your reliance on your Mac/software increasing in the future?
I could do a project without Pro Tools 12.4 HD on a Mac Pro, but I certainly wouldn’t want to! I’ve never been happier with the Mac Pro and Pro Tools combo! It lets me do everything I want to, and more. With the Mac Pro I can be very creative, while all my technical stuff is taken care of too.
Do you use any additional hardware in your workflow? What impact does this have on how you use your Mac Pro/software?
95% of any outboard gear I use will get recorded into my Pro Tools session, so there is no recall. Paul has a great sounding plate reverb and several tape delays, which I run live and then record into Pro Tools.
Are you currently working on any projects using the Mac Pro? How does your workstation fit in with this project specifically?
The Mac Pro running Pro Tools 12.4 HD is the hub of every project that I do now and I can not see this ever changing. Nor do I want it to change, its too much fun!
How important is your system’s performance to you? Does not having to worry about what your workstation can handle help you spend more time focusing on the quality of your work?
System performance is vital in todays working environment, the more powerful the system, the quicker and more expansive my projects become.