James Reynolds relationship with Merging Technologies written in the stars
Having mixed for the likes of BTS, Tinie Tempah, Disciples, Snoop Dogg, Zayn and many others, British producer James Reynolds has carved a reputation as one of the most talented and versatile engineers in the industry. Over the years he has built his studio from the ground-up, with a workflow based around Merging Technologies products.
Reynolds recalls how he found his footing in music thanks to a strange twist of fate: “I grew up wanting to be a skier, then in my early 20s I had a bad accident and broke my leg in many places. I had to learn how to walk again, and while I was recuperating – I was very lucky, I had a grand piano at home – I started playing a lot more music. I really enjoyed making my own music, so I got a four-track machine and started recording. That got my mind whirring and thinking about how I could record things better.”
Reynold’s first recording session was at a studio in Hammersmith, London, where he recorded house music with his friend Matt Schwarz. “From there I went to Brick Lane where I made lots of house records for a lot of the big DJs at the time,” reminisces Reynolds. Here he developed his own act and even made his first album, heavily inspired by Pink Floyd. He continued honing his recording, production and mixing skills when he moved to a new studio in Parsons Green in 2005, where he befriended a management company in the same building. “I decided I could easily mix records, as I knew how to write, produce and mix. I spoke to the management company, and we started pitching.”
One of the first pitches he did was for Tinie Tempah’s album Discovery and the song he was given to mix was Written In The Stars. Initially his submission was rejected, however they later did a sound test where Reynold’s mix was unanimously voted as the best and the team got in contact.
Reynolds attributes much of his success to his adaptable approach, allowing him to move seamlessly between projects differing vastly in style and genre. This is apparent by his discography, having worked with Snoop Dogg, Paloma Faith, Disciples, Zayn, Tinie Tempah, Calvin Harris and BTS to name a few.
He describes one of his highlights: “My career working with BTS from the beginning to seeing them become the biggest band in the world has been amazing. I was one of the first western mixers to be asked to mix a Korean record.”
Although, it wasn’t without its challenges: “BTS mixes are also a huge technical challenge. I’m getting 250 stems on some of them, which is enormous compared to a normal mix, which is around 30-50 stems. You’re trying to fit a lot of sonic information into a song, keep it as loud as any other song and give everything its place.”
Last year, Reynolds revamped his London studio, taking his kit spec to increasingly new heights. “My speakers are particularly crucial,” he says, detailing some of the most essential pieces of equipment in his new set-up. “I have the Kii Three BXT system, which is incredible. The level of detail I get out of these speakers is amazing.”
Another vital component of his studio is his Merging Technologies Anubis and Hapi systems. “I have the Merging Technologies Anubis and I use it as my hub - I have all my different speakers on there around the room,” he concludes. “It’s brilliantly programmable, so I can create separate channels within the mix and have all my reference tracks, so I can super quickly flick through all the different mixes at the touch of a button which is great for complex compositions. It’s just a brilliant bit of gear and it ties my whole studio together.”
“For my soundcard and converting, I use the Merging Technologies Hapi. It’s brilliant and gives me so much flexibility to route everything around to my analogue gear if I want to. At the touch of a button, I can have it going in and out of anywhere. And sound quality-wise it’s incredible. When I completely rebuilt my studio, these pieces of Merging gear were a key part of that process.”