Introducing the Man Who Is Going To Make You Sound Like A Dream, Jean-Paul Fung

With Open Studio presented by Ben Sherman kicking off in just over a week, we thought it might be nice to introduce you to the man that will be capturing it all on tape, Jean-Paul Fung. Personally recommended by Art vs Science for being blessed in the talent department, and a top-notch dude, it will be JP’s job to make sure the track sounds more choice cut and slightly less this. With a stellar resume that boasts the likes of Jet, Little Red, Glass Towers, Canyons, Last Dinosaurs, Jinja Safari, Papa vs Pretty and Jack Ladder, we figure he’s got this. We caught up with the 25-year-old (who is soon to be hosting a Pedestrian Coach session) to find out exactly what it is he does:

How did you get started?
From a young age I learned how to play various instruments (piano, bass, guitar), which led to me spending my teen years playing in bands. At the age of 18 I built a home studio in order to record my own music, and inevitably, ended up recording all my friends’ music as well. This is when my love for production began.  Around a year later I decided that I wanted to take my recording career to the next level, and so I embarked on a two year course at Sydney’s SAE. Three months into my course I was offered an internship at BJB studios in Sydney.

I spent the next 3 years at BJB working with some of Australia’s best engineers and producers, churning through almost every Triple J hit you can remember. The main producer I worked under was Scott Horscroft. Together we flew to Sweden to record an album with Birds Of Tokyo, came back and did an album with Little Red, and finished off by mixing 360’s ARIA award winning ‘Falling & Flying’. By the time BJB closed its doors in late 2012, I was standing on my own two feet as in-house engineer/producer.

In 2013 after BJB’s closure, Jimmy Barnes asked me to work out of his studio, Freight Train. It was here where I recorded Jinja Safari and Bluejuice. Later in 2013 Alberts Publishing approached me and asked if I wanted to work out of their studios. Around a year later I am now signed to Alberts as a songwriter and have been happily working there ever since!
What’s been one of the key things you’ve learned since starting out?
Command + S, and always backup your work!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Keep it cool” – Eric Dubowsky

Can you take us through your creative process?
Sure. First and foremost, I like getting to know the artists and gaining their trust. Once we’re on the same page and understand each other’s vision for the project, we will then go and do either some writing or pre-production. 

I usually try to do as much pre-production as possible. Going into the studio prepared, knowing exactly what to do will gain you the best results, and save you money! During pre-production, I will pull apart the song/s and strip them rightdown to their bare bones e.g. drums, bass and vocals. I will look at every aspect of the song and view as many different perspectives as possible in order to make the song as strong as it can possibly be. The aim of this stage is to finish with a demo / blueprint of the songs’ structures, tempos, parts etc. so that when you go into the studio to record, you know exactly what you are doing!

Tracking for me is about pulling sounds and getting great performances. Most bands these days don’t have a huge budget and so spending hours or days experimenting with parts in a studio that costs $1k, doesn’t really make sense to me…  Once we have our demo from pre-production, we will go and record each instrument separately, replacing the demo performances with better sounding and better-delivered performances. The parts and production will evolve greatly throughout this stage.
Here’s your chance to brag, can you give us a breakdown of your setup?
I don’t like to brag, but I have quite a collection of gear… So I will just list my five favourite pieces of gear (in no specific order):

  1. Manley Reference Cardioid microphone
  2. Chandler LTD-1 preamp
  3. Retro 176 Compressor
  4. UAD Plugins
  5. Barefoot MM27 monitors

Is there anything you’ve currently got your eye on?
A Burl Mothership! – Burl make some of the best convertors on the planet. They sound phat and round off transients like tape, but have the super clarity of digital. I often borrow the 2 channel version ‘B2 Bomber ADC’ when mixing.

What’s been the most memorable album you’ve worked on?
It would have to be a toss up between Birds Of Tokyo’s self titled album and Last Dinosaurs’ ‘In A Million Years’… Recording in Sweden for 5 months with Birds Of Tokyo is an experience I will never forget; -18 degrees outside, a world-class studio inside and a trip to the Gothenburg police station to top it all off! ‘In A Million Years’ was the first album I had ever produced by myself, and it debuted at #8 on the ARIA charts. We spent about two months making the album at various studios (including my mum’s 60 acre farm) and had an absolute blast.

Is there an album you wished you could have worked on?
Britney Spears ‘…Baby One More Time’? She was pretty cute back then…

Dream artist, alive or dead, that you’d love to work with?
Max Martin

If you want to get even further into the head of JP, sign up for his Coach session on music production here.