Artist on Artist: Naked Face x Terry Hart

Aussie electro-pop maestros, Naked Face, dropped ‘Lust In Youth’ & ‘Eyes In Love,’ recently, showcasing a wild fusion of pop and EDM vibes

Steve Slik and Luke House, the dynamic duo behind Naked Face, sit down with the maestro behind the mixing board, Terry Hart, for a candid chat about their unexpected sonic shift.

Terry, a former classical violinist and composer turned acclaimed producer, shares insights into his journey, collaborations with notable artists, and the standout moments in his career.

naked face interview terry hart

As the conversation delves into the intricacies of mixing ‘Eyes In Love,’ Terry unveils the secrets behind the vocal effects, his creative process, and the delicate balance of digital and analog tools.

From Middle Eastern cuisine to the battle of audio gear titans, Terry shares his preferences, top picks, and a dose of industry wisdom for budding producers.

The interview concludes with a tantalizing teaser about Naked Face’s upcoming projects, leaving readers eager to dive into the wizardry awaiting in their newest single.

terry hart interview

Naked Face: Hi Terry, welcome! Happy New Year! 

We’d love to start by learning more about you. Can you share a bit of your musical background and interests with us?”

Terry Hart: I began on the orchestral side of the fence as a classical violinist and composer.

Contemporary music was a gradual realization for me, listening to bands like Queen and Radiohead and Silverchair.

I taught myself piano, guitar, and drums; composed and started a number of bands.

I love performing, but it wasn’t till I set foot in a recording studio that I really felt at home.

I was a session musician for years, but eventually ended up on the other side of the glass in the producer’s seat.

Naked Face: Throughout your impressive career, you’ve collaborated with many notable artists. Could you mention a few of the most prominent names you’ve worked with?

Terry Hart: I’ve been privileged enough to work with a number of amazing artists, like the Black Sorrows and Missy Higgins and Taxiride.

But in general, I more enjoy up-and-coming talents. Like my early work with Tash Sultana, when they were still searching for their musical identity.

That’s a difficult and confronting time for an artist, and I love the challenge.

Naked Face: Reflecting on your career, what would you consider to be a standout highlight or a particularly memorable moment?

Terry Hart: Any day I get to set foot in the studio is an amazing day for me.

But I do have especially fond memories of studying under Michael Brauer, a mix engineer I respect a lot.

That was a very transformative time for me and a lot fell into place.

Naked Face: When you first heard ‘Eyes in Love’, considering your extensive experience, what were your initial impressions of this new direction in sound?

Terry Hart: It definitely caught me by surprise. Everything Naked Face and I had done up to that point had more of an alt rock vibe.

But I’m always a sucker for vocals, and Steve’s delivery and control on that track are just flawless.

Naked Face: Have you previously worked on mixing tracks in the dance-pop or EDM genres? How does that experience compare to your other projects?

Terry Hart: I love mixing this style of music. There’s way more freedom and expression.

With contemporary instruments there’s a lot of work in just making them sound right, in getting an acoustic guitar to sound like an acoustic guitar.

But with synths it’s different. You can carve them up to your heart’s content. It is a genre where the notion of “too much” is null and void.

Naked Face: What was your creative process and approach when mixing ‘Eyes in Love’?

Terry Hart: The production was fantastic, so my job was adding interest in any way I could.

I employed a lot of movement-based effects to make all those synths really pop, like panning automation and filter sweeps and modulation and sidechaining.

Otherwise, those artificial sounds get stale. The ear craves distraction.

Naked Face: In regards to the vocal effects on ‘Eyes in Love’, did you employ many? And did you opt for digital processing or analog outboard gear?

Terry Hart: The vocal performance was amazing, so my main goal was to keep it intact.

I used a number of outboard processors for compression: a Distressor, an 1176, a Federal, and an old levelling amp by Audimax. This glued everything together and added weight and attitude.

For FX I used a tight room IR and a detuned doubler to give the raw sound some width. Then I added a number of dark plate reverbs for space, and a bunch of different delays.

These were all automated on and off for different phrases to keep things interesting, especially moving from verse to chorus.

Towards the end of the mix I was craving a tad more grit, so I added the Devil-Loc by Sound Toys.

Looking at the session here there is almost 20 channels dedicated to vocal effects, but at no time are they all active at once.

Naked Face: During the initial stages of mixing ‘Eyes in Love’, did you explore different approaches, or did you have a clear sonic vision from the start?

Terry Hart: In this style of music, you really want to push the mix-bus as hard as you can.

I had to throw the faders up a few times to get a sense of how the console and compressors were responding.

But I knew I wanted that chorus to rip. Once I found my balance it was matter of tweaking and going back and forth between instruments.

Mixing is never a linear process for me.

Naked Face: If given the chance, would you alter anything in the final mix of ‘Eyes in Love’, or are you satisfied with how it turned out?

Terry Hart: I wouldn’t touch a thing. That would be vanity. When the mix is signed off I become a listener like everybody else.

Music is about kicking back and letting the song take you where it wants.

No one sits around at the pub thinking that guitar tone needs a bump at 2K, and if you do then you need to get a life!

Naked Face: Could you share your journey into mixing and sound engineering? How did transitioning from a musician to an engineer influence your approach, and what challenges did you face?”

Terry Hart: Putting aside the instruments was a difficult decision for me.

There’s so much to learn in production, and still I’m learning all the time.

It was a matter of finding the musicality in the process, the sense of performance.

Now when I sit at a console I treat it like a piano.

I memorize fader moves and get as expressive as I can.

It’s the same thing as performing Chopin, you’re hunting for that flow state where the details are forgotten and you’re led by instinct alone.

Naked Face: Do you have a preference between mixing with digital tools versus analogue/outboard gear? What drives your choice?”

Terry Hart: The right tool for the right job! To my ears, analogue dynamic processors still sound more musical and can be pushed way harder.

For instance, I’m using a Crane Song STC-8 on my mix-bus these days, and no plugin I have tried comes close to that sheen.

But the freedom of automating parameters in a DAW is a huge plus for digital. I am still very much on a hybrid setup with an analogue console fed from Pro Tools.

But in reality, it’s a one-way street. Digital tools are improving everyday, whereas analogue gear is slowly degenerating.

I guess it’s just a matter of time before I swing to the dark side.

Now, a few lighter questions:

Naked Face: What’s your favorite dish to indulge in?”

Terry Hart: I love Middle Eastern cuisine, and am a sucker for a good curry.

Naked Face: In the realm of audio gear, do you lean more towards Neve or SSL?”

Terry Hart: Very different beasts… I love the work flow of the SSL and how much freedom you have mixing on their consoles. But the Neve line-amps can’t be beat for character. How about this: SSL when I want to reinvent the sound, Neve when it needs a gentle massage.

Naked Face: What’s your go-to EQ for mixing?”

Terry Hart: The Plugin Alliance SSL E Channel for shaping, and the Fab Filter ProQ for more detailed moves.

Naked Face: When it comes to compressors, do you prefer LA2A or 1176?

Terry Hart: Again, right tool for the right job. Although an 1176 feeding into an LA2A is an amazing vocal chain!

Naked Face: In the battle of plugins, where do you stand: Waves or UAD?

Terry Hart: Learning on analogue gear makes me lean towards UAD. But perhaps that’s just sentimentality.

There are some old Waves plugins that I would hate to do without. MV2 or RVox anyone?

Naked Face: Which microphone do you find best captures vocals?

Terry Hart: The voice is such a subtle and varied instrument. Sometimes a SM57 is the only mic for the job.

But I do find a well-kept U47 wins a lot of shootouts. Honorable mention to the Miktek CV4 for a somewhat cheaper alternative.

Naked Face: Could you list your top five favourite bands or artists?

Terry Hart: Bob Dylan, The Smashing Pumpkins, Fiona Apple, Paul Simon, Elbow. 

Naked Face: Who are your top five singers of all time?

Terry Hart: Freddie Mercury, Jeff Buckley, Maynard James Keenan, Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse

Naked Face: For aspiring mixers and producers, what advice would you offer to get started in this field?

Terry Hart: A lot of this job is becoming sensitive to details. You need to train your ears before anything else and they’ll guide you true no matter what.

Listen to music. Listen to the tools used to make it. Be objective. Don’t go down the rabbit hole of watching endless You Tube channels. They teach you nothing. Get in there and get your hands dirty!

Naked Face: Looking ahead, what are your personal and professional goals for the next one to five years?

Terry Hart: For a long time I’ve had my eye on composition for Film. I’d love to try my hand at it!

Naked Face: Finally, are there any exciting projects or news you’d like to share with the readers of Naked Face and Happy Magazine?”

Terry Hart: To be honest, I can’t wait to get stuck into Naked Face’s newest single!