Aubrey Whitfield, a leading London-based producer who’s worked with the likes of Little Mix, Simon Webbe (Blue), James Arthur and Kelly Clarkson, ranks communication as the number one skill for a producer, even though “you would think it would be something technical”. She explains: “You deal with so many people with different confidence levels and abilities, and you’ve got to be able to adapt, to make them feel at ease and confident and to get the best out of them. You could be the best technical producer in the world, but if you’ve got no communication skills, the artist isn’t going to feel comfortable and won’t do their best.”
As for her other must-have skills, songwriting comes in as a close second. More often than not, Whitfield has musicians requesting a songwriting session with her, and as a producer she has to be prepared for that.
“The third one,” Whitfield continues, “would be a good knowledge of many genres of music. Although I primarily produce pop/indie pop/alternative pop/synth pop, these sub-genres all cross into different genres and if I didn’t know them, I’d be a one-trick pony.”
And how would she advise aspiring producers? “I wish I’d taken an audio engineering course when I was younger,” she says. “I got an interview and they accepted me, but they said I was the only girl and it put me off. Then I went to uni to study English and Philosophy and I regret it. I would say if you don’t have any musical or technical ability, go on a music production course at Point Blanc or somewhere like that.
“Also, stick to one DAW – whether that is Logic, Pro Tools, etc. – and learn it inside out. The quicker and more efficient you are in that the easier your life will be. The other thing would be to intern with a producer to see how they operate and learn the tricks of the trade.”
To find out more about her unconventional career journey – going from advising the prime minister to working with some of the world’s biggest pop stars – you can find an exclusive here or read the full interview in the mag.