Virtual: Kevin Cey has been quoted to say that the producer is a major part of their bands sound and that in Skinny Puppy a large part of their sound is in the mix.
Do you feel you put this sort of creative input into the bands as well?

Fluffy: I feel strange talking about Skinny Puppy after Dwayne's death.
Yes, obviously the mixing process is the final step where you can employ effects and a different musical situation than what you've recorded. Often times when your recording, your just basically laying stuff to tape to get it there. So many times it is just that in the actual tracking process, especially with a lot of Midi stuff. As opposed to things that involve microphones and real meticulous placement and things like that. The Producer has a big effect, so often the producer is part of the band, and I know that is the case with Skinny Puppy. I think Dave "Rave" Ogilvie has had a tremendous impact on their sound and I think it's really fucking cool.

Virtual: Do you try to make your technical genius an extension of the musicians you work with, or do you try to creatively influence the song and add your own artistic input?

Fluffy: I think both really, now the words creative genius or technical genius, I don't know about that.

Virtual: Yes, Fluffy, that's what you are.

Fluffy: I'm very apprehensive about that phrase. From my stand point I take it really personally. When I'm working on it, it's my music, too. To the other degree, it's the bands music and really what I'm doing is just kind of adding ideas, general concepts, even if it's as simple as a work schedule, or a more live approach to recording, or a less live approach, something general like that. There are so many choices now with the digital age.
Ten years ago when digital was first coming in, it was nowhere near what the digital workstations are today. Music and TV, music and film, there are so many choices on how you want to approach recording.
You can sample things and samplers are so much better than they were years ago. You can record something live, sample it into a sampler, you can process it there, you can process it in a non digital domain.
I think both as engineers and producers it's just really about making the right choices as far as what way to go.
I'm a much bigger analog fan, in terms of recording. I'd rather record something in analog, keep it in analog on a two inch machine, than I would use a digital machine. A lot of people will disagree with me and say digital has no tape hiss, and more clarity. There are so many choices, do you record on a digital machine, do you put it on an analog machine, do you sequence the drums in the computer and have the rest of the band play along with it? Do you have a drummer play it? Do you record stuff into your computer and quantize it?
So many options now, so many ways of doing it that sometimes it gets a bit more confusing than when recording was microphones, consoles, tape machines, common sense and cool inginuity.

When people like George Martin, The Beatles, people that made ground breaking progress. Where as now there are so many ways to sort of alter the human feel through computers and the digital world. It's definitely a decision that gets made all the time.
For example, you have a band and a guitar player who is kind of inconsistently playing a rif. You could take this rif or this four or eight bar section of a guitar part, you could sample it and throw it into Sound Tools on a computer, you can turbo synth it, you can put it back into the sampler and you can re-sequence it. If the music is already sequenced you could trigger it off of a kick drum, you can trigger it off of a snare drum, you could trigger it off of a click track if you wanted to. You could play it manually on a sampler, where as you wouldn't be playing the whole lick, you'd be starting the lick.

Now there are so many ways to take a imperfect performance and make it perfect by means of a computer. Macintosh computers pretty much dominate and that's not to say there is anything wrong with PC's.

It depends on what band I'm working with. Pygmy Children is a Midi computer sampler situation where as other bands like Head Spin, this is the third CD that we've done, they are a straight forward rock band. We may be doing a couple things with samples on some songs, but computers don't really come in to play at all except for operating the console, the automated mixing function and what not.
Some bands like Skatenigs are in the middle, and I've worked with them for quite awhile. Their music has come to be both. Live when they play, they play as a band. In the studio it's a combination of sequencing stuff and playing live stuff along with it. Sometimes we'll sample something and loop it, sometimes we won't.

It depends on the nature of the music, is it electronic by nature? Or is more Sex Pistols by nature? Bands that are more Sex Pistols by nature can be part computer and I don't consider that to be a bad thing. Whatever delivers good music in the end is cool. But technical genius?

Virtual: That's what you are, admit it! You have a big influence on me. I've never come across anything you've done that I didn't like.

Recently you started producing bands like: The Electric Hellfire Club, Pygmy Children, Armageddon Dildos, as well as engineering.
What does you producing an album really mean?

Fluffy: Unless I have writing credit on the record I don't see any royalties from any of the records I've produced. I've been given options before of having a point or a half of point on a record in lea of getting paid. That always seems like risky business to me. It's not really risky with Ministry or Armageddon Dildos or what not. Basically I make my money while I'm working on a project and once it's done, it's done.
The difference between a producer and an engineer is that when your hired by someone as an engineer your pretty much hired to turn knobs, push faders, until they're happy with what they got. When your hired in a producical capacity then your hired to kind of stop the tape and go, "No, no, no, this sucks!" and drastically change things, or do whatever is necessary to change things. Like renting other equipment, saying "Your amp sucks, we need to find a better one". Where an engineer is more in the position where they're going to try and use another microphone or do some different tricks in the control room to make it sound better. In the end I'm always the biggest fan of getting the best sound from the source, from the drum, from the guitar amp, whatever.

So often dictating a schedule (that never gets followed anyway), making sure to stay in budget (which it never does), as well as being more of a creative influence are all involved in producing.

If your hired as an engineer than your hired to do just that, although I'll give them some input when it's necessary. Producing something is becoming a part of the band for the duration of the project. Very typically in some band situations everyone has a different opinion. Depending on how many of these people there are, it can be a very difficult situation.
Producing is such an intangible thing. I think it's a lot more sticking your neck out. As a producer, there is a lot more creativity you can impose on people and take their music and put a different aspect on ideas that you just know will work, taking your technical genius and doing it. In a lot of situations people will say to me, "No, we don't like that, we don't want to do it". Well, okay.
Things like vocal distortion which has become so trite, almost as much as the four - four pounding kickdrum throughout a song. I find myself fighting with people about vocal distortion more now, let's not do it. I think I was one of the first people doing that sort of thing.

In Beers, Steers, and Queers, the distorted drums were just really a means of me line checking my distortion set-up. I said, "We'll just send the kick drum through it and see if it's working". I was like, "This is pretty cool, let's put some more shit in there, yeah this is pretty cool". Everyone loved that shit.
As far as the money goes, I've been paid directly from the label, most of the time I'm paid by the studio out of the budget from the label or the band. Everyone that engineers and produces works hard and deserves to get paid.

Virtual: Have you heard anything about Armageddon Dildos touring?

Fluffy: I heard something about that, too. They may be doing an American tour some point this year or next year. We had talked about their live sound and some possibilities and they had contacted Matt from Skatenigs to play guitar for the tour in America. Felix who played some drums on the Armageddon Dildos record, had gone to Germany at one point and he was going to tour with them, I don't know what became of that. He's in a band with Howie Beno called, 13 Mg. I toured with them, too. We did a midwestern tour last year.

Finish VNA's Interview With Fluffy Now