Abi Asks: Ben Wallick

Abi Asks: Ben Wallick

Howdy Safari Blog People!
I don’t know about y’all, but let me tell you: I have MAD perfectionist tendencies (for people here over the age of 25- “mad”=very much). I think it CAN be both a blessing and a curse, but when it makes you EQ a snare for 7.5 years (TOTALLY not writing from experience…)- it really starts to affect the creative process. (I will also say that 7.5 years usually does not make the snare sound any better- as the wise philosopher James Bay once said: “Let it go..”)
So to dive deep into the wonderful world of perfectionism, I spoke to Producer, Engineer, and Host of the “Secret Sonics” Podcast, Ben Wallick.

I asked him: “What is your take on perfectionism: Has it heavily impacted your work? and if so, what helps/has helped you overcome it?”

Ben said: Perfectionism is definitely something I've struggled with a lot as a producer and mixer. In the past, I often defaulted to perfectionism when faced with challenges in recording and mixing. This tendency would materialize in various ways, from excessive EQ adjustments to meticulously correcting timing issues, and even going overboard with tools like Melodyne or recording surplus tracks as a safety net - the list goes on. I don't think I'm as much of a perfectionist now, I've learned to keep it in check for the most part - although occasionally it rears its ugly head (for example when I'm debating if the master has made something in the mix worse and then I'll sometimes spiral).

The biggest thing that has helped me to let go has been completing numerous projects. When you sign off on a lot of projects you start to become comfortable with being done with things and not letting it consume you. The work I've done with podcasts has also helped me get comfortable with the process of swiftly delivering projects within deadlines. When you consistently finish projects and move on it really helps you build those muscles. Becoming a parent and having less time to tweak things (especially when I was locked down during the pandemic) also forced me to make decisions quicker and go with my gut faster. This helped me to be able to release and move on.

That said, I've definitely learned a ton from my perfectionistic tendencies. Knowing how to really use EQ and compression are probably direct results from my endless fidgeting. But in the end, you have to commit to things if you want to find success in the audio world. This requires you to let go of other options and move forward. If you do this enough, you will eventually conquer your perfectionism and do great work.”

Ben's experience and take on tackling perfectionism really struck a chord with me. He reminded me that managing perfectionism is a skill in itself, one that requires practice and a constant, conscious effort. Setting deadlines and making deliberate choices to move forward rather than getting sucked down into the never ending rabbithole is something that is within our power to do (as hard as it is to not EQ that snare for 7.5 years…). I'm looking forward to incorporating this mindset into my work approach. Thanks, Ben!
Catch y’all next week!
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