She’s one of the world’s leading record producers, having worked with some of the biggest names in pop music - from Kelly Clarkson, Little Mix and X-Factor, to EMI, Sony and Universal.
Aubrey sat down with us to talk about her production style, her favourite Black Rooster Audio plugins, and inspiring young artists.Read the interview Shop our range
"A producer is often an expert in many fields - production, songwriting, mixing, musicianship and the music industry itself. You don’t get to these stages overnight, it takes years of practice and discipline to be the most experienced, skilled person in the room."
Aubrey Whitfield is one of the greatest pop producers and songwriters of the moment - with over 20 years of songwriting and music production experience, a unique production style and an impressive social media presence, she knows what makes a record great.
What’s even more impressive about Aubrey is how helpful and down-to-earth she is, always sharing her wealth of knowledge with young artists and engineers on her Instagram page and website.
We sat down with her to talk about her journey to becoming a successful music producer, songwriter and artist, her favourite plugins and everything in between.
Thanks for taking the time to chat to us! We’d love to learn more about your journey. How did you become a producer? Were you a producer, a songwriter or an artist first?
It all started at the age of 11 when my dad taught me to play the keys and then the guitar. All I wanted to do was to write songs and record them and I dreamt of becoming a popstar from around that age. This is when I learnt the basics of producing and developed my skills by building tracks on a 4 track recorder. I got into bands and produced my own songs in the band during my late teens but I never once thought about becoming a producer.
It was only when I was a solo artist and I wasn’t really enjoying being an artist anymore that I did consider an alternative career. So I decided to have a stab at producing others and loved it! Then things took off from there....and quite quickly!
This might come as a surprise to many, but before you became successful in the music industry you worked for the UK government - what a career change! How does your current job compare to your previous one in the UK’s Home Office?
It couldn’t be more different! Not only are the actual jobs so different but the behaviours are different - I’d have to talk to people in a completely different way than how I do as a producer. I was bound by so many rules in the Home Office whereas as a freelance producer there are no limits and I feel like I can achieve so many different things. But I worked at the Home Office (and the Cabinet Office) for 10 years so I was able to develop critical personal and professional skills that I could cross over to producing.
Doing that job definitely helped me in my role as a producer with good communication skills and adapting to different, high-pressure situations.
Please tell us about your favourite project that you’ve ever worked on - although we’re sure it’s not easy to decide, having worked so many brilliant productions!
I have recently written and produced a couple of songs for BMG and their new partnership with ITV and it was a total blast!! Writing songs is my true passion and then producing them as well (and in my favourite emotional ballad style) was a thoroughly therapeutic experience!
What’s a song you didn’t write, but wish you had written yourself?
‘Somebody Else’ by The 1975 - it is an absolute masterclass in songwriting and production. A modern classic. And it still gives me chills now.
Please tell us about the production style you’ve developed and how you apply your experience as a songwriter and producer to your own music.
I would say I’m quite a diverse producer as I have so many eclectic musical tastes and this means my productions tend to fuse together many different styles. I would categorise my style as ‘modern pop’ but the songs need to have an emotional connection to them. I hate pop songs with no emotional depth. I think that being a songwriter as well really helps me to connect with the productions I create. The two go hand in hand. I don’t think I would be able to produce to the standard I can without being a competent songwriter.
You've talked about the concept of ‘ear candy’ quite a lot. How would you describe it and how do you use this technique when producing modern pop songs?
‘Ear Candy’ is basically what I would categorise as 3-5 seconds of musical motifs, sound effects, drum fills or vocal chops that come into a production just maybe once or twice. It’s used quite a lot in modern music to make a production dynamic and interesting without repetition. I like to use ear candy in intros and in between vocal phrases in the verses.
You’ve been open on your social media channels about having had a fair share of sexist comments aimed at you in the past. What has your experience been like as a woman in the music industry?
I am lucky in that my experience as a woman producer has been very positive. Sexist comments exist, but they are rare. If I do get them then they tend to occur on social media, mostly by younger male producers. It usually occurs when I post something about women being underrepresented in music, but I think it’s important for me to post these things in order to inspire other ladies to go into the profession.
Absolutely! You’re inspiring so many people out there every day by doing this and that’s wonderful. Do you have a favourite Black Rooster Audio plug-in?
My favourite Black Rooster plug-in is the Magnetite! It adds a certain warmth and realism to my pianos and guitars, which sounds great on ballads and songs that need that analog warmth and glue.
The VLA-3A compressor is also a favourite of mine - it automatically has ‘that’ sound which makes everything sound just....better! It brings out the magic frequencies whilst smoothing things out at the same time. It instantly has that modern chart sound. It’s like magic!
Lastly, do you have any words of wisdom for any young artists out there wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Be patient! A producer is often an expert in many fields - production, songwriting, mixing, musicianship and the music industry itself. You don’t get to these stages overnight, it takes years of practice and discipline to be the most experienced, skilled person in the room. So take your time to learn and develop these skills to build your confidence.
Black Rooster Audio is proud to present the VLA-3A - one of the finest emulations of a classic opto-electronic compressor from the late 1970s. Let the VLA-3A plugin feature your signals' dynamics in a lively, vivid and very musical way.Buy now
This is our homage to the sound of magnetic tape recorders. Simply dial in the desired amount of warmth using the recording gain knob and Magnetite will add the analog sonics that you're looking for in your mixes.Buy now
All Black Rooster Audio plug-ins are designed for high-performance and authenticity.
Our real-time SPICE type component-based circuit simulation approach allows for an accurate emulation of the authentic sound and feel that you know and love from its hardware counterpart. Every part of the circuit, including the input and output audio transformers, the discrete preamp circuit, as well as the HF shelving filter band have been faithfully modelled.
DSP operations are pipelined using the SSE2 instruction set. This ensures a high-performance operation despite its very complex computations.
Aliasing artefacts are efficiently attenuated using a low latency linear phase Dolph-Chebyshev poly-phase design. The oversampling is auto-adjusted to your session's sample rate to save valuable CPU power while offering the most transparent sound possible.
The user interfaces support high pixel density on both Windows and Mac OS systems, giving you the most enjoyable user experience on high DPI displays.
Black Rooster Audio Plug-Ins (AAX/VST/AU) are compatible with all major digital audio workstations (DAW) and many more.