Professional Sound - April 2023 - Page 19


Rob Wells

By Manus Hopkins

Rob Wells ’ resume is practically a who ’ s-who of massively successful pop artists from several different eras . To name a few , the multi-platinum and award-winning producer and songwriter has worked with or for the likes of Ariana Grande , Justin Bieber , Selena Gomez , Adam Lambert , Serena Ryder , Weezer , Nick Lachey , Mika , Katharine McPhee , Backstreet Boys , Paloma Faith , Nelly Furtado , Big Time Rush , Pixie Lott , Mindless Behavior , Cyndi Lauper , Corey Hart , Olivia Newton John , David Archuletta , Boyzone , Ria Mae , USS , Frank Walker , Keshia Chante , Matt Dusk , and many others .

Originally from Peterborough , ON , Wells lived in his hometown until age 18 , where he discovered an interest in all things music , audio , and also astrophysics from a very young age .
“ I caught the recording bug as my older brother had a reel-to-reel machine where we would record original stories about being chased by monsters ,” he recalls . “ We would speed the tape up and record our monster sounds which sounded epic when played back at normal speed . I bought a Commodore 64 when I was 12 and found a super basic music sequencing program that required a joystick to place notes on the staff . I was in heaven !”
Wells moved to Toronto in Grade 13 and attended Etobicoke School of the Arts , which had a small midi studio setup he was able to use .
“ A Fostex four-track was soon purchased in the early 90s , and with SMPTE time code , my path with midi and audio was set ,” he says .
What really got the ball rolling on Wells ’ career was when , after many years of learning how to write songs and produce , he was asked by the A & R department at BMG Canada to produce a song he had written for the winner of Canadian Idol .
“ I of course said yes , and then had to figure out how to put it all together ,” he says . “ I was given a budget of 6K , and spent 12K by hiring a studio , an engineer , all live musicians , and a string quartet .“ Memory Lane ” became my calling card for more production gigs which soon came calling .”
Wells adheres to a daily routine to keep everything he has to do in order and to keep from burning out . He breaks each day up into
three segments : business in the morning , from 9-11 a . m ., “ party ” in the afternoon ( meaning music work ) from 11 a . m . -6 p . m ., and finally , decompression time from 6-11 p . m .
“ To keep doing this for the rest of my life it ’ s really important that I don ’ t burn out ,” he says . “ I take care of the business end of things and exercise each and every morning . I treat “ party in the afternoon ” like a marathon where I try to do the best work that I possibly can . My decompression time has a hard start time of 6 p . m ., and it ’ s non-negotiable . Decompression is so important . Recharging those batteries . Connecting with your loved ones . Refilling your brain so that you ’ re inspired creatively the following day . Weekends are also reserved for family time . Following this schedule allows me to do this job for the rest of my life .”
For Wells , outside of work is all about family . He spends his non-working time with his wife Shobha , who is a singer / songwriter as well , and their kids .
“ We live just outside Toronto and have a house that backs onto a beautiful forest , creek , and hiking trails ,” says Wells . “ For leisure , I love learning further about astrophysics , filmmaking , and visual effects . I ’ m a super-geek !”
In his professional life , Wells has an interesting way of taking on challenges . He sees himself as someone who is always learning and adapting , and is grateful for anything that comes his way .
“ I ’ m very curious as to what the future holds ,” he says . “ I also know that no matter how much the technology changes , nothing will ever beat a great song that moves the masses .”
The most exciting thing for Wells about his work is starting from a blank slate every day and seeing what gets created by the end of the day .
“ I love the fact that each day is never a repeat from a previous day ,” says Wells .“ There ’ s unlimited directions you can go creatively , and the tools are making it more enjoyable and exciting with every passing year .”
Wells is still set on finding ways to be inspired every day and aims BOB WITH to continue HIS WIFE KAREN this going forward . He tells Professional Sound he wants to work with people and artists that truly blow him away to the point that he can ’ t understand why he ’ s even there . He wants to create timeless art and discover and use new creative tools that make his job more exciting and easier .
“ I ’ ve had so many career highlights that it ’ s hard to mention just a few ,” Wells says .“ I ’ m honestly living a super blessed life . I ’ ve been super lucky to be able to follow my dreams , work in a field that I absolutely love , work with ridiculously talented artists that inspire me , and work alongside my musical heroes . Who could ask for anything more ?”
Manus Hopkins is the Assistant Editor of Professional Sound . He can be reached at mhopkins @ nwcworld . com .