Felix Fung’s career as a producer began mostly by chance. He went to buy a guitar and the seller asked him if he wanted to take his four-track cassette recorder, too. One of his purchases, Felix says, quickly got more play time than the other. “I kind of knew I wasn’t going to be a great guitarist.”
As a kid he spent afternoons at the library, listening to records and poring over photos of studios to see how the masters set themselves up. He wore out his favourite albums trying to piece together how they were made, cataloging the hundreds of tiny decisions that went into each recording. He saw more possibilities in his four track than he did in any instrument. “I could do so much more,” he says. “I had so much more control over everything.”
He’s since put those years of adolescent study to use in his East Hastings studio, Little Red Sounds. He’s produced for Vancouver bands like Needles//Pins, Girlfriends and Boyfriends, The Ballantynes, Mode Moderne,Chains of Love, and Shimmering Stars, among many others. If you’ve listened to a Vancouver band, chances are you’ve heard his touch.
Felix’s approach in the studio depends on what the band brings. Sometimes a band shows up with concrete notions of what they want. If that’s the case, Felix says, his job is to protect their vision. Other times, they’re not so sure. Figuring out what they need is an intuitive process of give and take, under the deceptively laid-back guise of just hanging out, talking, and listening to music. Felix tries to give them “touchstones in sound” (as an example, he offers the iconic drum sound from In The Air Tonight, which is now tied to a specific and, let’s face it, cheesy era in the collective memory).
What he won’t do is lean on technology. “A lot of that stuff sweetens, but it’s also to fix,” he says of modern production setups. Almost everything in Little Red is analog, not far removed from the four track that started him down this path. “There are no real tricks here,” he says. “We focus more on instruments and ideas, I think that’s worth a lot more.”
Felix’s pulls his main influences from his love of 60s music. He cites bands like My Bloody Valentine, Velvet Underground, Jesus and Mary Chain, Brian Jonestown Massacre and, of course, The Beatles as his developmental keystones. Basically, whatever was playing on the oldies stations when he was growing up. “You’re going from uptown Sinatra hits all the way down to The Troggs, and everything in between.”
Same goes for the Vancouver music scene. There’s a breadth of styles for whatever listeners want to hear. The important thing is to support them. “People have to go to shows,” Felix says. “The more beer we sell, the better it is for everyone.”