Doug Schadt

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@dougschadt

"I make things sound big."

Doug Schadt is a record producer living in New York who makes big guitars hang on shoestring budgets. Coming from the tight-knit Dallas indie scene—the accent dipped out, but the Texas flag flies high—Schadt combines trained ears with a gear-head focus and the enthusiasm of a music dork continually in his element. He shoulders a history of heavy hometown gigging, spending every paycheck on preamps, all with the hyper-productivity of an AP student.

I met up with Schadt (pronounced like “shot”) during a session recording an act called Howler Jr—typical of his work, it’s a feelings-y guitar group with a strong songwriter. He’s always talking about the mythical Greenpoint loft, but for now the studio is his cozy bedroom—Fender guitars, a custom-built computer flanked by intimidating speakers, dozens of gear units stacked precisely on the wall, sound diffusors next to his bed. He has about five projects on front-burners that day. His roommate, a chef, is cooking some kind of kale whiskey thing in the kitchen. A Texas flag, hanging.

Schadt specializes in homegrown pop music—kids with guitars who want that big sound, but still live like kids with guitars. “It’s very low-budget, low rent, make-something-amazing-with-no-money-at-all kind of stuff,” he says. “I make things sound big.”

Schadt is a workaholic who still has time to spin stories: the time his high-school band opened for a gun-happy hardcore act, the history behind his characteristic limp, his five-dollar college mastering business. Schadt has the ability to interact with humans and systems—he loves the individuality of artistic process, and the ingenuity of building a computer. In his mind, those two things aren’t that different.

Every producer has their comfort zone. Schadt has experience in studios from Avatar to Germano, but prefers to work outside the commercial studio system. “I want a place where I can take a nap,” he says. “I won’t, but I want that option.” He looks up to producers like Mark Ronson and Peter Katis—people who combine expertise with bedside manner to make an artist feel completely comfortable.

He approaches a record schematically—deconstructing an artist’s sound and intent, and then optimizing it. Schadt believes in transparency and directness: “A lot of producers try to treat their artists with kid gloves,” he says. “But I want to involve everyone in every step of the process and not be a black box. I want to be able to say, ‘Here’s how your record happened.’” He loves restraint in everything but scope. “One of my goals is to have 60 songs that I’ve produced that are heavy-hitters by the time I’m 25.” He’s 22 now. I ask Schadt about his gear—lots of acronyms whiz by, but I get a look at the glow in his face. It’s probably the Pro Tools display reflecting off his glasses.

Probably.