Local producer lends expertise to ‘Holiday Wishes 2’Written by Jeff McGinnis | | email@example.com
When “Holiday Wishes 2” makes it into the hands of people throughout Northwest Ohio this holiday season, there is likely to be a lot of —justified — praise directed at the artists who contributed their voices, passion and time to the CD project benefiting Make-A-Wish Foundation.
But often the accolades go only toward the most visible individuals involved in the project even though there are scores of people behind the scenes without whom “Holiday Wishes 2” would not be possible.
Many listeners may not have heard of one of the most important figures involved in the recording of this year’s album. His name is Christopher Stoll and he is an engineer at Audioflare Productions. Out of his Holland studio, Stoll produced more than one-third of the 44 tracks that make up “Holiday Wishes 2.”
“I am pretty lucky, because the studio that I’m at now, it is big and perfectly suited for music,” Stoll said. “I can pretty quickly get a lot of good sounds from a lot of acoustic-type music. That’s why I record a lot of bands here, and artists like that.”
Stoll’s expertise was pushed to the limit during this year’s recording process, though. Among the 17 tracks he supervised, he oversaw
recordings of everything from soulful ballads to Irish folk to a 50-member choir. It’s a remarkable variety of music — and Stoll wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Well, the good news is, for me, that’s what I love. I mean, I love the differences and all the different styles. And, for me, that’s where my creative juices start flowing and I even get more excited about having all these different things, all the different genres,” Stoll said. “And then you have to get all of that to sort of … fit together, too. That’s even harder.
“I can do 15 individual — or 17 or 18 — different songs; it’s not all that hard. But then you have to fit all those together.”
The skills needed to find that balance come from nearly a quarter century in music, starting during his days as an undergrad at the University of Toledo.
“I started in computer science engineering, but I shifted to music after my first year, finding more love of the music world,” Stoll said.
“I eventually just started taking a bunch of music classes, and at that time they actually had a class just called Electronic Music. Which I really didn’t have any idea what that was, but I decided, ‘Well, I’ll sign up for it.’ … And then, basically, you find out that you start doing these weird things with tape decks and old synthesizers and tape delays, and that was basically how it all started.”
After obtaining his master’s degree from Bowling Green State University, Stoll was hired by a studio named Audio Matrix in Downtown Toledo, a move that more firmly set him on the path of production.
The company had an audio sampler, which was a rarity at the time, used primarily to sample sounds for commercial purposes. But Stoll found it — and himself — pressed into service in new ways as time moved on.
“A lot of rappers were interested in that, and I didn’t figure that out until later, but we ended up doing lots of rap music, because most everyone would just bring in records and we would just sample beats and sample different songs,” he said.
Today, of course, recording, sampling and mixing are far less complicated than they were when Stoll first started in the mid-1980s.
“Technology just keeps chugging along, too, so faster computers and better plug-ins and that type of stuff has really made my job easier,” Stoll said. “I love working on a computer as opposed to the old reel-to-reel, which was always a hassle.”
Of course, technological advances don’t mean the work is easy. Stoll estimates he put 15-17 hours of work into each track he participated in for “Holiday Wishes 2.” He’s been involved with the project since last year’s inaugural project, “Holiday Wishes.”
“The deadline part is the hardest part. Anytime you have a deadline, it can crush you, and it kind of hurts creativity a little bit,” Stoll said. “I mean, sometimes it doesn’t, but that can kind of be the pressure, you know?
“I like having more time to do things, make sure I don’t screw up.”
Few who will enjoy Stoll’s masterful work on “Holiday Wishes 2” would claim he screwed up, however.
To him, it’s just using his own gifts to give back — the true spirit of the season.
“It’s really just impossible not to give it your all and make it the best you can because you know what the benefit is of the whole thing,” he said.