I've been recording, mixing and producing for 30 years and have played guitar on thousands of sessions at my studio, Secret Sound. I've worked with everyone from members of Limp Bizkit to members of Kenny G's band and drumming legend Dennis Chambers. Still love going to work. I'm also co-inventor of the G5790 microphone, a right angle SM57.
In 1983, demos that led to my feature in Guitar Player Magazine's Spotlight column (January '83, Brian May cover) led me to follow another passion - recording and engineering. From my first 8 track analog studio, thru 16 track analog, ADATs, and now hard disk recording, I've been fortunate to make lots of records with everyone from singer/songwiters (where I often play everything) to self contained bands. Whether you're local, indie, or national I bring the same energy and approach to your project - together, let's make it the best it can be. I go for mixes that are clean and punchy.
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Interview with John Grant/Secret Sound
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Getting ready to do a signature drum sample and groove collection for the legendary Dennis Chambers.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital. I was there for analog.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: Relax. I've done this before. Everything's gonna be alright.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Everything. I'm blessed.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Q: How can you stand to work on the same 5 minute song for hours? A: It's not a song at the time. It's a block of granite being chiseled into a beautiful masterpiece. Tomorrow it will be a song again.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: How can I help you get what's in your head into your ipod?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: I want to make sure we are on the same page and have a shared vision for the end product, whether it's a mix or a guitar track. So give me a reference track or two for guidance, let me know what you like about it, and let's go!
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: My modded U87, Great River mic pre, 1176 compressor, Virtual Tape Machine and Ozone.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've just been trying to avoid bosses, cubicles, and rush hour traffic, in that order, since '83.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: A cover of John Mayer's "Clarity" for smooth jazz saxophonist Najee. The leadoff track on his Rising Sun CD, which hit #1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart. He let me have my way with the track and while it's fairly faithful to the original, I was able to personalize it to better suit his style. Check it out here: http://youtu.be/XA7KhvhjxX0
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Keep the vibe relaxed and fun. It's music.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Paul McCartney. C'mon.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Serve the song. Not the gear.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Pop/rock, Americana, Modern Country, Gospel. I'm all over the place, really. Love it all.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Guitar tracks, mixing, and a strong pop sensibility.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Fresh ears, fresh perspective, and usually some production ideas.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Mixing: listen to the rough, get acquainted with the tracks, identify the "money" parts, then get to work. If it's not 80% there in the first 2-3 hours, something's wrong. I always use reference mixes to keep the bar high. Guitar tracks: get a shared vision with the songwriter/artist on what they're looking for, agree on a stylistic reference or two, and get to work!
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Secret Sound has 5 rooms - a control room, a drum/tracking room, and 3 iso booths plus a live echo chamber. Based around a Mackie D8B for monitoring, there's lots of outboard pres/compressors, and a great mic collection - Neumann, AKG, Sennheiser, Royer, Audio Technica, Sony and Shure.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Larry Carlton, Chris Lord-Alge
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Complete productions for singer/songwriters, mixing, guitar tracks.