What are you working on at the moment?
KC Porter's solo album project, featuring a who's-who of Latin artists. We co-wrote and are co-producing the album, and it's gonna be quite epic.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
We will make it special.
What do you like most about your job?
It is unbelievable that there is so much great music available in the Universe. Sometimes you don't know where it all comes from. We stand in awe.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
Q: "Which song should I focus on?"
A: "That one, for sure."
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
That it's easy, or has something to do with fancy equipment. Production is like guitar - you put the same Stratocaster in two people's hands and it will sound completely different.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Go for chemistry!
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
Gibson ES-335 and SJ-200, Mesa Lonestar Special amplifier, Neumann U47, and any decent interface and Mac.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I traveled and studied about various cultures and typed of music before starting things in earnest in the early 90s. I have lived in Los Angeles off and on ever since, and I've been privileged to work with my heroes and bask in their glow a whole lot. Touring the world with War and working with Santana were definite highlights!
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
Santana's 'Supernatural' and 'Shaman' albums. Besides the success of those albums and bringing Santana back into the limelight after 30 years, being around him was a whole education in itself -- he's had experiences that my generation only hears about in legend. Playing Woodstock, hanging with legends like John Lee Hooker and Miles Davis, etc. - those things come through when creating with him. Carlos is very spiritual and serious about what effect music can have on people, and he will teach it to you if you'll listen. I listened!
How would you describe your style?
I have a real soft spot for music influenced by the late 60s-mid 70s period of classic soul and rock music, but that seems to benefit a lot of genres - even international sounds like flamenco or heavy electronic music seem to fit that aesthetic in some way. At least to me they do.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
Bonnie Raitt or Tina Turner. Is there really a 'why?'
Can you share one music production tip?
There is a sweet spot where things don't sound too separated - a bit of mystery remains in the mix, with some things peeking out from behind others, emerging and receding. Sometimes this is done with subtle distortion, sometimes with creative use of the low midrange - but to me, the best recordings have that bit of shadow in them.
What type of music do you usually work on?
I am truly eclectic - when I'm dealing with rock, reggae, world music etc, it's like that's the only kind of music in the world at that moment. Not sure what made me this way, but I can't imagine it any other way.
What's your strongest skill?
I zone in on SOUL. I love soulful music, whether it's rootsy or modern, organic or electronic, black, white, Latin etc. - I find the essential, soulful part of an artist's sound and bring it to the fore. I trim away a lot of the rest, because it gets in the way of the heart-to-heart connection that the best music has with the listener.
I also program the heck out of some fake drums. I've had drummers and mix guys ask me who was playing... ha ha. (zips mouth.)
What do you bring to a song?
I only have one mode - 100%. It is impossible for me to go 1/2 way. I always want to be in love with the work. This makes me more expensive sometimes, because that kind of commitment takes a lot more energy and time, but musically that's just what it takes.
What's your typical work process?
I spend time with the artist, to see from their perspective as much as humanly possible so that we can arrive at something that authentically represents them - their vision, their dream goal. Once we agree on a direction, I like them to be in the loop as often as they can, even in a long-distance situation. Sometimes this involves a lot of Skype!
Tell us about your studio setup.
I have a Pro Tools rig at home that I do a lot of the deep creative work on; but for serious tracking I usually end up at WorldBeat Recording, which has an extensive mic collection and all the cool vintage outboard gear.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Sonically: Tchad Blake, Daniel Lanois, Questlove, Mitchell Froom, Mark Ronson.
Artistically: Brian Blade, D'Angelo, Buddy Miller, the Dap-Kings, Bjork.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Most often I do full productions from the ground up, but I also love to work on existing tracks - especially if creative guitar, vocal and sound textures are needed. Sometimes I do it all on my own, and other times I bring in the specialists - live drums, strings etc.