I'm a recording/mixing engineer, post-production editor, and occasional composer located in Chicago, IL. I run an at-home operation, but when called upon to work with a large amount of equipment/musicians (bands or orchestra's), I am able to refer clients to local studios, and we go from there.
I work mainly with hip-hop/rap, R&B, and hard rock. Also, I do a bit of restoration; if a client comes from another studio, and they're unhappy about paying for a "10-minute mix", I will re-mix it working with the stems/session files they give me. My in-home rig is running on Pro Tools 12, a few Waves Plug-Ins, several UAudio Plug-Ins, and Native Instruments Komplete 10. My interfacing equipment is a Steinberg UR22, and my monitoring rig is M-Audio AV 40.
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Interview with Dani Brantley
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: Quality over quantity. It's very cliche, but I'm a firm believer in the phrase. Money is hard to come by, so I don't want a client to feel they've paid for a 30-second mix. I want the client to be beyond happy with what they are getting.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What are you looking to have done, and are you prepared? I've met a lot of aspiring artists who want to get their foot in the door, but don't really understand what they're doing for their project. They will ask the engineer what they should be doing. So make sure you know what you want to work on before-hand.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: 8 years and going! I started out by being a curious musician. "How do I get this to sound like that? or sound like this?" In high school, there were different clubs that I joined that helped me figure that this is what I wanted to do.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I over-obsess on a mix, and I can also spot. With over-obsessing, I want to make sure my client receives the best work possible. So If I doubt my work, I know my client will surely doubt ever working with me. When it comes to spotting, I can listen to a song one time, and tell you the biggest issues that stand out to me. I can also listen for the smallest issues, which can potentially become big ones and fix them.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: As a mix engineer, I add more clarity to what would be considered clean to the naked ear. A lot of small things go unnoticed, and cause big problems, so I pay careful attention to extraneous noise - especially in live situations. I also don't worry about making a song so perfect to where the artist feels I've ruined their sound. As an artist myself, I know how sometimes sloppy can sound great!
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Hanz Zimmer, Justin Timberlake, Dave Grohl, Leslie Brathwaite, Chris Cornell, Butch Vig, and James Brown. (Not the artist, but the engineer know for the last two Foo FIghters records).
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: The market is huge on the mixtape circuit, so as an engineer in Chicago, this is what's going to get people in the door. But I'm not a "follow the fad" kind of person, so I also look for people who want to make albums with the potential to be game-changers.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That I sit around all day and push buttons. There a technique for all this button pushing!
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Professionalism and quality. Something that's lacking today is customer service and product quality.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: I've only produced a couple songs, but I can say it is important to know each client has their own style, and it's your job to enhance it and really make it pop! It is not your job to make the artist a puppet, and act out the way you want them to.