Michael is a top producer/mixer/remixer in the modern reggae world, having produced important albums such as Dub Side of the Moon, Radiodread, Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band, and Easy Star's Thrillah. He has also done remixes for diverse artists such as Jason Mraz, Janelle Monae, Kelly Clarkson,Yoko Ono, Rebelution, and Umphrey's McGee.
Michael is a leading producer/mixer/remixer in the current reggae scene, having produced seminal albums for his band Easy Star All-Stars such as Dub Side of the Moon, Radiodread, Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band, and Easy Star's Thrillah. He has also produced/mixed/done remixes for artists such as Jason Mraz, Janelle Monae, Kelly Clarkson, Yoko Ono, Rebelution, Tommy T/Gogol Bordello, Umphrey's McGee.The Green, John Brown's Body, Cas Haley, The Hip Abduction, Corey Harris, NY Ska Jazz Ensemble, Hatikva 6, and Rasta Power. Michael's most recent solo project is Goldswagger, a collection of original r&b/soul/funk that went to #1 on the UK Soul Chart. He has also had dozens of productions/compositions featured in TV shows and feature films.
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Interview with Michael Goldwasser
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I'm very proud of the Radiodread album by Easy Star All-Stars, which I produced and arranged. Many people were doubtful that I could follow up Dub Side of the Moon with something good, and it was a great challenge because of the odd meters. But in the end, even Radiohead were fans of it!
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Preparing for the next Easy Star All-Stars album and writing/producing an album of original reggae for another label.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Robert Smith is a great producer and mixer. Miki Bornstein is a great recording engineer.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Analog, simply because almost all of my favorite records to listen to were recorded and mixed that way.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: That I'll do my best to help them fulfill their vision.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Every session is different from the last one in some way.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Can you introduce me to the Marleys? And the answer is "no, but if you make an amazing record then they may come looking for you".
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That my dub moves are automated - I still do my dubs live on the board and each performance of a song is different.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What are some of your favorite records and why? What is your vision for the song/album that you want to record? Are you willing to be pushed past the limits of what you thought you could do?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Be honest with yourself (and me!) about your goals for the song/album.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Does the desert island have electricity? Probably not, so I'd have to say 1. acoustic guitar 2. upright piano 3. drum kit (I'd have time to really learn how to play!) 4. Battery-operated DAW (I'm hoping that extra batteries don't count as a separate item) 5. Mic/cable
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I started out as a musician playing clubs in NYC as a teenager and I became fascinated with production as I continued to listen to records and think about what made them great.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Old school.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Chaka Khan - she is the greatest vocalist on the planet!
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Do as much pre-production as possible before hitting the studio - good planning can save a session.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Reggae and r&b/soul.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Producing vocals - if the vocals aren't great then the song isn't going to work no matter how good the rest of the track is. Unless it's an instrumental!
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: The ability to see the big picture while still focusing on all of the details.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Start with the song, build an arrangement for it, record with a focus on the artist's and my concept for the song, and mix to the same effect.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I work in the analog realm as often as I can, using great consoles, outboard gear, and even recording and mixing to tape whenever possible.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: My favorite producers are Quincy Jones, Leon Sylvers III, Rick James.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I often produce a song from the bottom up, working with clients to write the best song and then coming up with the arrangement, putting together the musicians, recording, and mixing. I also get hired to mix a lot of reggae and dub from clients who want the sound that I have crafted through my Easy Star work.