I'm a Nashville bass player and producer. I play weekly on WSM Radio's Nashville Cowboy Church, hosted by Dr. Harry Yates and his wife Joanne Cash Yates (Johnny Cash's sister). I also produce tracks in my home studio, do sessions, play live in bands and as a single, and write songs.
I'm a Christian. I play and love all kinds of music, primarily Country, Bluegrass, Americana, Rock, Blues and Gospel, but I've been known to play other styles too. Lately I've been recording original and cover songs where I play, sing, produce, engineer and master everything.
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Interview with Mike Dunbar Music
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Country, Folk, Christian Country, Americana.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Find each voice or instrument's best range, then make sure other instruments leave room for that range.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been playing music professionally for 50 years. I started out as a singer-songwriter in Chicago, my band there (which I produced) was named "best new country band" by the Chicago Reader and I was called "Chicago's favorite singer-songwriter" by Chicago Magazine. I moved to Nashville with a nationally known bluegrass band. Some of my early demo and album productions included the singing of Kathy Mattea. I've played and recorded with so many people, well, just look on my webpage.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: A laptop with the newest Cubase, a Focusrite Saffire Pro interface, a Taylor guitar, a Michael Joly vintage large diaphragm mic, and a pair of Audio Technica ATH M-50 headphones.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Don't overspend. Don't underspend. Make sure you're ready for the step you're taking. Make sure you're songs are ready. Keep an open mind, most producers want to give you what you want, but sometimes it's easy to pass on something even better just because it's different.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That anyone can make someone a star. I can't. No one can. Some people might be able to get a career further, but no one can make it skyrocket, otherwise every winner of American Idol would be a star. Can you name them all? How about ten of them? LOL. My time is better spent working on the quality of the music than to try selling it. Some of my favorite work has never gone anywhere, other things that I didn't like quite as much have been pretty successful.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Getting to make songs sound good. Having folks tell me they never knew their songs could sound that good.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: That to the best of my ability I will make your songs sound good.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Michael Joly
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm mastering a project for Russ Roberts which will be out soon, and am in the early stages of a modern gospel album for Paul Sparks.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I played all the bass on Tommy Overstreet's Gospel Favorites, a double cd set that has sold quite well. For production, I'm pretty proud of my current download album on Loudr called Mike Dunbar "One Man Band."
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: The most common is doing tracks for people.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: The great Henry Strzelecki who was the number one Nashville bassist for many years suggested that I take up the bass. I've been musically inspired by Gordon Lightfoot, Ray Price, Vince Gill, Steely Dan, Bill Monroe and on and on. In the studio, I've loved the production work of Cowboy Jack Clement, Rick Rubin, Quincy Jones and Tom Dowd.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I do my tracks in a home studio, it's a Cubase system with Focusrite Saffire Pro 14. I have mics modded by Michael Joly and John Bonnell as well as some that I modded, some of which are Vintage Neumann sounding and more modern sounds. Pres include GA pre 73, ISA One, Joe Meek, and ART. I used to own a full size studio on music row, but found that for large projects I could go to friends' studios to track and then bring them home.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Folks will send me an mp3 of their song. I copy the basic structure of the song, including the key and tempo, then I'll produce tracks for them. I will redo it all once, or make adjustments twice at their request. The price varies depending on how many instruments or tracks are used. Usually I send it back to them so they can put their voices on the song. Sometimes they send that back for me to mix in to the song. Sometimes I'll hire vocalists if they're just demoing a song. Sometimes they'll have me produce their vocal.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I love songs. I love and respect songwriters and believe no matter what level they are at, they deserve the best work I can give them. One of my favorite things in music is to bring out the best in someone's songs, preserving their feel but giving it polish and high quality.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What do you want to do with this recording. What is your time frame? I can add bass tracks in a day if my schedule permits, Simple backtracks with only a few instruments can be done in two or three days. A full set of tracks may take a week, adding other musicians may take more than that. Do you want me to produce your tracks/or add my bass creatively bringing what I feel to your song, or you want me to get as close as possible to the demo, only getting the quality up to radio standards, or something in between?