John Michael is an audio engineer who currently resides on the West Coast of the United States. He's worked on all types of music; from the Original Soundtrack of Call of the Wild from John Powell to The Polyphonic Spree to Brian Blade to Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
John Michael Caldwell tries to capture the audio and quality of the signal as faithfully as possible but that doesn't mean he's not afraid to experiment with new sounds or creating something completely odd or mangled sounding from on of those pure sounds. As a young engineer and aspiring producer, John Michael looks up to people like Dave Fridmann, Tchad Blake, Andrew Scheps, Dave Cobb, Vance Powell, and the lesser-known but hugely influential engineers of the film scoring world, Shawn Murphy, Alan Meyerson, and David Channing.
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Interview with John Michael Caldwell
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been an audio engineer since 2010 when I dropped out of college from getting my bachelor's in Music Education. But I first started by recording to a 4-track tape cassette recorder in middle school and it evolved until I was interning in New York at Dubway Studios, and then an Assistant Engineer at Blade Studios, next and engineer for a television network called SonLife Broadcasting where I dedicated a lot of time to learning about loudness in the field and streaming services. Then I moved to Los Angeles where I work at 5 Cat Studios as 2nd Engineer. Somewhere along the way I went back to college to finish my degree in Music Education and lasted until my last semester. So, I understand a good deal of music theory and form in classical music.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Don't overdo it. Ask yourself if you really need to compress that signal two different times before sending it to tape. Better yet, maybe don't compress it at all.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I love working on all types of music. There's not a particular sound or genre that I work on all of the time. One day I'll be recording a choir piece, the next I'm editing and denoising music for a score to a TV show, and another day I'm composing and mixing music for an artist or band in genres ranging from americana to bedroom pop.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: My home studio setup consists of a humble amount of gear but I try to invest in stuff that I'll be able to use for a long time. My studio is in a one-car garage below my bungalow/house.