MICHAEL BLAKE

Sessions, Composer

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7 Reviews
MICHAEL BLAKE on SoundBetter

I've been a session musician for 20 years playing guitar and keys on records, TV shows, commercials and several Hollywood films including the SPY KIDS series, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. My last session was tracking keys for the new Blitzen Trapper album.

Making and recording music is my passion and I've spent my many years honing my skills as a session instrumentalist and composer/producer.

If you're looking for a session musician, I play:

-KEYS (Piano, B3 Organ, Pump Organ, Wurli, Rhodes, Mellotron, Synth, virtual string arrangements)

-GUITAR (Acoustic, Electric, Rhythm and Lead)

-Other auxiliary instruments like ukulele, accordion, glockenspiel, banjo, dulcimer, etc. I like to come to a project and really listen to what it needs and then add to it as tastefully as I can. Many of my sessions come from artists or singer songwriters who have great songs but they just don't happen to play keys or lead guitar or whatever. Whether you have a solid idea of what you want or you're not sure, we can talk about it and I'll put down several takes so you can decide which one best suites the song.

If we really connect musically and you need more than session work I also offer my mix engineering and producing skills to fully realize your project or album. I produced both of my own albums as well as several friends and clients'.

If you're looking for a custom track or score for your project, I also compose and produce for film/tv/documentaries. I specialize in thoughtful, ambient scores, perfect for dramatic melancholy, but I can write to enhance and create any mood your scene calls for.

Send me a note through the contact button above.

7 Reviews

Endorse MICHAEL BLAKE
  1. Review by Peter jenkins
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    Michael is a bright spot in the world of music. He handled recording mixing and production on my record ‘Spacegraves’. His ingenuity and energy in the studio brought new life to my songs. He was a delight to work with as he took care, masterfully effecting my music with his crazy great skill. I will forever smile every time I listen to the art he brought my way. I would strongly recommend Michael to pretty much anyone interested in taking their production to the next level. You won’t find this type experience very often in the world of music. Michael Blake is a diamond in the ruff for sure!

  2. Review by Carl Thiel
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    I worked with Michael for many years when he lived in Austin. He played for a band I produced, and proved to be not only tremendously talented and versatile, but also a joy to get along with. Later, when I got deeper into writing scores for film, he became my go-to man for any guitar work, be it acoustic or electric. He consistently delivers incredibly tasteful performances, and can play technically challenging parts with unbelievable ease, always elevating the magic of the musical experience. He’s one of the most well rounded musicians I know. You will love what he brings to your project.

  3. Review by Kevin Florence
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    Michael Blake is the type of session musician you want to hire: easy to work with, empathetic, efficient, and tasteful. Having someone like Michael on a project really pays off because he can do everything from a string arrangement to play almost any instrument. That means no ideas are off the table—you always have someone who can execute your vision.

  4. Review by Evan Way
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    I’ve used Michael on essentially every studio project I’ve ever been in charge of - he is without a doubt my first call for keyboard work of any kind. Always tasteful and creative, whether it be on piano, organ, mellotron ... whatever the project needs. He’s always timely, easy to direct give feedback / notes to, and just a pleasure to collaborate with. Couldn’t recommend more highly. Though I have mainly used him for keyboard work, He’s also an incredible arranger and guitar player. Truly a talent.

  5. Review by Nick Fitzhugh
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    I worked with Michael Blake and Garrett Brennan on the original score for my documentary film Starboard Light which was later acquired by Netflix. I couldn't have been happier with the hauntingly beautiful result nor with the creative and collaborative process that made it possible. It was a true pleasure to work with both Michael and Garrett. I hope to have more such opportunities to work with either of them. It's my pleasure to endorse Michael!

  6. Review by Jason Hafer
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    As a producer, I’ve had the privilege of working with Michael on a few remote sessions in 2020. Each session has been timely, appropriate, and completed with excellence. He’s a must-have for piano, organ and acoustic guitar. Very much recommended!

  7. Review by Raymond Richards
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    Blake is my first call session keyboard player and has been for a couple of years now. He’s one of the only people I trust to send me something on the first try and always nail it. He’s also a far better guitar player than you are, so give him a shot at that too. I trust this man with my reputation as a producer.

Interview with MICHAEL BLAKE

  1. Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?

  2. A: Super proud to be on the new Blitzen Trapper record. I played piano on several of the tracks and was scheduled to tour with them when Covid happened. Hoping that tour will happen someday. :)

  3. Q: What are you working on at the moment?

  4. A: In addition to session work I'm working on a project where I set the poetry of William Blake and others to original music.

  5. Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?

  6. A: Raymond Richards

  7. Q: Analog or digital and why?

  8. A: Both!

  9. Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?

  10. A: That I will give your project every ounce of ability that I have to make it sound great.

  11. Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

  12. A: clear and honest communication about what sound you're looking for is key.

  13. Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?

  14. A: Stylistically, I started off fronting a grunge band in the 90's, then started a prog rock band, made a couple records, started getting session work as a guitarist, pivoted to electronic pop right around the Postal Service era, got to do some soundtrack work (four Robert Rodriguez films) and then started producing my own as well as other people's records.

  15. Q: How would you describe your style?

  16. A: Elton John on the Piano, Lindsay Buckingham on the Guitar.

  17. Q: Can you share one music production tip?

  18. A: Sometimes tracking several sparse takes and then combining them can create really interesting moments

  19. Q: What type of music do you usually work on?

  20. A: pop/rock, americana, folk

  21. Q: What's your strongest skill?

  22. A: Enhancing a track with tasteful instrumentation.

  23. Q: What do you bring to a song?

  24. A: 25+ years of being a musician, making records, and writing songs. I've been doing this long enough that I've learned the value of space and less is more. Unless a client wants a super busy solo or something, I lean towards, simple, classic, tasteful.

  25. Q: What's your typical work process?

  26. A: When a client comes to me with a project, we usually chat a bit about the genre, style, and general approach that they are hearing. If it's an organ they want, we can narrow things down by talking about a hammond organ vs. a pump organ, then if it's hammond, they'll usually give me examples from well known songs, "kinda like 'One Headlight' by The Wallflowers", or "Counting Crows vibes". That usually gives me clear idea of what they're looking for. Then I'll lay down a few takes and send them to the client and see if we're in the ballpark. If there's been good communication, then it's usually really close or dead on to what they're wanting.

  27. Q: Tell us about your studio setup.

  28. A: It's a modest home studio, but I've outfitted it ceiling and walls with professional grade sound baffling. Main elements are Ableton Live for my DAW, Universal Audio's collection of world class plugins like the 1176 Compressor, the LA2A for vocals, Pultec EQ's, Ocean Way Studio Reverbs, and more, and Komplete Native Instruments for virtual instruments. Mics include 3 great condenser mics, an AKG 414, AT 3035, and a WA-87 which is Warm Audio's clone one of the worlds greatest vocal mic the Neumann U-87, as well the standard Shure SM-57 and beta 58. As far as instruments, I have a nice collection including: a 50's Gibson Archtop acoustic, a 70's Guild Acoustic dreadnought, a Taylor nylon string, a 69' Fender Strat, a Les Paul clone, a Stadium Hollow Body electric, a Mitchell Ukulele, a mountain dulcimer, a great sounding upright piano, a vintage Cornish Co. Pump Organ, a Roland VK-7, Behringer Model D, tons of virtual synths including mini moog, an accordion, and a banjo. For amps I have a '69 Fender Super Reverb, a smaller tube amp (VHT) and Guitar Rig 6 for a slew of virtual amps. I also have a vintage AKAI reel to reel recorder so I can dump anything on there and back to the DAW for a super tapey analog feel.

  29. Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?

  30. A: I'm personally really into Jon Brion, the soundtrack stuff he's done particularly in films like Punch Drunk Love and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Also Max Richter's theme for the Leftovers is a great example of simplicity and space going a long way.

  31. Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.

  32. A: Probably tracking piano, organ, and other keys. A lot of bands already have guitarists but no keyboards, so they need someone to track that for their project.

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Some examples of what I do

Terms Of Service

I can typically get tracks back to you in 1-2 days. I'll usually send more than 1 take so you can choose a favorite. I allow 2 revisions.

GenresSounds Like
  • Iron & Wine
  • Max Richter
  • The Wallflowers
Gear Highlights
  • AKG 414 condenser
  • WA-87 condenser
  • AT 3035 condenser
  • Ableton Live
  • Apollo twin
  • Universal Audio plug-ins
  • Shoninger Upright acoustic piano
  • Roland VK-7
  • '67 Fender Super Reverb
  • '69 Fender Strat
  • '72 Guild Acoustic
  • '55 Gibson archtop acoustic
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