Credits include Ray LaMontagne, The Shins, Fanfarlo, The Pretenders, Norah Jones, Reba McIntire, Five For Fighting, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, The Doobie Brothers, Eminem and many more.
I got my start as an assistant engineer in 2002 at Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles, CA where I had an opportunity to learn from some of the biggest and best names in recording. As an independent engineer and mixer in L.A., I was lucky enough to work with some amazing artists and producers, including engineering tracks for LeAnn Rhymes, Reba McIntire, Eminem, Pharell, and many more. Along the way I also engineered and mixed over a dozen exclusive sessions for iTunes with artists like Ray LaMontagne, The Pretenders, Five For Fighting, The Shins, Fanfarlo, and Norah Jones. I did extensive mixing work for famed Japanese producer Tetsuya Kamuro that earned several number one spots in Japan. In 2010, I relocated to San Diego where I helped build my new home base, the Lost Ark Studio, where I have engineered and mixed for hundreds of artists, both signed and independent, including Night Beds, Radio Moscow, William Wild, and Jesca Hoop.
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Reviews (22)Endorse Mike Butler
Mike was an absolute pleasure to work with! Not only is he extremely good at what he does, but he works with his clients every step of the way to make sure what they hear in their head translates to the mix. Communication, professionalism, and quality of work were all second to none! We will absolutely be working with him again!
Mike was fantastic to work with, will definitely be back! Easy to tell he's a highly qualified professional that knows exactly what he's doing from his page, but if you need to see more, take a look at his studio. Wow!
Unlike some other engineers i've worked with, Mike actually writes back about changes in the mix and adds to the overall sound. He helped us get the most of our debut EP and will definitely be working with him again!
Very pleasant and easy to work with. Mike has a great ear for making my mixes sound their best!
Top of the line. Patient, professional and dedicated.
Mike was amazing to work with! He was patient, listened well, very talented, and gave me exactly what I was looking for! Plus, he did it all in one day for a good price!
Mike is highly professional and delivered a great job! He was very patient and communicated well with me.
Working with Mike is a pleasure. Not only does he have a confident command over the studio he operates, but he enables musicians to make the music they want to make. He's an extremely efficient producer & engineer... AND he's a good hang. I've never experienced a more creative, professional, focused, yet fun recording experience. Cheers Mike!
Mike is a great engineer. I have worked with him twice on two very different projects and he was able to adapt in both and help achieve the right sound for the songs and style. He is very creative and always up for trying different recording methods to really give a song/project its own unique sound. One of my best studio experiences.
Mike is a world class engineer-- he added a lot to our recent session with a perfect balance of technical acumen and creative sensibility. For example, he thickened the kick with a mic dropped into a vintage gasoline chamber, an idea that really elevated the song. We've recorded all over the US-- Mike is a rare breed. Sharp, perfectionist, cool.
Love working with Mike - A true professional who's skills as a producer are outstanding. I've been a part of a small group that's worked with him on various projects. When in his capable hands, I always know we will leave the studio feeling well pleased about the final product!
Mike is the best ever and such an amazing producer. He is able to convay the feeling behind every track and every song. Mike is a real pro and always knew just what we needed to help create and capture those great moments in the studio. He is so easy to work with and greatest professional ever! I would work with him 1000 times over, true blessing!
I've had the pleasure of working with Mike on many occasions at Lost Ark, mostly as a session music on keys. Each time has been a breeze. He's quick and gets a wonderful sound out of everything he records. What's more his ears are great and his thoughts and production guidance are spot on. From the session to final mix Mike does excellent work!
I've worked with Mike at Lost Ark on a number of projects, and he has always been professional and, most importantly, musical. He has a great ability to get the best from his players, and runs the studio very smoothly. I always appreciate the thought and organization he puts into each and every session! Deane Cote
I've worked with Mike on several projects over the years in both studio and live situations, and I am always impressed with his ears, technical skills, and ability to keep everyone on task with humor and professionalism. He understands how to allow artists to be themselves while elevating their music to the highest level. Mike is badass!
As a trumpet session player, I'm always impressed with Mike Butler's professionalism and his "straight-forward" approach when recording at his sessions. Because he is an accomplished musician, He understands what each type of musician will need during the recording process, which makes for a well time-managed and pleasant session. - Jason Hanna
When working with Mike you not only get an amazing producer but also a great friend. Mike pushes to get the best out of you and your music and helps you explore any idea that pops up.
Mike's ability to bring out the best in musicians always impresses me. His experience as a musician bring a language and direction that's invaluable to those in the studio. The combination of professionalism, expertise, and humor is what makes me always look forward to working with him.
I've been called in several times to Lost Ark to track keys for various artists over the years. Mike is always behind the console and makes it very easy. He is great at working with personalities and people and provides as much or as little direction as anyone needs in a session. His mixes are always beautiful as well. Highly recommended.
Mike came highly recommended, and even with my expectations high, I was blown away by how awesome Mike got our song to sound. (I recently collaborated with Holland Andrews for a song for a film). I found working with Mike to be a joy, and really look forward to our next chance to collaborate together. - Brent Knopf of Ramona Falls & EL VY
Why is Mike is such an amazing producer?. He can not only speak music, he is able to convay the feeling behind track. It takes a special kinda brain to be able to meld these worlds. When we were tracking I would go to suggest something and he would was always one step ahead of me. I would work with him 100 times over.
Working with Mike at Lost Ark Studio on our full album project was a real pleasure from beginning to end. Mike is a real pro and always knew just what we needed to help create and capture those great moments in the studio. Fast, efficient, focused, relaxed and funny,working with Mike was my best recording experience ever! Mark Stuart/BSOJC
Interview with Mike Butler
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Oh, there are too many to pick just one! I would love to mix a Lucinda Williams record. I love her songwriting and there is such an honesty in the performances on her records. There are a bunch of artists I feel that way about.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I am incredibly fortunate to call The Lost Ark Studio my home base. It has an amazing collection of vintage and modern analog gear with dedicated tracking and mix rooms. A vintage Trident 80b is at the heart of the studio for tracking, with an SSL Matrix in the mix room. Both rooms have Pro Tools HDX systems with Lynx Aurora converters, and the tracking room is capable of fully analog recording via an MCI JH24 24 track, an Otari MX-5050 8 track, and Mara Machines 2 Track deck. Some of my favorite outboard gear includes a Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor, API 2500 Compressor, Retro 2a3 Stereo tube EQ, and a slew of vintage tape echos and reverbs, including Echoplexes, Space Echos, and an AKG BX20.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Definitely. Ken "Pooch" Van Druten is fantastic. I know Pooch through his live sound work, but he is equally adept in the studio. You'd be hard pressed to find a nicer and more talented guy. Yoad Nevo is another. I don't know him personally, but his work speaks for itself.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: There are too many to pick just one. I really enjoy the new William Wild EP, Steady Now that I mixed. Great songs and heartfelt performances. I also mixed a record by a band from Philadelphia called The Lawsuits that's just killer. Super fun stuff and I think it came out sounding really nice. I recently produced and mixed an album for Seattle rock trio, Duke Evers that came out great. Ugh, there's just too many!
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I just wrapped up a mix for Brent Knopf of El Vy and Ramona Falls for a new project he is working on. I also just completed a 6 song EP for San Diego singer-songwriter Sam Bybee.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Why not both! They are both just tools at my disposal, each has their strengths and weaknesses. I use both freely and wouldn't want to be limited to either one. My motto is, "If it sounds good, it is good.".
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: To always treat their music with the same care and attention that they do. I treat it as if it was my own and never cut corners or rush through the process. I approach each mix to make it the best I've ever done, regardless if it's for a major national act, or an artist just starting out with their first recording.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love music, and I love being able to use my experience and skill to help musicians see the vision of their art through to completion. Mixing is the stage where you really get to hear what all of your hard work and dedication to a project has lead to, and I take great pride in being a part of that process.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That I can make any song sound like any other song. Each song, recording, and production is unique, and created under unique circumstances. The mix should reflect that and serve that individual song. I think references are really important, and a great starting place to get everyone on the same page. But, I think if you try too hard to make your mix sound like something else, you can loose what makes it unique and special in itself.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Some general questions would be, "What is your vision for this song?", "Tell me a little about the process of making it?", "What other things in your genre do you really like the sound of?", "What is currently working or not working for you in the song at this point?", "What are some of your influences?". Usually a few questions in that direction will open up the conversation so I can get get a solid picture of what the artist is looking for and how I can help them get there.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: I think there are two really important things to do when hiring a mixer. First and foremost, is listen to their work. Find or ask for examples of things that are similar to your style. Listen to as much as you can to get a feel for their approach. And second, have a conversation with them. You should be able to tell in a 10 minute conversation if they are the right person for the job. They should understand your vision and be easy to communicate with.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Hmm, tough one. Definitely the Trident 80b console, then probably the Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor, Great River EQ-2NV, Retro 176, and Retro 2A3 EQ. Oh, and my Neumann 120a Monitors. Too hard, can't choose!
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I started out as an intern and eventually assistant at Memphis's House Of Blues studio in about 1998. It was a great place to cut my teeth. It was pre Pro Tools, so it was all tape there. It was a real education in traditional recording of real musicians playing together. I moved to Los Angeles in 2000 and got a job as an assistant at The Record Plant. This is where I really got a serious education working with some of the biggest names in audio. By 2003 I was working as an independent engineer in L.A. working with artists like Eminem, Missy Elliot, and Kanye West. I spent two years working for famed Japanese Producer Tetsuya Komuro travelling the world mixing several number one records for his Sony imprint label. I spent some time as Pro Tools operator for Grammy award winning mixer Ed Cherney working on several surround sound DVD packages for The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and The Doobie Brothers. I also did about a dozen projects recording and mixing the exclusive iTunes Sessions Live for artists like Ray Lamontagne, Norah Jones, The Pretenders, The Shins, Fanfarlo and many more. I took some time off in 2008 to spend some time on the road as lead guitarist for Billy Bob Thornton's band, The Boxmasters. In 2010 I relocated to San Diego, where I tapped into the budding local music scene. In 2012 I helped build The Lost Ark Studio, which is my home base. We launched the Lost Ark Studio Compilation Series where we invited nearly 100 bands to come record a song for free that I would then mix and release online. In 2015, I helped launch Randm Records, an independent record label focusing on great emerging talent and artist development.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I would say I take an organic approach to mixing records. I want it to sound larger than life and have a big impact, but I still want it to remain sounding like real people making real music. In the end I don't want the listener to hear the mix, I want them to hear the song and have an emotional reaction to it.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: The most important thing for me to remember when I'm working on something is to always try to serve the song. Sometimes it's super fun to put on 10 guitar overdubs and layer stacks of vocals, but I always ask myself, "Does this serve the song, or is it just serving me in this moment?"
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I listen to and have worked on all types of music, but primarily I work on Americana, Indie, Country, Blues, Bluegrass, and Rock.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I think any mixers strongest skill should be strong communication with the artists. It takes a tremendous amount of trust for an artist to hand over their art to someone, and without proper communication, that trust can't be there.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I really try to find the heart of the song. The place where the most impact and emotion is coming from, and build the track from there. I work to preserve the dynamics and nuances while still having plenty power and energy. I try to let the song and material dictate where it wants to go and never paint every song with the same brush. I want what is unique and special about each song shine through.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: First thing is too start with a conversation with the artist about what they are looking for. We might talk about a specific direction or influences or references from other songs. We may get specific about effects, etc. and if there is a rough mix, I'll listen to that to get a perspective of where it should go. Once I get a feel for what they are looking for I'll dive into the mix. Typically I mix a song in a day. Once I feel I've got in to a place I'm happy with, I'll send it to the artist to get their feedback. If I'm on the right track, I'll do revisions based on the artists notes and deliver final mix versions once the artist is completely happy.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: So many! I am really inspired by anything that evokes a feeling or energy. I'm a huge fan of producers like T-Bone Burnett and mixers like Tchad Blake for their innovative approach to making records. I also really like the work of the new breed of producers like Dave Cobb and Blake Mills.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I have experience as a tracking engineer, mix engineer, and producer.