Highly experienced producer, songwriter, mixer, multi-instrumentalist and singer. Available for track production, mix, arranging, topline/vocals, guitar/keys (contemporary pop, synthwave, R&B, pop country)
I work most frequently and have the most to offer in the genres of contemporary pop, synth pop, and modern country.
My primary services:
* Commercial quality full-production tracks and demos produced from the ground up
* Commercial quality release-ready mixes
* Tracks and beats written/arranged/produced for existing top lines (or vice versa)
* Additional production/instrumentation/collaboration on your tracks
In addition to having toured for more than a decade as a professional sideman for major label artists, I have over fifteen years of studio experience in taking songs and projects from inception to completion, from the songwriting stage to the final mixed and mastered product.
I am highly proficient at a multitude of instruments, primarily guitar, keys/synths, bass, and programming. My skills also include digital audio engineering and editing, the majority of the time in Pro Tools and Studio One.
I'd love to hear about your project. Click the 'Contact' button above to get in touch.
Interview with Anthony "ANTi" Rankin
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: Last year I co-produced an album's worth of material by pop-country duo Dixie Jade, and was a co-writer and arranger on much of the material. It's a very progressive blend of classic country songwriting and forward-thinking production. The lead single "Temporary Tattoo" quickly eclipsed 100,000 streams on Spotify, which is a personal milestone for myself, the artists, and my co-producer Dustin Richardson. I'm proud to have played an integral creative role, especially in part-writing and arrangements, and look forward to Dixie Jade establishing their name and getting on the map with this particular group of songs. During the same time, I was privileged to work in the studio with multi-platinum producer Jay Joyce (Little Big Town, Carrie Underwood, The Wallflowers) tracking a variety of guitar and vocal tracks for an upcoming major label release.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Track production and songwriting: build tracks and produce songs from scratch or work tapes, and co-write with other writers and artists, contributing both top lines and music beds and arrangements.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Prince, Chromeo, Peter Gabriel, Max Martin, Ian Kirkpatrick, Bruno Mars, Charlie Puth, Manny Marroquin, Serban Ghenea, Mutt Lange
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: In a writing session: I build a structural demo track while the song is being written and then go back and properly produce it from the ground up. With an existing work tape or demo: I build tracks around the vocal usually starting with a drum loop and a fleshed-out keyboard arrangement first, and then continue to color in the blanks and edit the parts around the vocal, editing and mixing as I go. Usually the vocal will be resung or replaced over the final track, unless it was a comped and clean stem lifted from the original work tape.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Synthy funk pop.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Decades of fine-tuned ears and skills behind a variety of instruments and software, and a unique palette of wide-ranging influences; I adore contemporary pop music, but also have an indelible '80s influence in my work, in addition to having a degree in jazz and music technology. So I dig everything from The Weeknd to INXS to Steely Dan.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My strongest skill is producing vocal and instrumental hooks, and coming up with parts and arrangements that elevate a good song to a pro level record. With regards to instruments, I have been a high-level professional guitarist, keyboardist and singer for over a decade on international tours.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Simplicity is key, even if there are many parts going on at a time. I feel you should be able to sing what each instrument does fairly easily, and furthermore, the more parts a song or section has, the smaller their sonic footprint must be in order not to mask everything else going on. Less parts means you can get away with bigger, wider sounds.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: I am often asked how quickly I can turn around a track, because understandably we all need things done fast today. I am reasonably fast when it comes to producing a track from scratch (and have turned projects around in less than a day when absolutely necessary) but I like my clients to know and understand that the best music has quality time invested. I take my work super seriously and never want to put something out that is rushed and haphazard. I prefer to allow a song to grow into itself during the production process. Whenever we feel like the finish line is super close, I suggest taking a moment or an hour to step away, come back with fresh ears and really see if a track is hitting all the marks across the board. Chances are, when you're at that point, even an extra day or a few hours of attentive tweaks can make the end result infinitely more competitive. That doesn't mean I can't churn out a track for you in a few hours when my schedule permits, it's just to say that usually the more time I have to really fine-tune a song, the more I can hone in on its uniqueness and make it something truly special.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I would love to work alongside Bonnie McKee one day because I am a huge fan of her writing.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: At least one Stratocaster, a Roland Juno synth, a LinnDrum LM-1, a Yamaha CP80 electric piano, and a solar-powered generator to power everything. ;)
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Pop! Any iteration of pop music is what I love to work on, whether it's top 40, retro synth pop, soulful AC, urban contemporary, or modern country. I gravitate towards music that is well-crafted but simple, part-driven and built around hooks. Creating those types of songs is my utmost passion.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: Many of my peers in the industry see me primarily as a guitarist and singer, but on the overwhelming majority of tracks that I've produced, I am the sole musician performing, engineering and programming everything you hear. My experience on multiple instruments is deep. I'm not a guitarist who dabbles in keys or a drummer who dabbles in bass, but rather I actually play several instruments, each at a pro level, and have made a living for over ten years performing a variety of instruments on tour and in the studio. Another little-known fact is that I am very adept at building and programming playback tracks rigs for live performance, something vital in the current market.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Be honest about your vision, even if you are not exactly sure what it is yet. It's important for us to communicate clearly about what you are trying to achieve sonically or stylistically. I'm certainly not great at everything, and will always tell you when I think there's a better person for a job than me, but when it comes to my strengths I take my role very seriously.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Writing and demo-ing new music with Nashville topliner Kate Ryder, finishing an EP by pop-country duo Dixie Jade, and writing/producing new music for both The Love Elektrik and my own solo releases (as ANTi).
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been playing and making music for 20+ years and and doing it professionally for well over a decade. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, where my dad was a professional drummer in a critically-acclaimed MCA Records-signed rock band in the ‘70s/‘80s. I started playing bars with him when I was 12 years old and haven’t stopped since. Having been based in Nashville for the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to tour and perform across North America and on national TV with a variety of notable artists, especially top names in the country world (Gary Allan, Thompson Square, Randy Houser, winner of ‘The Voice’ Craig Wayne Boyd, Broken Bow Records/BMG house band, and more). It was in Nashville that I also rediscovered myself as a pop artist and producer: writing, performing, and producing music for my own band The Love Elektrik and for other emerging artists in the city’s growing pop/R&B community. I grew up on music from a prior generation of icons like Prince, Michael Jackson, Tears for Fears, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, and after ten years of private study, I went on to major in jazz guitar, music technology, and sound recording at Duquesne University, where I earned my Bachelor of Music and also honed my skills on a variety of other instruments. I then worked as a house engineer and one-man band at a studio just outside of Pittsburgh—under the tutelage of Emmy-winning producer Rick Witkowski—where I contributed to hundreds of recording sessions as both a player and arranger/producer, including compositions for Nickelodeon and Spike TV; releases that featured Bruce Springsteen; and even had my guitar-playing mapped and featured in popular video game Guitar Hero 5. During that time I also consistently released original music and toured as a solo artist, selling 5000+ albums with no label or management.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The satisfaction of creating something from scratch and putting it out in the world. Every song is a valuable learning experience both creatively and business-wise.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: To do my best to honor and help you achieve your vision, and to be a good and honest collaborator.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Pro Tools system with RME interface, Native Instruments Maschine, Focusrite ISA and Voicemaster preamps/channels, Gauge 47 and 87 microphones (Neumann copies), dozens of guitars and utility instruments, Roland Juno and JP8000 synths, Nord Electro 3, Waves plug-ins and software instruments, Native Instruments Komplete, hundreds of samples and drum programs/soft synths, dozens of effects pedals and several guitar amps and cabs.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Who are your top influences or artists whose career you wish to emulate? Even if you don't necessarily want to sound like someone, if I know who you enjoy listening to or aspire to be like, I have a great launch point to know where to begin the production or writing process.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both! My home studio setup is primarily digital for convenience and workflow, but I do use analog preamps, compressors, tube mics, real guitar amps, and hardware synths alongside a variety of software and plugins. I love the sound of tape and transistors, so I use as many analog emulation plugins as I can in a session, and every once in awhile am lucky enough to track to tape in a commercial studio.