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Interview with Todd Burke
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I moved to Los Angeles in 1994 and began assisting at Grandmaster Recorders and a bit at Sound City. I assisted for a couple years and was very lucky to have Sylvia Massy take me under her wing for a time...I assisted a handful of records until Ben Harper hired me to engineer his third record. Some of his crew then hired me to make Jack Johnson’s first record and from there I pecked out a couple decades of records at Sunset Sound and Sound Factory, many with producer Tony Hoffer....a few with Justin Meldal-Johnson and others. And for the last 5 years I’ve been working on a lot of film scores with an old buddy of mine Mike Andrews.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: All any of us can do is bring perspective. Often, if coming on as a mixer, just being the guy with a fresh perspective sets me up to point out simple truths about what’s making a song work or not. I’ve been involved in what I consider to be some lovely records over the years and have watched and helped a lot of people craft recordings a lot of different ways. Ultimately we’re trying to create something moving.....I like to keep the focus on that...to help folks zoom out is rarely the wrong call. Anybody can eq a kick drum, you know? And as far as mixing goes.....it’s all balance. I’m deeply versed in analog recording and approach the protools mixer in that way. Balance, gain structure, keeping the fi high (or not) is rarely about adding more plugins per track. I’m a less is more guy....maybe a bit of a purist even.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I've got a Protools-based, hybrid mix setup which can be fed through a custom Aurora Audio rig consisting of a 24 channel discreet mixer (GTM-822 + (2) GTM-822-GN Expansion Units) which shares the 2Buss of a 10 channel Aurora Sidecar. This creates a lovely Neve-like stereo buss (with a bit less mush), as well as 10 channels of hardware insertable Sidecar channels which house my favorite equalizer in the world. I'm certainly not saying it's all about the gear, but when a big fat 2Buss is appropriate, it does come through.I work on a lot of film underscores as well.....so I’m setup to do 5.1 or 7.1 mixing. I mix primarily in ProTools but have a really lovely summing network when appropriate. I’ve got a mix of analog processing and plugins, though the analog gear is being swapped out for plugins at an alarming rate.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: There’s little I love more than seeing a project through from preproduction to mastering. I’m able to do that less and less these days however with my own family obligations (I’m a dad above all else) as well as the sort of evolved way that most artists work these days. So, more often than not, I’m quite happy mixing at my place and collaborating remotely. If you’re in LA, by all means come by! But if you’re elsewhere there are several ways for us to work together efficiently.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Every project is different of course....I’m a little more old-school than some in my feeling that I provide a service and try to bend as much as I can go keep folks feeling positive. Whatever gets us there I guess.