A couple of months ago I did an interview with producer/engineer/industry extraordinare, Mike Sapone, and after having some issues I am finally posting it. Thank you very much to Mike for taking them time to do the interview, and thank you to everyone who doesn’t mind the fact that there is no picture/graphic to go with it!
-For those that don’t know, please introduce yourself and describe what it is you do.
My name is Mike Sapone. my current occupation is Music producer and/or recording engineer/mixer/programmer. I live in New York-USA. On my latest project i had the pleasure of working with Brand New on The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me.
-Describe some of the typical duties a producer is responsible for. What is your average day like?
Generally a producer can help with song arrangements/structures, suggest sounds/tones to fit a song or idea, help inspire an artist to create and complete their vision.
Depending on the project: a day or week can consist of a variety of activities: recording music, mixing music, editing music, mapping out click tracks, microphone shoot outs, listening to demos for possible changes or keepers etc…
-What is the difference between pre-production and production?
Pre-production is preparation for the final recordings, to see what works and what does not, whether it be live rehearsal or elaborate recordings, this is the first time decisions are made towards arrangement and song structure. In some cases if you really love something on pre production recordings you fly it into the album version if possible.
-When did you realize this was what you wanted to do for the rest of your life? Did any aspects of your childhood lead to this career choice?
I listened to a lot of radio growing up; I started playing drums at 13, 4-track cassette recorder around 16, later on the tascam 16 track reel-to-reel and mixing console etc.
-What do you think is currently the biggest flaw in the music industry? How can it be fixed?
It’s no secret there have been flaws in the industry for decades, and in recent years technology has made things even more complicated. It seems there are two sides to the music-downloading dilemma; I am undecided. We are in a long transition where the end may or may not be close.
-Do you think it is easier or more difficult to get a job in the music business nowadays than it was 10 or 20 years ago? (Easier because there are more labels out there; harder because of the amount of competition?)
There’s just more options now, the internet has helped create new opportunities for many new music industry entrepreneurs to reach the public in a way that was not possible 20 years ago. My answer is easier!
-What do you think is the most common myth surrounding the music industry?
MYTH? Maybe it’s not the answer your looking for but I like this one:
In the late nineteen sixties, Doors’ singer Jim Morrison founded a publishing company named Zeppelin Publishing Company with the help of the legal department of Warner Brothers Pictures and Atlantic Records. According to promotions for Zeppelin, “Jim wanted to get his hands on the trademark ‘Zeppelin’ before Led Zeppelin did. He did this while everyone in America knew who the Doors were, but before the other rock group was well known…” Zeppelin Publishing Company was chartered and put into hibernation for later resurrection.
-Describe your favorite memory you’ve experienced while working in the industry.
Studio occasions when the energy or vibe of the song coming out of the speakers just hits you a certain way, no matter how many times you replay it in the session, it seems to sound stronger and more exciting; those moments are my favorite.
-What do you consider to be the greatest accomplishment of your career and why?
I feel lucky to have worked with so many talented people it’s tough to single out one. I can say the Public Enemy remix was a good time for me; I absolutely loved making that remix and have always enjoyed Public Enemy’s music and considered Chuck D a true icon.
-You’ve worked as a producer, mixer, engineer and programmer. Of those different jobs do you like best and why?
I enjoy all of these but if I had to pick, I guess programmer. I’ve been sequencing music since high school; it’s become a second nature for me to compose music on a computer with a sequencer/DAW. I’m a huge fan of both new and old school gear in creating music.
-If I’m correct, the first album you worked on was Stuttering John’s. How do you think you’ve evolved as a producer/engineer/mixer/etc since then?
For years I have worked and talked with other engineers, learning new ideas and methods is an endless road for me; I can only hope to evolve in a positive direction in the years to come.
-What is going on with Moleman? Will there be any more mixes in the future?
The latest effort was Men Women & Children’s Dance In My Blood (moleman remix); this is available on iTunes. There will be new moleman mixes in the future; people can visit saponetrax.com now and then for new info.
-What advice would you give to someone pursuing a career as a producer or even just a general industry job?
Reading gear magazines and ezines (eqmag.com, emusician.com) on a constant basis helped me out a lot. New products and technologies just move so fast, if you are in a control room for long periods of time you need to somehow keep up with what’s going on outside and stay current.
-Starting out, what was your one ultimate goal and do you think you’ve accomplished it yet?
I just wanted to keep making music. So far so good.