I've always wanted to have my card say something like Code Janitor
How did you come to Universal Audio?
Oh, that's an interesting story. I was auditioning bass players, and Will Shanks (Universal Audio's analog product manager) actually had come out to audition, and it turns out the studio he was operating, currently called Ear to the Ground, was a studio that I had recorded in back when Tim Beverly had the space. So it turned out that we had something in common. I found out that he worked at UA, and at the time I had left the graphics world and was trying to figure out what I wanted next. I asked him if I applied in the future if he would do me a favor and just put the résumé on the desk of the person who needed to see it, and he said sure. So maybe six or nine months later, I contacted him and said, "Hey, is your offer still good?" And he said, "Yeah, sure." So I gave him a résumé, and he put it on Joe Bryan's desk, and Joe said, "I gotta have this guy."
So you are a musician?
Yes, my main instrument is the guitar, and voice, and then some piano. I'm actively recording, and I perform on and off. I have staged that back a bit ever since I've had my kids. My heyday, as it were, was probably seven or eight years ago, as far as being out there a lot. My favorite shows were opening for Kansas, Brand X, and I.Q. My current project is the band 42.
Did you live in Santa Cruz before you started working at UA?
Yeah, I sure did. I went to school at UCSC, so I have pretty much been a resident since 1983.
What's your favorite part of your job?
I like creating tools.
Do you use the tools?
Oh, yeah. I have my own studio.
That must be satisfying.
Yeah. That is a great part of it, but so is knowing you're building something and you're working with a group of people who really want to make something of quality. I think that's one of the biggest things: Dave Berners and Jonathan Abel create incredible algorithms, and I feel really privileged to work with them, to work with the guys on the team that basically says, "OK, we're going to build this into a tool that people can use." When it's a plug-in that emulates an existing piece of hardware, it's not quite as challenging, because the hardware already figured out a lot of the stuff. But some of the plug-ins have been really challenging, because no one had ever really done them on the computer the way we wanted to. I like that part of it. I like the challenge and the creative process a lot. It's not music, but it has a lot of similarities to it, actually. Kind of the whole creative space. You don't know quite what the solution is, and you need to get creative about it and work with a group of people to come up with the result.
Has your graphics background been helpful in your current job?
My graphics background is useful for developing the software here because the graphics world tends to be on the cutting edge. It's nice to have gone down the graphics road and to be able now to apply what I've learned in the graphics world to my passion for audio and music.
Do you want to tell me about your family? You have how many kids?
My wife Lisa and I have two kids. I have my daughter Madison, who just turned six, and Gabriel, who's going to be two next month.
Upcoming Events. . .
The AES Pro Audio Expo & Convention returns to Paris, France, May 20-23. UA is planning some very exciting announcements for this show, but that's all we can say without getting fired. Booth 1828.
Universal Audio is once again a title sponsor of TapeOpCon. This year's conference, dubbed "Camp Tape Op," will take place in Tucson, Arizona, June 16-18. TapeOpCon is a unique conference with events like the "Build Your Own EQ" workshop and a Potluck Studio where top engineers and producers will demonstrate their miking techniques and signal path choices while recording instruments and musicians in real time.
As we go to press, Dave Crane, Erica McDaniel, and Matt Ward are finishing up another exciting Musikmesse. More on that next month!
Producer Chris Vrenna
Jennifer Lopez with Engineer Bruce Swedien.