Up Close & Personal: Gregg Leonard

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A personal account of a thriving career in the studio

Producer, engineer, musician, composer, sound designer, and whatever different hat you possibly can possibly put on in a studio nonetheless doesn’t cowl the breadth of experience that encompasses Gregg Leonard.

Maintaining the human component of distant collaboration is a task we nonetheless find problematic and difficult regardless of the nice advances we’ve made since the onset of the pandemic.

A remote collaborator ahead of his time, we caught up with Gregg to discuss the important aspects and the modifications in the workflow, in addition to his hottest manufacturing suggestions in his years of experience.

Read up on all the latest interviews here.

Can you briefly tell us a little bit about yourself? What has your professional journey seemed like so far and how did you get started?

I was born within the Midwest of the US in Ohio and began playing professionally in clubs at age 16. Because it was an industrial part of the nation with shut proximity to cities such as Detroit and Chicago, the music tradition was a rich tapestry of styles starting from country, soul, jazz, the blues, funk, and naturally rock ‘n’ roll. I was lucky sufficient to be exposed to all of that in addition to having a chance to to cut my tooth by playing with accomplished older musicians.

Eventually I began focusing more on recording and manufacturing, studying the artwork of both in varied Detroit studios before co-founding a studio in Ann Arbor Michigan.

At this time I additionally started working in the movie and media business, first within the music supervision and sync world after which scoring. A couple of film tasks brought me to Australia for the first time a couple of years in the past and have brought lengthy standing collaborative relationships with many Aussie musos.

I have spent the final 14 years in Los Angeles working as a composer, sound designer, producer and music supervisor.

Working remotely feels like something everyone’s gotten across nicely and truly by now, but you’ve been doing it well earlier than the pandemic! What was the standard workflow like for you in the early days?

All the way again in 2005, while still dwelling in Ann Arbor, I scored an Australian film titled Feed. As you probably can think about, the internet was lots less robust in those days and shifting data around, especially large video recordsdata and multi observe audio deliverables, required patience and cautious planning. This was also pre-Zoom, Whatsapp and so forth. Pre smart telephone even, so managing logistics and workflow was tricky. Even with compressed video recordsdata, I must download for hours, then score to image before sending tracks to the modifying room in Sydney for approval. A lot of late nights making an attempt to navigate the 17-hour time difference!

I produced a quantity of tracks for the soundtrack utilizing some nice Aussie indie bands from that point. I had been in Sydney for part of the manufacturing and had the opportunity to cut tracks there before overdubbing and mixing them again in Detroit and Ann Arbor.

How do you keep the human component of a manufacturing when working like that? Have individuals been reluctant over the journey for that reason?

Film or media music lends itself extra easily to siloed work as long as there’s open communication and the power to reply rapidly and efficiently. Most of the session gamers I use for rating work are used to working remotely and are nicely geared up to do so.

In phrases of working with a band or an artist, many artists at the second are quite comfortable with a modular artistic course of and workflow. Many have really recognized no other means. I am nevertheless, very much a proponent of recording stay musicians and having gamers interacting together each time potential. I think actual magic can happen when you can reduce at least the rhythm beds that means. I recently finished producing a challenge with a proficient Los Angeles-based artist for which I assembled a fantastic rhythm part, cut the fundamentals live in a fantastic sound room, and have had players from Nashville, LA, and Australia contributing overdubs remotely. The best of both worlds.

Fast ahead to now, how do you interact remote collaborators with the streamlined expertise that we have out there for us?

Over the past couple of years, remote realtime collaborative platforms have come of age. The pandemic actually accelerated that. Providing the internet is respectable, I can conduct realtime mixing and even recording sessions remotely.

Recently I had a session the place the singer was in New York, my consumer was in San Francisco, and I was overseeing all of it from regional New South Wales. It’s a good distance from even a handful of years ago! Even setting the realtime facet apart, highly effective, cheap recording gear allows many proficient individuals to work remotely. I even have a database of great musicians from all around the world I can bring right into a project. For example whereas I was nonetheless in LA, I was able to bring an excellent Melbourne primarily based singer named Susie Ahern onto a project I was engaged on.

In your personal words, please describe your average production workflow and setup. What are you operating gear wise? Do you might have a space that you simply work out of?

Besides a handful of good mics and mic pres, I’m just about fully within the field these days and primarily use Pro Tools. I was fortunate sufficient to come back up within the era of analog recording however I’m now capable of to make very analog-sounding recordings and mixes in the digital realm.

If I do need a room to chop live musicians or do an in individual mix, there are a number of selection spots in LA I can use if I’m Stateside. As I’m now living in Australia full time, I really have started looking into areas here.

In phrases of workflow, if I am producing a observe for an artist or band, I’m a agency believer in pre-production, hopefully in person if attainable. We can then do every thing from basic to overdubs and mixing remotely if needed. Otherwise, I like to get in a room with a band and see if we can get some magic happening!

Film and media work often begins with a recognizing session with the director and attempting to ascertain the music themes and language for the project. From there it’s hold on and wait for some inspiration to hit!

Do you are inclined to work briefly bursts or marathon sessions? Where do you normally start? How are you aware when one thing is finished? Are there any production techniques that you just really feel are an essential part of your sound or process?

I have actually carried out my share of marathon sessions and sometimes nonetheless pull some long hours if there’s a deadline looming. I do wish to tempo issues for shorter, more environment friendly classes if attainable. Especially when working with musicians so folks don’t get burnt out and slip into diminishing outcomes. The complete course of starts with the music and discovering with the artist the best way to distill their intention and vision into making a great recording.

A great factor about digital, non-linear recording is that you have virtually countless potentialities and ability to fine tune a mix or efficiency. However, this is additionally the potential downside for a lot of causes. Having discovered the ropes in the analog age when irreversible selections had been part of the process, I developed an excellent sense of when to name things done and tips on how to choose a performance. Ultimately, a fantastic recording which is ready to contact people and stand the check of time is normally not one which has been tuned and tweaked to perfection, but hopefully one that captures the fantastic thing about sincere human expression.

What advice would you give to someone at any point in their music journey? 

We are in a very totally different and quickly evolving environment from when I started. On one degree, music also occupies a different place in mass tradition than during what many check with as its fashionable renaissance period from the ’50s through the mid noughties. In that period it advanced into a large-scale business and in some ways drove the tradition.

The business mannequin has been massively disrupted and it is nonetheless shaking out as to tips on how to develop income streams adequate for there to be a artistic class that can survive and thrive .

That being stated, there is lots of very fantastic music being made by people who are putting coronary heart and soul into its creation and there are nonetheless vast audiences of people that need to hear it.

The evolution from analog to non-linear digital recording was an enormous change each in how recordings had been created as well as in many ways, altering the very nature of efficiency.

The emergence of AI instruments could have an equally if no more profound effect.

It is as much as artists to make use of these items to facilitate and aid music creation, not automate and dehumanise it. That being mentioned, there are whole genres of music which might be being changed endlessly by this.

One factor I also try to stress is that music is not “content”. It’s something significantly better than that.

Is there anything you might have arising or have accomplished recently that’s exciting? 

I have simply completed projects with a few great LA-based artists. I’m also currently music supervising a documentary challenge about a legendary jazz and soul trumpet participant named Marcus Belgrave. These music docs are so fun to work on as I get to placed on a quantity of totally different hats.

Last 12 months I made a little bit of history by creating the primary NFT for a function movie score for my work on a movie called Triumph. Beyond the entire pleasure of the collectible market, I’m very interested in the utilization of NFTs and blockchain registration for IP protection and rights management. It’s important for all of us impartial creators on the market. The Triumph NFT represents a marker on the timeline of adoption for those purposes.

Apart from the music and film world, I am partners in an organization, AVA Inclusivity, which has developed and patented a software software that provides digitally accessible navigation for people who discover themselves disabled to access web-based 3D environments such as virtual excursions. I’m proud that we’re getting prepared to launch in Australia.

Find more info on Gregg Leonard right here.

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