During the month of January, we’re reviewing some of our favorite posts from 2012. Back in March, Jonathan Trask’s interview of top-shelf producer Warren Huart yielded some great insights about the music industry in general. We thought it was worth taking another look. -Ed.
To put it lightly—L.A. music producer/engineer Warren Huart is a very busy guy.
Between having an ownership stake in multiple recording studios (most notably Swing House Studios in Hollywood) and having multiple projects on the burner at any given moment, Huart is always on the go. His recording and production credits include The Fray, Better Than Ezra, Howie Day, Korn, James Blunt, Daniel Powter and a host of others. (This interview was conducted by phone as Huart was driving to Swing House to do some work on the new Aerosmith record.)
As if that weren’t enough, Warren Huart is a natural mentor who is passionate about teaching his craft to others. (One of his protégés recently took home a Grammy for his work on Adele 21.) So when producer Tim Palmer told him about the Recording Connection program, it was a perfect fit—and nowadays, Huart says he only accepts apprentices who come through the Recording Connection.
Huart was gracious enough to answer some questions for us, and as we talked, I could definitely hear his passion, not only for his work, but also for training up others in the music industry.
MIMO: You’ve mentored numerous Recording Connection students. Do you keep in touch with them? What are some of your students doing these days?
W.H.: I can’t remember how many I’ve had…I’m going to pick a number, but I think it’s probably, like twelve, in the past year, and ten of them I keep in very good contact with. We have a pretty good success rate. Ten of them really got it, they really stuck in there…two of them are full time employees of mine. One is working with me on the Aerosmith record, for instance, [and] next week, he’s gonna be recording Tenacious D, so he’s turned into a full-time engineer. Another [of my students] is basically doing mainly P.A. work, which is he really wanted to do… Another guy started his own business and is producing acts, and obviously two or three of them are still with me [as students] as well.
MIMO: What is your favorite part of the recording/producing process?
W.H.: I have to do everything, as much as I can. I’m one of those people that if I’m not exceptionally busy, if I’m not running really fast, I feel like I’m going backwards. Often I play guitar on my recordings, or keyboards. I played piano on Daniel Powter’s stuff; I played the guitar on James Blunt’s stuff…it’s part of the whole process, I have to do as much as I can, so there’s no one single element, I just love doing it all. And I relish every moment. On Aerosmith, I’m the engineer and the mixer, but on other records I’m all of those things, and I’m a songwriter, and I’m a producer, so it’s all great. I know it sounds like a standard answer, but it’s the truth–I just like to be very busy.
MIMO: What prompted you to work with and endorse the Recording Connection?
W.H.: It takes care of a lot of people that fall through the cracks…The thing that attracts me about the program the most is that you can give people individual, one-on-one attention that can’t be done in the classroom. My philosophy is that I don’t put [my students] into position to fail…it allows me to focus on what they need.
MIMO: What advice would you give someone who wants to be an audio engineer or music producer about how to break into the business?
W.H.: You ought to focus on what you want. If you want to break into the music industry, you have to do music; you can’t wait for somebody to give you something–you have to be doing something…I think at any level, if you want to get into the music industry, you have to be doing it…if you hold yourself back with, “Well, I don’t have the right equipment,” well, all the best records that were ever made, they weren’t necessarily made on the best equipment. Sometimes they were just made in the most random kind of way….Led Zeppelin I was made on an 8-track, and the first Beatles record was done on a 4-track…Nothing about the equipment somebody owns, whether it be the basic version of Pro Tools or even Garage Band on their laptop–nothing should stop them from being able to do what they do. So my advice is, just get stuck in, start doing it, don’t be afraid to fail. What do they say? “Risk may produce failure, but success does not come without it.”