John Greenham Q&A

Jul 9, 2010 2:53 PM, By Matt Gallagher

Polls


Education Guide

Mix is gearing up to present its longstanding annual Audio Education Guide in its November 2014 issue. Want to have your school listed in the directory, or do you need to update your current directory listing? Add an image, program description, or a logo to your listing! Get your school in the Mix Education Guide 2014.

John Greenham pictured in his mastering room at 1340 Mission with his Magix Sequoia workstation and Barefoot Mastering Stack

John Greenham pictured in his mastering room at 1340 Mission with his Magix Sequoia workstation and Barefoot Mastering Stack

San Francisco–based mastering engineer John Greenham has quietly amassed a wealth of album credits for artists in numerous musical genres. He earned Grammy recognition in 2006 and 2007 for his mastering work with Mexico’s Los Tigres Del Norte (Best Norteño Albums) and mixing work on Peruvian singer Pamela Rodriguez’s Peru Blue, for which she received a 2006 Grammy nomination as Best New Latin Artist. In 2009, Greenham moved his operations from The Annex in Menlo Park, Calif., to San Francisco’s 1340 Mission studio complex. Mix visited with Greenham in April as he was preparing to launch the next phase of his business.

ONLINE EXTRAS

READ:
John Greenham Expanded Interview

How did you come to join 1340 Mission?
This room became available again, and this is my second tour of duty here. I’ve always loved working in this room. I was here in 2000. Paul Stubblebine, Michael Romanowski and I built these two mastering rooms. We were all associated with Rocket Lab in the late ’80s—that’s the common thread. The room was designed by [acoustical consultant] Bob Hodas, so it’s properly built. It’s fun to work in. A lot of big records have been made in this building. It has a good feeling about it.

How does your business fit into the complex?
I’m actually putting together a Website called Essential Mastering [along] with Robert Cross, a young engineer whose work I like. With all the [projects that are] being done in garages and living rooms nowadays, more than ever there is a need for an accurate monitoring environment to finish projects in. This is the best rig I’ve ever used for mastering. The stuff’s coming out great and I want more people to know we’re here.

What is your take on the loudness wars?
I try to discourage people to just go for loudness. But at the same time, people on the sales end want it to be aggressive. Also, I have two teenage daughters—who, to me, represent the record-buying public—and I see what happens with them: If the music doesn’t get their attention in some way within the first 10 seconds, it’s gone! It has to have impact right away; otherwise, not only are they not going to listen to it, they’re going to hit the Delete button! [Laughs] Part of the reason for that is loudness. So my job is to not let that happen to the artist if I can. Like anything else, [loudness is] an art form. The technology has gotten better, I think, over the last 10 years or so. As Chuck Prophet said when he was here recently, “We have to be competitive, but responsible.”

Is it now easier to keep tracks sounding good while applying compression?
I think digital devices have improved. Very often, my method involves using tape, which deals with the transients in a very musical way. Basically I get the analog flavor in everything and then I make fine adjustments with the plug-ins. Digital audio is in fact far more difficult to get right than analog because it’s so completely unforgiving.

What have you learned as a mastering engineer?
Making a record is a constant learning process. Every piece of music has some beauty in it—that’s what I learned from [composer/pianist/percussionist] Omar Sosa. And there’s beauty in ugliness, too, if that’s what the idea is. As a mastering engineer, you’ve got to give it some love, allow it to speak to people, and get all the technical stuff out of the way. 






Acceptable Use Policy
blog comments powered by Disqus

Mix Books

Modern Recording and Mixing

This 2-DVD set will show you how the best in the music industry set up a studio to make world-class records. Regardless of what gear you are using, the information you'll find here will allow you to take advantage of decades of expert knowledge. Order now $39.95

Mastering Cubase 4

Electronic Musician magazine and Thomson Course Technology PTR have joined forces again to create the second volume in their Personal Studio Series, Mastering Steinberg's Cubase(tm). Edited and produced by the staff of Electronic Musician, this special issue is not only a must-read for users of Cubase(tm) software, but it also delivers essential information for anyone recording/producing music in a personal-studio. Order now $12.95

Newsletters

MixLine

Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine takes you straight into the studio, with new product announcements, industry news, upcoming events, recent recording/post projects and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

MixLine Live

Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine Live takes you on the road with today's hottest tours, new sound reinforcement professional products, recent installs, industry news and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The Wire, a virtual press conference offering postings of the latest gear and music news, direct from the source. Visit the The Wire for the latest press postings.