Tony Maserati

Oct 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Blair Jackson

NEW YORK MIX KING HEADING WEST?

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Oh, well, it's worth the risk, I trust.

Absolutely! You have to take chances.

Blair Jackson is Mix's senior editor.

Jason Mraz Weighs in on Maserati

The Jason Mraz album that Tony Maserati mixed, We Sing, We Dance, We Play Things, was a huge hit last year (and this year), and even earned a Record of the Year Grammy nomination for the song “I'm Yours.” We caught up with the perennially touring Mraz in Indiana recently to ask him a couple of questions about Maserati's mixing.

When you were cutting the album with Martin Terefe and Dyre Gormsen, were they doing rough mixes along the way so there was, in essence, a template of how you wanted the record to sound?

Absolutely. If we worked on a song that day, I would go home with a rough mix that night to know what we got. We kind of mixed as we went, so we were always able to listen to the record as we had it in front of us. Then it wasn't until we gave it to Tony that he really tore the whole thing apart and revealed some gorgeous new arrangements.

Tell me about the decision to hire Tony. I don't think he was an obvious first choice.

I know [Atlantic CEO] Craig Kallman and Martin were big fans of Tony; they love the guy! And I think they thought the album might be a little too light, so they thought, “If we send it to Tony, we know he can really bring out the rhythmic aspect of this album.” But what they didn't expect was for Tony to be a fan and for him to really take so much care on this record. I think what he really paid attention to were the stories that were being told and the messages that were woven into the music. He gave us a new perspective.

He worked a lot on the arrangements, took a lot of our layers out, moved things around. “I'm Yours” is the best example. The arrangement that you hear on the radio and on the album is really Tony's arrangement. He tried little things like bringing in the drums later, dropping them out again in the third verse and a different use of layering instruments we had added. He really stripped that song down to be more like the original demo, which was just guitar and vocals. He did a great job of capturing that, maintaining the truth in the song.

Was it shocking when a mix comes back to you and all of a sudden a part is missing?

No, I was relieved. It could've been a shock, but I was so in love with the way Tony was mixing the record and really taking control of these songs as, ultimately, the first listener. He was taking liberties that were extraordinary.

And he said you were frank with him when you didn't like something.

I remember getting into a little debate with him one time — there was this scat in “Butterfly” that I wrote with the song. Well, on his first mix, the scat was gone, it was just an instrumental section. I said, “No, no, no, we can't have that!” And he was pretty adamant about why it was important to drop that out because then when my voice comes back later, it's even bigger and stronger. We went back and forth, but finally he left it in there. I won that one. [Laughs] But all in all, he was fantastic to work with.






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