Interviews

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Sasha Matson  |  May 15, 2024  |  1 comments
Photo: D. Darr

Sasha Matson: Good morning from Cooperstown, home of baseball. Do you follow baseball?

Charles Lloyd: I played first base. I'm left-handed.

Matson: Does this new album, The Sky Will Still Be There Tomorrow, feel special to you?

Lloyd: It does indeed.

Mike Mettler  |  Mar 06, 2024  |  14 comments
Photo By Adam Taylor

Steven Wilson loves changing the minds of spatial audio skeptics. He's the go-to Dolby Atmos and 5.1 mixmaster for many heritage artists, new-wave bands, and alternative acts. Best known for leading the post-prog collective Porcupine Tree, releasing a score of genre-stretching solo albums, and serving as a key creative contributor to such experimental groups as No-Man and Blackfield, Wilson's approach is simple: bring them into his studio and let the music do the talking.

Tom Fine  |  Aug 22, 2023  |  2 comments
The wall of Gold and Platinum Disc Awards, as displayed at the Gateway Mastering website.

In Part 1 of this interview, which announced that famed mastering engineer Bob Ludwig was retiring, Ludwig discussed his early days as a music-loving student, as a trumpet player, his graduation from Eastman College with a Master's degree in music performance, and how working with legendary engineer and producer Phil Ramone at A&R Studio awakened his interest in how records are made. In this second part, Ludwig talks about how he moved to Sterling Sound, then to Masterdisk, and finally how and why he set up his own studio, Gateway Mastering Studios in Portland, Maine.

Tom Fine  |  Aug 21, 2023  |  7 comments
Photo: Peter Luehr

If album sales, longevity of career, position on the leading edge of audio technology, reputation in the music business, and involvement in many of the most important albums in history are the measurements, Bob Ludwig is the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) of music mastering.

"I'm an old goat, anyway," he joked during our multiday, many-hours conversation, centered around his recent retirement announcement and his five-plus decades as a mastering engineer.

If Bob Ludwig is the Michael Jordan of music mastering—and the case can definitely be made—then this is big news. I'll repeat it for emphasis: Bob Ludwig is retiring. Ludwig stopped taking new work on June 30, 2023.

Ken Micallef  |  Aug 09, 2023  |  0 comments
Photo by Meredith Truax

23 year-old Samara Joy is the recipient of the 2023 Grammy Awards for best new artist and best jazz vocal album. Her 2022 sophomore outing, Linger Awhile (Verve), is a jubilant celebration of The American Songbook. Her warm, velvet-dark vocal tone, graceful swing sense, and intuitive interpretations provide a master class in classic jazz fundamentals.

Joy owns the past but also the present. On her TikTok channel, "Samarajoysings," she has accumulated 585,100 Followers and 4.3 million Likes. The channel documents performances of such standards as "A Foggy Day," "Guess Who I Saw Today," an a capella "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and a sublime "Round Midnight," delivered in multi-octave glory. Old and new, together. Read that last bit again, about TikTok. That Joy is popular with jazz fans will surprise no one who has heard her music. That she has won such a following on a platform dominated by 10–19-year-olds—mainly by singing 70-year-old songs—boggles the mind.

Robert Baird  |  Aug 02, 2023  |  4 comments
Photo by Reinout Bos

Audio engineers never get the credit they deserve. The same is true for music arrangers, who are also an unheralded but hugely fundamental part of any musical success. As a composer, conductor, and inventive arranger of popular music, the modest but multitalented Vince Mendoza says he's most focused on enhancing the song he is arranging and the story it is trying to tell.

"Young arrangers are very concerned with their own voice and spinning their own melodies and turning things upside down and backwards, and they forget what a song really is about," he told me in a recent Zoom conversation from his home in Los Angeles. "You could be writing about heartbreak, and there are a million and one ways to tell that story, but the listener still has to feel it."

Tony Scherman  |  Jun 06, 2023  |  0 comments
In 2009, Robbie Fulks decided to make a change. For almost 20 years, the singer/songwriter had led a series of hard-hitting country-rock bands across America and beyond, his blistering guitar chops and madcap levity (the latter frequently testing, if not violating, standards of taste) winning him a modest-sized but ardent fan base.

"I was fatigued from what I'd been doing," Fulks told me recently via Zoom, sitting in his kitchen in Atwater Village, a Los Angeles neighborhood between Glendale and Burbank. "Me on acoustic guitar, with electric guitar, bass guitar and drums, that was my sound for something like 13 years. I was so tired of it, I was actually thinking of doing something other than music."

Julie Mullins  |  May 22, 2023  |  3 comments
Even if Darren Myers's name isn't familiar, you still may have heard—or at least heard about—hi-fi components he designed, including the PS Audio Stellar phono preamp, which garnered Stereophile's Analog Product of the Year Award in 2020.

After working on projects for Classé and Bowers & Wilkins, Myers was hired by PS Audio, where he ended his tenure as senior analog design engineer. Myers recently joined Parasound (footnote 1) following the company's acquisition by David Sheriff.

Mike Mettler  |  May 10, 2023  |  2 comments
Few people make albums about isolation and loneliness sound as appealing as John Doe does. That's what Doe has achieved with his latest solo release, Fables in a Foreign Land (LP, Fat Possum FP 18001). Set as a song cycle in the 1890s, the album's 13 songs reflect Doe's penchant for dust-and-diesel storytelling, within an acoustic-trio format. It's "telling stories and playing music around the modern campfire," Doe said in an interview.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 04, 2023  |  5 comments
On a warm day in September 2022, alongside 40 or so press colleagues, I was treated to an advance demonstration of the Dolby Atmos mix of The Beatles' Revolver, at Republic Studios on Broadway In New York City's midtown. Producer/mixer Giles Martin—son of original Beatles producer Sir George Martin—was our host. Giles Martin's demeanor was self-deprecating, and he seemed to know all there is to know about the Beatles and their productions. As Martin played songs from Revolver in surround sound, the assembled group seemed amazed by what they heard.
Tony Scherman  |  Mar 08, 2023  |  6 comments
As Vilray Bolles marched down Manhattan's Second Avenue on a rainy afternoon late in 2014, participating in a demonstration against police brutality, he slipped on the wet pavement, fell hard on his right hand, and broke his pinky. For a guitarist, a broken finger can be a major, if not catastrophic, setback. But the gods were smiling on Bolles. He was, in fact, a lapsed guitarist, having all but abandoned hopes of a musical career, and the universe was giving him a nudge, not just back into music but into a collaboration with Rachael Price, one of contemporary pop's great vocalists, who, when she isn't singing cabaret jazz with Bolles, fronts the headlining rock band Lake Street Dive.
Mike Mettler  |  Feb 08, 2023  |  2 comments
Dave Alvin is a fighter. In the 1980s, when Dave and his older brother, Phil Alvin, shared studio and stage as co-founders of Los Angeles punkabilly band The Blasters, they frequently fought each other. They also fought musically, tussling over every note as the four-man band wrangled many great tunes. In that respect, their working relationship may have been similar to the sibling push-pull output of Ray and Dave Davies in the Kinks and Liam and Noel Gallagher in Oasis. Consider "American Music," "Marie Marie," and "Border Radio," all from the band's 1981 sophomore album The Blasters, as examples of how internal conflict can lead to successful collaboration.
Ken Micallef  |  Jan 11, 2023  |  5 comments
Bassist Ron Carter, world-renowned musician and most-recorded jazz bassist of all time, said in an interview for Stereophile's Musicians as Audiophiles that he sees himself not just as a bassist but also as a scientist, forever striving to understand and perfect the sound of his recordings. Chile-born saxophonist Melissa Aldana, a stunningly expressive jazz musician, shows similar dedication to her art, studiously investigating the century-long history of the genre.
Michael Fremer  |  Jan 10, 2023  |  First Published: May 01, 2017  |  0 comments
In November 2016, the Berlin Philharmonic made a stunning record-release announcement: a boxed set of all four Brahms symphonies, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, on six LPs, recorded and mastered direct to disc in September 2014. The release would be limited to 1833 sets—a quantity chosen in honor of the year of the composer's birth—at a price of €499 per set.
Mike Mettler  |  Dec 15, 2022  |  1 comments
Jeff Tweedy is an artist who transcends time. Wait—let me clarify that. Tweedy, the multi-hyphenate singer, songwriter, guitarist, and co-producer for the midwestern-bred alt-rocking Americana band Wilco, has spent the bulk of his career creating music that crosses the divides between past, present, and future.

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