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Thursday, April 15, 2010

6 Questions With Engineer Benny Faccone

10 time Grammy winner Benny Faccone may be the king of the Latin engineers, since he's worked with every major Latin artist from Santana to Ricky Martin to Luis Miguel to Mexican supergroup Mana. We go back a long way together, originally connecting at Berklee College in Boston a lot more years ago than either of us want to admit.

What makes Benny a star in the Latin world is he brings American rock sensibilities to the music, providing a sound as good as any record on the charts anywhere. Benny recently opened his new studio called "The Cavern" named after his love for The Beatles as he ventures more into production. You can find out a lot more at his website. I'm pleased that he consented to this week's "6 Questions."

1) How did you break into the business?
This question is kind of difficult to explain because the business is so dIfferent than when I tried to break in. In a way, it was easier because there was a place to go and learn the trade, meaning at the professional studios like A&M (where I got my start), Capitol, Oceanway, and many more.

I started out at Berklee College in Boston, and when I graduated I know I wanted to be where the actIon was in LA. I came to here knocking on doors, but the doors here at the time were very obvious since the studio system was still around. I made the rounds, and with a connection from a Berklee graduate, I got an interview at A&M studio's where I ended up working for 6 years, learning from a lot of incredible engineers about the art of great recording and mixing. At that studio, I was able to build my client list up to where I could go freelance and work in the same studios where I started. Today I get Berklee graduates coming to me for recommendations, and the only place I can send them to are home studios where they are basically personal assistants or pro tools operators to a producer.

2) What makes you unique?
I think what make me different from other mixers is how I like to hear music. Everyone has their own "sound" and you can hear influences from certain mixers, but after a while I developed my own style in how I hear instruments blend together.

I work a lot in Latin music, but I approach it like I would American music. I try and blend vocals and music as a piece. These days Latin music is all about vocals, and basically the music is gone. They don't care about what the music sounds like as long as the snare and vocals are loud. Everything else doesn't seem to matter.

3) Who was your biggest influence?
My biggest influences were and are still are Bruce Swedien, Al Schmidt, and all those great engineers who took pride in making a good sounding record that has emotion. I learned a lot from Don Hahn, who was my mentor. He was incredible at blending orchestras in minutes. Bruce Swedien was also a big influence. I had the privilege to work wIth Bruce right after he did the "Thriller" album with Michael Jackson. His thing was about a track having a groove and punch.

4) What's the best thing about your job?
I guess the best thing about my job today is still having the opportunIty to go to great studio to record and mix. Although I have my own studio to record and mix in, it's still great to remember how good things could sound when you're working with great gear.

5) When and where were you the happiest?
I think that is a day to day thing in this business. When a song or record is finished it's like giving birth to a child. Also on a day when a session goes well it could be a very happy feeling.

6) What's the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best piece of advice I was given was, "Whatever you do, try and make it the best you can and something you can be proud of."

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