Recording Connection Goes Backstage at The Grammys!
Billy Flores, Recording Connection graduate and Live Sound mentor recently went backstage at the Grammys to get an in-depth view of what really goes into making the music industry’s most important show of the year a sweet-sounding sonic success! Here are excerpts from a few of the industry professionals Billy got to interview.
A conversation with Mixing Engineer Legend Mick Guzauski
First stop on the tour was none other than Mick Guzauski, the multi-platinum mixing engineer and sound engineer, who, this year, is consulting on the mix for none other than a little-known duo Daft Punk. He’s worked the awards show before, has been to the Grammys a few times and yeah, he’s won a few too.
BF: So how’d you land the Grammy gig?
Guzauski: Chris Caswell, the keyboard player on the record, he and I go back a long time, we’ve worked together a lot and they were looking for an engineer who had experience with acoustic kind of dance music back in the 80s and also [who’s] still working with modern records also and so they wanted someone who’s experience spanned a few decades of music and so he [Chris] recommended me and they looked me up and here I am.
BF: Well you’re legendary. Everybody knows who you are.
Guzauski laughs, nonchalantly.
BF: What’s your favorite project?
Guzauski: That’s impossible to answer.
BF: Give me your top two.
Guzauski: Right now I love the Daft Punk record. It’s very successful, it’s a lot of fun to work on. If it’s a good project, currently what I’m working on usually becomes my favorite. I’ve done some really nice projects with Eric Clapton. Back Home was a very nice experience. I worked on a Stanley Clarke album back in the 80s that was just a lot of fun.
Billy was off to talk to FOH (Front of House) mixer Ron Reaves.
BF: How’s it been going for you this year?
Reaves: It’s going well this year. We’ve had a lot more last minute input changes which throws us for a little bit of a curve but so far, so good.
BF: How many inputs are you running in the Front of House?
Reaves: I land 168. I’ve got access to about 400.
BF: And you’re using at Digico SD7.
Reaves: SD7, yes.
BF: And there’s two Front of House mixers on this monitor position, so the other board is an SD10?
BF: What’s happened here during rehearsals that’s gone really well or gone really bad?
BF: Reaves: Well, it’s all gone really well Billy.
BF: We just saw Daft Punk. You were mixing that?
BF: They sounded really great.
Reaves: When you start with that good as source sounds, with that good of musicians it’s hard to screw it up.
BF: How many years have you been doing the Grammys?
Reaves: This is year 12 and I’m the new guy. Most of the guys on the audio crew have been here twenty some odd years.
After that, Billy got to hear Daft Punk and Stevie Wonder do one last run-through of their performance and he was off to talk to Michael Abbott, the Grammy Awards Audio Coordinator who makes all the audio come together year after year.
BF: If you don’t mind, could you explain what your job is in this position?
Abbott: I’m the overall audio coordinator for the project. I’ve been doing it for 28 years with the show in various positions. Behind you is the audio infrastructure for the show for signal distribution. There’s probably 360 pairs of audio maltz distributing signals to a broadcast truck upstairs by fiber, a production truck by fiber, two front of house consoles and two stage fallback digital consoles. Everything is digital based at the point to which we go into the distribution snakes with Digico consoles Calrec consoles and Avid Grace preamps.
BF: Now are you using SD7’s or 10’s?
Abbott: It’s a combination of both. It’s 10 at the front house mixes a 7 for the music mix and two 7s for the fallback.
BF: And how long did it take to setup everything here?
Abbott: We’ve been here for three days and we’ll be here for another three days and this is our second day of 10-hour-day rehearsals.
BF: And how has it been going for you?
Abbott: We’re on schedule and everyone is happy leaving which is the second criteria, you know, we want it to be a pleasant experience for the engineers that visit the show because we have a lot at stake as they do.
Thanks to The Recording Academy for inviting Recording Connection backstage at The Grammys! We appreciate getting to learn more, firsthand, about everything that goes into making The Grammys. On behalf of our many apprentices (externs) worldwide, we thank you!