MIX ENGINEER JR MCNEELY
"The best producers in my opinion have these three things in common: They are great musicians, great communicators, and have a great sense of humor. Ken Mary has all three."
-JR McNeely, Grammy Award Winning Engineer
TRIK TURNER - DOUG MOORE
"He's [Ken Mary] a really talented producer, musician, engineer...whatever needs to get done, Ken can do it. He gets the best out of a band."
-Doug Moore - Trik Turner
MUSIC PRODUCER MICHAEL WAGENER
"Ken is a great producer, musician and singer...he has a number of talents in many different areas which really brings out the best in the artists he produces."
-Michael Wagener, Producer (Ozzy Osbourne, Janet Jackson Metallica)
Q: What are some of your general philosophies as a record producer?
A: My philosophy in producing is really that (as a producer) you are there to do the best job of capturing the artist’s vision. I don’t think anyone knows the artist as well as the artists themselves. It is their musical expression that is going to be set before the world. They are the ones who will have to go out and play those songs for months at a time. I believe my job is to develop their vision and present it in the best possible light. Now, of course, if an artist or company comes to me with the task of completely changing their direction because they want to do something new, I can certainly do that as well. I do think that is something you do when you are asked to do that and not otherwise.
Q: In the press you have sometimes been called an “up and coming” producer. After all your experience, how do you feel about that?A: I don’t mind at all. I have always been involved in production since I was a teenager, but have been producing other artists for a only about 6 years. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me.
Q: Many of the people in the music industry are famous for having huge egos. Why do you think that is?A: There is really no need for inflated egos. I think all of us, especially those that have had some level of success in the industry, feel that they know something about this business. Yeah, there are things you can learn, but one has to evolve with a changing industry. Also, unless you have the unique gift of accurately (and I mean accurately) predicting the future, you cannot say what will be or won’t be a hit. I have seen huge corporations gamble millions and fail. Other’s they didn’t think had a chance end up being the biggest thing on the planet. The truth is this: no one really knows what or who is going to be the next “big” next month or next year. Everyone takes their best shot, makes the best music they can and hopes that their music really connects.
Q: How do you think an artist should approach the music business since it is always changing?A: This kind of ties in with what I just said. Since constant change is a given in this business, my suggestion to artists is this: do the music you love and that moves you personally. Don’t try to jump on anyone’s bandwagon. By the time you jump it has already moved on. Make the music that inspires you and the chances are it will touch other people as well. If you as the artist aren’t feeling the music you make, why should it connect emotionally with anyone else?
Q: Some people have mentioned your sense of humor. Why is that?A: Just so you know, I have a pretty dry sense of humor that tends to be more, well...English. Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” would be a good example of “English” humor. There are a few times this has gotten me in trouble with some people that couldn’t tell if I was joking on a particular matter and didn’t share the same sense of humor. Just thought I’d let you know ahead of time.
Q: What exactly does a producer do?A: A producer fills a variety of rolls, including making the final call on performances, choosing instrumentation, choosing the song arrangements, choosing musicians, helping to pick the material for the record, keeping the record on time and within the allowed budget and choosing the accompanying personnel that will be involved I the making of the record. Sometimes producers may also fill the role of engineer and mixer, depending on the background of the producer. Essentially, the producer is responsible for the final sound and performances on the record. If you don’t like the sound of the record, you can blame the producer. Now, if you don’t like the songs, the style of songs, the singer’s voice, etc. you can blame the artist.
Q: Why do I need a producer?A: A good producer can raise the level of a new and inexperienced artist to compete in the national and international arena. A good producer is familiar with the different radio formats and market conditions and is able to help mold and direct the artist’s music to provide the best possible chances of success. You can take a completely inexperienced band and put them together with a seasoned producer and end up with a world-class recording.
Q: Can’t I just find a good studio to record at?A: Most studios have engineers as opposed to producers. Although a good engineer is also important to the sound quality of an album, a good producer will have skills and musical abilities far exceeding what only an engineer can provide. A producer is an artist as well, and to a large degree helps paint the audio picture. God equipment is important, but the ear and experience of the person making the final calls is far more important.
Q: What is the most important part of making my record sound great? Is it the tracking, mixing, engineering, producing, musicians involved, songs or what?A: The most important and most overlooked component is the song. If you have a great song it makes every other part of the recording easier. That said, there is really not a component of the recording that is not important. Every track that is laid down, every mix on every song, the sound of the very instrument and the performances of each musician are critical. There is not one element you can slack off on. That is another reason why a good producer is so valuable. Their sense of what is acceptable in every aspect of the recording process can make or break your chances for success.
Q: How do I find a good producer? Many producers talk a good game so how will I know the difference?A: The best thing ou can do is rely on your ears. The proof is the work. Listen to albums the producer you are considering has done. Does it sound as good as what you hear on MTV or the radio? If it does and you like what you hear, you may want to meet them as well. Making a record is very personal; it is all about the art that will be created by the combined chemistry of everyone working together.
Q: Is there anyone you would like to say thanks to?A: Yes...keeping it short, there are too many I am thankful for to list individually. First off, all my band mates, producers and artist that I have worked with over the years (you know who you are!!). You always grow and learn from talented people and I have worked (in my opinion) with some of the most talented musicians and producers in the world. Thank you all for sharing your tremendous talents talent and knowledge! I’d like to particularly point out Michael Wagener, who taught me a tremendous amount not only about production, but also what a true friend is. All the record company personnel I’ve worked with and, of course, my wife, mom, sisters and extended family. I’d also like to thank Living Word Bible Church, FBC Fountain Hills and Scottsdale Bible Church for their support and help.
TRIK TURNER - SEAN GARDEN
"Ken is a great producer to work with. He always makes you feel comfortable and woking with him is effortless."
-Sean Garden - Trik Turner
"Ken has not only perfrected his craft but also helped many aspiring artists soar with the aid of his production skills."
RADIO - JOHNNY DURATT
"The entire song is full and big and in your face from open to close. This is a MUST to check out!"
-Johnny Duratt, PD, KJML (Re: Re:Zound)
"...filled with emotional depth and keen music sensibilities."