Steven Lee Tracy
For me, music and recording have always been inseparable. When I was a teenager, I got a guitar, and I started recording that guitar about 10 minutes later.
My love of music has taken me around the world, both as an artist playing in bands and as a producer. As an artist, I’ve enjoyed the blessing and curse of the record deal and tireless touring. I’ve played countless live shows and had my songs on MTV, but none of that has brought me the satisfaction I feel on connecting with an artist and and making something great that surprises us both.
These days I’m happy to sleep in my own bed and make music with lots of different artists, not just one band. And when I do it, I do it as someone who has slept on fan floors and hotel room beds; as someone who’s played in front of 5 people and in front of 5,000 people. I can’t ever separate my own experience as an artist, and it brings a unique sense of connection when I’m working on a project.
While the gear is important, I’m far more interested in the conversation about your vision as an artist than the equipment we’ll use to record it.
My professional recording experience began in Seattle at Ironwood Studios, and I’ve had the chance to work in some amazing places like Abbey Road and Hansa Studios in Berlin. After moving to Atlanta and Glow In the Dark Studios, I found my personal and creative home building Saint Cecilia Studios here in Tucson, Arizona.
I gravitated towards producing because I never had a reverence for any particular instrument. When you’re overly in love with your instrument or voice, you run the risk of losing perspective on how all of the arrangement is working together and if it’s making the song great. My job is to communicate that objectivity in a way that shows what is possible as an artist, not to fixate on what is lacking. This process starts from the first few notes of pre-production all the way through delivering the final masters.
I have a deep background on the engineering side of things, but I’m not hung up on the technical side. There is loads of great gear here. I’ve chosen what I like and what makes sense to my ears, but I’ve never had a great piece of gear make a bad song great. While the gear is important, I’m far more interested in the conversation about your vision as an artist than the equipment we’ll use to record it.
My history is pretty simple. Like most people in this business, I started touring young at the age of 16. Through those years, I played bass and drums, booked shows, recorded albums, traveled the country, lived in a van, and learned things the way that I believe people should learn them…by doing it.
Each experience propelled my curiosity for what things are like on the other side of the glass. I moved to Tucson geographically, but I also moved into a position as engineer and producer on a greater, more permanent level. I love making records with people and facilitating the tools and knowledge to bring their art to a real physical and audible state of existence.
I love making records with people and facilitating the tools and knowledge to bring their art to a real physical and audible state of existence.
During my time as an engineer, I’ve found more self-worth and purpose helping others discover their musical potential than I ever could have writing and performing my own. I am confident that in all my years of living in the shoes of the artist and working with other engineers and producers, I’ve gained a unique perspective on this process.
Recording for me was always a ‘kid in a candy shop’ experience. It was a long awaited time to finally put all your hard work, love, art, and passion into a neatly wrapped package. I can add creative and technical knowledge to these experiences for others, and I can do so with a kindred spirit. If I do my job correctly, the art is not lost in the technical knob turning, but enhanced.