Berklee today

JUN 2015

Berklee today is the official alumni publication of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a forum for contemporary music and musicians.

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Summer 2015 23 Corea's wife Gayle Moran Corea. The repertoire features chest- nuts such as "Spain" and "Armando's Rhumba" from Corea's cat- alog, a handful of standards and a jazz take on a Scriabin piano sonata. Vibberts has been doing mixes for Corea for the past eight years. "In 2007, I was working with an English group called the Jive Aces, a modern swing band," Vibberts recalls. "I was re- cording and mixing their album and Chick was a guest soloist. I didn't meet him during the session, but after I mixed it, he asked who the mixer was. Later I got called to mix one of his albums, a boxed set of fve CDs, called Five Trios. Each CD featured a dif- ferent trio in live and studio recordings. I mixed the New Crystal Silence album following that." The fall after he earned his MP&E degree at Berklee, Vibberts started his career in New York as a general assistant en- gineer at Right Track Studio. In 1993 he moved to the Hit Factory where he further polished his engineering and mixing skills with A-list artists such as Paul Simon, Dave Matthews, Céline Dion, and with producer Bruce Swedien on Michael Jackson's HIStory album. By 1995, he was a staff engineer at Sony Music Studios where he worked with Sting, Herbie Hancock, Mariah Carey, pro- ducer Phil Ramone, and many other top artists and producers. In 2000, he switched coasts. "I thought I'd see what was going on in L.A.," he says. "In addition to music, there is flm and TV business here too. I started getting a little work from people I'd known in New York and after about six months I was on staff at Ocean Way Recording." By 2004, a growing number of artists recording at Ocean Way were requesting Vibberts as the primary engineer for their sessions, so he decided become a freelancer. Since then, he has worked steadily with a roster of major label and independent artists in many musical styles. Projects he's worked on in his 24-year career have netted more than 250 Grammy nominations and 65 Grammy wins. Vibberts has branched out to start Spotlight 87 Entertainment, a production company, with Alex Horton, whom he met in Berklee's MP&E program in 1987. "After working to- gether on a number of projects, Alex and I decided to join our networks together and form a company in 2009," Vibberts says. "About a year and a half ago, Adam Wake '92 approached Alex and me with an artist from London, Kaylah Griffths. She was someone we all wanted to get behind, so the three of us formed the indie label Metro 3 Entertainment. These are just a few of the Berklee connections that keep popping up in my career." An upcoming project on Vibberts's calendar is a recording for Antelope Audio that will feature Lalah Hathaway '90, another friend from his Berklee days. When asked about contributing factors in his success mixing for Corea, Vibberts is specifc. "I go for the mood of the interaction between the players," he says. "I do mix moves to make sure that's all heard. These players are equals: the piano is not really the primary instrument." Vibberts has advice for aspiring engineers. "An assistant today needs to understand the technical work but also un- derstand what's going on in the room. If there is a technical problem, you should already be thinking about what needs to be done. You should also be aware if the artist needs water or if it's time to order lunch for the musicians. Having that kind of aware- ness will get you noticed by the artist, producer, and engineer. You don't want to be the assistant who is texting and playing games on his phone while the session is running. You should al- ways be trying to learn something new." Serious Fun Brian Warwick '03 recently got to toss a bone to his older brother. The two have been serious "Weird Al" Yankovic fans since their parents bought them the Dare to Be Stupid album. Many years later, Warwick became the primary vocal and over- dub engineer on many of Yankovic's albums. So when the musical jester mentioned to Warwick that he was looking for extras for the video of "Sports Song" as they worked on his Grammy-winning album Mandatory Fun, Warwick volunteered himself and his brother to appear in band uniforms playing pa- rade drums in the shoot. And the mandated fun brought a smile to the faces of all involved. After earning his MP&E degree in 2003, Warwick headed to Los Angeles and started passing his résumé around to various studios. Rose Mann-Cherney, then an executive at the Record Plant, hired him as a runner. It was not glorious work at frst, but MP&E professor Ted Paduck had told his students what to ex- pect at the outset of their careers. "He said that when you're an intern, a runner, or an assistant engineer, just think of yourself as a glorifed waiter," Warwick recalls. "So I've always taken client needs very seriously—even when I am the main engineer." The affable Warwick's technical fnesse behind the controls paired with his enthusiasm for basic tasks like meticulously set- ting up headphones and mics for the main engineer and tending to the needs of the musicians and artists during sessions en- abled him to quickly progress from runner to assistant engi- neer at the Record Plant and later at Westlake Recording Studios. He's worked elbow to elbow with top producers such as Glenn Ballard, Randy Jackson, Ron Fair, and Lester Mendez, and with such diverse artists as Ludacris, Fantasia, Michael Bublé, Lissie, Annie Lennox, and others. He has also worked on 14 platinum and gold records, and a dozen Grammy nominated records as well as music for television shows. He fnally earned his own statue last February for his work on Weird Al's Mandatory Fun when it was named best comedy album. The two met when Yankovic booked time at Westlake to mix his Straight Outta Lynwood album in 2006 and Warwick was as- signed as the assistant engineer. "We all got along really well," Warwick says, "and that ultimately led to Al becoming one of my main clients." After years as a staff engineer, Warwick had enough clients in his stable to leave Westlake and become a freelancer. He continued working with Yankovic as well as with Michael Bublé (and his music director Alan Chang), and Steve Kaplan, the score mixer for TV composer Bear McCrary (Walking Dead, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). "Tracking is my main thing," says Warwick, "and about 75 percent of my sessions are vocal sessions. I've developed a great rapport working with Al on his vocals. Once he gets some- thing going, he generally doesn't want to change, but for the Mandatory Fun record, he changed things up. For previous al- bums Like Alpocolypse, he was booking time at Westlake and renting expensive mics, preamps, and EQs. He decided this time to go to a smaller studio and went to Dave Way's Waystation." Way and Warwick worked separately on Yankovic's record. Way did the tracking with Yankovic's band and Warwick engi- neered all the vocals, electronic tracks, and overdubs. "I also en- gineered all of the track 'Now That's What I call Polka,'" Warwick says. "Dave mixed the whole album, and the mixes came out great." As a member of the Recording Academy, Warwick can al- ways get tickets to the Grammy ceremonies, but hadn't gone in previous years. It was Warwick's wife, Ashley (Caldwell) Warwick '04, who convinced him that they should go this time. "She has been my biggest supporter throughout my career," Warwick says. "So even though it was expensive to go, I'm glad she wanted to. It was a thrill to be there to see Al get the award." Trying Dave's Way Dave Way '87 was also in the audience cheering on Yankovic that night. Mandatory Fun is the frst project Way has worked " I go for the mood of the interaction between the players, I do mix moves to make sure that's all heard." —Brian Vibberts '91 " I've developed a great rapport working with Al on his vocals." —Brian Warwick '03 Brian Vibberts (left) and Chick Corea Brian Warwick (left) and "Weird Al" Yankovic

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