Ed Degenaro went on his first international tour when he was 17. He was a part of live sound recording, responsible for Nuendo Recording Rig and for Rig for Bob Dylan tours. He has worked with guys like Chuck Rainey (Steely Dan), Ric Fierabracci and Dave Weckl (Chick Corea). He was also a teacher of Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music. And he has platinum album on the wall! This man is a star and has done it right.
Highlights of an episode
- His musical bon voyage.
- Essentials of Music Production.
- How did music transform his as an individual.
- The effect geographical diversification on his music.
- His advice on opening gigs.
quotes and takeaways
- I do like to think that it’s a continuous development we all, at the very least should strive for.
- On being a Music Producer – “What does it take to be the ring master at the circus you mean? Good question. You have to be the equivalent of the movie producer as well as director. With a good dose of cheer leader, peace maker, coach, sales man, arranger, engineer, thrown in”
- Be prepared, look the part, be on time, and don’t be a jack ass.
What are your fondest musical memories? When did you have first findings of yourself as a musician?
My fondest memory as a musician? Silly as it may sound when I got to meet Shankar, whose violin playing I’ve been a huge fan of for many years.
As a professional? When I got to hang a platinum album on the wall.
When did I realize I was going to do this for the rest of my life? When I was 6 or 7 and my dad’s friend brought a Jimi Hendrix album. It was all over then.
What were your earliest professional gigs? What did you learn from them?
I went on the first international tour when I was 17. What I learned was that playing with guys older comes at a price. Better have your head screwed straight or rehab awaits. (Laughs)
How do you think your musical past helped you connect with your present time?
It’s kinda like a shark, we gotta keep swimming or we sink. I actually rarely go down musical memory lane since the fond memories are certainly better than the reality of what it was like. So, yes I do like to think that it’s a continuous development we all, at the very least should strive for.
You have also been a part of live sound recording, responsible for Nuendo recording rig and FOr rig for Bob Dylan tours. What were the most precious takeaways from this experience?
Everyone on that gig was an old school musician, it was all about the song, all about how the vibe that was portrayed affected the audience emotionally.
Whether playing, engineering, producing, mixing I try to find what’s right for the vibe. If it’s a trashy vibe I happily distort drums that listener’s ear fatigue is a given.
Or if I want a huge wall of washed out guitars I sloppily quad track them. Not everything needs to be pristine.
Most certainly doesn’t need to be mangled to the point where an under rehearsed band sounds like the been on the road for a year because someone took the time to edit them to sound perfect. Good, bad, indifferent…there’s room for all of it.
Would you say music transformed you as an individual?
I would say without music life would be very dreary. It’s my therapy. Also having grown up in a musical household I have no idea how to even imagine life as most folks live it.
What are the pivotal essentials of being a good music producer? What are the leanings which you have acquired from your work?
What does it take to be the ring master at the circus you mean? Good question. You have to be the equivalent of the movie producer as well as director. With a good dose of cheer leader, peace maker, coach, sales man, arranger, engineer, thrown in.
My job is to realize the client’s vision. In the day’s of record labels that was simple enough. You got paid by the label, now the band or solo artist is the client. Sometimes the requirements of tact messes up the reality of how to make a great record.
When it’s a band that have slogged it out for the last few years and one of the musicians thinks they kow it all and don’t…the only option is to play nice, as not to mess up the vibe. No matter how much you might want to rip your hair out.
What I’ve learned from this is to not take gigs that want my name rather than my help.
You have had a very diverse international influence of music. Has the geographical diversification influenced how you compose music?
I’m a strong believer that we’re all a product of our surroundings. I don’t think you have to live in Chicago to play Blues, or Seattle for Grunge, but it certainly won’t hurt if you play with guys that are immersed in the genre. But I digress, having had permanent residencies in 5 countries on 3 continents one cannot help being molded by one’s surroundings. Funnily enough the influences usually preceded the travel.
But composition and production for me are a weird thing, I don’t enjoy trying to have a finished aural image in my head. I let the song/composition/production dictate where it wants to go. I merely try to facilitate. Born and raised in Germany I obviously very much have German work habbits, meaning if I work I will do so from when I get up to when I go to bed. Having lived in Los Angeles for a long time means that I try not to work and rather hang in a swimming pool (laughs).
How do you select the tracks you play live? How do you prepare and how do you decide on the opening phase of your set?
Opening the set is easy, I pick what I know are a few of the tried and trues crowd pleasers. The overall setlist depends on venue and their respective clientel. If it’s a Rock crowd at a festival setting or a Jazz joint I more than likely will stretch. Other places it’ll be more the expected fare.
Last but not the least, what is your message for emerging musicians?
Be prepared, look the part, be on time, and don’t be a jack ass. Nobody likes the guy that’s late for lobby call. And you don’t get hired because you’re amazing but rather cause you’re a a good fit. The 20 hours on the tour bus can be an awful hang if you’re the designated knucklehead.