Seasoned Producer Flowing Energy
Has the tools and the know-how to move music from dusty hard-drive to audience's ears; Brad gears towards helping artists on a deeper level to reach people through music
Imagine living in a city where the weather is nearly always perfectly warm and sunny, where the art scene is oozing with creativity, and where the civilians are as diverse and multi-cultural as the toppings on a supreme pizza.
That dreamy city is exactly what Brad left behind one year ago in July to become the New Guy in Nashville; who knew July heat here wouldn’t turn a West Coast native away.
More specifically, Brad hails from The Bay/Oakland, California area, which he dubs a haven for hyper-creative music and technology makers. The mix of minds and cultures transfers over into the music Brad creates; it allows him to broaden his perspective for what is possible to concoct. The danger, however, is remaining in the clouds. Too much freedom can be counter-productive and can build a never-ending list of unfinished projects, in Brad’s experience. The unbound freedom is abundant in The Bay, which provides a fantastic environment for performers to flourish; Brad, however, is no performer. Relocating to a city where music business individuals use a timeline was Brad’s best option, so he decided to pack it up, expand his music ecosystem, and move to Nashville. Creative discipline, a sense of adventure, and massive amounts of music drew Brad to our great city.
The buzz of HOME reached Brad’s ears in January, when he met Logan for the first time. However, he only recently signed up as a member in early May. For Brad, energy and synchronicity is vital; he needed a studio space and writing room that wouldn’t separate him from a community of creatives. Also, at HOME, we are a no-schmooze-necessary zone, and everyone here has a vision to build something greater, which helps Brad break the barrier to network with others. According to Brad, HOME is a signal of what is happening in the world in a broader sense. People crave a dialogue about creating. People desire to learn and discover answers to their questions. Here, the HOME community embodies a constantly flowing synergy for people to grow without limits.
Brad’s earliest music memories are blurry from ages 3-7, but he remembers playing on the piano with his mom while she sang, and drawing dots on a page trying to write his own version of sheet music. When he was 11 he picked up the guitar, which quickly led to the desire to play with other people. Soon he also began recording his music in order to show other people what he could do, and shortly realized his talents were stronger in the recording field rather than the playing field. So, at age 17 he started a studio business out of his grandmother’s garage, a precursor to going on small tours to LA or Oregon. Nearing the end of his High School career, Brad was certain he was not going to enroll in college because he wanted to do his own thing; however, he did attend Ex'pression College for Digital Arts and earned a Bachelor's of Applied Science in Audio Engineering. Even so, at age 20 he assisted Stephen Hart with mixing at Bay Area Sound Studios as an intern, leading to becoming a studio manager. Fun fact: his first ever recording session at BASS was in 2008 with Van Morrison. Two years later, the ownership switched over to Bob Weir and became TRI Studios. Next scene, Brad freelanced, flying all over the country producing and mixing records. To date, he has over 2,000 recordings under his belt and counting. Of course, some recordings are released while others remain dust-covered in an attic, waiting for the perfect moment for reveal.
Rewinding back to 25/26 years old, Brad shifted his focus and he began working for Zoo Labs in 2013 as a producer/mentor, helping artists put their work together, think about who their audience is, and learn about the business side of making sweet music.
The company Zoo Labs came to Brad during an important intersection in his life when he was trying to establish a thriving producing and engineering life. He was frustrated that he had music sitting on hard drives breeding dust bunnies, and he wanted to understand why; he wanted to know how to give design and purpose to things so that they can be distributed into the world of music. Today, we expect all artists to have everything already figured out, but the reality is that musicians don’t automatically know how to market their music to the ears of the masses. Artists aren’t always business savvy. Zoo Labs takes that ethos and goes into the paradigm of the music industry; they are genre agnostic and try to make sure that the music teams are working cohesively and effectively moving product. In this age with highly accessible technology, the recording industry is an unguarded castle: there is nothing to prevent artists from creating and releasing music, which also means that artists assume the role of entrepreneur.
The creative production sound Brad embodies in his work derives from heavy 80s influence growing up. He has three sisters 14, 15, and 17 years older than he, and they obsessively played old 80s hits in the 2000s as if they were new smash singles. As a result, the synthetic sound weaved itself into the fabric of his creative mind; though, he tries his best to utilize the distinct sound without cheesing it up. Particular 80s artist influences include Echo & The Bunnymen, Joy Division, and Oingo Boingo; more contemporary influences include Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
The list of artists Brad has had a hand in recording/producing is as long as the Chick-fil-a drive-thru line, and includes names such as Father John Misty, Lukas Nelson, Journey, and Grateful Dead.
Thanks to working with Bob Weir in his studio, Brad has also had the opportunity to work with local Bay artists such as Van Morrison, Primus, and Metallica.
When the studio changed ownership, Brad helped rebuild the studio with Bob, and Journey was one of the first projects to record in the newly renovated space. The band waltzed in with an entire touring set-up for live tracking to create their most recent record, which is now on Spotify. When participating in Lukas Nelson’s recording project, “and The Promise of The Real” had not yet amassed. Instead, Bob Weir and Lukas were consistently writing at Bob’s house with guitar, and then they came to TRI to lay down the original acoustic tracks. Those tracks were later re-recorded as transposed pieces for the full "and The Promise of The Real" band, what we now listen to today.
In summary, Brad is the New Guy in town with energy already flowing, ready for creatives to tap into the energy and flow with him. He realizes there is a lot of potential and that artists here feel pressured to create something new and groundbreaking. Reality is, there is no need to re-invent the wheel of music; the key is bringing in more of who you genuinely are into your music. What truly makes music come to life is every person and everything happening around the music during its conception. Everyone leaves their own thumbprint on music.
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Interviewed and written by Andra Ingram