October 8th, 2013 by Navjosh
Multi-platinum recording engineer Steve Baughman
Recording engineers live a crazy life. These people are literally the first people to ever hear a song when it is being created in the studio and are privy to some incredible amount of information that never comes out in general public. Most of the times, they are not even allowed to speak on the sessions they had with artists to maintain the sanctity of their relationships.
A few days ago, I had the chance to talk to multi-platinum recording engineer and mixer Steve Baughman who has worked with artists like Michael Jackson, Prince, Eminem, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Usher, Destiny’s Child and countless more. Just a brief look at his discography will blow your mind. Mind you, it’s not easy to take out information from people of this profession but I did manage to talk intimately on a lot of topics including studio sessions with the artists named above.
We also discussed the magic moment when he recorded ‘In Da Club’ with 50 and Dre in the studio, why there is a delay in release of Street King Immortal, his future endeavors and more.
HHNM: It’s my pleasure to speak to you today. I’m always intrigued by life of recording engineers since they play such an important role in outcome of a song and are privy to so much info that we never come to know. How are you doing today?
Steve Baughman: I’m doing good, thank you. I’m excited about this interview.
HHNM: For those who may not know your name, please introduce yourself to our readers.
Steve Baughman: Sure. I’m Steve Baughman, a professional recording engineer and mixer who has worked with some of your favorite artists like Michael Jackson, 50 Cent, Eminem, 2Pac, Dr. Dre and many more.
HHNM: I was going through your discography and man, it’s pretty incredible. If you had to pick one artist who you loved working with the most, who would that be?
Steve Baughman: Damn, it’s hard to pick one but if I can pick two, it would be Michael Jackson and 2Pac. Those studio sessions were incredible and the most memorable for me.
HHNM: You worked on a couple of albums by late Michael Jackson and I assume you were in the studio with him as well. How was that experience and how does it feel having worked with one of the greatest artists the world has ever seen?
Steve Baughman: Yeah you know as I said, working with Michael was one of those unique and one of a kind experiences. You could only use a certain kind of mic because it would overload otherwise. His voice was that powerful. Growing up listening to his music, I always knew that he was a talented guy but I understood the depth of his talent and how involved he was in his music once I started recording with him in the studio.
HHNM: I know it’s not going to be easy for you answer this but I’m gonna throw some names that you have worked with and I would like you to say a few words about their habits in the studio, work ethic, their recording process etc.
Sarcastic (laughs). Probably top 5 most talented guys I have ever met. Great sense of humor and he’s always aiming to do his best work. Every time he’s recording something, he’s always looking to give the world a piece of him.
He is the essential business man. Beyond being talented, he’s got the knack of understanding how the business world works and how to be a great entrepreneur. I have learned a lot from his entrepreneurship and his ability to start up companies and be competitive in that.
He’s a singing phenom. His ability to make a song come to life always amazed me. There were a lot of times when I heard songs which others sang and was like eh, that’s alright. But when I heard Usher sing the same songs, it used to be whole another story. He was just great at that.
Dre is the conductor, like a conductor of an orchestra. That man is so talented musically that he is also able to orchestrate these compositions. When he hits the studio, he brings in 3-4 other guys who are constantly doing their own ideas. He’s able to string all those ideas into a piece and make everything sound right. He’s really a perfectionist, a really hard worker.
He’s probably one of the most underrated lyricists ever. He’s a great student of the game and crazy with the pen. He can do so many styles that I think he’s probably the world’s most versatile rapper.
HHNM: You handled those well. You’re closely associated with 50 Cent and as far as I know, you’ve worked a lot on his recent stuff as well. Can you share anything with us regarding his long delayed album Street King Immortal and when we can expect it?
Steve Baughman: To be honest with you, right now, 50 is just holding back a little bit and a lot of it has to do with politics over at Interscope. I know that he’s creating more because he wasn’t completely in a place where he thought the album is where it should be. So he’s re-thinking a little bit on how he wants his album to be. And the tragedy of losing his manager Chris Lighty really struck him hard. It’s been hard couple of years for him. As a businessman and as a perfectionist, he is trying to make sure his album is where he wants it to be as a product.
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