CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CBS Charlotte) — On February 10th, 2013, the 55th-annual GRAMMYs show will air live on CBS — at 8PM.
While the GRAMMY Awards are an exciting time for all artists, for Charlotte native Dan Millice, the GRAMMYs signify a reason to personally celebrate his achievements.
Millice, a Mastering Engineer, has been recognized for his audio mastering work on Trey Songz’ “Heart Attack,” which has been GRAMMY nominated for “Best R&B song.”
Millice’s music career began at the age of 15, when he wrote and produced his first full-length album. Since then, he has worked with a plethora of well-known music artists.
We recently had a chance to chat with Millice about his career, getting a nod at the GRAMMYs, and about some of his favorite things in Charlotte:
Q. When did your love for music first begin?
A. I’ve had a passion for music as far back as I can remember. I could sing Aerosmith’s “Draw the line” start to finish before I really even had a solid handle on the English language. Growing up in Charlotte, you would probably find me on a stage or in a studio or at a rehearsal somewhere.
Q. Who are your musical influences?
A. I have a lot of people to thank for having strong and positive influences on my musical upbringing. My guitar teacher at Guitar Workshop (E7th Street,) Kevin Pugh was a huge influence. I’m grateful for all the guys from The Spongetones. Jamie Hoover (guitar/vocals) engineered the first album I ever recorded and has taught me so much throughout the years. Steve Stoeckel has shared endless wisdom and support as well as being a close family friend of ours since I can remember, and Pat Walters (guitar/keys/vocals) is my guitar tech to this day. Lastly, Scott Wynne and my Appalachian State family were monumental in giving me the skills and the discipline required for a career in the music industry.
Q. Were you involved with music in Charlotte?
A. I grew up playing on Sundays at church. I played in the band and sang in the choir throughout grade school. But back when I was going to Myers Park HS, I had a rock band called The Hollapenos, which was some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing music.
Q. What artists have you worked with in the past and who was your favorite to work with?
A. I’m lucky. I’ve worked on a lot of cool records and mixtapes recently. A$AP Rocky, Trey Songz, 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, Wale, Cloudeater, Gentlemen Hall, Boyfrndz, Ohio Sky, and the list goes on. I’d say my favorite so far was probably recording music with Queen Latifah. She was so cool and laidback and her band was unreal.
Q. How does it feel to know that you will be recognized at the GRAMMYs?
A. It’s a nice feeling. I’m very fortunate to be in my position, working as an engineer and assisting my Engine Room colleagues here in NYC. We’re all very passionate about making records sound amazing, and it feels good to be recognized.
Q. When did you first become a Mastering Engineer, and can you explain the process of Mastering?
A. After graduating from the Hayes School of Music at App State, I moved to NYC and found an internship at a well-known mastering studio. Soon after the internship, I became an apprentice, and then began mastering albums professionally. Mastering is the final step in the creative process of making albums and records. My job is to take all of the final mixes for an album, and balance the tracks sonically by using equalization, compression and limiting, to make the songs flow from start to finish without making the listener adjust playback settings, and to create a finished tangible product for the band or artist. I’m the last person to manipulate the audio before sending it to radio, iTunes, or to the disc manufacturer.
Q. Do you have any other musical talents?
A. I like to play guitar and write music with my friends, just for fun.
Q. Do you think artists should attend their own mastering sessions?
A. I like attended mastering sessions because it’s much easier to communicate with the artist or producer as to what they are looking to achieve during the mastering process. I’m also able to master the album sequence precisely to the client’s preference, regarding the pace of the album and the gaps between songs. It’s always a good time because the band has likely been working for months writing, recording, mixing, and I’m the guy who puts it all together and hands them an album, completely finished and ready for the radio.
Q. What advice could you give aspiring Mastering Engineers?
A. I would advise an aspiring Mastering Engineer to try to meet as many people in the music industry as possible, establish and maintain good relationships, and find a healthy studio environment to start your career as an intern. Do good work as an intern and strive to find records to master at the studio your interning for. Always listen critically, take no shortcuts, and read everything.
Q. What are your goals for 2013?
A. I’m going to continue making great sounding albums at Engine Room Audio, and enjoying life as a 24 year old in NYC.
Q. How often do you visit Charlotte and where are your favorite hangout spots/restaurants, both in Charlotte and New York?
A. I don’t visit as often as I’d like to, but my heart is in Charlotte and I always make it down for the holidays. In Charlotte, I like to drink beer at either The Lodge on Colony or at Sundries on Providence. My new favorite spot up in New York is a whiskey bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called Noorman’s Kil. They also do a killer grilled cheese.
-Nichole Jaworski, CBS Charlotte