Photo cred: Steve Seeley (Follow him here: @steveseeley)
Everyone told me to leave Calgary. Four years ago, I had just touched down from LA after an incredibly ambitious summer filled with famous recording studios, writing sessions with strangers and a city so big I couldn’t even fathom it. I was planning to attempt to do just that with big plans for more work and an eventual move to the big city. Within a few months of being home, I lost everything. My band, my plan, my songs, most of my team and what felt like my dreams were gone. Or so I thought…
Meet Mitch Lee. I met him around this time at a bar I used to play at through some mutual friends that couldn’t help but tell me how dope Mitch was and how much I needed to work with him. I proceeded to email stalk Mitch until he agreed and I still consider that to be one of the smartest decisions I have ever made artistically and personally.
We started with the Christmas movie, Dear Santa. I met with Mitch at his studio Redemption Audio and he gave me a scene from the movie with no music and a beautiful bare guitar track along with some general boundaries. I headed home with palpable eagerness and jumped right in. “Tonight” was one of the easiest songs I’ve ever written. If you know me at all, you know that boundaries aren’t really my thing so obviously I broke some of Mitch’s rules and just wrote the lyrics and melody that I heard over the already beautiful picture his guitar had painted. I finished the song that night and sent it right back to Mitch, not knowing how much he would appreciate my liberties. I have never felt so nervous for a response and I will never forget the phone call that followed.
Mitch was stoked, and if you know Mitch at all, you know that when Mitch gets stoked it involves a lot of screaming and jumping up and down. Finally, I had found someone with equal amounts of eagerness and willingness to take risks. Mitch was stoked and I was beyond that. That song ended up being the biggest seller from the movie and I really believe it is because Mitch has such a great understanding of the marriage between the song fitting the job and the song fitting the artist because he really takes the time to know the artists he surrounds himself with.
That’s the thing about Mitch, no one talks about all of the projects he’s written and played and produced on, or how many artists he’s brought together for collaborations, or how many people he’s taught through his music production and DJ school beat Drop or how insane his beats are. All that my industry friends say is that he’s a great mentor, Father and husband (3 kids!!) and friend to so many in this fast growing music community that I am so proud to be a part of.
JA: Did you choose it or did it choose you?
ML: I think both. I was watching the Lawrence Welk show with a live band on TV. I saw the drummer and knew I wanted to play an instrument so I learned the guitar.
JA: Why production then?
ML: I got tired of playing in bands and just wanted to do all the parts myself. So with computers you could do that; fire everybody and just do what you want. I was already a computer nerd. You have to be a nerd to do production these days.
JA: How different would this industry be if you were a woman?
ML: I think this industry is not really about music so much as relationships. I think it would affect the relationships I would make. Some would be easier and some would be harder. How you connect with other artists, producers, production companies wanting to hire you; there are pros and cons to both genders.
JA: Where does it start and where does it end?
ML: My dad would always play records for me. He was a saxophone player so I was always listening to him. He did some big band, jazz and gospel stuff. I don’t think it ends. It’s starting again with my kids and teaching them and watching my daughter wrestle through calluses on her fingers from learning the D chord. My kids job is clean up beat Drop every Sunday and I always get in trouble because they’re always jamming on the synths. I don’t think it ends…
Check out beat Drop http://beatdrop.ca
Or his production company Redemption here: http://www.redemptionaudio.com
From these #CityStreets,