Q & A with Dan Grigsby
Who you are? Where do you come from? Born and raised?
I grew up in New Jersey. Growing up my siblings and I spent part of our summers each year at our Native American grandparent’s farm in Virginia. My mother was Italian and my father was Blackfoot Indian. They both were great music lovers. My mother liked big band music and the lighter side of contemporary pop music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s along with artists like Frank Sinatra. She always had the radio on in the kitchen. My father mostly enjoyed country music…artists like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and was also a fan of African American blues men.
What do you do?
Industry related, I am a 40-year veteran recording/mixing and part time mastering engineer. I have also been producing new and up and coming bands and singer-songwriters for the past 15 years. Currently, after nine platinum records and four gold, I really enjoy helping new talented artists achieve their goals. Proportionately, however, I love teaching recording and music production technologies to our students here at IAR. I believe education is essential when it comes to developing strong and responsible creative minds. It should never be purposely tricky or boring. Education should be challenging and engaging leaving the student feeling good about what they have just experienced. Whether it is in a lab room or a lecture class. I forget who may have said it first, but I think I heard it from Maya Angelou. It was something to the effect that, “Students may not remember everything you have taught them but they will always remember how you made them feel”. I want my students to feel like they can, and will, succeed at whatever they are willing to work hard for and not to ever close the door on their passions and desires. Reasonable, creditable and sincere inspiration is paramount!
Why did you go into audio?
I started out as a radio disc-jokey it the late 70’s/early 80’s at the Jersey shore. It was a time when Bruce Springsteen and that whole Asbury Park scene just began to explode. I ran the WMCX, the Monmouth College (now University) radio station and had the great luck to get all those wonderful bands of the early 70’s to come on the radio with me. That is when I first met Bruce. I did an RB show once a week and actually got a call from WBLIS for an interview once. But that is another story. I also was a DJ at WDHA “The Jersey Giant” for a short while, but I found it hard to play what they were giving me to play so I moved on, at the request of the program director, LOL. See in those days the radio stations in some smaller markets began to provide DJ’s with playlists and you were supposed to play what they told you to play. I grew up listening to underground and early groundbreaking FM radio stations where the DJ’s were expected to be much more
creative in what they put out on the airwaves. It was very strange for me to follow a boring playlist. That’s when I decided I would rather make records than play them on the radio.
What have you done in the audio industry? Any notable credits?
I started as a general recording engineer at a small studio in Roseland, New Jersey called The Sanctuary. That was an 8-track tape machine studio. After that, I became a staff engineer at a studio called the House Of Music, where I worked with Kool and the Gang, George Clinton, Chaka Khan, Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, Sting, Joe Cocker and James Brown. That is also where I worked on Paula Abdul’s first big hit LP Forever Your Girl to name a very few. That was my first platinum record. I later became the chief engineer there before going freelance. After going freelance, I worked mostly at Electric Lady, RPM Studios, the Hit Factory and the Power Station, Atlantic Studios, The Magic Shop, Compass Point, Quad, and The Record Plant. I am certified in the use and instruction of AVID’s ProTools audio program v12.
What’s your favorite part about your career?
I really love everything about the creative process. I love the interaction with other creative minds. It was always such a great kick to work on a record for weeks or months at a time and then hear it on the radio. I feel very lucky to have worked and met some of the most legendary engineer/producers and music industry giants ever involved in making records. People like Ahmet Ertegun, the founder of Atlantic records, Geoff Emerick the Beatles engineer and Jimmy Iovino to name a few.
What wise words do you have for your students?
LISTEN!!! Your first job as an audio professional should always be to listen.
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