Audeze chats with composer and producer Johnny “BACEFACE” Ayoub

July 29, 2023

Johnny “BACEFACE” Ayoub is a composer and record producer from Philadelphia, PA. He is currently based out of Brooklyn, NY and works at Jungle City Studios which is owned and operated by industry veteran, Ann Mincieli. 

Johnny “BACEFACE” Ayoub in the studio with his Audeze MM-500 headphones

"The Audeze headphones have revolutionized my work and helped me listen to my mixes with a magnifying glass."  - Johnny “BACEFACE” Ayoub
Here's our chat with Johnny:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?
The first highlight of my career would be working on Lil Uzi Vert’s new album Pink Tape. I was fortunate enough to work on Aye, Suicide Doors, Werewolf and CS. My second highlight would be working on the song Glasses by A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. The third highlight would be having my music featured on FOX, So You Think You Can Dance seasons 12, 14 & 16.
How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?

My roles change day to day. But I am mainly producing, mixing and songwriting on all of the projects that I work on or a combination of the three.

How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?

Music has been with me my entire life. I started playing piano and guitar at a young age and taught myself how to DJ and produce my music when I was eighteen. I went to college at Temple University and graduated with a degree in Media Studies and Production and a minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation management. I mainly focused on audio engineering, mastering, product development, website development, and graphic design. Growing up, I used to listen to a lot of rock, pop, disco and, r&b from artists like Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, George Benson, Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits and many more artists that helped push me to pursue music as a full-time career. Over the years, I have learned to love and appreciate all styles of music and be able to listen to records and learn new things from them with each new listen. 

Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

Yes, some of my heroes are Mutt Lange, Quincy Jones, Max Martin, and Manny Marroquin. The music these people have worked on heavily influenced me throughout my life. Once I became an audio engineer, I took the time to dive deep into their catalogs and relisten to their music to gain a deeper technical understanding. 

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

One of the moments of frustration for me and my career would have to be when I started learning how to produce my music. When I first got into music, tutorials teaching you how to produce, compose, or engineer didn't exist. I had to overcome the obstacles of learning a DAW, learning music theory, learning how to write and arrange a song, and learning how to provide a professional-sounding mix. I managed to learn those things by dedicating my life to music, practicing relentlessly, constantly learning new things and being consistent for so many years. I have always taken piano and songwriting lessons to be the best producer I could be. If I were to go back and do it all again from the beginning, I wouldn't change a thing. The only way to get better at music and become one of the greats is to eat, sleep and breathe it. It has to be something you love and enjoy doing. I have never been in music for the money, and I believe that's one of the reasons I have been lucky enough to make this my full-time career.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

Yes, some of my favorite pieces of gear that I reach for daily would be the Tube-Tech CL1B, Neve 1073, Urei 1176, and PuigTech EQP-1A. Minus my vocal chain, I am fully in the box. There are many plugin emulations of the gear that I mentioned so go out and have some fun with them. In terms of my favorite instruments, the Fender Stratocaster has always been my go-to guitar, but recently have grown to love the Fender Telecaster for its fullness and versatility. 

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?

The best piece of advice that I can give someone looking to pursue a career in music would be to go for it and not be discouraged. People will put you down and tell you that becoming successful in music is impossible, but that isn't true. The word success means something different to everyone. Being successful to me means doing something you love and making a comfortable living doing it. It will be frustrating at the beginning of your career. It is one of those careers that is not instantly gratifying but will pay off over time. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to as long as you do the work, stay focused, do everything to the best of your ability, and most importantly, never give up! Don't be afraid to take risks, don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, and don't be afraid to move to a new city with a more active music market like New York or Los Angeles.

How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?

I started off using headphones for my DJ sets and have grown to use and trust them more throughout my career. Keeping a consistent reference point is crucial for me when I have to finish producing, mixing, or mastering a song. Being a freelance engineer, I find myself working in multiple studios on a daily basis. Using headphones allows me to keep that consistent sound no matter the studio I am in. 

Do you have any additional comments or stories you want to share?

Throughout my career I have always been willing to risk it all. I worked at a local studio in Philadelphia for about 3 and a half years. One day I decided that I wanted more for myself and decided to get a job at a studio in New York. I did not know anyone there and didn’t even know where to start. I applied to every studio I could find and finally found an unpaid internship to get my foot in the door. I lied to them and told them I lived in NYC but I was traveling by bus every day for a whole year, just to get the opportunities. I remember calling studio to studio and one studio manager picked up and said to me, “I'm sorry I don't have any open positions for you, but you are doing the right thing. Don't get discouraged, you will find the right studio for you. Just remember one thing, a mouth that doesn't speak, doesn’t eat.” I hope this story shows you that you have to trust in yourself and genuinely want more for yourself and your future. The universe will bless you with little golden nuggets along your journey to let you know you're on the right path. Don't overthink it, just go out there and do it!

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work? Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?

The Audeze headphones have revolutionized my work and helped me listen to my mixes with a magnifying glass. 

I just recently finished up working on a few songs off of A Boogie Wit Da Hoodies new album “Me vs Myself”. The MM-500s were crucial in the process!

Johnny “BACEFACE” Ayoub's Audeze MM-500 headphones