Audeze interviews artist and producer Hunter Plake

Artist/producer Hunter Plake is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was a contestant on Season 12 of The Voice. He is currently a member of Team Gwen, and here he shares some of his creative process on current projects.

 Hunter Plake in his home studio with his Audeze MM-500 headphones

"These headphones have changed my life. I work remotely, so having these headphones at my disposal has opened a new world of accurate mixing..." - Hunter Plake
Here's our talk with Hunter:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

For the past few years, I’ve been spending the majority of my time working on and releasing my own music from my bedroom. I’ve gotten over 10 million streams on my songs, which really started out as demos. I’ve recently started venturing out into producing for other artists. Kim Meadowlark, an artist from my hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is one of my most favorite artists that I’ve worked with. Helping her sculpt her sound and bring the best out of her music has been creative fulfilling to me.  

How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?

It all starts in my head first. I hear the music, feel the feelings, and then I put my best effort into creating a world for the listener to enjoy. So I’d say that my main role would be producing - whether I’m serving my vision or someone else’s vision.

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

My first exposure to music was in my dad’s studio with his band. I would crack the door open while they were practicing and I could only see the drummer, so drums became my first instrument. I grew up listening to “edgy” Christian bands and then graduated to Coldplay, which led to a life long journey of exploring, that I’m still on today.

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

My dad would be the first person who inspired me to make music. In 2017, I was able to be a part of The Voice and I made it to the finale. Being there in that environment gave me the opportunity to be around Gwen Stefani and Adam Levine, who were both very encouraging to me concerning my gifts and desires to make music. One interaction that really stuck with me was when Mac Reynolds, manager and brother to the lead singer of Imagine Dragons, got connected to one of my songs and heard something in my music that resonated with him. He took the time out of his schedule to hop on a zoom call and pour into me. In this industry, sometimes it’s the small things that can keep you in a thankful, healthy mindset.

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?

When working from home, the number one struggle is getting the music to translate in the real world - especially when working in headphones. One time I was working on a track and I just couldn’t get it feeling right. It was one of those situations where it was amazing in the headphones but sounded crappy in the car. I ended up grabbing my little Bluetooth speaker and mixed it through that, and once it was sounding great there, it translated everywhere else nicely!

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

There are 3 plug ins that I find myself using on almost every track. FabFilter Pro Q 3, Waves J37, and the Slate Audio Virtual Mix. Life would suck if I didn’t have these in my tool box. Also, I’m very attached to my Martin 0-18 guitar.

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

It’s all about the song. That’s where the fulfillment is and everyone knows when a song is really good. Don’t lie to yourself when your gut is telling you that the song can be better. Have 2 or 3 people that you trust and listen to their feedback. Art is a conversation, so it’s important to involve other people. You can learn from anyone.

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

I’ve been working in headphones as my main monitor for about 3 years...

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work?

These headphones have changed my life. I work remotely, so having these headphones at my disposal has opened a new world of accurate mixing especially in the mid range. There’s just so much clarity in the mids.

Using these to track has been an amazing experience for me. Being able to have a studio monitor quality reference while tracking instruments is really cool, because I can be thinking about the source and how it fits in with the mix while recording! This has been especially helpful with acoustic guitars. While producing a song, I’m able to make accurate mix decisions. When mix down comes around, the song is already at a great starting point.

Can you tell us what you’ve been working on with them lately?

I’m currently working on a collection of EPs that I’m tracking at my house. These headphones have made that possible without going through the trouble of treating a room, using studio monitors, and also annoying my neighbors. ;)

Hunter Plake's Audeze MM-500 headphones