Audeze interviews music, radio and podcast producer Mitch Anderson

Mitch Anderson is the host of ‘Black Circle Radio’ which is an all-vinyl, FM radio broadcast. He is a producer in multiple capacities, as well as an active musician. Mitch does his best to focus on the positive transmission of genre-fluid, emotionally centered, sonic expression through music or spoken word. He strongly believes that the definition of music is not entertainment, but it is beautiful when the two experiences can celebrate together.

 

"The LCD-X headphones have given me a more accessible understanding of gain staging at levels that I have not previously been able to work within." - Mitch Anderson
Here's our chat with Mitch:
Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?

This is a tough one because there have been many different “eras” of not only BCR but for myself as a producer and musician. Each one is so different, and so personal for a multitude of reasons. BCR has had a vast array of amazing guests, co-hosts, albums, and experiences grace the airwaves with us over these last 12 years. If you go to our website or Mixcloud page the episode you find first is our favorite, haha!

Getting the record lathe was a huge deal for me. What the Rek-O-Kut is used for is to essentially make it so that BCR is a legit 2-hour, all-vinyl experience. All of the music beds used in the program are original pieces created by The Arc of All (Jordan Pries, BCR co-founder). All of the program's endorsers and sponsors have their spot produced by myself. That music and those spots are then hand cut to vinyl by myself and then used during the live broadcasts. That whole thing coming together and continuing to grow and innovate on itself is something I am very proud of.

Also, I did host an original YouTube series called, “How Was that Not a Hit?” that was an amazing experience. My favorite from that series is the one on singer/songwriter Steve Eaton, specifically the song “Hey Mr. Dreamer”. It's my favorite of that series because that track goes all the way back to the beginning of BCR when co-founder Jordan Pries showed me that track. There is a good story to it that I share in the episode.

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

I would define my main role currently as producer and student. This journey continues to be an education that is rooted in my need to discover and practice connectivity to myself through the living experience of sound. I use the term producer because everyday I am making something.

That ‘something’ can look so many different ways. It could be the groove I tell the lathe to cut on a record, it may be the vibrations my hands bring out of the double bass, it could be recording and live streaming a podcast roundtable discussion, or it may be making voices and music amplified over an FM tower, it could even be writing contracts or public speaking. These are all instances of my role as ‘Producer’ in the projects I am involved in every week. It is a constant education that I am extremely grateful for.

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

I started playing piano when I was 8. It feels so cool hearing my sons play on that exact instrument I learned on in our home. I got made fun of in Middle School for playing the piano so I quit after 5 years and picked up the guitar. I think about that choice I made to stop as well as the feelings associated with my reason for quitting pretty often. I am happy with the musician I am today for sure, but goodness I don't wish that unwarranted bullying on anyone, let alone a kid. In college I worked at a music shop and that is where I started playing bass because my great friend and amazing luthier Bob and I wanted to start a rock band. So we started The Deputies and I'm the bass player still to this day. I'd say that is my “main” instrument currently. Oddly enough I have started to consider the Rek-O-Kut record lathe one of my main instruments as well. That's a journey and a half! I'm super grateful that I am able to express my emotions through multiple instruments. It's a wicked important part of my mental health journey.



I was raised on what my parents listened to. That was A LOT of radio airplay. Jim Croce, The Carpenters, Randy Travis, Shania Twain, Foreigner (also the first CD I ever bought). That transitioned into Backstreet Boys, the NOW compilation series, Mariah Carey. Then later in High School/Early College it was Something Corporate, Motion City Soundtrack, The Spill Canvas, Thrice, Taking Back Sunday, Acceptance, Senses Fail, The Rocket Summer, The Beatles, The Wicked Broadway Soundtrack, The Rent Soundtrack. College years was The Band, Roy Harper, Sleepy Time Gorilla Museum, Spiral Architect, Beast in the Field, The Beach Boys (Sunflower Album specifically), Rage Against the Machine, Black Sabbath, The Pentangle, The Muffins. Then bringing us to current I've been on a massive, spiritual exploration of the sounds described as Jazz.

That was an amazing time travel and so much fun to write. Thanks for asking.

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

I think that the main factor that has influenced the course of my current musical life has been coping with my personal trauma. Nothing we experience in life is unique, it has all happened before in some form. However, all situations we are individually placed in are unique specifically to our lived experience in that moment. Alongside support from my wife (and co-host), Debra and loved ones, counseling, and also medications, music is my way of communicating and acknowledging to myself my lived trauma. I choose to believe that is a gorgeous thing.

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?

As I have grown as a broadcaster, producer, musician, and student there was a moment when a pair of vintage Bozak speakers I used daily started sounding like garbage. At the time I thought my frustration was with the equipment failing. These were the daily monitoring/mastering speakers for my studio. Come to find out the issue was that the capacitors in the crossover section of these 70ish year old speakers had decided to call it a day. I had tinkered around with a soldering iron here and there building cables or fixing little things, but had never undertaken a “real” repair before. I decided that I was going to do this repair myself.

I joined different audio forums and groups to ask questions and find information about which capacitors should be chosen for rebuilding the crossovers in the behemoth Bozaks. I asked trusted audio technicians advice on how to do this without ruining the speakers, or straight blasting myself with raw electric energy. After I successfully completed the repair I realized what my main point of frustration was: I was simply frustrated with myself for letting myself believe for so long that I was not capable of completing the task myself. I was frustrated by my lack of confidence in my own skills and ability to learn and understand new ones. That was a big learning moment for me and one that has helped me continue to work on myself.

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

I love this question and topic. To me, gear is simply amazing. I'm in awe of the equipment I use everyday. The brilliant engineers that create/created/maintain these tools are, in my opinion, the most under-thanked group of people in the audio industry. To all audio product engineers out there, THANK YOU!

Here is a list of what I currently use pretty much daily. It's an eclectic list because I am producing all sorts of different projects at any given time.

●        Vintage Klipschorns (60s?)
●        Linear Tube Audio MZ3
●        1950s Voice of Music 6v6 stereo poweramp
●        Technics SP-15 tables
●        Audio Technica ATP 12-T tonearms
●        Sumiko Songbird and Moonstone cartridges
●        GrooveWasher SC-1, G2, and G3 cleaning solution
●        VPI 16.5 Record Cleaning Machine
●        RME ADI-2 PRO FS
●        RME Fireface UFX II
●        RME Octamic XTC
●        RME UC
●        digigram IQOYA X/Link-LE
●        TEAC X-2000R Reel to Reel
●        Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamps
●        Rane TTM 52 DJ Mixer
●        Lots of AudioQuest cables
●        AudioQuest Nighthawk and NightOwl headphones
●        Peluso P-47 and PS-1Microphones
●        50s/60s RCA Jr. Velocity Ribbon Mic
●        Peavey VMP-2 Tube Mic/Line Preamp
●        TK Audio BC1-S Stereo Compressor
●        Warm Audio WA-76 Compressor
●        1949 6v6 based Rek-O-Kut Record Lathe with 16" transcription platter
●        50s/60s Presto 1C Mono Cutting Head
●        1950s Crown Tube Preamps/EQ
●        Bousson Handcrafted Instruments Electric Guitar & Electric Bass
●        1972 Gibson J-45 Deluxe Acoustic Guitar
●        60s Hammond L-100 Organ
●        Unknown year Mittenwald Double Bass for good measure
●        60s/70s Herman Miller red char. My favorite in the world.

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

Growth of self cannot occur unless false teachings are actively unlearned.

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

I've been working with headphones since college. When I first got on-air at Central Michigan University is when I would say my relationship with headphones began. I use headphones for nearly everything. Recording, editing, live broadcasting, and here comes that word from the beginning of the interview... entertainment! Checking mixes and edits between my studio monitors and headphones in real time is a massive help for me to ensure what I'm outputting translates correctly across as many mediums as possible. They are super important when I'm recording, too. Most of the time I need to play music super quiet when the boys are asleep so being able to dial in a smokin' headphone mix with a super hot mic is a must have.

I nearly forgot, but I also do live sound system installs and I have found that having audiophile grade headphones for dialing in a hearing loop system in say a church or school auditorium provides a much better experience for any people using assisted listening devices. I'm really grateful for the feedback I have gotten from people who have told me, “Thank you. I've been coming here for X amount of years and this is the best I've been able to hear what is going on in such a long time.” That's a rewarding feeling.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work?

The LCD-X headphones have given me a more accessible understanding of gain staging at levels that I have not previously been able to work within. Within every change imparted on an audio signal there is balancing that must be done to compensate for that change. These headphones will not allow that specific sonic experience to be ignored.

What have you been working on with them lately?

I have been giving my ears the business in a more intense way than they have heard in a while in the form of mastering training. This includes record cutting, mastering for broadcast, as well as mastering for the digital realm.

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

I would like to give a plug to the stations that Black Circle Radio calls home, as well as the platforms that I currently produce for, and my band.

Muskegon 100.9 FM
SoR Radio

This is the Situation
Harbor Hospice and Palliative Care
ecoustics

The Deputies

Thank you so much to the entire Audeze team for this awesome interview and for supporting and believing in my work as well as independent radio programming.