Audeze interviews recording artist and producer Chet Delcampo

Chet Delcampo is a self-described Recording artist, Producer, International lover and Last of the big spenders. Beyond that, he's reticent, but you can learn some fun stuff about him in this article, most of which is probably even true.

 

"Having come from a previous LCD-X version a few years ago, I'm really enjoying these 2021 X's.  They're a slightly different voicing in that there's more detail in the upper mids that seems to be a welcome balance with their inherent, and appreciable full bass I've always loved."  - Chet Delcampo
Here's our chat with Chet:
Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?

It's kind of tough for me to choose favorites. What's being worked on now feels pretty special.  It's an exciting collab thing between myself and Heyward Howkins, Karl Blau, Charlie Hall and Robbie Bennett from The War on Drugs.  It should be out in a few months.  

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

I've made some records essentially on my own, and others mostly on my own so considering that, I'm glad, excited really to be doing a bunch of collab stuff lately.  One gets weary of being alone in the studio toiling away. At least this one does.  So, Musician, Writing collaborator and Producer/Mixer is where things are at for me these days.

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 with guitar. A high school band happened, some Sound Engineer stuff followed.  I then bought some drums, practiced in a basement for a few months and moved to LA.  Switched back to guitar and started writing eventually.
I basically grew up with 70's radio. That led me to things like Bowie, Lennon, Neil Young, The Stylistics et al.  I saw a Sergio Leone movie when I was kid and Ennio Morricone's music was a big wait...what? moment.  I like many different styles these days.  If it moves you, it moves you.

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

So much does I suppose.  Hearing Pet Sounds for the first time.  Moving around a lot (PA-Los Angeles-Seattle-London-NY-Phila) influenced me in so far as location does.  Fred Myrow was a bit of a mentor and encouraging valued friend.  Smokey Robinson was encouraging. Working with Kid Congo Powers,  Partnering with Heyward Howkins these past years... Relationships, interactions, Russian literature, Kurosawa etc. it all adds up to influence.

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?

I've gotten frustrated over the years mostly when insecurities and self doubts get too loud.  I guess it's important to simply keep moving.  Not taking yourself too seriously, on to the next thing, raise the bar.  And realizing that it's all about the body of work.  That, the shared experience and accepting that it's enough to feel good about what you're doing if you believe it's pretty good.  Even if acknowledgment or praise don’t necessarily ensue.  I try to approach things more that way these days.  

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've been pretty far down the gear nerd hole.  Though I have some nice analog this and that, the song - arrangement - performance are clearly just so much more important.  The gear thing can be a negative distraction or thwarting factor if not careful about the allure of whatever cool gadget.
Still, there are certain tools that really help in getting inspiring sounds.  Converters are important. I love tape & a real plate (reverb) for certain things.  But moving the mic a few inches this way or that way often has a bigger impact than the fancy pre or compressor / eq etc.  I will say that if a new synth, guitar, compressor or whatever inspires or enables even "one" good song/track... I'm all for it.  My wife would probably not totally agree.

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

A younger me asked John Hartford that question and he shrugged and said "do what you love."  Succinct and tricky yet accurate.  I think it's all about how you treat others, and how much you're willing to work, and for a very long time.  Those that make a dent in the music world have done so because they're like little energizer bunnies that keep going, and going.  They're rarely satisfied, and tend to be committed to digging deeper and deeper.  Possibly to a borderline fault.  Yet able to recover from tough failures & rejections. Learn, repeat, do it better, don't stop, find meaning in the moment.  
Ultimately, if you don't just have to do it and basically can't stop yourself because it brings an ineffable kinda joy, then you should probably do something else.

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

Certainly since the start of recording.  Other than tracking, a great pair that you get to know brings an important lens to aid in problem-solving mix decisions. Translation on many different devices these days is of course a thing.  Many folks listen out of their tiny iPhone speaker and I imagine few do real proper sit-downs with great systems.  Getting good balance and impact will affect the listener's overall impression of if a track is engaging to them.  That matters.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work?

Having come from a previous LCD-X version a few years ago, I'm really enjoying these 2021 X's.  They're a slightly different voicing in that there's more detail in the upper mids that seems to be a welcome balance with their inherent, and appreciable full bass I've always loved.  As a +, They seem to do well with a few different amps in that they're not too picky about their power needs.  That said, the fancy tube amp really makes them shine.  I'm finding them to be a very close companion sonically to my Pelonis monitors.  Which is a real compliment.
Looking forward to their helpfulness in being able to zoom in and focus on future problem solving.  As well as the overall listening joy they bring!

What have you been working on with them recently?
An Opal Eskar collab record (myself, Heyward Howkins, Karl Blau, Charlie Hall and Robbie Bennett of The War on Drugs) is on for a Summer/Fall of 2022 Release.

My other project Later Fortune (it's me and Heyward Howkins) has 2 singles coming out 2/2022.
My solo thing (hong kong stingray) is on for a Fall 2022 LP release.

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

Well, here’s a funny moment: I once ran into a big rockstar (their band used to paint their faces in the 70s) and was aware that they had just finished a new record.  I asked them, how do you feel about the new record?  They answered, "I’ll like it if it sells."   I realized in that moment that one of us had our priorities screwed up.  And it could be me.