July 02, 2020
Tony Berg is an American musician, record producer, and A&R representative, in which role he has been described as an "industry guru." He has written and produced music for movies and TV shows as well. He currently runs the historic Sound City Studio in Van Nuys, CA with his friend and business partner Blake Mills.
Here is our interview with Tony:
Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?
I’m particularly proud to have been involved in the production of:
Stranger In The Alps and Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers
Slowmotionary and En Garde by Ethan Gruska
Raise The Dead by Phantom Planet
The House That Jack Built and Hunting My Dress by Jesca Hoop
March and Free-For-All by Michael Penn
The Next Hundred Years by Ted Hawkins
Why Should The Fire Die by Nickel Creek
How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on?
Because I began as a player, arranger, and songwriter, my approach is to immerse myself in the artist’s composition and to help an artist achieve his or her best work.
How did you get started in music?
Classical Piano at age eight, guitar at age twelve. And, of course, The Beatles, Stones, and Dylan. (Dylan's latest album, Rough and Rowdy Ways was recorded at Sound City and bears some hallmarks of Tony's style. Ed.)
Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles?
I’ve never encountered what I felt was frustration making music; I know that if I stay at it, I’ll find what I’m looking for.
Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite instruments recently?
Honestly, I love anything that creates a compelling sound; that could be a $20,000 microphone or a piece of junk metal that clangs in a glorious fashion.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire to get where you are in their own careers?
Only do this if you have to do it. In other words, this is a very difficult way to earn a living. But if you can’t imagine any other life for yourself, hop on board.
How long have you been working with headphones, and what inspired you to start including them in your workflow?
I have never been a serious headphone aficionado. The experience has always distracted me… until now. Audezes are the first phones I’ve ever looked forward to using. These LCD-24s are incredible; such a great listening experience. Like having my favorite speakers with me everywhere.
Any additional comments you want to share?
We have now experienced nearly twenty years of inexcusably low fidelity. As technology has advanced—exponentially—young listeners have been deluged with crap gear. Convenience has seduced us into compromising our listening experience to an unforgivable degree. It’s time to re-prioritize the enjoyment of listening. Music is the great, invisible form of communication; and a medium that compels us to listen over and over again. So, let’s do it right.