Engineer/producer/composer/author/educator, Glenn Lorbecki likes his learning curve vertical. He has worked on a very wide variety of projects and platforms, including pop/rock, film/video, immersive live events/exhibits and more... This month: game sound.
Here's our chat with Glenn:
Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?
Violent Femmes first album
Immersive exhibit at the GRAMMY® Museum in LA
Any of the last 10 GRAMMY telecasts on CBS
Mixing the startup sound for the new Xbox in 5.1
Mixing audio for Bungie’s Destiny 2
How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on?
Every gig is different: I produce some projects, mix other projects, manage other engineers, record and mix live broadcasts, edit and mix audio post-production, and I often PM large scale projects. I love the variety in doing something different every day!
How did you get started in music/audio production?
I grew up an aspiring musician in Wisconsin, where there is not a large-scale entertainment industry. I got lucky and was hired on as an assistant at a beautiful resort studio in my home town, and was able to work with many amazingly talented performers, producers, and engineers. After assisting on a 72 hour demo session for a record label, the die was cast, and I knew I wanted to live in the dark… I mean, in the studio!
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?
In a creative field, there are many frustrations - daily, in fact. The goal is to get past the immediate obstacle and keep the threshold of quality as high as possible. If I’m producing, my job is to the get the best-possible performance from the artists. I once worked with a singer who was absolutely killer on stage, but could not deliver that level of emotion in the studio. The environment was too sterile, too pristine, not inspiring of a great performance. We took a break... and I redecorated the studio - we brought in some tables and chairs, rugs, hung lights, brought in stage monitor speakers. Instead of the fancy pants vocal microphone, I placed an SM58 on a straight stand right under the fancy pants mic, and next to that a table with a fresh pack of cigarettes, a bottle of Jack, and some shades. When the singer returned, she knew exactly what to do - she took a swig, placed an unlit cigarette between her lips, donned the shades, grabbed the 58 by the stand, jumped back and howled… and we had exactly what we needed on the first take. Pure gold. (Sometimes I love my job.) I have many stories; ask me about the Grammys.
Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?
Oh man, if you’re talking hardware, give me a 52 blackguard Tele through a tweed Pro… or an ELA-M 251 into a 1073… or just about anything through a Focusrite blue ISA 131. For software, the latest/hippest plug-in is the FabFilter Pro-Q 3 on my Pro Tools HDX rig. Plus a host of other faves: the API 2500 plug, a thousand or so Waves plugs, and just about anything made by iZotope. I am still searching for the perfect speaker, though ATC or Barefoot come close, and now I spend some quality time under a set of Audeze LCD-MX4 headphones.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire to get where you are in their own careers?
It’s all about motivation; I’ll take someone who’s really excited and motivated to be here, over someone with a four-year degree in engineering. Be the first to arrive, the last to leave, don’t be afraid to empty the garbage or wrap cables. Take the time to do that extra version of a mix if you think it’s better; leave the place better than you found it. This is a referral business, take time to build your network. And be prepared to capitalize on every “lucky break".
How long have you been working with headphones, and what inspired you to start including them in your workflow?
This year, I’m on headphones 6 hours a day. I need to hear every last detail of a mix. With more and more people hearing your work on earbuds or great phones, you need to be able to deliver the kind of detail your audience hears and expects. I have custom in-ear monitors as well, and I alternate with wearing those.
I am fortunate to get to work on a wide variety of international projects, from game soundtrack mixes and trailers to immersive music and broadcast programs. The common denominator - and potentially the most important component across so many disparate styles and formats - is the ability to monitor consistently, and I credit my LCD-MX4s with helping to make my mixes sound better. I have fewer revisions than ever before, and the mixes translate amazingly well across all manner of monitoring systems. I spend 6-8 hours a day wearing these headphones, and it’s still fun to listen to music on them when the day is done. Thanks, Audeze!
Recent projects include:
Bungie’s Destiny 2 - cinematic and trailer mixes
XBOX - trailer and UI mixes
Microsoft - Broadcast post-production mixing
GRAMMY® Museum - Immersive music exhibit mix
62nd GRAMMY Telecast on CBS - Music mix team
Erwillian- Album mix
Afterlight - Immersive album mix (coming soon!)