December 02, 2023
Los Angeles based Matt Beckley does a lot of things, from being a Diamond certified pop producer to a Webby Award winning composer, from Music Directing huge artists to session guitar work, but mostly he makes a mean coffee.
This is always tough. Clearly the work I did with Camila Cabello on her Debut album was really a standout for me. I love all of the pop stuff I’ve gotten to be a part of, from working on Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend to Ke$ha’s Your Love is My Drug, to Britney Spear’s Circus… but I also love the records I made with indie standouts LOW (produced and mixed their “C’mon” record) just as much, as well as getting to be a part of bands like Switchfoot’s records. Getting to MD Katy Perry’s live show back in the day was a whole lot of fun too.
I wouldn’t lol. For better or worse I’m doing something different on every project. It’s all just music to me, so if I’m in with a producer and they need a guitarist I’ll fill that role; if the artist needs a mixer I’ll mix a record. I guess I’m most known for Vocal Production, but I’m constantly looking at each facet of the record making process as just part of a whole, so one aspect of my work is always informing another. I don’t think I’d be particular good at anything if I wasn’t working on everything. (If that makes sense)
My Dad is a musician so I always grew up around it. I consider myself very fortunate that I never had to wonder what my passion was in life or what I was going to do for a job. I listened to music non stop as a kid, just ALWAYS had a discman on, with an eclectic mix of The Police, Run DMC, Billy Joel, Dire Straits, Van Halen, New Edition and all their solo projects… I was a 9 year old with the music taste of a middle aged guy. As I got into highschool it was a lot more James Addiction, NWA, Beck, Jeff Buckley, a lot of Failure. These days I’m listening to a ton of Damon Albarn, a lot of scores, I’ve been revisiting Daniel Johns whole arc a bit. I love seeing the arc of truly creative people.
This is a great question. Seeing Phantom Planet play in highschool really freaked me out in a “oh shit I need to get better and fast” kind of way. Meeting Jon Foreman in college really changed the arc of my life. Aside from being a great friend and musician, it was through him I met John Fields, who taught me how to melodyne, which really got my foot in the door on a lot of bigger projects. Things happen in just the most bizarre ways. I remember at one point when I was young that I was starting to doubt if I should keep going or not with the whole music thing, if I was any good at what I was doing or just kidding myself. I was opening up for this band at the Viper Room in LA and Jim Atkins came up to me after the show and told me he dug my set, and I'm a HUGE Jimmy Eat World fan. Stuff like that seems so small but at the right time it can really effect your outlook. The beach boys have always been great to me, and getting to record with some of them really opened my eyes to how good a vocal can actually get. The bar for quality and just sheer workmanship that Dr. Luke would set in his sessions is just life changing. There’s a million little moments that can recalibrate your goals and drive if you’re open to it. More than anything, I’ve just had so many people be good to me on the way up, and it’s so important for me to try and pay that forward.
Work is constantly frustrating, but that’s also why it’s fun; it’s just obstacles to overcome. I just recently was working in Nashville on a live project for this artist I really dig right now named Matt Maeson, and while I was living out of a suitcase I had last minute mix revisions for a pop project back home. And I was just getting MURDERED by my headphones, to the point where they were proactively telling me to make the wrong mix moves. I ended up having to piss everyone off and make them wait for a week for me to get home and check all my work on my ATC’s back home and I was HORRIFIED by what I’d done to the song. It’s why I reached out to you guys lol. I’m hoping in the future I would approach it differently… I would find more reliable cans that I can trust!
I’m pretty married to my 251 > Chandler TG Channel > Slate Dragon vocal chain. It’s worked out for me so far. I keep trying new ways to beat it but I always come back to that tried and true combo, it’s just what’s always worked for me. I’m loving the 4 channel Undertone Audio pre… it’s one of those pieces of gear where you’re like “oh, people that actually make actual records on a regular basis are behind this piece of gear”. It just works and solves a sneaky amount of problems in the studio.
Don’t follow my path. Seriously. It’s just such a unbelievably lucky bit of ping ponging from one part of the industry to another. Nothings gone as planned, but it’s all managed to work out. I would say this: listen to as much good music as you can, be specific about WHY you like it, work harder than anyone else, and be good to everyone. Treat the assistants the same as the manager.
I travel a lot so headphones are always a part of my rig. Early on in my career I got used to checking mixes on them, as kind of a “room defeating” way to double check things. It’s nice to have a consistent point of reference to make decisions on.
Making music is fun.
My Audeze headphones immediately changed my whole ability to work wherever, whenever. To be able to actually mix, like ACTUALLY make final mix decisions wherever in the world I am, is an absolute game changer. I couldn’t be more stoked on them. (Sadly, I don’t get to talk about the projects I’m currently working on, but you can check my discography for a general direction ;))