San Francisco - Greetings From The San Francisco Chapter Board: Damien Lewis

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Damien Lewis - Engineer

San Francisco Governor


How/When did you get your start?

I started as a drummer in an international touring blues band playing 300 nights a year on the road in 2001.  I was 19.  We played from Detroit to Moscow. I inherited a old recording console and some compressors from my dad who was the Front of House Engineer for Foghat, Blue Oyster Cult & Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels.  I started making records out of my home when I was not on the road.

What was the most interesting experience you’ve had while working?

I've been working on major label pop music for awhile now, everyday something crazy happens.  I probably shouldn't name names, or should I?

Who is the most interesting person you’ve worked with and why?

I'd have to say the producers Stargate (Rihanna, Katy Perry, Wiz Khalifa, Ne-Yo) for their simplistic approach to pop music, professionalism and the ability to bang out so many hits.  I also love Janelle Monae, Nate Wonder, Roman GianArthur and Chuck Lighting.  They hold their creativity above all else.  They fought against the loudness war and put out a artistic pop record against the trend (The Archandroid).

Who is someone you would like to work with and why?

Jack White.  I love the fact that he works 100% analog (ya, like on tape).  I love the artists Third Man Records is signing and the whole branding.

How does a band or artist become a brand?

Proper management, vision and connections.

What is your favorite piece of equipment?

My RCA 77dx ribbon mic from the 50's and a great musician.

Where/how do you hear about new music?

I'm old fashioned, I still use the internet.

What’s the best part about the San Francisco music scene?

There are a lot of great mid-sized venues with proper PA.

What artist or band should people know right now?

The Wood Brothers

What book would you recommend as a must read for someone?

Musicians who read are dangerous.  So “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau.

What 5 albums would you say are a must listen to for everyone?

1. Bob Marley – any album

2. Paul Simon – Graceland

3. The Band – The Band

4. Queen – A Night At The Opera

5. Anything that was released on Motown before 1972

What’s a piece of advice you’ve learned that you wish someone had shared with you?

Invest in Apple.

Growing up, which artists inspired you the most?

Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Funk Brothers, The Jackson 5, Bob Marley, Ray Charles, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Mitch Ryder.

What advice would you give to a young artist just starting out in the music business?

There is so much information available to artists now because of the internet.  Use all of it!  And get out on the road now, build a loyal fanbase across the country.

How are emerging technologies changing the music industry in general and specifically your field?

Digital recording is a blessing and a curse.  It has allowed anyone to record at home for next to nothing, which is great for song writing and demos.  But it has simultaneously put many beautiful real studios, engineers and producers out of business.  The smart bands are realizing that they need to stand out with an exceptional sounding record.  Today it's all about how to separate yourself from the sea of mediocre music thats out there.

What Social Networking sites do you use the most?


What are your favorite performance venues in San Francisco?

The Fillmore and the drum circle in Golden Gate Park on Sundays.

What are your “secrets to success?”

There are no secrets. Hard work, vision, passion and a lucky break.

Do you believe mentorship is important? Who were your mentors early on in your career and what impact did they have on your experience in the business?

It's the most important thing for ANY engineer or producer.  The job is 100% experienced based.  Phil Tan was my boss for a long time.  He is a master, professional, and humble.

Who are your favorite new artists right now?

Everyone on Third Man Records and Kimbra.