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San Francisco - Greetings From The San Francisco Chapter Board: Michael Romanowski
Michael Romanowski - Mastering Engineer
San Francisco President
How/When did you get your start?
I started engineering in college. I was playing in bands, and fascinated by what the person behind the sound board was doing. So I kept bugging him until he took me on teaching me to eventually take over his job. When my bands were getting into recording, I noticed the similarities between that and the engineer at the studio. I was always the guy asking questions and wanting to stay and learn what the technical as well as artistic things the engineers were paying attention to. From there, I started working on projects for other bands. As I grew in focus and skill, and as a random door opened for me, I received a job offer in 1994 at a mastering facility. That became the perfect combination of artistic, technical and perception for me.
What was the most interesting experience you’ve had while working?
Having MC Hammer try to teach me dance moves while I was mastering records for him is definitely on the most interesting session list.
Who is someone you would like to work with and why?
I would love to work with NRBQ. One of my favorite bands by far. But unfortunately they are no longer together in that configuration. The mixture of instrument mastery, song writing skills, individual voices and potential for mayhem would be a dream recording session for me. Los Lobos or the Flaming Lips would certainly be on the short list today.
What’s the best part about the San Francisco music scene?
The best part of the San Francisco scene is definitely diversity. We have such a wide range of musical styles and great skills here. I think that fact may actually be keeping us from being internationally known as a scene, until perhaps we promote the diversity and creativeness here. Everything from classical, latin, pop, jazz, indie, hip hop and dj to Studio and Technologies. We have it all. As a very big music fan, I love that.
What’s a piece of advice you’ve learned that you wish someone had shared with you?
I wish that early on, I would have had the advice to be myself and trust my musical ideas and instincts. It is common when you are young to want to fit in and be like your heroes. It took me a long time to learn that it was also ok to be myself. I would tell anyone to learn what it is you like about certain artists or sounds, but to build on them. Incorporate your favorite things into your own music.
What are your “secrets to success?”
There are no secrets to success, except perhaps to be earnest, honest, genuine, true to yourself and to do the best you can. Look at the long term career path, not just short term gains. As with most things, the rise time is generally similar to the fall time.
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?
I absolutely believe in mentorship. Especially in the engineering field. It is a skill and a craft that can be learned about in a classroom or book, but to fully grasp how to translate that learning into real world practical application, I believe a mentor is invaluable. I am fortunate enough to have had a few over my 27 year career. I wouldn’t be where I am without their guidance. I might be somewhere else, but I wouldn’t be here.
What 5 albums would you say are a must listen too for everyone?
NRBQ “NRBQ at Yankee Stadium”, The Flaming Lips “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”, Chet Baker “Let’s Get Lost”, Faces “A Nod Is As Good As a Wink… to a Blind Horse”, and Rodney Crowell “Fate’s Right Hand”.