Today we’d like to introduce you to Paris Minzer.
Paris, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I came to Los Angeles via Texas a little over 20 years ago for College. I had been heavily involved in music in middle school and high school and always knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I played drums and was considered to be good: I made All State twice, studied with a prominent Jazz instructor from the University of North Texas, (Henry Okstel), but was also heavily involved in the small, but passionate, Punk Rock scene of the day at the same time. My musical curiosities have always been diverse, and although I didn’t know it at the time, this exposure to all kinds of music would serve me well in my current work: which is Mastering Records.
As college approached, I asked my drum instructor for advice on where I should go (LA vs NY), and he thought LA was a better choice for me unless I wanted to continue studying Jazz. I loved Jazz, but the allure of being a Drummer for a band like Rancid, or Bad Religion, etc., was a bigger emotional draw: so I drove my Ford Station Wagon with my drums in the back from Texas to Southern California. And I’m still here 🙂
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I think coming to Los Angeles for anyone pursuing their creative passions is never an easy transition. You find out quickly that everyone here is good, everyone’s hungry, and you have to really work for every inch if you’re going to succeed.
But what I think is equally important, and why Los Angeles is a special place, is that there is so much happening, and things change so quickly, that if you can give yourself an honest appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses as a creative, you will eventually find a niche (even if maybe it wasn’t your original goal) that will satisfy your creative intentions.
There really is a place for everyone: once you let go of the idea that you don’t necessarily have to be the ‘person on the marquee’ to be content.
That certainly has been my experience as a ‘failed’ musician turned engineer. The process Of Mastering is an integral part of making a record. The general public generally has no idea you exist: Only the nerdiest of music nerds will know your name.
Within the music production community however, it is a role that commands appreciation and respect among your peers, which at the end of the day matters more to anyone who’s serious about their craft.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Frogtown Sound story. Tell us more about the business.
I’m the final person to work on a record before it goes out to the general public: whether by physical media or streaming media.
No matter the avenue which the consumer chooses to hear the record (CD, vinyl, YouTube, Spotify, etc.), and no matter the quality of playback system the consumer has (Hi Fi System down to earbuds), the music needs to translate as it was intended to be heard. That’s the crux of my job.
Mastering is not largely well understood, as there really is no ‘school’ for it. There are those who have done it, and those people have taught the people below them, and then those people graduate from being assistants and then teach their assistants, and so it goes…
As there are really no rules, and no set standard on how to go about it (especially since Vinyl cutting was removed as a requirement for being considered a Mastering Engineer these days): A new generation of ‘self taught’ engineers has emerged, and I would consider myself to be part of that class.
Teaching yourself anything involves four main pillars:
1. Room for extensive Trial and Error
2. Unwavering Commitment
3. Overcoming Insecurity and walking into a feeling of confidence that you can do the job
4. Paying attention to what your peers are doing, but sticking to your guns and be willing to stick your neck out there and develop your own Sound.
At the end of the day, you learn the craft and then announce to the world: ‘This is how I roll’, and either clients like it, and pay you, or, they will find some else to work with. That sounds simplistic, but that’s how it is out here in such a hyper competitive environment like LA.
I have peers who I’ve gotten clients from because they didn’t get the results they were looking for, and those same peers have gotten clients from me when I wasn’t able to best serve the music.
It’s pretty dog eat dog, but generally speaking the Mastering community in LA gets along, and there aren’t any ‘rivalries’, We’re all just trying to kick ass and build our client base and be part of good music.
One important lesson is: when you do lose a client: It’s paramount to never take these things personally.
At the end of the day you’re serving the Artist, and you work your ass off to make them sound the best they can. Sometimes you’re the exact guy for the job, and other times, for whatever reason, it doesn’t work out (thankfully these days it works out a lot more times than it doesn’t)
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I mean, you catch breaks…like meeting a certain person at a party or making the right connection through another client…but at the end of the day, if you don’t deliver, you ain’t gettin the gig!
There’s no luck involved in This. You have to be Good at what you do. Plain and Simple. And you have to be obsessed with critiquing your work and ask yourself ‘Am I getting better’?
‘Are my masters better this year than they were last year?’
‘How is that dude over there getting that sound?’
I’m thinking about Mastering every day.
Even when I’m not Mastering, I’m thinking about it! …at night when I’m home…On the weekends…etc.
I’m rather obsessed with trying to be the best version of myself and improving every aspect of what I do to the best of my ability. It matters to me.
- Website: www.frogtownsound.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @parisminzermastering