Bo Boddie is a music composer, mixer, producer, recording engineer, and instrumentalist.
After The Show: What’s your schedule like lately? Do you spend more time composing vs mixing vs producing?
Bo: Busy. These days, almost all of the work I’m doing is for film and television projects. I’ve been doing a lot of work for Craig Wedren for the past few years, and that involves wearing a lot of different hats depending on the project. We’ve just finished two shows, Wet, Hot, American Summer (Netflix), and Blunt Talk (Starz). With Blunt Talk I was the score mixer, and with WHAS I mixed all the score and songs (about 25-30 of them). I also produced and co-wrote a song (“All Time”) as well as a bunch of miscellaneous music production and guitar playing…[I] will soon start working on the 2nd season of Fresh off the Boat (ABC), which involves a lot more cue writing. It looks like I’ll also be mixing a rock record that James Iha is producing as well.
What software and hardware programs do you use on a daily basis for composing and score mixing work?
At this point it’s about 95% Pro Tools, which I’ve been using pretty much daily since 1998. However, I also love using Logic and Reason, although, since time and compatibility with others are such a huge part of my job it’s hard to go out on a limb and use something other than Pro Tools.
What personality traits would you say make someone a great recording engineer?
Other than having great technical skills and know-how I think it’s really about being prepared for any request and staying in the service of the artist/project that you’re working on. It’s about staying humble, making everything seem smooth and easy, and of course making sure everything sounds great. An engineer’s role can be very small or large, you just have to know how much you need to put in to grease the wheels and when to just get out of the way.
When you’re working with artists from different genres (Santana vs Korn vs indie pop), how do you adapt between such stylistically dissimilar sounds? Do you approach each project with the same general mindset or is there a mental switch you have to make?
With such stylistically divergent projects there’s definitely a mental shift that has to happen. However, it doesn’t usually take long to establish a style of working that people are happy with, and from there it’s just about continuing in that vein. Obviously, to some degree you have to be a fan of what you’re working on as well. In my case, there aren’t that many kinds of music that I’m not interested in, so I look forward to working in different styles. There’s so much to learn about the subtleties of different genres, and when you walk away from each project you take something away that will help you bring insight to the next one.
You recorded, mixed, produced, and played bass and guitar on My Rocks Are Dreams by Psychic Friend — what was your favorite part of that process? How do you feel about the licenses/placements those songs got?
That was one of the first projects I worked on when I got to Los Angeles. Patty and I are friends and one day she mentioned she was working on a band with Will as a duo. They came over one day and we recorded some stuff. The songs were great, and I was really excited about working on the material. From that point on we got together whenever time allowed and filled everything out. I think the first song we did was “We Do Not Belong” and that established the overall tone of everything that came after it. Patty and I worked on 8 songs, and then Will and Tripp did the last three together at Dangerbird, although I did end up mixing “Quality Control.”
It was a great experience and I’m really proud of what came out of it; especially given that it was almost entirely recorded in a converted bedroom. All the song licenses were an added bonus. Of course I thought that the songs were great and lent themselves to that kind of use. However, once you start submitting songs to different music supervisors you start to realize how difficult it can be to get placements. I think it’s quite a testament to the quality of the songs!
You contributed articles and interviews to Sonic Scoop. How did that opportunity come about, and did you like that writing experience?
That came from my dear friend Janice Brown, who co-founded Sonic Scoop. We first met at Chung King Studios in Manhattan in the very early aughts. I was an intern and she was working a few nights a week as the receptionist; we became good friends and have always kept up with each other. When I moved to L.A. about five years ago she called me up one day and asked if I’d be interested in doing some gear reviews and interviews for the site and I took her up on it. I haven’t had as much time for it lately, but it’s a lot of fun to get out there and meet different people and play with new gear. I actually just wrote a review for them which should show up one of these days.
“Runaway,” “No Matter What You Say,” “Don’t Know How You Do It,” and “It’s You” are such great Imperial Teen songs. What was your experience like working on Feel The Sound?
It was a lot of fun. I love everyone in the band and it was easy to hang out with them and get things done. With that record they had done some of the basic tracking before I started working with them and they needed a place to do overdubs and record all the vocals. My family and I had just moved to L.A. from Brooklyn and I had a little studio in the back of the house we were renting, which I was thrilled about since, coming from New York, we weren’t used to having so much space. At any rate, the band would all come into town once or twice a month and we’d spend a day or two tracking vocals and other instruments. I’m not sure how long that went on for, maybe four or five months. Midway through we actually did end up going to another studio for a day to re-record drums as well as a couple of the newer songs…it’s a little fuzzy at this point which ones, but we did a lot of tracking that day! The album really came out amazing, I just listened to it the other day and it’s even better than I remembered.
That’s cool that you worked on the Reni Lane album — probably not many people have heard it though. How did that opportunity come about?
I actually only worked on one track on that record: “Ready.” That came about through my friend Sam Bisbee. He’s a great songwriter and performer and at that time I think he had just landed a publishing deal so he was working with all kinds of different artists, writing tons of songs. I had recorded and mixed a lot of his records so he was always hiring me to work on different projects with him. Reni had just landed a deal with Custard and Sam had a bunch of tunes on the album. “Ready” was actually one of Sam’s personal songs; Reni really liked it and wanted to do her own version. Between Sam and I we put together what’s on the record‚ and I programmed drums/percussion on it, played bass, and some keyboards as well.
Thanks for sharing Bo! Keep up with Bo’s work at BoBoddie.com