Get to know her and
you'll understand that of the four characterizations in that chorus
lyric, only one might apply to her, and it's definitely not the first
Brooks, a Mackie HUI
user and HR824 missionary
(she's led four associates to outfit their studios with Mackie active
nearfield monitors) is, in our travels, one of the most interesting people
making music today. Why?
First, this accomplished
woman has managed to succeed almost totally against the grain of the fashion-driven
record industry and remain true to her creative instincts. When "Bitch"
captured the airwaves, for example, record labels were signing and trying
to promote dozens of post-grunge acts who looked a certain way (i.e. goateed
guys wearing intentionally unhip, therefore ultrahip, polyester clothes),
lotsa 'tude and a noticeable absence of talent. Attempting to "package"
Brooks in the fashion mold of the time, her then-label even tried to,
no kidding, make her singing and guitar playing sound, well, less competent.
"Yep, they kept
telling me I played (guitar) too well ... that I needed to notch my
command of the instrument back a little," Brooks says with a bemused
But was the oft-repeated
rumor circulating through the production ranks of the record industry
that her vocal tracks were intentionally altered to sound slightly out
of tune true?
"Let's just say
they tried all sorts of stuff to make me sound less polished," accounted
Brooks. "It was pretty weird. I remember thinking, 'I spent all those
years practicing to become a good musician and now they're actually spending
a bunch of money to make me sound like I never bothered.'"
Despite those attempts,
"Bitch" put Brooks on the map and gave her the financial freedom
to chart her own course. She broke the mold again and again after that,
including teaming up with R&B singer-songwriter-producers, and stepping
up to produce two young artists she believes deserve wider recognition.
The fruit of that first production work, "Lillian Garcia," will
soon be available on Universal.
outside project, producing Jennifer Love Hewitt's debut CD, confirms she
lets her heart and musical instincts overrule any tendency to play it
safe or play to preconceived notions of what's hip.
"JLH has undeniable
musical talent, and if I did a good job producing her, that's what most
people will come away believing too" is Brooks' succinct answer
to any questions about working with the famous young actor-musician.
Brooks recently released an album on her own label, Gold Circle. "
It's titled 'Bad Bad One' and I expect people to be a little
surprised. Hopefully pleasantly surprised!" she exclaims, laughing.
And we can assure
you, no time was spent using her HUI to detune her vocals or make her
guitar tracks sound "amateurish." Gosh, maybe there's hope for
the music industry after all.
aside, why do we believe Brooks verges on sainthood? Simply because no
artist we've gotten to know personally gives more of his or herself to
others, specifically kids, than Meredith Brooks. She does a great deal
out of the range of cameras and journalists and brings a heavy dose of
passion to her work. Examples include setting up a foundation to encourage
mentoring and taking her own time and money to fly to Nashville to speak
and perform before middle school kids in a Mackie-sponsored model music
and arts program called Kids
On Stage. Why?
nothing that can fire you up more than the energy you get from mentoring
kids" she answers, as if the experience were all about what she receives
from the interaction. Then again, saints don't often get a good view of
their own halos.
Brooks excerpts from EQ Magazine, May 2002, "Jumping Behind the Board,"
made you decide to go with the Mackie (HR824) monitors?
The first time I heard these (Mackie HR824 monitors) were at Michael Bradford's.
I had some other speakers here and every time I'd come back from
Bradford's, I would hate my mix so much. I asked him, "Why doesn't
this sound good?" and he told me, "It's because you have
crappy speakers." (Laughs) So I tried these out and I just became
addicted to them. Half the people I work with use these now.
isn't a good mix supposed to sound good even on crappy speakers?
Yes, it's nice if you're mixing here and you take it to any
speaker and it sounds good. But I wasn't getting that experience.
Though, I have to say, the other day I was at Goldo's - he now
has my old speakers that I hated so much - and we put up a mix and
my voice sounded so honkey, I kept EQ'ing it to death. Then we listened
to the mix on his Genelecs, and it sounded okay, but there was too much
bottom; it was just boomy. I said, "Let's not touch this, because
it sounds good on these two sets of speakers - one that's completely
high-end and one that's completely low-end." And you know what?
It was awesome when I got the mix back here. Plus, my car has the worst
speakers on earth, so if the mix sounds good there, it will sound good
anywhere. But I do like to hear the truth, so I love these speakers.