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I'm a bitch, I'm a liar, I'm a sinner, I'm a saint ...

Meredith Brooks
Meredith Brooks

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 three.

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 smile.

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.

Brooks' second 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.

Demonstrated talents 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?

"There's just 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.


Meredith Brooks excerpts from EQ Magazine, May 2002, "Jumping Behind the Board," pgs. 51-61

What 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.

But 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.

 

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