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Former Sheryl Crow producer finds success with a Mackie HUI

Jeff Trott
  Jeff Trott

Long before co-writing many of Sheryl Crow’s chart topping hits including “If It Makes You Happy,” “Everyday is a Winding Road” and “A Change Would Do You Good,” Jeff Trott was sowing the seeds of a successful music career as an elementary-school trumpet player. But, his modest foray into the world of brass-wind soon gave way to a fascination with his sister’s guitar and more intense interest in popular music of the day. Trott’s diverse influences include an eclectic mix of punk-era bands such as Roxy Music and Brian Eno, to the eastern sounds and slide guitar inspired by George Harrison.

After many years as a sought after sideman as well as writer/producer for some of the most recognizable names in popular music including Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks, Jeremy Toback, Tears for Fears, World Party and Pete Droge, Trott now sticks closer to home working on his own material with his band in his Portland based studio. He has also started his own record label—Black Apple Records.

One of the key components of Trott’s home studio is a Mackie Designs HUI (Human User Interface). “I used to have a Soundcraft Ghost board for my monitor playback before I got the HUI,” Trott recalled. “That thing was too cumbersome in my studio. When I went to look for a smaller board, I ran across the Mackie HUI at Super Digital in Portland. The HUI is a much smaller unit and it fits great with my setup.”

Jeff Trott
Jeff Trott in his studio with HUI

Ask any musician and the consensus is that true musical talent isn’t created in post production, but it comes from deep within the artists. Post production, however, plays a vital role in the quality of the recording itself and the choice of equipment can mean the difference between a good recording experience and a frustrating one. Jeff believes that the Mackie HUI is perfect for creating a good recording experience. “It’s nice to have that human touch when I’m working with the music,” Trott accounted. “I’m able to keep the mixing more genuine that way.”

More genuine indeed, as the Jeff Trott Band recently released their debut album, Dig Up the Astroturf. Jeff describes this latest project as a culmination of work he’s created during the last five years. “I’ve been really trying to find my own voice and my own musical style,” he said. “It’s taken about four or five years to figure that out. But lately, I’ve been getting more focused at our live performances. I’ve been finding out what the strengths and weaknesses of my music really are. This has helped me to find a more focused direction in my writing.”

The Jeff Trott Band consists of drummer Jeff Anthony, bassist Nate Query, Keith Schreiner of Portland-based Dahlia handling the electronic aspect, Everclear’s former touring keyboardist James Beaton and Trott on lead vocals and guitar.
Jeff sees this endeavor of introducing his music and his unique sound to the industry as “starting from scratch,” though he does not discount his past endeavors. “I have no intention of just resting on the merits of what I’ve done in the past. I definitely have something new to deliver now.”

“I still work with Sheryl Crow, but not as much as I used to,” Jeff explained. “I used to go on tour with her, but I stopped touring with her after making ‘The Globe Sessions’ album. No offense to her, but I wanted to have a regular life and with the schedule you keep while on a tour, it’s virtually impossible to do that. I now have an 8-month old son and I live with my girlfriend here in Portland. We’re one happy little family.”

Jeff also likes the flexibility of having his own studio and label based right out of his own home. “It’s great having my own label because I’m able to concentrate on my own thing. It’s also great because it enables me to work at home with my studio downstairs. And with help from my Mackie HUI, I am still able to be creative and earn a living doing it. I still work with other artists, but not as much because my label and my music take up most of my time and energy.”

Jeff said Dig Up the Astroturf doesn’t have one specific theme or genre, but he notes that his next album will have a more directed theme. “It will probably have something to do with hope. I hope to have it come out next year.”

Dig Up the Astroturf is distributed by Allegro and is available at all Virgin Mega Stores and Borders outlets. The Jeff Trott Band will also be making select West Coast appearances on the Jeep World Outside Festival tour. Sheryl Crow is one of the headliners.


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