Tell us about yourself and your sound mixer work.
Growing up in the 80s, I decided I wanted to be a musician/music producer. After I graduated from engineering school in 95, I worked at Music Grinder Recording Studios in Hollywood. During that time I worked closely with Death Row Records whose production staff was highly influential to me. Later, my friend, Ron Stivers, bought a record store in Pasadena, and with our other friend, Ras G, we subsequently started a record label called Poo-Bah Records. I produced and engineered many of our releases. During this time I began studying Jazz piano improv with Bobby Bradford, who cut his teeth touring with the Ornette Coleman band in the 60s. Outside of music I discovered playing tennis was a good way to break up sitting, making music all day. As often as I can, I still go out and play. I took an eight hiatus from the music world following my heart to San Francisco where I received a history degree at SFSU, worked for Apple and GoPro before moving back to Los Angeles to pursue my current roll - Sound Mixer for Film and Television.
What is your inspiration for your work?
I truly enjoy my job. This career brings together all of my passions from music, art, fashion, history, science, production and culture. So it’s never boring for me and always engaging. The lessons I learned and people I met early on working at Music Grinder Studios still serve as inspiration for me. That studio was like my university and a daily portal from my solitude apartment life, into the crazy world of the mid to late 90s music industry scene. I’ve always been a bit introverted but then realized I’m also comfortable around artists. Today, I work with various other artists, not just musicians. In this space I’m allowed to work with a collaborative spirit, on a team and with a purpose. Lastly, there are so many other sound mixers out there who, indeed, are so incredibly creative and inspiring to me. From the work they do to the generosity of the entire sound community, I’ve found a home among them.
Who is your most respected musician?
The person who comes to mind for me would be, Quincy Jones. It’s not necessarily his music that does it for me, but, I appreciate his approach to life and his craft. As I understand it, he started out playing bebop trumpet in the late 50s, then moved into writing and selling his songs. He didn’t stop there. Quincy continued to perfect and elevate his craft leading to his storied successes in the 80s and 90s. All of this while remaining, seemingly, refined and sophisticated in his own personal style. As a man and music producer, Quincy Jones appealed to me, inspiring the budding musician in myself to follow in his footsteps.
What is your motto in your life and why? (Did it come from any of your experiences?)
After returning to Los Angeles from my 8 year bid in San Francisco, I found myself lost, and really just trying to put my life back together. I was living with my Aunt in Baldwin Hills not really doing much for work and drinking way more than I should. I met this older dude at the local tennis courts named, Sam Gaines, whose friendship turned out to be a, literal, life saver for me. Sam is a brilliant person who has led a successful life and lived all over the world. Through my conversations with him (and my therapist) I arrived at what has become my motto: L.A.T.E. Love, Authenticity, Truth, and Empathy. These are the principles that guide my life and filters thru which I attempt to make each decision. I’ve come to appreciate that the gifts of love, shared knowledge, wisdom and friendship are among the most valuable.
How do you like to style when you go to work?
When I’m preparing for work, my first considerations are the weather and location. I think I inherited this sensibility from living in San Francisco where the weather changes throughout the day. Today I make sure to have all my necessary layers available in a bag or in the car. I like to think of my style as Russell Simmons meets Japanese-American Heritage. My daily selections will vary based on my actual filming location - exterior (outside) or Interior(indoors). Also, I have to consider the physicality of the scene. If I need to walk with the actor as they deliver dialogue, I’m usually in a tee shirt unless it’s cold or raining. My basic, everyday go-to outfit is hat, tee, button down, denim, Chups, and sneakers. This set up works all day in LA.
What is your favorite pieces from KATO and why?
My favorite two pieces from Kato are my Green Shirt Jacket and my French Terry Chinos. The shirt jacket has rayon details on the inner sleeve and neck line that allow for easy management of the jacket. I can quickly and comfortably roll up my sleeves, for example. The warm cotton has a stretch quality to the material which makes it breathable and easy to move around. I’ve even lost buttons on it and Kato has graciously replaced them for me! The AXE French Terry Chinos are my go to when the weather turns warm. I really like the way the light material stretches in the areas that count and drape beautifully in other areas. I also own a pair of 4-year old 4-Way Stretch Kato denim which faded ever so nicely over the years.
Check out more of Christopher's work here: http://eyeseesounds.com/