Welcome again to The Compressed Interview! Today, I had the opportunity to talk to Alfonso Lugo, about his career as a music producer, composer, guitarist, singer and voice over talent.
Alfonso has collaborated with various acclaimed artists and producers, including Mario Marchetti (Demi Lovato, Jennifer Lopez, Nick Carter, Black Eyed Peas), Rich Skillz (Robin Thicke, Ludacris, Chris Brown), Sean Phelan (CeeLo Green, Marshmello, Migos ), Trevor Holmes, Russell Ali, Francisco Rodriguez, Cassy London, Goldi, Vincela, Vince Miranda, Calista Queen, Sydney Franklin and Regina Blandón, with whom he recorded the song “Gravedad” as a duet, soundtrack of the successful Mexican film “Mirreyes vs. Godínez ”, which generated millions at the box office.
This is what we talked about:
Threshold: Getting Started
J: What skills (either technical or personal) do you think that anyone starting in this industry needs?
A: You need to learn to listen. It is one thing to hear, but it is another to listen. Once you listen carefully, you can start breaking down a lot of auditory information that is there. What do I mean by auditory information? The frequencies, for example, each frequency generates a musical note, so the combination of these two things makes the project have musicality. But it is not just tuning, but something pleasant for the listener or the viewer. The most important thing is that you have an ear, and by this I do not mean a perfect pitch. I know people who have perfect pitch and suffer a lot because we live in a world that is not perfect pitch, so they listen to the detunings all the time. I’ve found that over the years as I start to listen and listen and listen more, I start to break down the information that is there to apply whatever is needed, like a compressor, an equalizer, an effect, etc.
Attack: Things to discuss
J: When you are feeling creatively blocked, what do you do to get back in track?
A: Oh, this always happens. The first thing I do is to give it space. This space can be either physical or temporal. If you are working on the arrangements of a recording, and the arrangement is no longer flowing, you close the session or leave the studio for a walk. When you open it again, the creative space opens. Or when there is no deadline, you can close the session and let it rest for a couple of days. If you have a deadline, you should have a change of air for a second.
Release: Talking about the good stuff
J: What do you think is the best part of working in this industry?
A: For me, being in the studio making music is like going to Disneyland or driving a spaceship. You have many things to play with. Starting with the arrangements, how to distribute them, how to make people dance, the mood you want to establish, what you want to share… And once you have everything recorded, it’s super fun to mix. Experimenting with equalizers, compressors, and other plugins and equipment.
One of the things that I wanted when I moved to Los Angeles, California, was to grow at an international level in production. I think it is something that I have been able to achieve over the years. To understand different equipment was very important to me. I just bought a BAE 1084 preamplifier and I would not have been able to appreciate it with the little knowledge I had when I lived in Mexico. After living here for so many years, working in various projects and making so much music I can listen perfectly the subtle distortion that a device like these can generate and how it makes a difference when producing. That’s the best part of working in this industry, the experimentation.
J: What plug-ins and technology you can’t live without and why?
A: I use many suites, from Valhalla for reverbs and delays, Soundtoys to add different effects, for the creative part it has been very interesting using distortion, etc. But when I discovered the All Access Pass from Slate Digital, it changed my life. It was my first approach to the emulators of expensive audio equipment. Slate Digital has very good technology and they have made their own affordable plugins of expensive equipment. Sometimes, after experimenting with their plugins, I have decided to go buy analog stuff based on what I heard. Using Steven Slate’s Distressor has changed the level of my productions. Even though I have a physical Distressor, which I have used to record all my voice tracks, I just bought a Purple which is an emulator of a 1176, and it changed my way of producing voices. I discovered all this with Steven Slate, so I feel that I could no longer live without Steven Slate. It’s one of the things that I use the most when mixing.
J: What are the biggest life lessons learned in your personal and professional career?
A: Be passionate. Everything you do, do it with great passion. And, on the professional side, sky is the limit. Never settle. You should always move forward. For example, at some point I was creating music and I was satisfied with the results and I said hey, I’m already sounding great, and I was satisfied, but then, I decided to keep exploring. I opened a couple more doors, metaphorically speaking, and those two doors opened the possibility of ten thousand more doors, and I said “woooow”, this is endless. I really liked that. I want to produce so many things, but I no longer have the anxiety to produce them. I go little by little, and I am very happy with the results.
Listen to Alfonso’s music and let us know what you think!