By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
I don't necessarily consider myself a pop producer. I've sort of always looked at production from the standpoint of a fan. If I'm working with somebody and I'm bored listening to what they're doing, as a fan, I'm not excited about it. I'm very careful about the artists I work with. I like to work with artists that have originality and talent and something to say. They have to be people I respect. I told Emilio up front if there was an unknown rock band and a higher-profile [pop] project that I thought I couldn't really contribute to, I'd rather work with the unknown.
I don't think [my work] is that unusual [for Crescent Moon]. [In addition to Thalia, Alejandro Fernandez, Cristian Castro, Shalim, and other pop stars] there's been [recordings by virtuoso bassist] Cachao and [Cuban diva] Albita. There's a lot of people who like pop. There's people like myself who love more eclectic singer-songwriter stuff. There's people like Pablo Flores who love dance music. I learned a lot from Pablo Flores. I learned a lot about music, period, assisting on [a recording by jazz trumpeter] Arturo Sandoval. The [traditional Cuban] Mi Tierra album [with Gloria Estefan] opened up a whole world I never knew existed. You have people who come from jazz, who come from rock. Tom Mitchell [producer of Shakira's Laundry Service] toured with Bob Seger for years. He comes from a total rock background. You'd never think you'd see Bob Seger's rock guitarist there.
I think it was only a matter of time before some of this other stuff started happening in the company. [Emilio] gives you the support to do that. Like anything in music, it's a little bit of hit and miss and waiting for the right timing.
It's funny with this Grammy thing. I'm pitted up against all these people I used to assist [Humberto Gatica, Kike Santander]. A lot of people on [Emilio's] team started out as assistants or receptionists. You never know who might take off. You have people who are incredibly talented bringing you your lunch. It's rare, [to find] people who not only let you grow but push you. Everybody at one point was just a guy who brought coffee.
I went to a recording school, Full Sail in Orlando. I was there for a year, then I had to move back in with my parents [in Miami]. I saw a picture of Crescent Moon in Mix magazine. At the time, from a technology standpoint, Crescent Moon was the top studio in Miami. Really far ahead. They were doing the stuff that was really big, although at the time there were not a lot of Latin projects. I called the studio for three months, but I could never get through the receptionist. She thought I was a crazed Gloria fan. Then one day I called early enough and the studio manager answered the phone. That's how I got started.
A couple of times I left. The grind of music production takes a toll, especially when you're assisting. I worked in television, which is more of a 9-to-5 thing. I worked at Nickelodeon for a while, mixing their shows. I needed a break. You work 80, 90, 100 hours a week. Once you get into a project, you're with that project until it's done. As an engineer or a producer, you might work ten hours. If a producer works a fifteen-hour day, the assistant is there eighteen hours. You lose all perspective. You don't know what season it is. You're working on a Christmas album in the middle of the summer. Time and seasons and weekends and holidays: It's all a blur.
Now that I'm a producer, I try to be a little more sane about it. Although last night, the sanity went out the window. I was mixing until three in the morning. I don't like to say what I'm working on. I'm Argentine, and Argentines are very superstitious. When you mention [a project] to somebody, generally [the label will] redo it. Someone will say, "I thought you did this." Then the thing comes out and your name's not on it.
I still do a lot of mixing. People say, "Why don't you just produce?" Number one, mixing is fun. I enjoy it. I love working with people who do stuff I don't usually work on. If I'm doing production, then I go mix and it just keeps things interesting. And it's allowed me to meet a lot of people I've done productions for. I mixed three songs for [vallenato-pop star] Carlos Vives's  album Fruta Fresca. I worked with him for no more than a week, so I couldn't believe it when I got the call that he wanted me to produce his next album [Dejame Entrar, nominated for six Latin Grammys].