Alan Meyerson

Hans Zimmer - James Newton Howard - Klaus Badelt

 

Alan Meyerson is one of the greatest movie scoring mixers of the modern era. With 200+ credits on IMDb and double that amount on AllMusic.com, Meyerson has an unparalleled wealth of experience in engineering and mixing in general, and scoring mixing in particular. He has worked with leading film score composers like James Newton Howard, John Powell, Harry Gregson-Williams, and Danny Elfman, and has a particularly long-standing working relationship with the great Hans Zimmer that continues to this day.

 Meyerson’s credits as a scoring mixer include blockbuster movies like Man of Steel, Iron Man, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Inception, The Dark Knight, Kung-Fu Panda 1 & 2, Despicable Me 1 & 2, The Last Samurai, Gladiator and Hannibal. In addition to this, Meyerson has a number of high-level music mixing credits dating mostly from the 1980s, including Bryan Ferry, New Order, Etta James, and OMD. During that time Meyerson also worked with some of the great New York remixers, like Arthur Baker and Shep Pettibone, and his background in rock and club mixing means that he has a unique reputation in Hollywood as the go-to man for a tougher, more aggressive film score sound.

 Meyerson’s career trajectory has involved several major switches. He started out in the 1976 as a classical music major at Brooklyn College, studying trumpet, but, he recalls, “It immediately became clear to me that I did not have the skills or desire to play the trumpet professionally. Walking down the hall at Brooklyn College I discovered its sound studio, and instantly felt like I had found a home. I ended up working at that studio for a year.”

 In 1977, Meyerson got a job at a commercial studio in Manhattan called Counterpoint, where he helped record commercials and jingles. Belgian-Armenian song-writer and producer Marc Aryan passed through on the 4th of July, 1979 and invited Meyerson to work at his studio near Brussels in Belgium. Comments Meyerson, “The most magical thing while working there was that I ended up recording and mixing an album for Chet Baker.”

 Meyerson returned to New York after half a year, in 1980, and went on to work in several studios, amongst them The Hit Factory, A&R Recording (Phil Ramone’s studio at the time), and eventually Arthur Baker’s studio. “Arthur liked what I was doing and offered me a job, and I ended up working with big names like Bob Dylan, Diana Ross and Carly Simon, doing loads of remixes and club mixes. During this time I also mixed six songs on Bryan Ferry’s Bête Noir album, which was the first really prestigious album project I’d worked on. It set off my career.”

Meyerson moved to LA in 1987, and worked as a free-lance engineer and mixer with many high profile names, but “when hip-hop started the music industry changed and I lost interest. I stopped working and trained to become a chiropractor.” A chance meeting in 1994 provided another major shift in Meyerson’s life. “I met Hans Zimmer and did a small session for him, and he really liked it, and asked me back. And here I am, 200 movies later!”

Meyerson rents a space Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions studio complex in Santa Monica. His mix room contains, he explains, “a Euphonix System 5 digital desk, a bunch of Pro Tools systems, ATC monitors, and some analogue gear, that appears to decrease every year. It’s a very comfortable room and a great mix environment. There are three mix rooms at Remote Control, and they all have the System 5, so they are interchangeable. You can start a mix in one room and continue it in another without a glitch.”

Regarding Meyerson’s reputation in Hollywood as having a tougher, more aggressive sound, he explains, “All these years of doing rock and dance and pop music really tightened up and hardened my sound. That went over pretty well with the people that like a tougher sound, and it allowed me to find a niche. I have, for example, over the years built up a collection of microphones that have been modified to make them a little more aggressive and in-your-face sounding, and am not afraid to use compression and other effects on the orchestra.”

“I also realised after meeting Hans in 1994 that my skill set is more suited to film music than to record making, because having been a classical musician originally means that I read music and understand orchestral music. Plus I have a love of experimentation. When I tried to push the envelope while making records I would sometimes be told that it’s not what they wanted because it wasn’t what was on the radio. In the film world you don’t have that limitation. If they feel that what you do fits the movie, they love it. So I really enjoy creating soundscapes that are totally unique.”

Alan Meyerson has conducted his first Mix With The Masters seminar at La Fabrique in the summer of 2014. He acknowledges that “it is tough today for young people to get into the industry,” and explains that this is one reason why Remote Control Productions has an active internship program. Meyerson’s MWTM seminar is another expression of his desire to help the up and coming to make it in the industry.

 “To come through you need to have a fundamental knowledge of music,” explains Meyerson. “Even if you don’t read music or have never studied an instrument, you really need to be a lover of music. You also need to have a technical mind, and an intense desire to be successful. That’s what I look for, and I then teach the rest.”

“For the Mix With The Masters seminar I’ve contacted several of the major composers I have worked with, because I want to bring cues from several different movies. So from Hans I will bring a cue from Inception, from James Newton Howard a cue from King Kong, from Henry Jackman a cue from Wreck-It Ralph and from Ramin Djawadi a cue from Pacific Rim. I might also bring a cue from Junkie XL for Divergent, which has the most aggressive-sounding score I have ever worked on.”

 “All these movies have completely different styles of film scores, and I am going to walk people through the process of how they have been created, and how I mixed them. I also hope that people will bring their own music, and so we can put that up and talk about it. The idea is that you keep your vision in your head, and you then figure out how to accomplish that in each particular case. Every single film score is different.”

 

Text by Paul Tingen.

 

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Q&A with Alan Meyerson

Teaser – 2014 Session