Kori Anders - Engineer | Ciara | Pharell Williams | Usher |
What do Faith Evans. Ciara, Keith Sweat, Andre 3000, Ludacris and Gucci Mane all have in common? Their music has been blessed by the golden ears of multi-platinum and Grammy award winning mix engineer, Kori Anders. And the list doesn’t stop there.
With over 20 gold and platinum records under his belt, Kori got a Grammy nomination for Akon’s “Konvicted” album and actually won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Gospel album for his work on Bebe and Cece Winans’ “Still”. Add to that list his work with Niki Minaj, Pharell Williams, Wyclef Jean and Usher and you have the makings for a very well rounded and highly acclaimed career.
But the road to fame wasn’t necessarily a straight line. Another ATL transplant originally from San Jose, CA, Kori had other plans before settling in on becoming a recording engineer.
Backed by a finance degree from Morehouse College, Anders, who was also a DJ at the time and always into music, was about to begin law school at the University of Chicago. The master plan was to become a lawyer, make a boatload of cash and eventually cash in and build his dream recording studio. But somewhere in there, the music bug bit hard and he found himself deciding to bypass the middle way lawyer route and just pointed himself straight toward the bullseye and enrolled at Full Sail University, the nation’s most popular audio recording school.
After moving to Atlanta, he eventually crossed paths with Radric “Gucci Mane” Davis, who not only helped put Kori on the map in a big way, but also gave him a fast track education on how to record and mix fast. Kori learned that you damn well better make your first pass count.
That’s because Mane would often go home with that first mix pass on a CD and put it out the next day. No time for remix here. Kori knew if that track wasn’t bumpin’ his mix days would be over quick.
And quick is the magic word Kori Anders had to become with his recording and mixing skills because to keep up with the crazed work ethic of what some have called, ‘the hardest working man in hip hop’, Kori had to always be one step ahead. And that’s no easy task for an artist known to bang out six or seven tracks in a day and come back the next day (or never leave) and start all over again.
So how did you get your start?
So basically I started out as a deejay and I came out here to Atlanta to Morehouse College got a finance degree while I was in school. I learned about engineering and studio equipment. Because I knew I always wanted to do something in music but I couldn't sing, I couldn't you know dance around or anything like that. So I discovered engineering and ended up going to school for engineering. That’s how I got into it.
So how do you use the studio as a musical instrument?
"The studio is definitely my tool. It’s definitely my weapon of choice just because it allows me to take a song and breathe life into it with all the equipment that we have."
The big mixing console you know and all of the plug ins and the outboard gear, just to make a song sound cohesive. It allows me to bring out the best in a song.
How important is the vocal to the track?
A vocal is crucial especially with the genre of music that I work on which is hip hop and R&B. It's the focal point of the song and the reason why is just because without the vocal the song doesn't have any direction and mean on a vocal is one of the most important parts. It’s an instrument in the song but it's the main instrument of the song.
So how do you see the Kaotica Eyeball affecting your workflow?
I can see it playing a crucial part in this day and age because more and more artists like to be in more quiet environments more you know, more intimate environments like a home music studio. A lot of times they don't want to record in treated rooms or they just don't have the means sometimes to afford studio acoustic treatment. So they want to record somewhere where they’re comfortable. (Check out Crank Lucas' review of the Eyeball to learn how you can record anywhere with great results)
"And so that's crucial because the Eyeball allows them to have the same isolated vocal sound that you would have recording in a treated room anywhere."
So the Kaotica Eyeball, I see that fitting into any artist’s repertoire. Most artists these days are touring. And so it makes it so that they can record anywhere. It's the perfect mobile vocal booth. Right now I'm actually in the middle of mixing Gucci Mane’s next album. And while he was on tour in Europe he was using the Kaotica for certain verses to be able to record on the road and I've been mixing with those vocals. Not skipping a beat not having to go back and have him re-record stuff because it sounds good. It sounds like he went to a studio and recorded, So that's where it’s a value add with the Kaotica Eyeball. It's like a portable recording studio.
So what advice would you give to the younger you if you were trying to instruct them how to get where you are today, only faster?
The biggest advice I can give you is to trust your ears. It takes time to develop your ears to be able to hear a lot of details that we hear as mix engineers. But once you get to that point just trust them because you can’t always just look at something like at a meter and be able to judge what’s going on musically. Just trust your ears and trust that it’s music and it's not supposed to be super technical. It's creating.
Now some people with a hitlist of big time artists as long as Kori’s might tend to want to protect their craft and not mingle with other engineers but Kori doesn’t see it that way at all.