I have had the honor of having a great mastering partner and musical pioneer work with us. He’s transcended the way we listen to hip hop. You’ve heard his work numerous times in the past 3 decades. Some of his credits include Notorious B.I.G., Ne-Yo, Big Boi, Jay-Z, and Pharrell. Without further due let’s talk to Mr. Herb “Pump” Powers, Jr. WELCOME!!!
1. Tell us a little bit of who you are? What you do? Who you’ve worked with?
Well I am a Husband to my beautiful wife and Studio manager and Boss Angela, and Father to 3 wonderful Kids (Adults)… wow I’m getting old lol. Decades ago when I was a “Cool teenager” I used to be a club and mobile DJ, as such I always wondered if records (vinyl) could sound better; so to answer my own questions and keep the story short I got a job At Frankford/Wayne Mastering Studios, started at the bottom getting coffee, and eventually cutting vinyl and became a Cool “young adult” Mastering engineer. Now days, besides hanging with the Fam, and watching Sci Fi, and working on my car, and eating too much… I master records and very occasionally mix and record. My daughter is a Flute major in college so I got to record the Jazz group she was in, Fun Stuff! Not hoping to sound big headed, but I have been blessed and fortunate enough to work with almost everyone. A discography is here: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/herb-powers-mn0001044568/credits
2. What experience/advice had the most impact on your career?
I was told by my father who worked at Columbia Rec. for 40 years “That a safe record is not a Great record”; that stuck in my head as I was cutting vinyl, so I always wanted my discs cleaner and louder with fantastic detail; and that what I still try to achieve today. Also my mentor who passed years ago always told me to put myself in the venue that I am working on. As an example if you are doing a Jazz song, transport your feelings and soul to a Jazz club, feel the vibe, the drink in hand, the dark lit room and flow with the whole mood. When I’m doing Club turn it up, feel “The Pump” look at those crazy club lights, Dance with it! R&B, Rap, whatever Put Yourself In It! That’s what I try to do, and put those emotions on the disc (or file) remember I’m getting old!
3. Did you set goals before reaching a certain milestone? Why or why not?
Yes basic ones, remember I started out just getting coffee, I wanted to have a good job so I could provide for myself and my family. I also wanted to get at least one gold record… by the way the first one I received was Soul Sonic Force “Planet Rock” wow!
4. Can you explain some of the basic misconceptions, you hear, young artist have when trying to break into the industry?
That they will make a lot of money ha-ha! If you’re LUUCCKY and that takes TIME! And it’s a lot of work.
5. Is there any specific book(s) or article you would recommend to an aspiring artist?
Nope I don’t read much; I just watch Sci Fi lol. Seriously reading is Great, I always am reading technically stuff; but mostly I would say to listen. Go to Clubs, shows, jazz halls, etc; have a friend play an instrument in front of you so you can understand the timbre of the sound. Absorb. Music is about FEEL! And it should be fun and enjoyable. If not be a lawyer or something, it pays better.
6. Would an aspiring artist benefit from your services or similar, if applicable? Why or why not.
Yeah, I would make them sound “Pumped Up” The Man, Crazy Phat whatever the new words; now I’m done, no more questions gotta make the records and some money lol. Love everyone Stay Well, Keep Listening!! Herb “Pump” Powers Jr.