Michael Denten has been a fixture in the music industry for nearly three decades as a musician, record producer, recording engineer, mixer, mastering engineer and conductor. At his recording studio, Infinite Studios, located in Alameda California, Denten has mixed, recorded, produced, and mastered records for such notables as the Whispers, Bobby Brown, The Fray, The Killers, MC Hammer, E-40, Rick Rock, Tony! Toni! Tone!, En Vouge, Backstreet Boys, 2 Pac, and countless other artists and musicians. He has garnered multiple Gold and Platinum recordings, and he has been the recipient of numerous music industry awards. In an exclusive interview with the 2012 California Music Industry Summit, we get to know more about the “Legend of the Bay.”
1. How would you describe your work?
I like to use current, innovative tools and ideas. With these new tools coming out all the time, I like to be on the cutting edge and moves. My work is always updated, hard hitting. It flows with the current trends in hip-hop, R&B, Latin genres.
2. Thinking back to your early childhood, what was your first experience with music? What kind of music do you remember the most as a child?
I was 5 years old and we used to send recordings to my grandparents in Germany. We would talk on the recordings to keep in touch. My dad had a little tape recorder. I think it may have subconciously triggered my excitement for music. The first artist I remember is Lawrence Welk. Sadly, my parents would make me watch him every week.
3. What was the first song that you ever mastered/produced? How did it make you feel?
It was for a children’s church choir and it was the first song I every recorded in my studio. It was a ton of hard work, I developed all these skills from reading, without someone training me. I got loans to get equipment but didn’t learn under someone or no mentors.
4. What do you think your “biggest break” or “greatest opportunity” has been so far in your career?
It started with the Luniz “I got 5 on it” and they keep coming. Now it’s my new song with E-40 “Function.” I’m just fortunate enough to have any sort of break.
5. What has been the biggest challenge for you as an engineer/producer?
Trying to stay or remain local in the Bay Area. The music industry walked away from Bay Area a long time ago. We are trying to keep it alive. There has been no major label presence or resource available since the 70s.
6. Do you have your own favorite type of music and is it any differentfrom what you produce now?
I love hip-hop, R&B, Latin music. I just love cungas, zimballis, different instruments from Cuba, Africa. To me, these genres are interesting and challenging.
7. Do you have other interests or talents you would like to share with us?
I’m a vocalist, guitarist, trumpet player. I’m a good with construction and electronics guy. It’s a natural skill set that I possess and enhanced from building the studio. At 12 years old, I remember building fences and mowing lawns to purchase musical equipment. Plus, I’m a great cook!
8. How do you like to enjoy your relaxation time away from producing/mixing?
I’ts very rare that I get away. Sometimes, I like to go in the country and experience nature & the wilderness. I love Italy. I just like the whole experience of going through something totally different and new. When you return from a vacation, it adds something to your life.
9. What kind of impact do you think your work has had after so many successes and achievements?
I’ve been called “Legend of the By”, “Mixdoctor” by artists and my fellow peers in the industry. And I’ve worked with some amazing, brilliant people so that means enough to me.
Contributed by CMIS 2012 Staff Writer N.M. Solomon