Dan Merceruio of Sono Luminus is nominated for Producer of the Year in the 2016 Grammys, for some of the most superb albums under his belt. Merceruio, who has been a producer for the label since 2006, has worked with groups of various styles and sizes and was nominated for a Grammy in 2012. On primephonic, you can find no less than six albums that he has been nominated for producing, featuring the music of Ruperto Chapí, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Mohammed Fairouz and many others.
Well, firstly, how are you finding the Grammy nomination for the second time round?
It is an incredible honor to be nominated for a second time for Producer of the Year, Classical! To be included in the list of nominees for Music’s Biggest Night is a thrilling experience, and one for which I am very humbled and grateful.
Your role as Sono Luminus’ in-house producer strongly involves maintaining an overall sense of quality control of the artistic product. How has this evolved over your time working at Sono Luminus?
It’s evolved quite a bit! Over the years, I’ve learned that, at any given time, quality control is a group effort. Meaning, everyone has his/her role to play in the process, and it is in everyone’s best interest for each individual to perform that role to his/her best ability. That being said, there are key points throughout the process that benefit from the presence of a producer more so than others; determining what/when these places are (and what/when they aren’t!), the specific function that is most helpful at that time, and the correct inquiries and assessments to be made are all part of the ongoing, constant vigilance that accompanies anyone tasked with quality control. Of course, in all of this, keeping the overall goal and vision in mind is key, so that with each little decision that is made, a constant course correction occurs, keeping everyone moving in the right direction, together.
How is it decided which repertoire to record and with whom to record it?
The potential ideas originate a lot more from our CEO, Collin Rae. Oftentimes, he’ll express interest in someone, and then bring them to me and our head audio engineer, Daniel Shores, to discuss, weigh pros and cons, express desire, and ultimately decide if it is a journey that we wish to take with that particular artist.
And how do you help those artists to bring their visions to life?
This is a bit of an interesting question, because this ultimately lies in the hands of the artist. Even if I or anyone else here at Sono Luminus believes wholeheartedly in an artist, if the life of that artist’s vision is weak, or their vision is murky, or their desire is lacking, all of the most brilliant ideas in the world will ultimately fall flat. Perhaps a better way of saying this is that the artist’s passion is taken heavily into account when we’re considering a proposal or concept. Passion evidences itself quite clearly in the amount of work that goes into preparing for a project, in the musical and emotional connection that flows from the artist, the legs that accompany said project, multiple performances of it, P.R. plans and deliverables, and a willingness to collaborate and expand with us on all of these points.
What is your view on the importance of high resolution?
High resolution plays a very important part in the music world, and exemplifies the wonderful human characteristic of believing in something more. Like most worthy pursuits in life, the advancement of technology to push the boundaries of what recorded sound can be, and to allow and enable the consumer to experience captured sound at the highest possible level is of paramount importance. The beauty of such high audio fidelity is that it becomes a completely honest, open, transparent vessel through which the listener can experience the music as viscerally and emotionally as if they were literally standing or seated among the musicians.
Can you share with us some special recording tricks?
Directly referencing the many artists, composers, engineers and producers with whom I have had the distinct pleasure of working, the most special recording tricks I have observed and enjoyed stem directly from one’s ability to be the best version of one’s self. Continually striving for positive self-development, and committing to a culture of interdependence and collaboration, inevitably leads to an environment that encourages the highest possible level of creativity, production, and musicality.
The entire classical community is watching the formation of two more legendary pairings between conductor and orchestra with great interest and there is no doubt that starting in 2018, nothing will be the same.