Gary Brandt was Prince’s engineer for the Prince album (I Wanna Be Your Lover, Bambi, etc…) This small interview was conducted by Camron (Groovement). Thanks to Gary & Camron for sharing this with us!
I recorded the entire Prince album. Mixed elsewhere. (I had another album to do and Prince never committed to more than a month with me). Everything we cut was used on his album. He did his demos at his home in Minneapolis and I never heard them.
When he decided he wanted to mix too I had already booked two other projects. He expected me to do anything he wanted but he wasn’t even known at the time. His manager Bob Cavallo, who I knew, called me to take the project because Prince refused to work with Maurice White from EW&F, if you can believe that! I was very busy but I made room for him even though I knew he might be a problem.
Working with Prince was surprisingly easy though and because he really knew little about quality rerecording, I had a free reignto process sounds and record him any way I wanted. That was my favorite part of all that. We had one conversation about snare mics once after I recorded IWTBYL where he wanted an SM57. On IWTBYL I used a customized AKG 452 and it sounded great. He was very opinionated and really should have left well enough alone but I did as he asked as the rest of the tracks sounded less snappy. We did use his drums though. We recorded the album 16 track 2″ at his request. I would never argue that decision and in fact supported it.
When he found out I could not book the remix he was extremely pissed. His managers asked me, “Hey do you have any idea how big he’s going to be”. I told them I agreed but had committed to two complete album projects that would take me through four months of income and I asked if they were willing to pay for that. Warners would never have done that at the time so that was that.
In the end, I never saw Prince again but I got countless calls from his managers asking me about how i recorded various parts of his album. They copied my paisley pyramid motif and vibe and built his studio a few years later. He leased an API console from Westlake audio trying to copy us. I know I made an impression on him but he would never admit it. We actually built our console ground up using some API components but it was our own design and way hotroded from a stock API. Our console was sold in 2002 and resides in Philly, still in use at a private studio. I’m quite proud of that.
Currently I produce projects that come in funded and record nationally with a bevy of cool gear I have collected in my life. I also Master and remix for certain projects I like. I have a private digital setup and use Nuendo and Digital Performer.
Several things made P.N. a success, timing, song writing, musicianship, and flat out ego.
Prince always had a strong hook and very rock oriented rhythms. He was an extremely good pocket drummer, fair keyboard player and lets just say, guitar player. Actually drums were his best inst IMO. I know one of his influences was Hendrix. I remember him making excuses for his guitar playing before he pulled out his strat and began overdubbing but the arrangement was good enough and it worked ok. It is true he would be one that would be hard, if not impossible to duplicate.