THE #REALHIPHOP FILES // featuring BARRY CORLISS

switching gears a little bit, i got to chat with Mr. Barry Corliss, who worked with Pete on mastering the #REALHIPHOP LP.

#REALHIPHOPVEE: before we get into it, could you kindly introduce (or re-introduce) yourself to the folks at home? how’d you get into this music thing and what continues to drive you to pursue it?

BARRY: Hi. I’m Barry Corliss. I own and operate Master Works, a mastering facility in Seattle, WA.

How did I start?

After many years as a musician, I put together my own studio in the mid 90’s. I was an early adopter of the new digital technology, and I was one of the very first people in the Northwest to be able to make a CD. My musician friends, who were making recordings in local studios, came to me to make CDs of their projects.

They asked if I could maybe do a little mastering while I was making the CDs. It quickly became apparent that mastering was my true forte in music. I decided to stop playing and focus all of my energies on one thing, mastering. For several years I worked out of my home studio. In 1997 I opened Master Works in Seattle, and have been at that same commercial location ever since.

Why do I continue to pursue it? You know… music is something that is in the blood! What else would I do?

VEE: how did your contribution to #REALHIPHOP come about & had you worked with Pete before?

BARRY: I started working with Pete Marriott in 2011. We got along really well. Pete was making fine tracks, and the listener response was very positive. Many years of Pete‘s hard work have led up to #REALHIPHOP‘s release. It didn’t happen overnight!

VEE: what is your mastering process like & how involved do you get with the producer when working on the finished product?

BARRY: My mastering process is something that has evolved over the last 20 years. It is my personal method, rooted in my concept of good sounding music. I don’t use any software plugins in my mastering. I use high end analog and digital outboard gear. I prefer the sound quality I achieve using these tools.

I’m not a believer in gimmicks in the mastering process. I don’t believe in heavy multi-band limiting or compressing, I consider it unmusical. In fact, I never compress hip hop! Compression reduces the dynamic range of the beat, and that’s not something I want to do. I have my own techniques for achieving loudness and impact without sacrificing the breathing dynamic of hip hop.

How involved with the producer do I get? I’m not a mastering guy who takes whatever you give me, does something to it, and shoots it back. If I think that a remix or tweak will significantly improve the final product, I’ll say it. Often specific issues are better dealt with in a remix, rather than with a “fix” in mastering. The bottom line is always the best possible end result, no matter what it takes!

I’m fortunate to have worked with many talented producers and artists over the years… Jake One, Macklemore, Blue Scholars, Vitamin D, Amos Miller, Pete Marriott, and many, many more. I’ve learned a lot from them and their projects.

VEE: this may seem like an overdone question to ask, but considering the album’s bold title, what is your own personal definition or interpretation of “real hip hop”?

BARRY: To me, “real hip hop” is a personal statement. Tracks about riches, bling, gats, super expensive cars, drugs, gangsterism and excesses may be entertaining, but when its just an obvious fantasy, that’s hardly “real hip hop”…

VEE: what’s the last piece of hip hop music you heard that flipped your wig?

BARRY: Why, Pete Marriott‘s #REALHIPHOP of course!

VEE: last but not least, where can people go to request you for work?

BARRY: I have a website: http://www.master-works.com that is a good starting point.

V.

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