MITL MAG's own, Steffie Grace set down with multi-talented music producer Brent Hendrich. Brent is an award winning record producer, songwriter, engineer and mixer with over 20 years of professional experience in the Nashville music industry. Brent’s diverse repertoire spans across genres of rock, pop, edm, soul, jazz and singer/songwriters. With his hands-on philosophy and attention-to-detail, artists have come to know that their project will receive the utmost care from someone that truly has a passion for great work.
How did it all start for you? What first got you into music?
My love for music started at an early age. I remember starting with a keyboard and a tape recorder that I’d use to record these song ideas. In my teens my grandmother gave me my first guitar for Christmas. From there, it progressed into playing at church, school and with several bands.
The band I was in during high school recorded our first EP in a local studio, which happened to be in the back of a business that sold Natural Gas fireplaces and supplies. They were running a very early edition of Pro Tools and I was fascinated that we could record our ideas into the computer and then later that day show my friends what we had recorded. From there, I was hooked.
When it came time for our band to record our second project we decided to do it ourselves at my parents house. This was the late 90’s so affordable DAW’s weren't as prevalent as they are today. I had saved up some money from my job at Chick-fil-a and purchased a computer, Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 and a basic interface. With that gear and a few other borrowed pieces we were able to record and mix the entire record ourselves. During that time I really fell in love with production and engineering and decided at 18 I wanted to move to Nashville and attend SAE. From there, internships helped me continue to grow and then I became a full time Producer, Engineer and Mixer around 2003. I’ve been making records professionally here in Nashville ever since.
I know that being a Music Producer requires a tremendous number of late nights and early mornings. What time do you normally go to bed? What does your average week look like?
In my 20’s and early 30’s I worked non stop. It was never an issue because I love what I do and I was logging tons of hours of experience. Now that I’m married with 2 kids, my schedule is much more structured with a solid work/life balance.
I typically just work weekdays now. I wake up at 5:45am each morning and take advantage of that first hour when the rest of my family is asleep. Depending on the day I’m either running, climbing or working in my studio during that time. Around 7:15am I start to help get everyone ready and out the door. Once they’re on their way, I head to my studio.
My current working hours are around 8am-5pm Monday-Friday. Then on the weekend I try to rest and spend time with my family. Sometimes there are exceptions and that’s not an issue. I’ve always been a big believer in taking time to recharge when you’re a creative professional.
“My passion for making records started so early in life that I really never had a plan B. I think that's been beneficial for staying the course.”
How would you describe the music that you typically produce?
Diverse. From Pop, Rock, Christian, Film/TV, Singer-Songwriters, Jazz, R&B and even a few Country things, I’ve covered most genres by now.
I’ve always loved the challenge of stepping into new territory and learning more about how to best achieve a certain sound while also finding a way to contribute my own unique voice. By covering a lot of ground stylistically, it keeps me on my toes and ensures no two days are ever the same!
I read “Psychologists have found that the creative personality contains layers of depth, complexity and contradictions which makes many artists highly sensitive.” How do you approach the sensitive task of discussing changes and rearrangements with artists?
Most of the artists I work with hire me because they respect my taste and opinion but there are still times where we might disagree on something. I typically share my reasoning and if they’re still set on their way of doing things, I’m totally fine with that. I’m in a service based industry and I’m here to serve the artist. They’re the ones that continue to live with their art long after my contribution. I try to keep my ego in check at all times.
What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your music production career?
My passion for making records started so early in life that I really never had a plan B. I think that's been beneficial for staying the course. Some of my hobbies are climbing, fly fishing, wine, finance and home repair. So if changing careers was a necessity, maybe something like search and rescue in the mountains, wine grower, sommelier, portfolio manager or general contractor would suit me well.