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Quotes of the Month: Technicians

We pay so much attention to musicians, but not to the workers behind the scenes who make their music sound good and help get it heard. Techies deserve love too, so this month we’re featuring quotes from successful sound engineers and producers.

“We are musicians in our own right. We’re playing the console and the tape machine and the microphones.”

—Susan Rogers, producer and engineer. She worked as a field-service technician in the late ’70s, repairing equipment at recording studios. After a time working as an equipment maintenance staffer at Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s studio, she became Prince’s sound engineer in 1983. She engineered songs by Michael Penn, Tevin Campbell, and Edie Brickell and New Bohemians and then became a freelance producer.

“A lot of my work comes from just playing around with equipment, seeing what it will do. And whenever I get stuck and think I’ll never have another idea again in my life, I just try…to relax and then just play around with the equipment. Because your tools teach you things.”

—Laurie Anderson, producer and musician

“I can pull emotions out of players that guys might not be able to.”

—Sylvia Massy, producer, on why her gender can be useful.

I’d like to see other women involved [in producing] because it’s so nice, that freedom to express. I love it! I find that producing [the artists], I feel like it’s me. Usually, artists have a certain amount of ego, but in producing you get the same feeling, and if [the song is] a hit, you feel like you did it. It’s very gratifying, and anything men can do, women can do better!”

Sylvia Robinson, producer and president of Sugar Hill Records. She produced the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message.”

Are there any careers in the music industry you’d like to see spotlighted in Queens of Noise? Say so in the comments!