Name a genre and sound engineer Justin Walker has mixed it. Walker, who studied mixing and mastering at the Berklee College of Music, has ongoing residence as the live engineer at Lindberg’s Tavern and his fingerprints are all over several local releases.
417: Your mixing experience extends well beyond the room at Lindberg’s. What are some of the most memorable venues and bands you’ve worked with?
Walker: Hands down, my most memorable venue is Live Oak, Florida at Spirit of the Suwannee. It’s an 850-acre music park. The guys in The HillBenders went down there this summer and will attest that it’s just a magic place, not like any other place I’ve been to in the country. I learned the most in a short three-day engagement with String Cheese Incident. As far as a fanboy point of view, probably working with Bootsy Collins and his bass tech. iIt was probably the most starstruck I’ve felt in doing what I do
417: Do you ever find yourself critiquing the mix at shows you’re not mixing?
Walker: Absolutely. Admittedly, I don’t get out to see as many other shows as I would like to. There are some other engineers who I really enjoy to hear mix and hear how they present certain things to the audience. Going and hearing how other (engineers) think the kick (drum) should sound or the guitars; it’s enlightening to hear and assess what other people’s tastes are. Otherwise you can get caught up in how you do things.
417: What’s your background in sound engineering?
Walker: I graduated from Berklee College of Music. From there on I tried to put myself in any position where I could learn something or have somebody give me insight into their field. I would say my background has been my entire life involved with music in some degree whether it be sound, or music, or engineering, or computers, it’s always been something that I’ve done.
417: How did you get hooked into such a glamorous profession?
Walker: I don’t guess it’s glamorous. You have to get hooked up and you have to know somebody who knows somebody. For the most part, that kind of stuff will go a lot further in my field than—unfortunately—sometimes actually having chops.
417: You’ve mixed some great studio albums, from hip-hop (Too Much) to folk music (Barak Hill) and most things in between. Are there different approaches for different genres?
Walker: I look at them drastically different. If I’m doing something with a folk artist, I like to get more in that mindset. I’ll immerse myself in the same things that they are and make sure we’re all in one unified thought on the project and direction things should go. [The different approaches] are circumstantial to the artist I’m working with or what I think the target audience is.
417: Do you prefer mixing live or in the studio?
Walker: It’s apples to oranges. It’s a completely different thing for me, a different type of satisfaction and workflow.
417: Are there any projects or shows coming up that you’re especially excited for?
Walker: (Lindbergs) has The Detectives now every third Saturday of the month. They’re one of my favorite bands. Having them slated in once a month is a breath of fresh air. There are a couple of artists I’m in line to work on EPs and full lengths—it’s going to be a busy 2017. I wouldn’t have anything to look forward to if it wasn’t for the scene here; it’s overflowing with talent.