Monday, January 11, 2010

Kerry “Krucial” Brothers: Alicia Keys Collaborator & Producer Interview

via Sonic Scoop

Kerry “Krucial” Brothers is Alicia Keys’ right-hand man — her longtime production and business partner in KrucialKeys Enterprises and The Oven Studios, and one of the Executive Producers on The Element on Freedom. As with As I Am, Brothers and Chief Engineer Ann Mincieli (pictured above) form the start-to-finish production nucleus that powers their artist.

Keys’ production partner since the early days, Brothers is trusted as the artist’s “extra set of ears,” and routinely makes the decisions that keep the production process moving forward. He is indeed crucial to this operation, which once in full swing — with mixers Manny Marroquin and Tony Maserati, and mastering engineer Dave Kutch in-house at The Oven — requires this musical right-hand man to be on-site and on-point.

Sonic Scoop: Is this all-under-one-roof process about pushing the envelope of production? Why do it this way, in this day and age, with the expense of bringing people in-house?

Kerry “Krucial” Brothers: It’s kind of costly, but it’s really about keeping the quality up. With the technology you can send files, but with everyone here, you can say, “It sounds distorted. I need to change this.” Then you can run upstairs and say (to the mixer), “Can you change it?” You’ve got creative opinions. If Tony wants to add something, we can overlay it. Then when we get to the mastering, we say, “Can you EQ this?”
It makes my job a little easier. It gets everyone into it the project more, and the quality is better. Now with the big labels, everyone is about the bottom line. You could say, “I want to do this or that,” but they don’t care. Here, everyone cares, and that’s the main thing.
I’m one of the Executive Producers on The Element of Freedom. I’m Alicia’s main musical partner, producing, writing, arranging, and we’re doing it one more time. It’s still exciting, because each album we try new things. No album sounds like the one before.

Sonic Scoop: Alicia is obviously very hands-on in the production process. How do the two of you communicate?

Kerry “Krucial” Brothers: I’m her extra set of ears. Sometimes she’s busy doing promotion, for example, so she pretty much trusts my ears. We’ve worked together for 13 years now, and it’s like, “If you say it’s good, I believe you.” I’ll listen with Dave, listen to sequences, mixes, I’ll give my opinion.
We’re almost one mind now, we’re so much alike. We learn a lot from engineers, especially from Ann, bringing in new things to try out.

Sonic Scoop: How would you characterize the way you and Alicia work together?

Kerry “Krucial” Brothers: It’s always sharing ideas as lovers of music. Ann really keeps up and maintains the studio, and you really couldn’t have a better person doing that. We’ll use new equipment, and that inspires so many songs. During the off-hours, we’re really taking the time to learn different things — we’ll try out a new bundle, a new plug-in, adding in new elements that come out. We’re still like little kids, and that keeps the energy. We’re lucky to have a label that supports it.

Read the full interview here:
Sonic Scoop - Key to Keys: Kerry “Krucial” Brothers, Executive Producer

& read more about the Kerry “Krucial” Brothers & Alicia Keys in-house production team in their own interviews on Sonic Scoop here:
Manny Marroquin, Mixer
Tony Maserati, Mixer
Dave Kutch, Mastering

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