Mark McKee

Producer|Multi-Instrumentalist

Mark McKee on SoundBetter

I'm an LA-based producer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist w with 20yrs experience, 20M+ plays on Spotify, TV/Film credits include Netflix, The CW, MTV, CMT, NFL, Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, and more.

I mostly work in pop, alternative, singer-songwriter, indie, country, and rock - and I want to help turn your idea into a fully realized and produced song! I'm in love with the process of making records, and I do so mostly out of my studio in Highland Park, Los Angeles.

As part of my role as a producer, I play guitar, keyboards, bass, sing bgvs, and program sounds. Need a specialized musician for your project? I've got you covered. From live drums, strings, to pedal steel, I have a team of talented and fully pro musicians I regularly collaborate with.

I have worked alongside some of the best producers and mixers in the industry, including Rob Cavallo (Green Day), Mikal Blue (Colbie Caillat), Mark Needham (The Killers, Imagine Dragons), Jon Kaplan (Black Pumas) and Jeff Juliano (Dan and Shay). I've worked at some of the best studios in the world and know my way around gear, sounds, and getting the vibe exactly right for your project. I cut my teeth in the live music world touring as a keyboardist and guitarist with the artists such as morgxn, Delta Rae, Orianthi, Katelyn Tarver, poutyface, and many more.

I strive to make best sounds possible - but more importantly - serve the song and serve the artist. Creative work can be a tricky thing to harness, but together as collaborators anything is possible.

Let's make something great!

Click the 'Contact' above to get in touch. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Languages

  • English

Interview with Mark McKee

  1. Q: What are you working on at the moment?

  2. A: Currently working on a number of singles for a country artist that has me going to Nashville often, Developing and writing with the Rob Cavallo-produced artist Hardcastle, Writing songs for television and film sync licensing, and still playing live shows all over the US.

  3. Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?

  4. A: I worked on a track for the artist named morgxn called "The Way It Was" - the co writer on that track is Evan Blair who co-wrote "Beautiful Things" by Benson Boone. For morgxn's song I took the original demo and changed the tempo, the feel, and the instrumentation - but kept the melody and lyrics all intact. The original track was really great, however the mission was to re-imagine would it could be. Millions of streams later, it turned out pretty great!

  5. Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?

  6. A: Yes! Two that come to mind are Troy Welstad and Josh Frigo. Great producers and great humans.

  7. Q: Analog or digital and why?

  8. A: I prefer digital for the same reason I take a car to get to where I'm going instead of a horse and buggy.

  9. Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?

  10. A: That we will get the song finished! And that my desire to make them happy with the final product is far greater than my desire to have all my ideas get jammed into a song.

  11. Q: What do you like most about your job?

  12. A: Getting something finished. I love to create, to build. But completion and letting a song out into the world and seeing how much people love it is a feeling a can't describe.

  13. Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?

  14. A: One I get often is "When did you start playing music?" and the answer if 5 years old. I've been making music since I could form memories.

  15. Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?

  16. A: That it's only reserved for certain people. This work I love so deeply, however with the tools that are available now with technology - it's a game of how badly do you want to do it - rather than can you do it at all. I serve the artist, I serve the song, and that's what makes my light shine.

  17. Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?

  18. A: What inspires you? What makes you feel deeply? What makes you leap for joy and what makes you mad as hell? Great songs always start with a question, with a feeling, with a story. The music always finds it's way in the details once you know what you are trying to say and why.

  19. Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

  20. A: I have my ideas and my opinions, but you are the person who has the ultimate decision power on what choices are made. Look at the whole thing as a collaboration - sometimes you will need someone to make the choice if you aren't sure what a certain thing needs and sometimes you will have to be the one to say "I don't like that" or "can we try something different". It's music, it's art - it is not an exact science. So we figure it out together, build trust, and remember it's always supposed to be FUN!

  21. Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?

  22. A: (1) Macbook Pro + Pro tools (2) Nord Stage (3) Gibson ES-335 (4) Fender P-Bass (5) UAD Apollo Twin

  23. Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?

  24. A: I've been in professional music for 20 years. I began as a musician and guitar player in a band in Raleigh, North Carolina, that evolved into building a studio where I made records from 2007-2013, and in 2013 I moved to LA to keep growing and do this work at the highest level I could. I have toured all over the world as a side musician, written songs that have been placed on television and commercials, and worked in some of the best studios in the country.

  25. Q: How would you describe your style?

  26. A: I will describe my style in less of a genre-specific way and more of process-oriented way. I like to work fast. I like to get ideas down quick and ask questions later. Music is so momentary and capturing the feeling of something has a very narrow window. I will work hours and hours on something that may not make the track, and on the other side of the coin of that sentiment I will come up with something that is absolutely perfect in 5 minutes. I have to be ok with that, and I am.

  27. Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?

  28. A: I have so many, but I would say Beck because of the wild diversity and bold production choices he makes. He's still a brilliant hook writer and pop craftsman but goes to crazy places in tracks, but it's somehow grounded in elegant writing. That's a challenge I would gladly accept.

  29. Q: Can you share one music production tip?

  30. A: Don't take anything personally and don't get married to anything. The track is never finished, it's just that it's time to do something else :)

  31. Q: What type of music do you usually work on?

  32. A: Pop, Rock, Indie, Country, Singer-Songwriter, and Folk.

  33. Q: What's your strongest skill?

  34. A: Finding the sonic center of gravity of the song and building the details from there, whatever that is and whatever it takes.

  35. Q: What do you bring to a song?

  36. A: I often compare record making to film making. Record making is a bit more of a mysterious art form simply because we see far more "behind the scenes" features on films instead of being in the studio. But the process is not that different. We are taking you script (the song) and bringing it on to the film set, choosing the cameras, getting the actors, choosing the shots - I could go into far more detail but it's simply bringing an idea to life and into it's new home - your speakers into your ears.

  37. Q: What's your typical work process?

  38. A: Before I even touch the song in my studio, there is always a discussion about the sonic direction of the track. I ask artists to provide 3 song references. We then have a discussion and make sure we know the blueprint. If I am working remotely, the artist will provide a workable demo. This can be a voice memo rough, or stems of a pre-production session done to a click track in a DAW. If it's the former, I will map out the arrangement, find the tempo, and build the instruments out one by one. I don't always start with drums - I start with the "center" of the song. That could be a guitar riff, a piano line, a vocal line, etc. I let whatever that is inform all the other instruments what to do. Sometimes we may opt to do live drums, sometimes we add live strings, etc. It all depends on what the song needs and taking time and attention to find that.

  39. Q: Tell us about your studio setup.

  40. A: I use a Mac + UAD Apollo, Neve outboard preamps, and a Manley Reference as my main vocal mic. In my control room I have a keyboard rack that includes a Nord Stage 3, Roland Juno 106, Moog Sub 37, and an Native Instruments SK 88 Midi controller. For guitars I have a Gibson ES-335, Gibson Les Paul, Fender Strat, Fender Tele, Van Houten Tele, Fender Jazz Bass, Fender P-Bass, I have a Kemper Rack that serves as my guitar amp and effects rig. I have a Yairi acoustic and a Taylor acoustic. A lot of various instruments do find their way into my place, so the list always grows.

  41. Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?

  42. A: I'm inspired by producers (and study their work!) such as Greg Kurstin, Rob Cavallo, John Fields, Trevor Horn, Dann Huff, Brendan O'Brien, Kid Harpoon, Mike Elizondo, Mutt Lange, and so many others. My favorite musicians are folks such as Matt Chamberlain (drums), Pino Palladino (Bass), Blake Mills (Guitar), Greg Phillingaines (keyboards). There's way more on that list but that's my first call dream studio band.

  43. Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.

  44. A: Taking a song from a simple acoustic + vocal voice memo into a fully produced and mixed track.

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morgxn - The Way It Was

I was the Producer, songwriter, engineer, and musician in this production

GenresSounds Like
  • Imagine Dragons
  • The 1975
  • Luke Combs
Gear Highlights
  • Gibson ES-335
  • Gibson Les Paul
  • Martin Acoustic
  • Fender Bass
  • Nord Stage 3
  • Moog Sub37
  • Roland Juno 106
  • Manley Reference Mic
  • Massive
  • Serum
  • Battery
  • Kontakt
More Photos
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