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Sean Slade is an associate professor in the Music Production and Engineering (MP&E) Department at Berklee College of Music. A graduate of Yale University in 1978, he moved to Boston, playing guitar and saxophone in various beat combos before cofounding Fort Apache Studios in 1985.
Slade has produced, engineered, and mixed records for Radiohead, Hole, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Warren Zevon, Lou Reed, Joe Jackson, the Dresden Dolls, and many more artists. When not teaching at Berklee, he can be found recording music at Quarry Recorders, his studio in rural Maine.
“When I entered Yale in 1975, they were literally inventing punk rock just down the road in New York City, and that experience changed my life. I went to CBGB and saw all the bands and taught myself guitar. When I moved to Boston, I formed a New Wave band and we did pretty well—made a bunch of records. That’s when I discovered that I liked being a producer more than trying to be a rock star. My bass player and I banded together with two other guys and founded Fort Apache Studios in Boston. I figured out how to produce as I went along."
“Music production is almost like creative writing: You can’t teach someone exactly how to do it. You can give overall guidelines, but you have to let students learn by experience. I teach the philosophy behind good producing and the aesthetics of production—how to balance art and commerce. I particularly enjoy talking about the history of recording, which is really the history of 20th-century music—just a blip in the whole history of music. Recordings, and changes in the way we record music, affect the way we listen to and play music."
“One of my classes is production analysis, which involves listening to records and analyzing what makes them effective—or not. We explore the details that go into creating an effective record that touches people’s emotions. I also teach MP320, the students’ first real production project. In this class, I use my own experiences as object lessons for what my students might encounter in the studio, hoping they can benefit from my successes and failures. And teaching MP461, Advanced Production, allows me to help future producers hone the variety of skills they’ve achieved through four years at Berklee.”
“I hope that I’m preparing my students for a successful career while teaching them to never forget the sheer fun of making and recording music.”