Grammy-nominated producer stays ahead of the curve
Driven by his forward-thinking attitude and eclectic tastes, two-time Grammy-nominated producer/remixer Carmen Rizzo represents an emerging generation of independent artists who prize creativity and innovation over major label contracts. His diverse roster of production credits ranges from underground artists like Ryuichi Sakamoto and Jem to pop powerhouses Alanis Morrissette, Coldplay, KD Lang and Seal. In addition to transcending genres, Rizzo moves seamlessly between remixing top artists, working on film and television projects, and creating his own artist albums. In this exclusive interview, the indie music advocate provides key insights into his success—including the M-Audio technology he uses to stay ahead of the curve.
Rizzo has developed a strong reputation as a go-to producer for artists who want to push the creative envelope. Rather than looking to the past, Rizzo discovers inspiration in new music and the technology that makes it possible. “New music inspires me more than digging backwards,” he explains. “Some people break out their favorite Beatles album when they’re in a slump, but I always look forward. Hearing new music energizes me. Technology is also one of my main sources of inspiration—it plays a huge role in everything I do in the studio and on stage.”
Cutting-edge tools do more than just spark creativity—they bring life to Rizzo’s ideas and enable him to pursue his eclectic career path. “M-Audio has always been on the forefront of the indie music scene,” he explains. “They’ve done a wonderful job of making it easy to make music—whether you’re a novice bedroom producer or an established professional. The Sputnik is my new go-to piece. I can’t say enough about how that mic has changed my life. The EX66 monitors are absolutely incredible. I use a ton of M-Audio controllers, from the Axiom to the Oxygen 8v2. For Pro Tools M-Powered on the road, I love the Transit and the FireWire 410.”
What does it take?
With the commercial record labels in an ever-changing state of flux, trendsetting artists like Carmen Rizzo have seized the opportunity to start a new music revolution. “Nowadays, it’s an equal playing ground,” he says. “The record industry may be dead and buried, but the music industry is alive and kicking. Artists used to need a major label record deal to have a chance to compete. Nowadays that’s not the case at all. You have as much of a chance as anybody who’s on a major label, and you can sell 15 to 25,000 units and make the same money as selling 80 to 100,000 from a major. It’s more work, but you have more ownership and more control.”
According to Rizzo, finding a niche in the music industry requires more than just raw talent. Strong people skills are also an important factor in developing a lasting career. “There are artists more talented than me that haven’t been able to make it,” he relates. “Success requires relationship and chemistry—you need to be both talented and a ‘people person.’ If someone’s skilled but acts like a jerk and doesn’t get along with clients, they’ll have a hard time getting work.
“Ultimately, you have to be confident in what you do,” Rizzo concludes. “You have to trust your ears and your style. Stand tall, be proud of your work and never be afraid to take a chance.”
Visit www.carmenrizzo.com for information about upcoming projects including a new artist album, Ornament of an Imposter, new Niyaz release and more.