Growing up in a household of musicians in Miami, producer, composer, arranger, and percussionist Tony Succar got his start playing drums as a kid in his family’s band. While he always thought of music as more of a hobby, his passion for writing and composing led him to try and make it a career, so he turned his parents’ garage into a studio and learned how to use Pro Tools on YouTube.
Now, with two Latin GRAMMY® wins—he was awarded “Producer of the Year” and “Best Salsa Album” in 2019—and five nominations, Succar has achieved the dream he set out for himself. And he has Michael Jackson to thank for that.
“My biggest break was when I finished grad school and I started my first project,” he recalls. “I decided to do a freakin’ Michael Jackson tribute album. People were like, Tony, what are you thinking, bro? You’re gonna have to get licenses. Who’s going to even wanna be involved in that project? Michael’s music is untouchable!”
That project went on to involve the likes of Sheila E., Jon Secada, Tito Nieves, Judith Hill, Jean Rodriguez, and over 100 other artists and musicians who collaborated together to create Unity: The Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson. The acclaimed compilation album has a distinct salsa flavor, courtesy of Succar’s music production and arrangement skills, and reached number one on the Latin Billboard charts
“It was a huge risk,” Succar admits. “It took me 5 years to complete that project, but after I launched it, so many people in the industry started to know about me.”
While the tribute album didn’t garner any GRAMMY nominations due to a questionable eligibility qualification (much to the displeasure of Succar), his follow-up album, Más de Mi, gave him the accolades and awards. Not bad for an album he recorded and produced in the same studio he built in his parents’ garage—a place he still works out of today completely in Pro Tools.
“I find myself programming all the time in Pro Tools and now it’s just my go-to,” he says. “Everything is there, and it makes me work faster. I don’t have to transfer anything to any other DAW when I go into any studios because that’s what studios have all the time. That’s what I love about it… It’s helped me throughout my career and I’m planning to keep going with it 100%.”
Hear more from Tony Succar about his music, career, and tribute to Michael Jackson in our That Sounds Great podcast…