Grammy winner Mike Dean has worked with the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Coldplay, and many, many more. Whether he’s playing the role of producer, composer, mixer, engineer, or DJ, Dean knows how to get the sounds he needs, which is why McDSP plug-ins have been in his sessions from the very beginning. “FilterBank is pretty much my go to EQ for everything.”
While already known as a pioneer in the Dirty South sound, Dean is also a classically trained pianist and multi-instrumentalist. They’re great plug-ins. They sound really transparent, and just real intuitive and easy to work.His pristine K. Kawai grand piano not only gets treated to Dean’s talented hands, but also to the skyline views from the vaulted ceilings of his top floor New York City apartment. Having the background of a musician has been a key aspect in his ability to work and collaborate with so many artists over the years.
Since he started in the audio industry, Dean has seen quite a few changes in audio technology. “The integration of computers into the recording place. The disappearance of mixing boards, how they’ve just turned into a monitor system now. And all the new software that makes everything so much easier.”
Whether he’s using Pro Tools, Ableton Live, or Logic, the projects and ideas come in all forms and formats and with increasingly higher track counts. As the sessions increase in size, so do the number of plug-ins used, which is why the ultra low latency design and ability to seamlessly switch between DSP and Native versions of McDSP plug-ins have been crucial for the in demand producer. By not having to worry about the resources on his system, he gets to focus on his favorite part of the creative process. “When everything starts coming together. All the frequencies, notes, and sounds, all sit together well. That’s when it gets exciting. If you get all the right notes, you want to be able to mix it right, then the stuff kind of mixes itself. It’s the heart of making good stuff.”
Dean was first introduced to McDSP plug-ins by Dave Pensado. “In 1996 was when I was working at the Enterprise Studio in Burbank. Me and Dave had rooms. I had a room there that I had made sound really good that he always wanted to get into. He showed me the first FilterBanks and CompressorBanks. I used to use the Synthesizer One a lot, like on Tupac’s Smile.”
When it comes to choosing the right tools for the job, there are a few reasons why McDSP plug-ins make the cut for Dean. “They’re great plug-ins. They sound really transparent, and just real intuitive and easy to work.”
Some of Dean’s proudest work is with Kanye West. In fact, Dean has worked on every Kanye West album and also the Kayne West and Jay-Z project Watch The Throne. His work on Yeezus generated a number one debut on Billboard and nabbed him two 2014 Grammy nominations. “We get to really branch out and try different genres of music, try different sounds. It’s very experimental, explorative music.”
When he’s not working, Dean likes bowling, riding bikes, and playing his piano.