GET TO KNOW: TEYANA TAYLOR’S ENGINEER MIKE SNELL
Teyana Taylor proved herself to be a visionary with her most recent project, “The Album.” She could not have completed her vision without the help of engineer Mike Snell. Engineers have the unique job of mixing and mastering tracks for artists as they record. This helps to define their sound and stay consistent with their own vision for their music. Having the right engineer can make or break an artist, especially when it comes to the creation of larger projects.
Mike Snell has worked with hit-making artists and producers Kanye West, Timbaland, Da Baby, Future, Quavo, and Erykah Badu. He also is Teyana Taylor’s engineer for all of her music. Building a relationship and chemistry with an engineer helps the artist to make their music come out with the sound and style that they imagine during the creative process.
Her creative visions did not guide Teyana Taylor’s album under G.O.O.D Music. ‘The Album’ was her opportunity to show her fans the extent of her musical talent and create a work in her catalog she could be proud of. ‘The Album’ was engineered by Mike Snell. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Snell and learning about his experience as an engineer.
Isa W.: How did you start working as an engineer?
Mike Snell: I Moved to LA 2017 I had graduated from audio school I was working in New York freelance. I felt like I reached my peak in New York and I wanted to explore further options. One of my boys interned at Atlantic and said he could get me an interview. I saved about a rack got the job at Atlantic, got the job at Atlantic, and got called for G.O.O.D music in December 2017.
I’ve been a Kanye Stan, I got to work with him. I worked with Sheck Wes for a few sessions and I was called in February 2018 to work with Teyana. Then, I let her know after the session I had been a fan of her my whole life. I told her if she needed a personal engineer to give me a call. She ended up flying me out to Miami after that she just really used me as an engineer.
I.W: What make you and Teyana a good team when it comes to engineering?
M.S: The thing that attracted Teyana to me is my speed. She’s the type of artist who records a lot. Like 10-15 takes per line. She’ll be like “remember that one line on take 6.” You gotta be fast because she has cursed out tons of engineers. It’s bad you know cuz the artist is not vibing the whole session the artist can’t create. She likes the sexy type of sound when she’s recording. What’s different with me while she records is that I have her sounding how she wants to sound on the song during the session. That way she’s comfortable as she records. You have to have really thick skin working with her. She’s really honest with how she is if she doesn’t like something she does not have a problem telling you right away. She’s passionate about her music.
I.W: How does Teyana’s recording process change with the new album?
M.S: She needed full control. The last album she wasn’t happy. It was Kanye’s album in a sense, part of his rollout. She maintained control over the entire process so when it comes to collaborations she’s a very family-oriented person. It’s rare. It’s just me and her in the studio Iman helps her finish certain lines and Junie is always in the studio. A child in the studio is not easy but Junie is a natural star so she loves getting on the mic and she loves her mom’s music. She was like I wanna sing Teyana was like “record her” and she was killing it. I chopped up her takes and put it at the beginning of a song. The creative process is always the same she’s very much in control she’s an overall artist before the song is done she knows directions of the whole project.
I.W: How was Teyana’s creative process different on “The Album” versus K.S.T.U?
M.S: A few songs made that were supposed to be on the last album are now on this album. She was involved in production this time. We would get beats from various producers and she would sit and write and change beat as it went. The last album was rushed this album was 7 -8 years in the making. For the song with Erykah Badu (LowKey) I got to see another side to Teyana I’ve never seen. She wrote the song by herself when Erykah came on she created a section for her, got her band members from the tour and was singing melodies for each instrument.
I give credit to Teyana for my entire credit list. Because of working with her I was able to work with Kanye I was able to work with Pharrell these are my idols I’ve always looked up to my whole life. Music has allowed me to meet my idols and through working with her I get to see another side of the industry I never knew.
I see this album as graduation. I was able to set out what I wanted to accomplish in LA. Now, wanna grow as a producer now my goal is to grow as a producer and release my own records with my own artists
I.W: Do you have any advice to others looking to make it in the music industry?
M.S: Normally my advice is to move. Go somewhere else. When I was in NYC I used all my resources. It’s kinda hard to grow when you’re around the same people. Just meet new people. Networking is everything. I have met so many producers, talent is only about 5%. Who you know and networking is the other 95%. It’s not what you know it’s who you know. Once you’re there you show your talent and hard work keeps you there. Learn new things.
Mike Snell continues to push himself creatively as an engineer, producer, and DJ. He is currently working on a self-produced album with a tracklist full of hit-making artists as well as a DJ Mix to showcase all of his skills in one medium. We look forward to what Mike Snell has to bring to the music game in 2020.