— A long-time client of Conway Recording Studios, Vicari reflects on his career, and credits reinvention as the foundation of his success —
Hollywood, CA — Tommy Vicari, the multi-GRAMMY®, multi-EMMY® award-winning engineer/mixer, has done it all. From working on landmark recordings with artists like Quincy Jones, George Duke, Jeffrey Osborne, Barbra Streisand and Prince, to movie and TV credits including Road to Perdition, Angels in America, Behind the Candelabra, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Saving Mr. Banks and The Judge, to mixing global broadcast events like the annual Academy Awards, Vicari’s 40-year career is not slowing down for a moment.
Vicari kicked off 2015 by winning a GRAMMY award for Gordon Goodwin’s Life in the Bubble, in the category of Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. He followed that with being nominated for the 17th time for an EMMY award for mixing the OSCARs. He has recently recorded and mixed two original scores by composer Thomas Newman: one for director Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies and the other for director Davis Guggenheim’s He Named Me Malala. And the year is not over yet.
He is currently working at Conway Recording – Studio C (a space Vicari likes to call “home”) as the music scoring mixer for the upcoming Adam McKay film The Big Short, starring Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell and Marisa Tomei, and featuring original music score composed by Nicholas Britell. In between sessions, Vicari reflects on the changes in the industry and what you need to do to stay at the top of your game. “The record business, as we once knew it, has changed. Technology, piracy, social networking and streaming have significantly diminished revenues,” states Vicari. “Most productions are being done in home studios with artists financing their own productions. As a recording professional reinvention must be an ongoing process! You either evolve, or you get left behind. Not always with great enthusiasm, but with an open mind, and a desire to perfect your craft. Using experience and determination to tackle things you have not done before. This can take you places never thought.”
For Vicari, the recording process and the gear has changed as well over his four-decade career. “Most of the productions are now done at home, using a combination of sample libraries and live musicians. Today’s tools are digital reproductions of the analog gear I have used since I started in this business over 40 years ago. I have to say, most of this digital software is very good. Personally, I use a combination of the new technology and vintage gear I have used for years. The important thing to remember is that they are all just tools. You use them, they don’t use you!”
When Vicari looks back on his distinguished career, one thing has always been a constant – he is his own man and remains true to who he is. “I was determined not to be marginalized, and so I’ve nurtured relationships that I have to this day. I mix records, movies, television, video games, theme park music, demos and plays. I am a music mixer and the paths I have chosen depend on the music and the people I’m working with! Of course there are financial considerations; however, it does not determine whether or not I agree to work on a project!”
When it comes to relationships, Vicari treasures the one he has had for nearly forty years with Conway owners Buddy and Susan Brundo. “From 1976 I have worked in many studios all over the world, and Conway is one of my favorites. Buddy and Susan keep the studio on the cutting edge of technology — they combine classic recording techniques with up-to-date engineering science. It’s their constant pursuit of sonic excellence,” stated Vicari. “And, their attention to detail is unparalleled. Their staff, the support, the studio’s beautiful environment – Conway is an oasis in the middle of Hollywood, where you can actually make great music and have fun doing it!”
With upcoming records slated with leading artist like Jason Gould, Philip Bailey, Wayne Bergeron and Pixar’s Finding Dory, Vicari is showing no signs of slowing down.
Photo Caption: Tommy Vicari at Conway Studios – Studio C.