Lance Brozovich is an audio engineer with 22 years experience in live concert sound. Lance has mixed over 2000 live events in most genres over the course of his career. We asked about how he got started in the industry, how he finds new gigs, and about his take on a perfect mix.
Hi Lance - thank you for your time and for sharing your expertise with us. Who are you currently out with now and what’s the rest of your year look like?
Currently, I’m out with Al Jarreau. And I’m unsure what the rest of the year holds for me as I’ve recently been married and have staying home more than I used to. But I’m always on the hunt for bigger and better gigs though, so we’ll see…
Lance, you don’t work for a sound company, do you? You’re strictly independent; so how do you find gigs? Do you still need to network or is it all by word of mouth and reputation now?
No specific sound company employs me, although on occasion, I do some work for PRG. I am an independent freelance engineer. I mostly mix monitors but sometimes FOH or systems tech. I find gigs or they find me — from colleagues or by reputation.
Also, there is an underground production job list that exists from a travel agent named Debra Copelan at Tzell Travel. I’ve known her for many years. She is not an employment agency but she posts when any of her music industry clients ask her to. She’s just a great lady passing on available jobs, trying to help others stay working. Besides for that, I still try to network when I can. It never hurts to make new contacts as people come and go in the industry.
You’ve run monitors for acts huge like Esperanza Spalding, Natalie Cole, Cyndi Lauper, The Cranberries, and for Fuel. But how did you first get started?
I have done many successful shows around the world with the artists that you named but I first got started just unloading trucks and pushing gear at local gigs in LA — decades ago. Local sound companies hired me and taught me step by step.
Here’s how I really got started. I grew up in Santa Rosa, CA and sometime during the 10th grade, a friend’s band was playing in the school auditorium during lunchtime. They were having trouble with the equipment. They were using a Peavy powered mixer and they couldn’t get their monitors to work. They knew that I owned the same PA system for my own band and they called on me for help. I went to the stage and successfully proceeded to get the monitors up and running so they could perform that day. I graduated school early the very next year and a few years later, I moved to southern California and started with a small company in Orange County named Spectrum Audio owned by a guy named Roy Zartman. Roy was the first of many mentors and he taught me a great deal. After some time, I moved on to industrial sound under Greg Dean’s direction. Greg proceeded to help me understand much more about audio and how it works in a live setting from venue to venue — acoustics and especially the “less is more” rule in a live reflective room.
And what’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned along the way?
Skill set and great “chops” are essential! Reputation is everything in this Business. You are always responsible for your actions and behavior.
Any other tips for engineers who are just cutting their teeth out there now?
Sure, always know the limitations of your equipment. Keep eagle eyes on the band always, never look down at your console. Position yourself so you can see both console and performer if you’re mixing monitors. And when mixing FOH, trust your ears, not the meters.
Are you able to spec the gear that you want to use on a tour or is that usually decided by the tour accountant or manager? When you can choose, what is your board of choice? What about effects and other gear?
It all depends on the gig. Sometimes budget is limited and you have to make it work with the local supply. Maybe just carry an in-ear rack and a USB key with your mix. When I can spec it, a DD profile is my console of choice but the old Yamaha standard 5d always works well for most gigs.
Most of your artists tend to gravitate towards in-ears. Any secrets that you want to share as to how you like to mix in-ears?
Hmmmm, how to… Baby steps. Baby steps. And finally baby steps! Small moves can make big changes for in-ears. Try and find the right tone and/ or EQ, although I can not stress enough that the biggest thing to be aware of is the “bleed” or ambient noise you get from any open mics, especially vocals. That always needs to be kept at a minimum level to keep the ear mix dry and well defined.
And lastly, what constitutes a good mix in your opinion?
A good mix in my opinion is a natural approach with minimal EQ to the artist’s tone in instruments. A good mix is also defined by meeting the artist’s needs 110%. It’s NEVER about the mixer. Do whatever works for the artist. That’s the gig. Don’t forget. Never personal, always business.