We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Graves and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
It’s a combination of factors. The foundation is that I love what I do. That foundation inspired me to do everything I could to become an expert in my field. From the very beginning I immersed myself in mastering and restoration and learned everything I could about my craft, as well as other aspects of audio engineering. I still do that now as technology is constantly changing and improving. Another big factor was that I got involved in The Recording Academy where I have met and been inspired by people who work in all areas of the music business. Those connections have been key in my personal growth and growing my business, and I’ve made some great friends too. For anyone starting a new business it’s important to know that it will take time, maybe years, to establish yourself, so it’s important to do something that you will look forward to working at every day.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a mastering engineer, but I also specialize in audio restoration. What that means is that I take recordings that are badly damaged, sometimes unlistenable, and make them into something enjoyable to listen to. It’s a very niche thing. I work with recordings from any era, any genre and any geographic location. As someone who has an insatiable appetite for music, I couldn’t have picked a better career. I’m often called upon to work with music that I never dreamed I would get the opportunity to work with. It’s also incredibly rewarding to bring an old recording back to life; it doesn’t matter if it’s someone’s old record of their father’s voice from WWII, a famous rock band’s demos or a collection of music foreign to most Western ears. When people hear some of the projects I’ve worked on it can be a very emotional experience for them, especially if they either haven’t heard it in a long time or they’ve heard it but with piles of noise on top. I’m always trying to make that connection between the listener and the recording as clear as I possibly can. And when that happens, there’s no better feeling.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There are so many great things to do here. A morning stroll around Venice Beach is never a bad idea, maybe walk out to the pier or watch the skateboarders. Lunch at Plant Food + Wine is a must while you’re in the area. End the day with a show at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. A day at the botanical gardens at The Huntington is a favorite as well. You could easily top that off with dinner at Sage Bistro and catch a play at the Pasadena Playhouse. If you’re in the mood for a drive, the view from the Wilson Observatory is pretty spectacular and it’s a beautiful trip. Breakfast at Kitchen Mouse in Highland Park is a great way to start the day. While you’re in the area it never hurts to stop in at Donut Friend for something sweet. I always enjoy spending time in the Arts District in DTLA, then head over to the MOCA. Dinner at Crossroads Kitchen for one of the best meals you’ll ever have. Or we could just hang out in the backyard under the grapefruit tree and watch the parrots flying around.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My wife, Joy. My professional career does not exist without her. 18 years ago when I decided that I wanted to try to work with sound recordings for a living, despite no formal training or any serious background, she supported me 100%. Now we work together and she manages our studio.
Matt Hinton, April Ledbetter, Pat Rainer