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Article From Urban Beat Magazine

Houston Texas August, 2000 Vol. #6 Issue #8

Story by Silence Images by Andrew Chong  

Houston was growing so much in terms of music that I made the transition and , the very next day I found myself in the  studio with Destiny's Child 

"Killa"  Sound Instinct Michael Calderon shares his Sound Techniques

Michael Calderon got the "Kill" added to his name when a client once commented that he does killer mixes. 

A musician since age four Michael has been mixing and producing predominately hip-hop music since 1987. His clients have included Tupac Shakur, DJ Pooh, Ice Cube, Korn, Destiny's Child, L L Cool J, Snoop Dogg and so many more that they comprise a list so big My'kill can't possibly remember them all.

Michael got his start as a musician touring LA back in the mid-eighties. He started doing live sound for other bands as a way to earn some extra money and found that doing sound paid better than playing guitar in his own band up and down the Sunset Strip. Soon after interning at a local Los Angeles studio, My'kill found himself behind the boards for Ice Cube and Tupac and the rest was history. 

"I think one of the craziest experiences I've had in the studio was with Pac when the LA riots broke out" 

My'kill says with a chuckle. However he attributes DJ Pooh with teaching him how to put the "funk" in his hip-hop mixes.

 "Watching Pooh and what he could do with his drums, I got to the point that no matter what your drums sounded like when you brought them to me, by the time they leave, I'm going to have them with the same sound quality as the majors."

My'killz move to Houston was precipitated by his girl friend who resided in H Town. He found himself back and forth from LA to Houston to see her for over a year before he decided to just make the switch.

" It got to the point where I felt that I had enough credits that I could get work anywhere and Houston was growing so much in terms of music that I made the transition and, the very next day I found myself in the studio with Destiny's Child."

How would My'kill feel about working on a project that was "wack"? 

"Well generally, I try to find something in the music that will make me feel it 'cause in all honesty I wouldn't be able to work on a project that was completely hopeless. But at this level, though, when you're payin' upwards of a hundred dollars an hour and more, you don't find many groups in the studio who don't have their act together."

How about giving up the board to start gigging again? 

"I don't know about that. I love mixing. I feel that I'm the extra part of the band that you never see, so right now that's where my hearts at."

My'kill also offered some do's and don'ts not only for aspiring engineers, but for artists who want to make the most of their recording time. 

"First I would say, if its your prerogative, then party when you write your lyrics but not when you perform them. Remember this is your record. It's going down in history, so get it right the first time. That includes mot making money such an issue and taking the time to do it correctly. I would also suggest that you come to your session with your key people and leave your entourage at home."
"As for engineers, a formal education is good, but schools aren't going to give you all the tools you need. You need to be able to read schematics, understand electricity, have some knowledge of production and also know a thing or two about psychology because, when you spend 12 hours a day with someone in the studio, you got to be able to get along with them. I would say the most successful engineers are the ones with a great personality."

Michael Calderon continues to work in Houston with what he calls "an immense pool of talent," but cautions artists to get the best possible production value for their record.