A Musical Jack of all Trades and the Master of Many: Music Producer Alex Winter
The age old saying ‘a Jack of all trades and a master of none’ brings with it a largely negative connotation. It leads us to believe that diverse interests can actually be a hindrance and that successful people are those who focus their energy in one direction, that is how greatness is achieved. But many of the producers who are ‘making it’ in the music industry today, such as German producer, multi-instrumentalist and recording engineer Alex Winter, have flipped this idea on its head — in fact, the demands of the modern industry almost require them to be a jack of all trades in order to compete.
With a skill set that spans the gamut and includes being an adept drummer and guitarist, an ingenious songwriter, composer and arranger, not to mention a whiz in the studio when it comes to mixing and mastering, Alex has channeled his many talents into his work as a music producer. But it didn’t happen overnight.
“For a while I wasn’t sure exactly what career path would be right for me within the realm of music because I was interested in so many different things, like playing drums, guitar, recording, singing and writing,” Alex admits. “The more I learned about music production and the actual role of a modern music producer, I realized that this was the right path for me. Being a producer allows me to be creative in many different ways, and focus all my other musical skills and interests.”
Alex has been the producer behind a number of new releases including the title song off Mindia’s EP “Dusty Blue” and the song ‘Hollywood,’ the track ‘Over & Over’ off EMBI’s “Evolution” EP, Ben Stitt’s five song EP “In The Dawn Of My Days,” Neal Rosenthal’s debut album “The Red Note Project,” which is due to release in October, and more.
Alex’s diverse musical abilities were key in his work as both the producer and recording engineer behind multi-instrumentalist Neal Rosenthal’s jazz fusion album “The Red Note Project.”
“Alex truly is a ‘King of all trades’ and rightfully so,” says Rosenthal, who’s opened for George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic and played on stages including “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” Beantown Jazz Festival and Umbria Jazz Festival. “It really is quite scary how resourceful he is. I almost feel bad for how much I asked of him when I found out how brilliant he was and that I could simply just work with him and get a much better product than recruiting an entire team of people to do the same thing.”
Much of what makes Alex such a uniquely gifted and powerful producer for other artists come from his personal experiences as a musician and the tools he’s acquired over the course of his musical journey. Growing up in Seligenstadt, Germany just outside of Frankfurt, Alex discovered his first love, the drums, at an early age.
“My mom says when I was 3 years old I used to grab pots, pans, and utensils form the kitchen and would bang on them in front of the TV, imitating drummers,” he recalls. “My parents split up when I was 4 years old. The upside of that was that a while later my mom had a new boyfriend, who was a drummer. That was pretty much the coolest thing that could have happened to me.”
He began formal drum lessons at the age of 6 and by the age of 13 he picked up guitar. His prowess on both instruments, which comes from decades of training, have not only brought him attention as an artist in his own right (check out his debut track ‘Thunder’), but they’ve been integral to his ability to create and produce music for other artists.
“Playing the drums for two decades helps me with beat making and all kinds of other rhythmical aspects in a production. Even when it’s an electronic production, without recording real drums, the principals are the same. That means that rather than playing a drum part, I build it from previously recorded sounds,” Alex explains. “Playing guitar helps with harmonic and melodic aspects of songwriting. I play guitar and record guitar on almost all of my productions.”
Alex is a certifiable pro when it comes to percussion. His skill as a drummer is what led him to be accepted to the prestigious Berklee College of Music, which propelled him to relocate to the states several years ago. While getting his feet wet in the recording studio as an assistant to renowned guitarist Gundy Keller at A-Town Recordings, Alex’s extraordinary talent as a drummer was quickly recognized. While at A-Town Alex was invited to played drums on several tracks for Keller as part of a collection of demos for music industry leader, Roland Music. As the drummer on demos for Roland Music, Alex’s instrumental contributions have been heard all over the world, specifically through international demo tours at NAMM in Los Angeles, Musikmesse Frankfurt, Roland’s website and YouTube.
Aside from being able to play instruments on the tracks he produces, Alex’s knowledge and skill as a musician allows him to get into the head of the artist he’s producing and easily understand the vibe and sound they are aiming for, making for a smooth collaboration. His work as the producer of cellist and pop singer Mindia’s songs ‘Dusty Blue’ and ‘Hollywood’ off her “Dusty Blue” EP, which was released in June, are a prime example.
“Alex brought my musical and artistic vision to life. He was extremely in tune with my strengths as an artist, and brought out those strengths, liveliness, and creativity,” says Mindia. “He is able to identify the feelings I try to express with my music as accurate sounds. He then builds the sounds together to create the mood of each song.”
From playing all the guitar parts to making the beat and most of the sounds for ‘Dusty Blue’ Alex once again funneled his range of skills into creating a track that represented the artist’s vision. As the producer, co-writer and engineer of ‘Dusty Blue,’ the title song off the EP, Alex was key in the collaboration process from the beginning stages of the song’s creation.
“We started with the chord progression, and Mindia started improvising lyrics and melody ideas. After I created the first outline of the beat, I started playing guitar and trying different ideas. Mindia really liked the sound and came up with the distinctive melody that I then played on guitar in the intro, and another one more before the second verse of the song,” Alex explains.
“One of Mindia’s major influences is Lana Del Rey, whose music has a lush, melancholic, and somewhat dark sound. That is what I mainly used as direction. It was perfect that Mindia is not only a great singer, but also an incredible cellist.”
The Lana Del Rey influence is definitely noticeable in the songs tempo and the soundscape Alex created for ‘Dusty Blue.’ Moody, emotive and sexy, ‘Dusty Blue’ is the perfect title track for the EP with Mindia’s voice drawing us in and leaving us wanting more.
While his diverse capabilities assuredly put him in a ‘jack of all trades’ category where music is concerned, that is one of the driving forces behind his success as producer. This, combined with his love for music and his dedication to producing tracks that authentically represent his artists, has made Alex Winter a sought after figure behind the scenes in the pop music industry, and he’s one we definitely have our eyes on.
“Alex is good not only because of his amazing production skills, and creativity. His work ethic, dependability, and a hunger to always better himself as a producer makes him my number one producer that I will always return to and trust over and over again,” says Mindia. “His production sound is fresh and pioneering with wonderfully surprising elements, and yet extremely relevant, presenting his artists in the best light possible. Which is what being a great producer is all about.”