In 2007, Matt Marrin received the surprise that everyone who works in music hopes for; a GRAMMY. Marrin originally came to Los Angeles back in 1998 with a prestigious degree from Berklee College of Music. He had the Hollywood dream of recording and mixing records, but came out with no real plan or job lined up. He caught his first glamorous break at the Village Studios in West LA as a ‘gopher,’ also known as a runner. He claims that this position allowed him to learn how to be around the big stars without flinching, as well as understanding the recording process more in-depth.
During his time at the Village Recorder, he had the opportunity to be mentored by his boss Jeff Greenberg, who allowed him the chance to prove himself and assist on recording sessions with talents such as award-winning producer and Def Jam Records co-founder Rick Rubin. He soon met Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis who came in to work on a Janet Jackson record, Damita Jo. He attributes his big break in the industry to working on this project when he was asked to help engineer the record, and eventually many more Janet Jackson records. He quickly became “Terry’s Guy,” and then helped them open their new studio, Flyte Tyme West, in Santa Monica. Marrin continues to work closely with them on many ground breaking projects.
Marrin started working with Chaka Khan when she decided to produce the first record she had released in quite some time. He explains the beginning process as being extremely interesting because the album concepts weren't making a lot of sense which made it difficult for everyone when it came to putting ideas down and agreeing on a general direction for the album. He stated that early on in the process he had reservations that the record would ever be released, let alone be nominated for a GRAMMY. Marrin also stated that the best part of the project was how evolved it became once everything started to fall in to place, and how in the end, they had a great album. ‘Funk This’ by Chaka Khan won the Best R&B Album, as well as ‘Disrespectful’ by Chaka Khan and Mary J. Blige for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 2007 GRAMMY Awards.
“I was pretty surprised, because working with amazingly talented guys like Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Bobby Avila, and Izzy Avila….you get so many nominations and certificates. There are also a lot of rules that leave the contributors outside the artist or producer wondering whether they will actually get the award.”
He continued by saying, “when this album was nominated, I thought that was fantastic, but in the back of my mind I was wondering ‘so who actually gets the GRAMMY?’ Sometimes, even if a project wins a GRAMMY, not everyone participates in getting that award. They also have percentage rules, stating how much minimal time you must spend on the album to qualify.” The best part of this story is Marrin humbly not expecting to get one, and was surprised when it literally showed up on his doorstep. He explains the winning moment by saying,
“I was there with Jimmy and Terry when the announcement was made, but I still didn’t know I was actually going to get one. I still remember the day clearly. I was leaving the house to go run some errands and as soon as we locked the door, the UPS guy brought up a big box…and sure enough, there was the GRAMMY!”
Marrin has been extremely successful in his career, but continues to innovate. He is currently working on an unreleased album with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. They went in to their music vault and pulled out some of the greatest records they have ever worked on with some of the best artists of our time. This is content that no one has ever heard before, so it will certainly be unique. He’s also producing a debut album for an indie rock band out of New York, Axis Armada. 2014 will no doubt be a very busy and successful year for Matt Marrin, we look forward to following the process.
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