Every week, we ask a different local artist to provide their unique perspective on the pandemic experience from a musician’s point of view. Through words, video and music, each musician will share their story, along with an audio or video sample of a recent project, and a link to purchase their music so that you can support their work.
This week, bassist, producer and educator Justin Gray discusses diving into the role of producer (and helping musicians bring their project to life), focussing on gratitude, and new projects on the way.
"As I take this moment to reflect, I realize that the pandemic has had a substantial effect on my work and my place within the music community. In my career, I have always straddled the line between identifying as a performing bassist and as a producer/studio engineer. Over the course of the pandemic, I have transitioned into working primarily as a music producer & mixing/mastering engineer. This is ultimately a shift that I am grateful for. This is not to suggest that I don’t play bass or look forward to more performance opportunities, but that I have found even more comfort in identifying as a music producer and engineer.
When the pandemic began, I was immersed in a series of musical projects in the role of producer & mix/mastering engineer. As the pandemic took away the ability for musicians to work in the same space, I immediately focused on developing creative solutions to help all of these projects move forward. As a studio engineer, I have integrated remote recording and production practices into my own workflow for almost a decade. I, therefore, embraced the opportunity to share that experience with my community and worked to develop solutions to allow the music to continue flowing.
[During this time I've learned] to focus on gratitude and to embrace the opportunities presented by the unknown. Although the pandemic has of course been accompanied by challenges, I recognize now more than ever just how much I have to be thankful for. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for my family and friends, and I am also constantly inspired by the ability to participate in the music community here in Toronto and abroad.
In the fall of 2021, I joined the Humber College music faculty as the program coordinator for the graduate certificate in music composition. This is an immense artistic opportunity, and one I am grateful and honoured to have. Additionally, the pandemic was an opportunity for me to focus on developing my skills as a producer & mixing/mastering engineer for the emerging Dolby Atmos immersive audio format. I have been dedicated to developing music in this format for the last 3 years, but the pandemic provided me with the space to further hone my skills, and connect with artists from around the world to help them bring their music to life in the format.
On a personal musical level, I have been arranging new music I composed for my ensemble Justin Gray & Synthesis. This music will be recorded in 2022, and is being orchestrated and recorded to be produced in the Dolby Atmos format."
Support Justin by purchasing his music from Bandcamp: justingraysynthesis.bandcamp.com
Here's a video of Justin Gray & Synthesis at Lula Lounge.Though recorded at their CD release a few years ago, it was produced, mixed and mastered during the pandemic: