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Detroit Producer and His Name Is Alive head Warren Defever says, "I hate studios." Wow. That's kinda surprising, considering that this guy has been putting out some of Detroit's best recordings for nearly 20 years. The dude must love recording. (Turns out what gets Defever seeing red is when someone calls themselves a producer and then lazily hides behind their mixing board and ceases to produce.)
See, not only is Defever a swell engineer but he also makes the hard calls while recording to do what's best for the music. And what makes his sonic accomplishments sing all the more is how he's all over the place musically — just as his studios have been all over the Detroit area. Between His Name Is Alive, assorted side projects, and bands he's worked with, Defever's recorded output ranges from ethereal orchestrated pop to noise to free jazz to psychobilly to soul to Afropop to field recordings.
And all this time, Defever never had a sweet studio in the classic sense of the word. "A lot of the best studios are in houses — look at Motown Records," Defever enthuses. Indeed, the first four HNIA records were recorded in his parent's home in Livonia, which he eventually purchased from them. Since then he's recorded out of Bill Brovold's former studio and at CPOP.
Lately, Defever's studio's at the UFO Factory performance space and art gallery, which he shares with Dion Fischer and Davin Brainard. The Eastern Market space is truly a sight — high ceilings and walls covered in silver paint make you feel like you're tripping on the mothership. The studio itself is small, cluttered and unassuming — but the sounds he gets to tape are anything but that.
Defever got his start recording by assisting engineer Len Puch on the Gories' 1989 debut House Rockin' and on records by Snake Out and his brother's band Elvis Hitler. Beyond that he's a fairly self-taught producer.
His advice for aspiring producers? "You should move into a broken-down space in Detroit and a year later move to another place."