Throughout his career, Carlton Lynn has had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in pop music. As one of the premier audio and mix engineers working today, he’s left his mark on track by Monica, Leona Lewis, Pink, TLC, Lecrae, and more. He’s won two GRAMMY Awards, for his work on TLC’s Fanmail in 2000 and Lecrae’s Gravity in 2012. A graduate of Full Sail’s Recording Arts program, Carlton will be honored this March when he’s inducted into Full Sail’s Hall of Fame. We asked him to share some of his best stories from a career that’s spanned two decades.
- Leona Lewis “Whatever It Takes” (mixer, engineer)
“This record started out as a simple MPC beat from producer Novel. It lived very simply as a hip hop beat with a pop song written on top of it during most of the production of Leona’s album. As her project progressed, the label wanted everything to build and be bigger. So the end result was a song with live drums, guitar, bass, strings and NY church choir. The original hip-hop beat had a lot of swing to it and didn’t fit a traditional Pro Tools grid. When we started stacking all of these live instruments on it, it was quite a task to edit and make everyone conform to the foundation track from pre-production.”
- Ciara “Promise” (engineer)
“As with most of the Ciara records I have been a part of, the song was written in the studio and recorded on the spot. The track was done by Polow da Don and Blac Elvis and co-written by Ciara and Jasper Cameron. I setup a live mic in the control room that was constantly recording. The track would loop and whenever anyone had an idea they could jump in and sing it. We ended up with a playlist of parts that we comped together into a basic verse/chorus structure. Lyrics came really fast and we properly recorded the song immediately afterwards.”
- Lloyd “You” (mixer, engineer)
“This started out as a beat done by Big Reese and Jasper Cameron. It’s a sample from an 80s hit with a hip hop beat behind it. The record came together easily because everyone involved was so talented. Great track. Lloyd was super fast in the studio as usual. There’s an overall great vibe to this record, and I think it can be attributed to the good times we had in the studio. The record got sent out to an A-list mixer in LA but it just wasn’t the same. My mix ended up being used—which was basically the rough mix.”
- Pink “Just Like A Pill” (engineer)
“This was the second or third time I worked with the Pink. Previously, we worked together in Nashville with (producer) Dallas Austin. At that time, it was a freezing cold winter—the only place that was warm in the studio was the control room! Our apartments, the lounge at the studio—everywhere was cold! Fast forward to 2001; Miami—we’re in a big house on the waterway with a swimming pool and studio setup overlooking the water. Completely different vibe. Pink came down and immediately let us know that she wanted to do something completely different from what she was know for. Dallas Austin started working up song ideas on guitar—which was strange because he was a keyboard player and barely knew any chords. However, he came up with some crazy catchy guitar hooks, then the two of them wrote great songs on top of them. I remember this as such a transition period for everyone. This one of the first writing retreats/album projects where we didn’t use 2” analog tape. I don’t think we every used tape much after that. Everyone on the production team was going through big changes in their personal lives as well. Many things happened that year.”
- TLC “Unpretty” (engineer)
“Dallas Austin would often have a song written and arranged in his head for quite awhile before he would actually commit and record it. So, when it actually came time to record, he was always eager to hear it finished and wanted to move quickly. After laying down a MIDI sequence of percussion from the Korg Trinity, we overdubbed the musicians one by one. First, Tom Knight cut his drum part that was the glue to whole song. Then Tomi Martin cut all the 6 and 12 string acoustic guitar parts, along with some electric. Debra Killings played bass (as well providing all the background vocals). I remember recording this song and having the feeling that it would be something special because with every new layer of overdub, it just got better and better. Of course, when T-Boz came in started putting her verses down, I think we all got goose bumps.”
- Lecrae feat J.R. “Gravity” (mixer)
“This song is was quite a challenge to work on. It’s a really tough sounding beat with big 808s and a busy hi hat work on it. So, I was constantly trying to make sure that the track had impact, while also leaving room for Lecrae and the sweet sounding chorus vocals. There was lots of EQ carving and multi-band compression going on. I mixed this at Reach Records’ studio—they had just remodeled the control room with a completely new monitoring system. The system was tuned and sounded amazing, but it was still an adjustment because everything we played through it sounded good!”
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