Soundedit’19 – Steve Albini

Born in Pasadena in sunny California, an American with Italian roots. Musician, music journalist, producer and sound engineer. His adventure with music began in high school from bass guitar. That was also when he started to be interested in punk rock. Years later, he still emphasises his love for guitars saying that: “good noise is like an orgasm.” He was “infected” with the love for punk rock by his friend. He grew up listening to The Stooges, Ramones and Kraftwerk.

After graduating from high school, Steve began his studies at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. It was there that he received his diploma in journalism, which opened the way to his future work, writing for local newspapers. He wrote mainly about punk rock bands emerging at that time. It was also when he began recording his works.

In 1981, Albini founded Big Black and released his debut EP “Lungs”. The artist is known for his opinion that analogue recording is better than digital. He even emphasised this on the back of the album “Songs About Fucking” released in 1987 by Big Black, where he presented his thesis in a very harsh way. Albini also co-created Rapeman and Shellac, with whom he recorded six studio albums.

He began his adventure with music production in the 1990s. He founded his first studio, Electrical Audio, in 1995. Albini doesn’t like the term “music producer”, instead he calls himself a “recording engineer”. The American himself estimates that he has produced several thousand albums so far. The artists with whom Steve has collaborated include such stars as: Foxy Shazam, Nirvana, Pixies, Mogwai, The Jesus Lizard, PJ Harvey, Superchunk, Bush, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Cheap Trick or The Cribs. He is famous for giving musicians a lot of freedom when it comes to creating material for their albums, as he claims that a sound engineer shouldn’t get too involved in the creative process.

Albini’s best known album is Nirvana’s “In Utero”. It was the last studio album of the band, whose history ended with the tragic death of Kurt Cobain. Nirvana’s himself wanted to work with Steve, who was involved in the creation of several of his favourite albums. Albini was not a fan of Nirvana’s work, but he agreed to cooperate. The musicians wanted a raw sound on the album, and Albini was famous for it. After the first audition, Cobain was not fully satisfied with the album, but he said that as a fan he would like to buy it. This proved correct – the album gained recognition not only from the audience, but also from critics.

Steve Albini is known for his unflattering opinions and unpopular views about the music industry, which he believes does not support the creators, but the music labels, which earn the most money in this market. In his interviews he emphasises that he’s against such a model of exploitation of people and their achievements. He’s much more supportive of sharing music over the Internet. According to the producer, it allows bands that would have no chance to break through without this tool to develop.

During the awards ceremony, Steve Albini will receive the “Man with a Golden Ear” for “Timeless Achievements in Music Production”. The event will take place during the 11th International Festival of Music Producers and Sound Designers Soundedit at Wytwórnia club (ul. Łąkowa 29, Łódź) on 26 October 2019 (Saturday).

Photo: press materials of the organiser