Vance Powell is an audio legend, six-time Grammy winner, and friend of The Blackbird Academy who stopped by to visit the Studio Engineering class. Vance is best known for his long-term collaborations with Chris Stapleton and Jack White, in addition to his work on Beyonce’s Lemonade. He shared his best practices, some “top-secret tunes” (unreleased track from one of the biggest names in music), stories from his time on the road, and his perspective on what it takes to creatively click with artists. We’ve shared a snippet of his conversation below, and we can’t thank Vance enough for stopping by to hang out and teach! 



The Blackbird Academy: What’s your best piece of advice?

Vance Powell: If I can tell you anything, getting fired is the best thing that can happen to you when mixing or recording. What happens is, the reason you got fired will stick with you forever, and you will not do it again. 

BBA: What tips do you have for mixing in a home atmosphere and dealing with reflections? 

VP: Try to make your room as complicated as possible – use bookcases. Just try to make your room’s reflective surfaces as complicated as possible, and try to make your back wall as dead as possible. Go buy an old mattress and put it against your wall – the more “dense” the better. 

BBA: What was the last album you listened to because you wanted to and weren’t working?

VP: I couldn’t even tell you. I listen to some weird stuff… 

My wife and I just did a 5,000-mile road trip, so I thought it was a good time to go back through records I really loved in the ’80s that have been remastered. Oh, and this is what I put on when I don’t want to think about anything or be challenged by my listening. If I just want to drive through the Rockies. Anyone here have Tidal? Awesome, it sounds great. There’s this playlist called Crossed Wires that’s this weird modular synth stuff. I will just put this on, and there are 149 songs on this playlist that I’ll just shuffle and make dinner. 

To keep up with Vance, check him out on Instagram and Twitter. Apply to join The Blackbird Academy’s Studio Engineering program!