You might not know his name, but he's behind some of your favorite records, TV shows and movies. Los Angeles-based producer/mixer Scott Michael Smith has turned his passion and talent for music into a booming studio career—but he hasn't done it alone. As part of GRAMMYNext, Smith's circle is full of both support and inspiration from the industry around him.
Music grabbed Smith early in life. His parents raised him on a healthy dose of Beach Boys and the Beatles. Smith's career ascent began at the world-famous Village Studios in Los Angeles, where he started as a runner and worked his way through the ranks to become a staff engineer.
Today, Smith's work can be heard all over. He is currently wrapping up work on Season 3 of "The Handmaid's Tale" and IT Chapter Two. His past credits include films such as The Revenant, Transformers: Age Of Extinction and music by John Mayer, Nelly, Carole King and many more. His versatility across medium and genre speaks to his appetite for innovation in the studio, an approach that has made him fearless and allowed him to turn mistakes into knowledge.
"I really like working with people that take risks and try to do something that's going to last, and something original," Smith said. "It's cliché, but this idea that you learn from your mistakes is absolutely true, especially in an industry as hard as ours. If you learn from it, you can bounce back from it, so I'm thankful for each [mistake] I've made."
Inspiration comes to Smith from so many sources, especially when bouncing from project to project, but he names Steve Reich's 1978 minimalist masterpiece Reich: Music For 18 Musicians, which won for Best Small Ensemble Performance (With or Without Conductor) at the 41st GRAMMY Awards, as a latest favorite over the past couple years.
"It's just kind of blowing my mind a little bit and shown me how you can make an album with super-high production value, but just do it with orchestral musicians, no tricks, nothing, just the way it's written and arranged," Smith said of the album.
At this exciting time in his career, Smith credits the Recording Academy for building up his network and Village CEO Jeff Greenberg from initially recommending GRAMMY :NEXT to him.
"The best part about being a GRAMMYNexter has been the camaraderie and meeting the other people in the program," Smith said. "We all do different things. We're all in the same industry, but we come at it from different angles and that melting pot is really a nice thing to be a part of."
Smith's mentor is Mike Todd, AVP of Film/TV Music, who he credits with encouraging him to be social and build connections. "Mike's been amazing as far as giving me a perspective on our industry from a different angle, from a more writing-oriented side, from a business side, whereas, for me, I'd just be stuck in a studio," he said. "So he's been really great and introduced me to a lot of people, and we're still very close friends."