5 Quick Questions with Trey Songz Engineer, Zach Steele (@ZachSteez)

Even if you haven’t heard the name Zach Steele you definitely have heard of some of his clients:

  • Trey Songz
  • Nelly
  • Day26
  • 8Ball & MJG
  • Vandalyzm

the list goes on. Zach is a mixing engineer and producer who creates wide, deep, energetic, and eargasmic mixes.

I got the chance to ask Zach a few questions and he dropped some nuggets of mixing and professional wisdom. Read on to learn more.

How did you get into music?

My mother and father were both very big fans of music, from a listening perspective. My father actually worked at a few radio stations, so his job and relationships allowed me to attend an extraordinary amount of concerts growing up, and over time I became very immersed in the music. It was my first love.


You create incredible depth and width in your songs. It’s evident in Outside and Inside pt. 2. How do you make that happen?

Well, panning things to give them their own space is an obvious answer. Beyond that though, I try to remain creative when it comes to vocal processing. I rarely ever use presets, and I tweak all the settings. For instance, with reverb, I think the pre-delay setting can make a world of difference, so I will play with it until it feels right. Most people leave it on 0. Also, I try to be very subtle with effects. Being heavy handed and just slapping on a hall reverb, a delay preset and smashing everything with a compressor is not the way to go about creating a dynamic mix.


What piece of engineering or production advice made the largest impact on you?

Never work for free. I was told this by Gary Gottlieb, one of my former professors that I continue to have great respect for. That advice is golden. Work for cheap if you have to, but never for free. If you work for free, your “client” wont respect you, or your work. Sonically, I recently received some amazing advice when I had a chance to work with Dr. Dre. He said not to mix with your ears. Instead, mix with your chest. Music is a feeling, not a thought. That being said, I try to use both.


What projects do you have coming down the pipeline?

Lately I have been working with a few new artists such as B Smyth, who is signed to Universal/Motown and is an incredible singer with some great dance moves too. I am also getting back into the production aspect of music, which I had kind of put to the side in order to learn the engineering craft.


Where do we learn/hear more Zach Steele?

The best way to stay abreast of my current projects is to follow me on twitter: @ZachSteez

You can also stay up with Zach Steele on his website, zsteele.com


Please be sure to Thank Zach via Twitter <- it’s as easy as clicking the link.

Gary Gottlieb
April 22nd, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Thanks Zach, and I’m glad to hear things are going well for you.


Hip Hop Mixing by TeslaThemes