“But I always felt that these young people are putting their lives in your hands. It’s no different from a child – one traumatic situation in their life can seriously affect them. You’re dealing with people’s sense of pride: You sign an artist, they feel great, they tell all their friends, and people expect big things from them. But it doesn’t always work out, and it’s hard to be up on stage one day and then the next day you’re back on your block.
“That’s why my partners and I want to work with people that we genuinely like. We have to feel good together, because you want to feel good about helping someone take their art, and life in general, to the next level.”
The Empire State of Mind
While the fast-shifting state of the music industry presents plenty of challenges for all involved, the Queens-borne Duro sees NYC slowly re-emerging as a land of opportunity.
“Sometimes you need things to crumble in order for them to get better,” he observes. “I thought several years ago that there were a lot of speculators in the business – they were there to make money and not interested in the music at all. When the business went flat, all those people left, and now they’re speculating on something else.
“I think the people who remained — the ones who really love music — are still here. I only want to work with the best of the best, and that doesn’t necessarily mean the most successful. The best means the most talented. I think the opportunity is here now: There may be less work, but the competition has been thinned – there are fewer pretenders to sift through.”
For Duro, Ann Mincieli’s Jungle City Studios demonstrates this survival-of-the-fittest traction in action, with its tuned-in facilities serving as his preferred mix HQ. “Since they’ve opened, this is my home base,” Duro states. “I think that the environment they’ve created is very pro-artist, pro-creativity. It’s well designed, and the vibe just feels right.
“A lot of people thought Jungle City was a bold undertaking, but it was needed. We need studio owners like Ann who don’t have the baggage of an older business model, older gear, and debt from years ago. People have fresh energy, and now is a great time to come in (to the studio business). There’s a lot of great technology, the gear is more affordable, and if you have the right staff and the right environment, you can be very successful.”
Duro speaks with the quiet air of confidence that accompanies having nothing to prove. Platinum track record established, the priorities for this hit mixer are to keep driving and diversifying. And just like his mixes, he’ll steer to the next level of his career with feel – no overthinking it.
“I’m going to start experimenting with other quote-unquote ‘genres’ of music,” he says. “The elements of hip hop and R&B – there are other influences in those genres, and vice versa, working with each other. I don’t necessarily have a blueprint. I just want to continue to work on great records.”
— David Weiss