Bobby Hartry is a musician, producer, and songwriter based in sunny Los Angeles. I love Bobby’s guitar work – it’s muscular, a 2X4 to the gut, living somewhere between Colin Cripps and The Edge. Bobby has also produced some really great records (Jeremy Riddle, John Barnett, and many more). You Can check out his work here // www.bobbyhartry.com
1) Do you consider yourself more of a producer, musician or songwriter?
It’s really hard for me to separate those things, because usually I’m wearing all 3 of those hats. I suppose I consider myself a musician first, then a producer, then a songwriter. But, the funny thing is the biggest part of my income is from songwriting, then production, then being a musician. I do think my experiences as a musician and songwriter have shaped my approach to production.
2) What’s the most common mistake worship leaders or churches make when making a record?
Trying to sound like someone else. I think this is a trap for musicians and artists in general. It’s easy to lose sight of what makes us unique and what we can bring to the table. We all are influenced by other songwriters and musicians. I think the trick is to take the culmination of those influences and distill it down into something that’s unique to who we are. Something honest and authentic. That can be scary, and can leave us feeling insecure at times. But, that’s when we have the potential to do something great.
3) In your mind, what’s the producers #1 job?
I think my role as producer changes from project to project. But, I suppose the over arching job is to help the artist or worship leader find an unique voice. I look for what makes them unique and special and then try and highlight that. This also goes for a song. How do I frame a song so it really shines. So that the heart of the song is communicated.
4) What are you looking for in a song? how do you know when it’s great?
Does it move me or provoke me? There has to be an emotional component to it. And do I believe the artist? Do I believe that they mean what they say. Even if it’s an abstract lyric or it’s not clear to me what the song is about, does it still feel honest or real to me.
5) Biggest influences?
There’s so many! The last few years I’ve really been into Wilco, Daniel Lanois, Blake Mills, Buddy Miller. I’m a big fan of T-Bone Burnet’s production. My biggest guitar influence is Michael Landau. I’ve been listening to Mike since I was 15. Nels Cline is another huge guitar influence. I’ve spent countless hours listening, watching, and talking with Jon Brion. I love his songwriting, production, and guitar playing. Growing up I was definitely inspired by Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jeff Beck, The Edge. I starting playing guitar when I was 11, after seeing Phil Keaggy live. Growing up in Los Angeles, I was certainly influenced by some amazing guitar players out here. When I was 16 I saw Steve Lukather at a little club called the Baked Potato. He blew my mind. I had never seen or heard anything like it before. Shorty after hearing Lukather, I met Mike Landau. He’s always been very kind and gracious to me, and a huge inspiration.
Some records that I’ve been loving over the last several months: Blake Mills: Break Mirrors, David Bazan’s latest, Fiona Apple’s latest, Autolux: Transit Transit, Deep Sea Diver: History Speaks, Bon Iver: self titled, Sam Phillips: Long Play.
6) Tell us one of your best moments in music.
That’s a hard question, there are so many! I’ll just rattle off some that come to mind: 1) Seeing Phil Keaggy play when I was 11, life changing. 2) Playing electric guitar with distortion for the first time when i was 12 years old at a little music store called Carpenter Music (Thanks Bruce Adolph). 3) Seeing Lukather for the first time 4) Seeing Mike Landau for the first time. 4) Seeing Jon Brion for the first time at Largo 5) Seeing U2 at Dodger Stadium on Halloween 1991 (Zoo TV tour) 5) My first gig in my first “power trio” band, Yellow House. I could go on and on