Michael Tudor is musically and personally a product of Detroit, Michigan, his hometown after a brief infancy in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. Michael’s parents, a poet-professor-sailor and a dancer, surrounded themselves and Michael with culture, from highbrow to pop. His dad brought home the same records his college students were listening to, and so Michael was submerged in the rock and pop sounds of the 60s and 70s.
Picking up the guitar at the tender age of 11, by 17 Michael had styled himself as a Detroit rocker in the great and glorious tradition of The Stooges and MC5. He signed on as guitarist and one of the four core members of The Leisure Class, an eclectic and eccentric Beefheart/ Bonzo Dog/Tubes-style band. He bent chords and twisted hellfire rock riffs on his Gibson SG as the angsty persona Sal Monella.
New York City High and Low
At 20 Michael drove straight out of Detroit to New York City, performing on East Village rock stages with The Leisure Class and other bands. As his angst waned and his drive to realize his musical potential refined, Michael enrolled at the Mannes College of Music as a classical guitar major with an agenda to learn the theory and structural possibilities of music and sound. The time spent at Mannes immersed him in the mathematical and intellectual underpinnings of music and unlocked the sound systems of classical masters from Stravinsky to Berg to Ives to Beethoven.
When Michael graduated from Mannes in 1992, he sought out an internship at Axis Studios, eager to learn the ropes of recorded sound. Under the severe tutelage of Francois Kevorkian, Michael learned studio recording at a time when digital recording technology and MIDI sequencing was just coming into the mainstream. Kevorkian was one of the first studio owners in New York to combine these with the traditional analog technology typically installed in studios’ main rooms, rather than to delegate the new technologies to edit rooms and preproduction suites. Everyone at Axis became well versed at getting all the technologies to talk to each other and function simultaniously in a musical way. This was a crossroads moment in recording history, and for Michael it was a thorough introduction to what would later dominate recording and change the face of the industry forever.
After apprenticing at Axis, Michael had the tools he needed to begin creating new sounds with the perfect beauty of his favorite recordings. Some of those records were archival snapshots of a band’s performance, some used the studio itself as an instrument to create sounds not possible in performance. Fascinated by both of these extremes and everything in between, he became more addicted with every session, challenged by the incomprehensible idea of making the best music possible and still surviving in the business.
In 1997, Michael became a partner with Mark Richardson at TMF Studios. Their clients included urban artists Fat Joe and Q-Tip, indie artists The Stokes and Regina Spektor, pop artists Moby and Res, legacy artists Burning Spear and Taj Mahal, songwriters Duncan Sheik and Chocolate Genius, downtown punk/experimental artists the New York Dolls and John Kale, and many others. In addition, he and long-time cohort Timothy Cramer started Maelstrom Music, a sound design company that created, edited, and mixed sound for TV and multimedia. During his time at TMF, he teamed up with Nashville native Chris Feinstein to produce a series of recordings of New York rock bands. Under Michael’s and Mark Richardson’s direction, TMF became a clubhouse for emerging local talent, such as The Astrojet, Clara Venus, and Mikki James. These sessions spawned great collaborations and put TMF’s production company close to the pulse of East Village rock music. Other New York studios that Michael was associated with included Chris Muth’s Dangerous Studios and Fab Dupont’s Flux Studios.
Now Michael has a new operation, Mama’s Place Prod. In mid 2Ks he moved his production room two hours North of the city to a mountain house in Woodstock, NY. In the subsequent period, Michael has worked on a string of theater projects with composer Duncan Sheik, which includes Spring Awakening, Whisper House, American Psycho and Secret Life of Bees. He has continued to work on album projects for Suzanne Vega, El-P, Swans founding member Jonathan Kane, Bowie Guitarist Gerry Leonard, pop diva Donna Lewis, Ari Hest, Sky Pony, Twin Guns and Majorleans among others. In addition Michael has been involved in building studios in upstate NY for Duncan Sheik, Jaime Meline (El-P) and Darryl Jenifer (Bad Brains). He engineers sessions at The Clubhouse in Rhinebeck, NY ,Sneaky Studios in Garrison, NY and Flux Studio in New York City.
The latest news is that in 2017 Michael and his wife Dawn Roberts have relocated to Portland, OR. Michael is establishing a production room and new affiliations out west. The plan is to maintain a presence in New York while hanging a new shingle in Portlandia… more to come…
Michael is not in it just for the music. He is attracted to the personalities in music, and the studio presents a great opportunity for him to meet interesting musicians and team up creatively, with the recordings as the result. He has always had a healthy disregard for the hype surrounding popular culture, and he has the work ethic, experience, and imagination required to invent and develop solid material. All of these traits have helped him to be both true to his ideals and successful. For him, the song and the performance have always been the most crucial pieces of the puzzle. To combine the essence of an artist with a great song and a great performance has been his biggest thrill. The tools in the studio are only there to convey that message in its purity and in the ultimate distortion of two left and right stereo speakers.