By Chris Burnett
PhD Productions, LLC is an established music production company that offers complete music production and recording services. Established in 1991, PhD Productions has gained a great reputation for all styles of music production ranging from MIDI tracks and digital audio; to producing jingles, composing film scores and designing original graphic art work.
The company's complete production services also include everything from actual production, arranging, mixing, mastering, CD design and duplication, and promotion of the final product. Their new production studio is a state-of-the-art facility equipped with the powerful audio production technologies utilized in the mainstream music industry. They employ the use of the multi-track ProTools system combined with the latest in digital effects processing in order to provide clients with the resources to meet most all commercial needs.
Award Winning Producer
Company founder and CEO; Phil Davis is a GRAMMY award winning producer, keyboardist and engineer whose credits include work with numerous local, regional, and national artists. Maintaining a client list containing the likes of: Al Jarreau, Norman Brown, Boney James, Alex Bugnon, Walter Beasley and many others, is testament to both quality and success. Phil's mission has always been to make quality music, all of the time, and to promote the Atlanta Underground Sound. "Atlanta has so much to offer to the music community as a whole and it deserves to be heard. I try to provide a vehicle where talent that might not get heard otherwise is exposed and embraced. We all have something to say," Phil states.
Additionally, PhD Productions' own extensive catalog consists of a vast range of original songs, many of which have been recorded by both major label and indie artists and writers alike. Among the latest client releases, is Alex Bugnon's new CD title: Southern Living. The whole project was produced and recorded in Atlanta and the company is very proud about that.
Alex had a blast and will come back next year to do his next project. Here's what Alex has to say about this project and his work with producer, Phil Davis: 'I've always loved the way he plays, he's always loved the way I play, and our strengths and weaknesses complement each other perfectly,' says Bugnon. 'Working with Phil made this a very relaxing process for me, because all I needed to care about was writing great songs and performing them. I left everything else to him. In the past, I tried to control the process too much, had a tendency to over arrange songs, and some of the subtle colors got lost in the busy arrangements. Everything here is more basic, geared around my piano melodies. I got to groove with the music and play the grooves. Everything reflected my cool, more casual Southern frame of mind.' [Listen to samples ' HERE ]
Winning a GRAMMY Award (Best Instrumental Pop Album) for his work on guitarist, Norman Brown's major label release title: Just Chillin' (Warner Bros.) is among the latest professional accomplishments and validation of Phil's efforts. Brown, a native of Shreveport, LA, won his 1st GRAMMY award with the virtuosity and musical appeal that is presented in the music on Just Chillin'. Phil also recently produced multi-saxophonist, vocalist and Berklee College of Music Faculty Member, Walter Beasley's CD title: Go With The Flow. Walter's album won the prestigious Boston Music Awards ' 2003 Jazz Album of the Year. This particular album was released in March 2003 and debuted in the Top 10 on the Billboard Charts during its first week of release. Essential to the Walter Beasley sound, is the work of PhD Productions. Go With The Flow is Beasley's seventh CD overall and first for the N-Coded Music label. The motivation was simply to present a collection packed with seductive quiet-storm melodies and hypnotic contemporary rhythms. Beasley's discs have become distinguished by heartfelt instrumentals and soulful vocals.
Television Production Work
PhD Productions has currently been working with CBS on two prime time TV shows, "Star Search" and "Dance Fever" with Lost Mountain Studios (Ronnie Garrett, CEO). Both of these shows have had great reviews and are considered another step toward realization of the PhD Productions' expansion plan. The work with the Star Search program began gearing back up in November 2003, with Dance Fever resuming its production schedule in January of 2004.
Phil Davis Interview
The long-awaited solo release from Phil Davis titled: PHILosophy is also scheduled to be available very soon. There have been many people asking when it is coming out and what tracks are going to be on it. I've recently had the pleasure of working with him on one of my own original compositions. I wanted to discuss several things with Phil about his approach and philosophy with regard to his work in the music industry. Our interview dialogue follows:
Chris Burnett: First, thanks for taking the time away from your busy schedule and activities for this article and interview for my column here at All About Jazz. Will you share a bit of your creative process in terms of the way you approach composition, arranging and the technical aspects of production?
Phil Davis: Well, most of the time, I will think about a song while I'm away from the piano or studio. I will try to remember it and get there as soon as possible. Once I'm in the studio, I will approach a track based on what came to me first whether it was the melody, chord changes, or the groove. A lot of the time, it is the groove (drums and chords) that comes first. When I'm writing for a particular person, I try to keep a concept in mind that matches the artist. Then, I use the basic instrumentation to complete the song. As far as arranging, I try to come up with something hip and keep the essence of the song intact.
CB: There is a distinct sound to the music of Phil Davis and PhD Productions. The first thing that struck me about your musical concept was the genuine groove that you are able to establish, along with maintaining the rich harmonic and melodic sensibilities from the jazz tradition as well. That must be a difficult balance to achieve, producing work that is appealing to a wide demographic of listeners and keeping the music still in the 'jazz realm'. Is this what has been called, the Atlanta Underground Sound?
PD: Actually, this is one facet of the Atlanta sound. There are so many and it depends on the producer or musician or artist. The south has a sound of its own and being born and raised in the south, I just adapt to what's around me and what I grew up with. So I guess I'm influenced by the sound that comes from the south. I don't really think about it. I just write music that I like.
CB: Your company website lists some of the primary 'tools of your trade' in terms of equipment. In producing contemporary jazz music, I find from a listener perspective that any digital sounds have to have certain warmth in order to not detract from the actual music. In selecting your equipment and instruments, what were your considerations and reasons?
PD: Most of the time, it's how much money I have at the time. I always try to select equipment that is common to the industry's standard. Most keyboard players have GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and try to get as many keyboards and modules as they can afford. It came to a point where I had to sit down and say, 'This is not making any sense. I make some money and then go to the music store to buy more gear. I'm not making any money.' Now I use what I have to the fullest and only buy more gear if it will help me to do production more efficiently.
CB: This is a two-part question. First, do you officially endorse any manufacturer's products; and second, why did you primarily choose the route of independent Producer over that of Artist signed to a label?
PD: I endorse Emagic products right now. As far as your second question goes, I did not choose to be a producer over an artist. I'm just able to make a living doing production and I use capital that I make from that to put out my own records. I am currently pursuing a deal with an independent or major. For a long time, I wanted to do it on my own but there are two basic things that you need in order to help towards a successful project: distribution and capital. There is a lot of work that goes towards promoting a record - trying to do that while concentrating on the music can be hard.
CB: Readers will be able to visit PhD Productions online at www.PhDProductions.net, however, I understand that your new personal website is undergoing major renovations for 2004. Can you give us a preview as to what to expect when one visits www.PhilDavis.net upon its completion?
PD: My personal site was up for a while. I just took it down to re-design the site. I will probably use that site to talk about my cd's, show tour pictures, things like that. I haven't decided yet.
CB: In closing, will you share some of your thoughts on the potential uses that artists can make of the Internet, along with your personal philosophy in this regard as well?
PD: I think that the Internet is still a great place to promote your own music and a great way for the world to hear about artists that you would not normally hear. Even with downloading and peer-sharing, it is still a useful tool. Just stay on top of what is going on when it comes to your product on the net.
CB: Thanks again for your time and consideration in being the subject of this article. Best wishes and keep up the great work you are doing for the music, Phil!
PD: Thank you for the opportunity, and talk to you soon.