James Hunt Relies on Amphion to Mix Kendrick Lamar/Baby Keem

For recording and mix engineer, James Hunt, the very aspects of music production that have become the center of his career were once shrouded in mystery. “I was playing in bands with friends for a long time and came to realize I was way more excited by the ways you can create texture and manipulate sound than I was in actually playing my instrument,” he says. “But I never really knew it was a career path.” ​ It was not until meeting VP of Studio Operations at Interscope Chuck Reed that Hunt found himself exposed to the possibilities of working as an engineer in a professional studio environment. “He brought me over to his house where he had a studio and I got to see how the studio operated and watch his engineer, Jose Alcantar, at work,” he recalls. “They took me under their wing a little bit and started showing me the ropes and giving me gigs. And everything snowballed from there.”

Continuing to work his way up the studio ladder, another serendipitous encounter provided a platform to showcase his abilities to producers and artists working at the industry’s highest levels. “I was working at a studio finishing up an American Idol session and MixedByAli and Sounwave showed up for a tour of the studio,” he says. “The studio manager came and got me because I was part of the technical staff there, and when we went into the room Ali asked me if we could mix a record there that night. We mixed Kendrick Lamar’s Money Trees, and we never stopped working together after that,” he says. “My whole career launched off of that one studio tour.”

Amplifying the art

Lamar, along with Las Vegas rapper Baby Keem, now occupy most of Hunt’s time with their prolific creative output. “Those two really keep me busy,” he says. “I would be open to more outside mixing if I had time but these guys do not stop.” Hunt wears several hats with his clients, staying involved at many points in the production process. “I’m doing a little bit of everything from recording to mixing and more,” he says. “It’s a lot of work.” Hunt values the clear vision his clients bring to the table. “I try to go with the flow more than anything when I’m working with these guys,” he explains. “There’s a very clear intent and vision to everything they do, so I focus on tapping into that and helping them take the music where they want to go. I trust their instinct above all else.”

To deliver mixes that meet his clients’ standards and those of millions of eager listeners, Hunt began to explore a monitor upgrade for his home studio. His inquiries led him to discover Finnish speaker manufacturer Amphion. “I saw several other top engineers using Amphion speakers, so I reached out on Instagram to the company directly to see where I could get a demo,” he says. “Their Marketing Manager Julian Hyvonen was immediately super helpful and friendly, giving me advice on speaker placement, acoustics, and getting me set up with a demo of the One18s,” he says, referring to the Amphion speaker model featuring a 6.5” aluminum woofer and 1” titanium tweeter for a frequency response of +/- 3 dB from 45 Hz up to 20kHz.

Photo credit: Aimee Nobleza