Last year, 25-year-old Nashvillian musician, producer and engineer David Platillero was immersed in his engineering studies at The Blackbird Academy, Blackbird Studio’s educational wing. His life took a tragic turn when he was hit by a distracted driver while riding on his bike. He later awoke in a hospital with a broken back and sobering news he may never walk again. Despite the outlook, eight months later he’s back at Blackbird writing and engineering. On Feb. 10, he released his EP Colors and was honored at MusiCares’ annual Person of the Year bash in Los Angeles.
After such a blow, many might have deemed the continued pursuit of a dream impossible. But Platillero found that the support from friends, family and people at all levels of the business has infused him with the courage to soldier on. “When I got hurt,” he says, “I had many people encouraging me and my parents were incredible throughout the whole experience. There was too much to live for and too many people cheering me on. I’ve had an incredible redemption and exposure to the top tier of the recording world.”
Artists commonly draw from their lives and experiences when crafting new work. So, how has his songwriting been influenced by the events of the past year? “I have more to say,” Platillero observes. “I plan to release an album this Fall with songs [inspired by] the accident. I’ve done shows and I’ve felt more invested. I feel now that I have something to say and something to give an audience.”
David Platillero's production philosophy is composed primarily of two symbiotic pieces: respect the art and respect the artist. “Serve the song,” he asserts. “It’s not about you. Sometimes you’ll think that something will help and be the right thing. Then you’ll see that it’s not working; that it’s something you want to do. You have to continually check yourself and question if you’re serving the artist and the song.”
Advice Platillero offers to aspiring engineers is to become sensitive to sonic subtleties. “Be picky,” he suggests. “Train your ear to hear things. Not enough people spend the time to know what a frequency or a good guitar sounds like. What I’ve learned from the [engineering] giants is that all you have to do is know what you want and know how to get there. That’s the entire battle. And experiment all the time. Mic placement is huge. Don’t geek-out on buying new mics because your recordings don’t sound good.”
On the subject of mics, his favorites include the Pearlman TM 1 and sE Electronic’s Voodoo VR2 ribbon mic. “I can’t get enough of them,” the producer confesses. “They give you the most natural sound. I use them all the time on guitars. They’re versatile for anything you want to sound real. As a millennial growing up in the digital age, my battle was fighting brightness. That’s why I got the Pearlman—because it was so smooth. [Ribbons] have a natural sound and don’t seem to change the source. Condenser mics tend to brighten the higher frequencies. Generally, I’m trying to fight those in my mixes.”
These days David Platillero works primarily from Blackbird, but he also completes overdubs at his home studio. He has several production gigs on the horizon and he aims to move to Los Angeles as the summer wanes. He also has a full-length record targeted for the fall. Many people with similar aims and fewer challenges have achieved considerably less.
For more information, visit davidplatillero.com.